INTERVIEW with Bradley Cole

How does the new CD compare to or differ from your last two CDs?
"Well, the first one came out so many years ago, and it's been a long time since the second one, too, so right away I'd just have to say that this is what's happening with me today. It's a little bit different on many levels I guess, lyrically and musically. The first album was recorded in Nashville with session guys, and it definitely had a "Nashville" flavor to a lot of it. It was pretty straightforward. The second one was recorded in L.A. with me playing most of the parts, and I was going for a looser kind of sound there, and it was more abstract. Soundwise and stylewise, this album might be closer to the second one than the first, but it's hard to say."

Do you feel your music has evolved?
"Well, I imagine it has evolved as much as I have. A couple of these songs are several years old and have been sort of hanging around, and others are completely new. The first difficulty was deciding which songs I wanted to record. It was tough to choose. I found that I had all these pieces in various styles, shapes and sizes that had come to me over a period of time, and I was afraid I would have to discard some of them immediately because they just didn't fit for what I had in mind musically for the album. I had all these different songs going on here, different rhythms, styles, time signatures, etc. With production, our challenge was to somehow try to make them fit so that it sounded like one self-contained piece of work. I think we recorded eighteen altogether, so some songs that normally might not have made it onto the album actually did make the cut and some didn't."

"Dan (Grigsby), who co-produced the album with me, worked very hard and was key in making this happen. I brought in my home demos, and we discussed in detail what we wanted to do sonically in pre-production. Then we experimented some more with home demos before we actually went into the studio."

What is your process for creating music?
"I compose mainly on the guitar. Normally, the way I go about it is I'll be playing my guitar and come up with some kind of musical phrase that catches my ear, and usually a lyric will sort of pop out of that. I'm not sure how that happens, it's hard to explain. Different moods will evoke different sounds, and different sounds will evoke different lyrics. Once I have that, I have a nucleus for what the song could be. I start experimenting with chord progressions and doing something musically, extending what I already have. And likewise, from that basic lyric I'll try to write something around it. Normally, the music is what provokes the lyrics, although sometimes I'll have something in my head like '…Oh that…that would be a great title for a song…' and try to write something to it, but rarely does it happen like that for me. I'll then have a song. But that can change over time. I'm constantly changing lyrics and music right up until the drummer is counting off before we record."

So what inspired you for this album?
"I think the main thing that has inspired me in the past is relationships. And that was certainly the case again, but for this album I tried to allow for more of the universal themes that I started to develop in the second album. I didn't want to get too heavy with it, but there are the trials and tribulations and things we go through in life that took on a much different meaning for me over the last few years. There are different themes for different songs, obviously."

Why did you release a single first?
"Well, one of the reasons is that we knew we were going to take a long time before we got the album out, and people have been waiting for something. So we thought it would be cool to get something out there that was ready to go, so that people wouldn't have to wait so long."

Tell us about the musicians?
"We have some great musicians. Most of them I met through my co-producer, Dan Grigsby, who has worked with a lot of these guys or they were friends. Some of them were my friends that I asked to come in. We have great musicians all around. There's an abundance of talented musicians here in New York City. It's a great place to record music because there are so many great players ready and willing to come in."

Were there any particular challenges during the recording of the album?
"I think the big challenge was to do something that I could really feel good about, and if some other people felt the same way that would be great. The real challenges are the little ones on the way there, like putting the right musicians together, putting the right studio together, getting the right gear, making sure people got there, got paid, we got the work done, etc. Making sure everyone had what they needed, making sure what kind of pizza everyone wanted! And that's before we even start talking about musical challenges. There were a lot of little challenges along the way. Each one had to be met. But we did it and it was a lot of fun. Challenging, but fun."

What do you appreciate most about the album?
"It has to be working with the people that I worked with, and meeting some of these musicians and engineers and working with Dan. That was probably my favorite part. My most inspiring part also. When you get a bunch of talented people like that together in a room and watch it unfold, it is breathtaking."

Any plans for a tour?
"Yes, we definitely want to go out and play this music now because we think it sounds great on the record. We hope to release it one way or another sometime in July. Hopefully we'll be playing sometime after that. So look for us coming soon to your town with the band! And come and see us!"

Tell us about the title track, In Our Time.
"In Our Time is essentially a love song. It also refers to a universal love. There's a cello in it, me and my acoustic guitar, drums, bass, and an accordion. We wanted this to have a feeling like it was a bunch of us sitting around the living room or the kitchen and playing. No fancy stuff. Normally I'll go into the studio and try to concentrate on getting rhythm tracks…drums, and bass mainly. While we're recording those parts, I'll be playing a "guide" track along with them so they can hear me singing and playing. I would normally come back after that and put down a "real" guitar and vocal track. However, sometimes what happens is there's a certain magic feeling when everyone plays together, and everyone is hearing the song being born for the first time as we're playing it. It becomes almost impossible to recreate that feeling when you go back and try to do it again. That's what happened with In Our Time when we all started playing the song together. We felt a little bit of that "first time" magic, so we kept my live vocal and live guitar in it. So it's basically a live song. We added my electric guitar and then the cello and accordion in the dubbing session. I didn't have a title track for the CD, and it just made sense that this was it, and it became the centerpiece for the album."

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