I love the name of the band. What was the inspiration behind that?
Thank you! Our first album “Shadows in The Sky” had a song called “Brightshine” on it and I just liked the way the word felt and thought it would work as a band name, and I’m very happy with our choice!
What would you say is the difference between “Shadows In The Sky” and “The Wire” in terms of sound?
“Shadows In The Sky” sounds very stately and English to me. We were going for a groovy Pink Floyd type of approach and I think we got there for sure! “The Wire” sounds livelier and really in the moment to my ears. There’s a lot more rock energy for sure, and I feel like we still got to some majestic sonic places as well. There's also the energy of us playing together during the pandemic, which was quite a feat and made the sessions have a very kinetic energy. We recorded “Shadows In The Sky” in a world-class studio whereas “The Wire” was recorded and engineered by us with our own gear in a phenomenal sounding room. In a sense, the sound of “The Wire” is more purely us, as we were shaping the sound as audio engineers as well playing the instruments and writing the tunes.
The latest single “Arrow In The Dark” came from a dark time in your life. Can you explain a little bit about how you took a tragedy and created music from it?
It was a pretty dark time during the pandemic to begin with. I have kids and it was really hard for them to deal with, and my best friend passed away tragically and unexpectedly during the summer of 2020, so everything felt very fragile for me. Working on the new songs was kind of a life raft for me; it felt like one thing that I could do to respond to what was going on around me. “Arrow in the Dark” was one of those songs that just tumbled out of me very quickly; as soon as I wrote it, I knew it belonged on the album, as it kind of wraps up the pandemic experience for me.
What was the biggest difference, and challenge, between recording an album prior to the pandemic and creating this sophomore album during?
There were a lot of logistical challenges! Before vaccines we couldn’t record in a studio because there would be too many people in an enclosed space, so we used this amazing studio called Wind River Studios in Santa Cruz. Wind River has the best sounding live room I’ve ever recorded in and lots of windows and doors. The studio itself is optimized for recording Americana material. We were going for a bigger rock sound so we needed to bring in different equipment in order to get that sound. Brightshine drummer Celso Alberti is an engineer as well, so between the two of us we had the gear to pull off the recordings ourselves but it was a ton of work! I had to disassemble my home studio and reassemble it at Wind River as well as integrate Celso’s gear so we could get good recordings, and then we had to set up a cue system so everyone could hear themselves. The final hurdle was that we had to set up isolation booths so we wouldn’t all be breathing on each other! It was a lot of extra work, but we never compromised on the sound quality, which I think you can hear on the recording.
When it comes to songwriting, which do you prefer to start with; lyrics or melody?
I frequently start with harmony. Usually for me chord changes will then suggest a melody, which in turn will inspire lyrics. I do sometimes start with a lyric or a melody, but maybe about 90% of the time it’s chord changes.
What is your favorite song to date lyrically?
That’s like picking your favorite child! My favorite for today is “The Wire.” :)
What do you think makes a good songwriter?
A good songwriter connects with other people’s emotional experience and their inner world in a way that resonates with that person. It’s a really wide playing field with no rules…
Do you have a favorite key or mode to write in?
No, I don't, although I write all the Brightshine songs with the guitar tuned down half a step, which I think sounds cool because it puts you in keys that people hear much less frequently like Eb, Ab, Bb etc.
Every song has a story. Sometimes silly and sometimes serious. What is the strangest way a song has unfolded for you?
There’s an instrumental section in “The Wire” which comes right after the bridge that starts with the lyric “The wire is life, the rest is just waiting around.” It came out of a guitar exercise I was doing working with jazzy chords and harmonic movement. When I was writing “The Wire” I wanted a breakdown there that would feel like the listener is literally balancing on a wire. After weekends of pounding on it, I thought to use the chord progression I came up with as an exercise and it worked perfectly!
Is there anything you do every time before you record or perform?
I try to get a minute or two alone to slow my breathing and clear my mind. One of the biggest challenges is to spend hours working on setting up a recording session and then immediately turn into a guitarist and vocalist cutting tracks!
What do you love/hate most about your life as a musician?
I love that I get the chance to bring my songs to life with a band of amazing musicians. Getting to share those songs with audiences is literally the best!
What are your hobbies outside of music?
I love to hike, cook, and hang with my family.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Focus on your unique gift and bring it into the world with all of your might.
What is your dynamic like as a band together?
We have been playing together for a while so we are really good friends in addition to being musical collaborators. I have so much gratitude for Celso, Murph, Maria, Eric and Paul, and all of the creativity, commitment and intentionality they bring to each note that they play. We joke around a bunch and have conversations about incredibly geeky music and music gear details, and we also frequently discuss how crazy things are in the world right now.
What is it about music that makes you passionate about it?
From a young age music spoke to me in a very deep place. As soon as I turned 13 I begged my parents for a drumkit and it’s been a journey since then involving a lot of listening, learning and growing as a human and as a musician. At this point music is inseparable from who I am and I’m very passionate about bringing my music out into the world with Brightshine!
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