Who Do You Love: Thoughts on Music, Lyric Writing, and Creativity

An interview with David Haerle by Marlene Nichols:

David, what’s your music style, or dare I ask, what do your songs “sound” like?

Well, the art director for my album called it “dreamy garage rock.”  You know what? I really like that. But I’ll modify that saying it’s more “Dreamy garage rock with some polish.” Much of what I do is anchored around guitar since that’s what I compose on, but I feel free to experiment, to go in any direction I want.

Who were your early musical influences?

My first rock song memory: I was a kid riding in the car with my dad in L.A. and David Bowie’s Fame came on the radio. I thought now THAT’S cool. So, there was Bowie, AM radio pop singles, and disco. Then I gravitated towards rock and hard rock, more specifically lead guitar: Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Frank Zappa, Van Halen, Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin were all early influences of mine. I got my first guitar, a Fender Stratocaster, as a gift from my parents when I was 13. It’s been a gift that keeps on giving.

Over the years my ears would be turned on by so many great artists, too many for a complete list, but here are a few in no particular order:  Stereolab, NWA, The Chemical Brothers, Radiohead, The Avalanches, Convoy, Anita O’Day.

Eventually I developed a passion for my dad’s great love, country and bluegrass music, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Johnny Paycheck, and the great bluegrass artists who recorded for the record label my father founded, CMH Records.

David-at-Sunset-Sound-boardSo, you’ve been making music all your life?

Yes and no. I played in bands until I was around 18 or so. At a fairly young age I took over as President of CMH (Country Music Heritage) Label Group.  That kept me busy, but I did keep up on guitar.

I had always kept up playing guitar but in my mid 40’s, I had an awakening of sorts. I realized I wanted to make music again. I started singing and working seriously with my coach, Sue Willett, and I got back to songwriting.

I did my own crash course in performing by playing electric guitar in the band Fred Harvey, hitting open mics around town on my own, and playing shows at convalescent homes. I managed to win 1st prize (and $35), at the Cowboy Palace Saloon’s talent contest performing I’ve Been Everywhere with a custom written, LA area based fourth verse. Talk about fun!

Does performing come natural to you?

At some point during all this, I took a performance workshop which culminated in singing two rock covers (Cheap Trick’s Surrender and All American Rejects Gives You Hell) before an audience of everyone’s friends and family.   I felt pretty confident going in, but I felt that confidence slip out of my hands as I got off to a rough start and grappled with terrible anxiety and stage fright. I thought I did terrible. It was a real low for me.  Somehow that low ignited my desire to start singing my own songs, create my own body of work.  I had something to prove. That’s when the focus shifted to recording an album of all original material.  And you know what, I’m doing it.

Really? When’s the record coming out?

My album, Garden of Edendale, will be released in 2017 on Edendale Records. 

For the forthcoming single “Finding Natalie”

Congratulations! Ok, so what’s your creative process look like these days.

 My time in the mornings spent writing lyrics is some of the most peaceful time I experience in life. I believe that when I put in the time, regardless of whether I feel inspired or not, things happen. When it comes to recording, I have learned that I may get a performance I really like even if I am in a terrible state of mind.

Ideas can hit me anywhere: a bass line came to mind once while stopped at an intersection; I had a song title became clear while I was at an alumni reunion; another became clear talking with someone at a concert I went to.

There’s collaboration involved as well. I believe in exposing my work to people in my musical circle for critique and feedback. I typically write a batch of songs, rehearse my band over a period of weeks, and then go into a commercial studio to record basic tracks.  All additional recording and editing is done at my home studio. 

Is there an advantage to coming back to making music a little later in life?

I love to rock, to jam. That is in my DNA. Re-starting music seriously at this point in my life, I feel little need to “sound” like any of my heroes. But if I am honest, I’d love to be able to play improvisational lead guitar like Frank Zappa or sing country like Johnny Paycheck.

I want to write pretty melodies and make beautiful sounds.  When writing, the only thing I can really go by is whether the song is capturing my own interest.

David Haerle in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.

Stay tuned for new on David’s first solo album, Garden of Edendale, coming out later this spring! 



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