Hello, Leonard. Thanks for sitting down with us. Can you provide us a little information about yourself and what you are attempting to do with your music?
Hi, thanks for having me! I’d say that the things which influenced me the most growing up have been what I’m trying to capture in my writing and in the stylistic choices I’m making in the music. I’ve always loved album-oriented rock, the “deep track” stuff that evokes the imagination and reaches listeners on multiple levels. At the same time, I developed a real fascination for science, especially theoretical physics, math, etc., fused with literature, religion, mythology…Perhaps it was kind of an escapism for me, but my imagination would pretty much go wild listening to really complicated stuff, and I’d just get high on my imagination from stuff like Rush, Yes, Pink Floyd, etc. (Actually, “getting high” from music is no joke: never did any drugs — I never had to! I’d just kinda trip out naturally listening to ABACAB by Genesis!)
What difficulties have you experienced in your musical career?
You know, my wife just passed away last month (August 11) as a result of complications due to breast cancer. It’s hard to believe that happened; I think no matter how old you are you feel that you’re too young to have had that happen. We had a lot of years still in front of us and she had a lot of life left to live. As far as difficulties, there’s nothing else that even comes close.
However, in the context of regular difficulties: my “day job” is that I’m in the military, and over the past several years (as you can imagine), my plate has been pretty full. Just when you get into a creative zone, something else crops up where you’ve got to put down the project for several months! Another challenge has been that I haven’t been able to steadily collaborate with anyone who brings the same level of seriousness to the discussion; it’s tough to work in a vacuum (either that, or I’m too serious)!!
Hey, on a side note: you know what I’m really proud about in this album? The drumming. I’ve had a few crowd reviews done of a few different songs (with very interesting results). A number of people have said that they loved the drummer’s work and to free it up a little more — go wild with it! But here’s the punch line: it’s all electronic. Hate to say it, but every ounce of the drumming on “Foundation” is from midi loops or me programming it in midi, one hi-hat hit or break at a time. (Gawd, it was so tedious!) Still, being able to collaborate with other musicians who aren’t trying to muscle in on your ideas or claim them for their own would really be nice. It’s just downright unprofessional, uncool, whatever, when someone wants to jam with you, but inside of the first 15 minutes of playing your song, they say, “Hmm…that’s a good start, but I want to make it go like this…we can share the writing credit.” Yeah, right!!
Foundation is your current album. What significance does the album’s title have?
Gotta smile at that one! The idea stems from all of the stuff that inspired a wild imagination and wanting to take all of those ideas and build upon them. What this album has really turned out to be was a really interesting experiment, using a lot of those ideas and going in different directions with them in order to see what has worked. The experiment is still in progress, as I get feedback from listeners!
How has your style evolved and changed over the time since you first started creating music?
I think the overall depth of the concepts has been the area of biggest growth. Additionally, I used to want to pick up where other bands left off, so to speak — writing this album has really pushed me to decide where I want to go, not where bands I liked were going. There’s a big difference there, and I’m glad I came to that realization!
Can you describe your creative process and your recording set up for us?
Sure. I keep a small hand-held, $15 pocket recorder from Radio Shack on my desk or in my guitar case wherever I go, and when an idea or a riff hits, I record it on the spot. Sometimes I literally dream music, and wake up with an original tune in my head (I’m not 100% sure, but I think “Feel as you Feel” came to be in part because of a riff I was dreaming. Whenever it happens, I usually make some note to myself somewhere about it, but not always.) With the little recorder, I’d get a dozen or so bits of a song idea down with various different permutations, then boil it down to what I liked the most. “Bliss” was definitely put together in that way, although I knew I wanted it to be a much longer than normal song. The threads of the ideas seemed to weave together satisfactorily, so I went with it.
I’m changing my approach to writing for the next album, though. I’m journaling a lot since my wife’s passing, and getting train-of-thought ideas down from which I’m crafting song concepts. I want to have that stuff more solidly under my belt before getting too far down the road of experimenting with tunes (which I still spend a few hours per week doing anyway).
I record directly into a Mac quad-core using ProTools. “Foundation” was recorded using ProTools 8, which became obsolete halfway through the recording! (I had to delay a lot of software upgrades to my computer because ProTools 8 was not supported in OS-X version 9). I’ve since upgraded my computer and my software: using ProTools 11 now. I’ve also invested in a new guitar rig, and I’m using the “direct-to-interface” capability of my Hughes & Kettner amp with my effects looped through it to hopefully give my tone a more analog feel. On “Foundation,” I used Amplitube 3 entirely (which is a really great program for recording). I just wanted have a more analog and unique feel for the next one.
What acts have been the most influential in creating your unique sound?
A lot of the classic stuff from the 70s, but I listened to a ton of the big Seattle bands. Mother Love Bone, Soundgarden, Nirvana, etc., are up there with Rush, Pink Floyd, and the Police for me. I love a lot of the current stuff. Cults have a great sound, and I’m getting more into The National. Portugal The Man does some really interesting stuff, too (met those guys in Boston and got to chat for an hour or so — very down-to-Earth).
Which tracks are your favorite on Foundation, and what makes them so?
Ironically, “Tonight Tonight” and “Feel” were the two songs I thought would do the best in terms of “fans gained” on Facebook or via internet radio. They’ve done okay, but the two that surprised me to no end were “Catapult” and especially “Bliss.” “Bliss” pretty much doesn’t follow any of the rules for what makes a successful song (that is, if you listen to conventional teaching). It’s almost 8 minutes long; the intro goes for almost 2 minutes before I start singing, etc. Yet the crowd reviews I’ve gotten for the song scored it more favorably than either “Tonight” or “Feel,” which tells me that maybe people want to hear something that goes against the grain of the mainstream. I guess people want to hear stuff they don’t hear every day, and I’m so happy they liked “Bliss.”
Can you give us an insight about what listeners should expect from yourself through the end of 2014 and into 2015?
“Bliss,” “Bliss,” and still more “Bliss.” No…just kidding!!
Because of my job, I’m not in a position right now where I can gig or tour, I’m forced to rely entirely on internet promotion. However, in the spring I’ll be done with my service and will pursue music full-time. A few months ago, my wife (who was also kind of a business partner) agreed that I should start working on my next album in early fall (i.e., right now), so I have. I’m giving myself time and space, and really delving into the concepts that I want to explore both lyrically and melodically. I’m hoping for my second release in early spring, 2015.
It’s therapy, for me, you know. I miss my wife terribly.
How can individuals contact you and hear your music?
I’ve got a couple of dozen free download cards that came with my CDBaby subscription, and I have no problem passing the codes that come with them to anybody who wants to friend me on Facebook!! Send me a message on FB and I’ll hook you up with a free download of the album. (I mean, what the hell else am I gonna do with these cards? I’ve been giving them away, but man: there’s a bunch of them!)
If you’re so inclined (and feeling generous), you can buy any of the music on Amazon, iTunes, and many other pay music sites — I won’t complain! If you’re in a pinch and you’re unable to find me on your favorite music site, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do.
Do you have any further comments for NeuFutur readers?
I’m very big on the fusion of ideas: the interrelation of science, music, math, philosophy, belief, vibe…all of the above. I’m always up for a good conversation; drop me a line on Facebook if you’d like!
Leonard Faraday Interview