Joshua Radin… Available For Weddings And World Tours

29 09 2009

by Brian Phillips (@BrianBlahg)

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Joshua Radin

We all have secret dreams, but we’re cowards before them. Cleveland native Joshua Radin on the other hand decided to follow his. Radin was burned to a crisp with screenwriting, and decided he’d give music a try. His first effort was used on Scrubs by fellow Northwestern alum Zach Braff. That was five years ago. Half a decade later Radin has toured the world, released two albums, written a third, and played in Ellen DeGeneres’ living room. How did he do it? Talent is an obvious answer. Hard work is another. Listen below and you’ll learn the real secret. Hint: You have to face your fears.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Text after the jump.

Uwire: Going home tomorrow night huh?

JR: Yeah I’m excited to see my family.

Uwire: So between songs they’ll be yelling out embarrassing things; “We love you!” and such?

JR: (laughs) No, they know not to do that anymore.

Uwire: Anymore….

JR: Yeah this ain’t their first rodeo.

Uwire: So the first time around they kinda got out of hand did they….

JR: Yeah probably, but never anything that couldn’t be fixed.

Uwire: That’s what you get for letting them paw through the backstage buffet and bar.

JR: Yeah exactly…

Uwire: What are some of the things you remember about growing up in Cleveland and your feelings about Ohio now that you’ve been away for awhile?

JR: I love going back. I left because I always wanted to live in a bigger city. I always dreamed of living in New York when I was a little kid. My parents used to take me there to go see shows on Broadway and concerts. I remember when I was in fourth grade they took me to see Billy Joel at Giants Stadium and I was like ‘you know what I’m moving here.’ I always wanted something bigger in terms of city, but I always love coming back because I had a great childhood. It just brings back a lot of memories.

Uwire: Your parents were obviously interested in exposing you to a wider world.

JR: Definitely. They “learned me” on really good music from a very early age. I think I had every Beatles record by the time I was eight.

Uwire: Did you snap up all those re-masters that just came out?

JR: Oh no not yet. Honestly it’s so expensive to tour I’m trying not to spend any money except on the touring.

Uwire: That’s got to be tough….

JR: I got a tour bus, a full band, and a crew. At the end of the day you look at your margins and you go ‘wow’ especially in a recession. I shouldn’t be buying anything for myself right now.

Uwire: Everyone makes money except the guy running the ship.

JR: (laughs) Yeah exactly.

Uwire: The funniest story I can think of related to that is Pink Floyd’s Wall Tour. Richard Wright had been fired from the band, but they needed a keyboard player so they hired him as an employee. The tour was so expensive that the band got killed. Richard got paid though.

JR: (laughs) Yeah you know what I think my band is pretty cool with the way things work.

Uwire: I think it’s interesting how you ended up doing music. Even though you grew up exposed to it, you were into all kinds of other things.

JR: I didn’t grow up as a musician, I grew up as a painter, and then I was writing screenplays for years living in New York. I didn’t write my first song until 2004. It’s been five years now and I feel really lucky I kind of fell into it. Everything has gone really well. I paid my dues as a starving artist in other mediums. I guess I got lucky when it came to music.

Uwire: Did you have it in the back of your mind that you’d like to sit down one day and take a stab at music?

JR: Yeah always in the back of my mind because I was just such a music fan, but I think I was really intimidated by it. There were so many people around me who were great musicians… a lot of friends and they had been playing their instruments for so many years and I was like ‘how do I start from nothing? ’I guess one day I just decided I was going to do it and see what happened. It’s like that old quote “be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” (Canadian author and theologian Basil King) I decided ‘alright I’m going to be bold.’ I’m not really religious or really that spiritual, but when I decided to follow this dream I really do feel like the universe helped me out. Things started happening.

Uwire: How far did you get with your screenwriting?

JR: I ended up writing six screenplays over six years. I sold two of them, but both of them got shelved. It was so frustrating to spend all this time writing and then have them end up on a shelf and no one could see them. There’s something really cool about picking up a guitar, writing a song, turning on my computer, and recording it bare bones. Then you put it on Myspace and instantly someone can write back “hey I like that song.” There’s instant feedback, and I was drawn to that right away. I think that’s what made me quit screenwriting.

Uwire: The two projects that were shelved, did the options run out?

JR: Yeah I own them now.

Uwire: Do you have any plans of running them up the flagpole again or are you just done with that?

JR: I don’t think so. I wrote those six, seven, eight years ago and I think I’ve changed a lot as a writer and as an artist. I think if I was to ever do that again, instead of just writing a script I would write something about what I’m going through now, and write all the music for it, maybe act in it, direct it, just do it all. That would be something I’d like to do later on one day. We’ll see. If I can wake up every morning and be creative, then I win you know… then life is awesome.

Uwire: How’s the next record coming along?

JR: I’ve actually finished writing the next record, but I’m not going to be able to be off the road until February so that’s when I’m going to record it.

Uwire: Are you getting anxious to get these songs down?

JR: Oh yeah, especially since this new record, the third record, is going to be such a major departure for me sound wise. I’m previewing a few of the songs on tour right now, and I’m so excited to record. Half the record is straight rock-n-roll.

Uwire: Really?

JR: Yeah it’s so much fun to play.

Uwire: You mentioned the Beatles. What are some of the other artists you think of when making a rock record?

JR: I’ve been listening to a lot of Sam Cooke, a lot of Arcade Fire… that “Funeral” record has definitely found its way into stuff.

Uwire: What an interesting combination!

JR: The majority of influence on this record would be late seventies Dylan and Tom Petty.

Uwire: Sam Cooke, I have one of his greatest hits albums on my Ipod. Man….

JR: It’s the greatest! Do you have that record “Sam Cooke Live In Harlem 1963?”

Uwire: No I don’t have that one.

JR: You gotta get it man! You gotta get that record. It is such an amazing live show, I can’t stop listening to it.

Uwire: I will seek that out…. It’s interesting that you put that with Arcade Fire. Perhaps what you’re going for with those two is exuberance? A bigger presentation?

JR: Yeah, a bigger sound for sure.

Uwire: What led you in this direction?

JR: I don’t know, I just want to do something different. If you stay the same, and you don’t evolve, it just gets boring.

Uwire: That’s a good enough reason for me.

JR: And the new stuff I’m playing on tour right now, the band… they’re freaking out, they love playing the new stuff so much more than the old stuff (laughs). We all have the same mind set. When we get to the new songs in the set you can see it in their eyes, they get a little giddy.

Uwire: Can we circle back to the “Simple Times” album for a second?

JR: Sure

Uwire: What’s the story behind the song “Vegetable Car?” Is that about a real person?

JR: Yeah, it’s about girl who used to drive by my house all the time in Los Angeles.

Uwire: And when you say “Vegetable Car,” did this woman drive a car running on vegetable oil or something?

JR: That’s what we call them in Los Angeles, all those old Mercedes diesels converted to run on vegetable oil. So yeah she would drive by my house everyday. I was too shy to talk to her so I figured I’d write her a song instead. In my fantasy it would end up on the radio and she would drive by my house with the windows down and it would be on the radio and that would be my in. I could walk up and be like ‘hey I wrote that about you.’ (laughs)

Uwire: That’s ridiculous man you’re a big star now.

JR: No no no. I’m still as shy as I ever was. It never happened and I ended up moving back to New York so who knows maybe I’ll never meet her.

Uwire: I like the line ‘the Lisa Loeb glasses.’

JR: Yeah that’s just what she looked like.

Uwire: Before I let you go, tell the story about playing Ellen Degeneres’ wedding.

JR: I was playing on her show last year and I was sound checking the song. She came up and said “I’m getting married, don’t know if you heard, that’s such a perfect song for me to get married to,” and I was like ‘wow, thank you, that’s really nice of you to say.’ I thought she meant she was going to put my CD on and walk down the aisle. Two days before the wedding I was on tour in Salt Lake City and I got a call. I was invited to fly back to LA and play six of my songs for her and her guests. It was lovely and intimate… about 20 people in her living room… just her family… they couldn’t have been any nicer.

Uwire: You figured you’d be playing for 200 people at the VFW Hall, and instead you’re in her living room.

JR: Right you know, it was really cool, we were going from playing 2,000 seaters, and the next day I find myself in a living room for 20 people. You could see their faces and they were crying the whole time I was playing. It was a surreal, amazing experience. I’ll never forget it.

Uwire: Sounds like things are going great.

JR: Yeah I’m having the time of my life.

Joshua Radin still has a fall of touring ahead before hunkering down this winter to record his third album. Find dates near you here.

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2 responses

30 09 2009
music

My favorite by far. It’s so pretty (the last-ish part? That starts out all soft and sweet, and then ends loud-ish and tumpet-y and epic)

30 09 2009
Melesha

Joshua is obviously very talented to be able to master music that fast.

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