Concert Reviews

The Script and Joshua Radin Party with NYC

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

No amount of rain could deter fans in New York City from seeing the Script and Joshua Radin at their first of two sold-out shows at Terminal 5. While the Script calls Ireland home, one never would have guessed it as the energetic concertgoers welcomed them enthusiastically, lining up early for the chance to land a coveted spot close to the stage.

Joshua Radin kicked off the show with a 45-minute set that began with he and his acoustic guitar for “No Envy, No Fear,” a song he said was inspired by an idea from Bob Dylan’s biography “to lose all envy and all fear.” The crowd went wild when Radin stepped away from the microphone to sing near the edge of the stage.

For my complete reviews and photos by Wendy Hu, visit Venus Zine.

Related Links:
Q&A with Joshua Radin
Joshua Radin Pours His Heart Out in New York
Joshua Radin Brings Intimate Story Telling to Hard Rock Cafe
Song of the Week: “I’d Rather Be With You”
Concert Reviews

Joshua Radin Brings Intimate Story Telling to Hard Rock Cafe

Joshua Radin pleased all in attendance at Thursday night’s intimate gig at Hard Rock Cafe in New York’s Times Square. Playing a 40-minute set, Radin performed nine songs with his band. Rotating between old and new tracks, he created a dialogue with the audience, filling them in on the stories behind his songs and responding to questions and requests from fans when asked.

“It’s good to be home,” Radin said after taking the stage while tuning his guitar. “You gotta play in tune when you’re in New York City,” he joked before “Brand New Day,” a track off his latest album, Simple Times. Radin’s soft singing was never overpowered by the instrumental accompaniment and throughout the night the crowd was so quiet his voice was the only thing heard.

“I’m going to play you a sad song,” he told the crowd. Midway through a fan screamed it was her birthday, to which Radin asked her name and dedicated “One of Those Days” to her, but not before revealing the heartache behind the song. “This is the only song I ever wrote in the bunk of a tour bus. It was freezing in Minneapolis and the bus wouldn’t start and my girlfriend and I just split up.”

Another fan interrupts and screams, “Screw her!” and Radin laughs and continues his tale.

“A girl was standing outside the bus waiting for me to come out. This 14-year-old girl shoved a picture with my ex-girlfriend in my face to sign. Not the easiest thing to do, but I got a song out of it.”

With light guitar accompaniment and beautiful, emotive vocals Radin sings of heartbreak. “The sight of you is painful/So I crawl underneath my blanket where I can hide away/I know I can’t take it anymore/’Cause I see now it’s just one of those days.”

Radin said “No Envy, No Fear” was inspired by an idea from Bob Dylan’s biography and the best advice Dylan was ever given, “to lose all envy and all fear.”

“At the time, I had so much envy and fear. Every time I play this song it helps me. Hopefully it helps you too,” he said. Performing without a mic at the edge of the stage on acoustic guitar, Radin’s voice reverberated throughout the venue. The audience was impressed and Radin seemed equally surprised. “It’s rare when you get an audience so quiet when you can do that,” he said.

Fans were happy to hear Radin is in the process of making a new record and got to witness a few new tracks Thursday night. “I’ve got this crazy badass rhythm section on this next song called ‘Starting Over.'” A much darker and fuller sound than previous records, the crowd seemed pleased.

“I’m starting over so here we go/If I fall way down, down/Would you catch me?” Radin sang. “Something in the way you looked at me that day/Like someone far away you once knew,” he continued. The instrumental interlude included heavier percussion, keyboards and guitar which helped emphasize the emotion behind Radin’s vocals.

It’s hard to believe Radin just started playing music five years ago. Having been on tour for the past four, he told the crowd “The Ones With the Light” was inspired from the people he meets on tour. With a fun melodica feature and increased electric guitar presence, Radin’s newer material proves promising.

“The Rock and the Tide” is so new, Radin hasn’t even taught the band yet. While explaining the song and how it is about someone he met on the road, Radin said, “When you’re in this business you meet a lot of people being on tour. Either they’re cool or they’re not.”

“Were they cool?” a fan asked.

“Yes she was very cool,” Radin replied with a grin. The lyrics explain the song best: “Everyone gets what they want too fast these days/No one knows the way to make things last/Katie I’m through waiting/’Cause I need you now/I’ll show how you could take my hand and save me.”

Radin closed the night with three well known songs; “Today,” “I’d Rather Be With You” and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” Having become well known as a wedding song, Radin said “Today” wasn’t inspired by a wedding as he’s never been married. “Every time I hear someone used it I’m very flattered.”

“I was expecting people not to listen tonight, but I’m so glad you did so I’m going to do something special,” Radin told the crowd. Ending the night with Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright,” Radin and his entire band walked off the stage with their instruments in hand and performed in the middle of the floor as fans gathered in a circle around them. I couldn’t think of a better way to end the night.

Related Links:
Q&A; with Joshua Radin
Joshua Radin Pours His Heart Out In New York
Joshua Radin Interview Featured on Marie Claire
Hotel Cafe Tour Stops In NYC

Concert Reviews Features Q&A

So Long, 2009. Bring on 2010!

Earlier this week I compiled a list of my top five moments of 2009. Well, there were a few more than five in there, but I tried to keep it short. I figured I’d do the same today with my top five concerts and interviews. I’d love to know what you enjoyed reading most this year so I can amp up my coverage in 2010. Happy New Year!

You Sing, I Write’s Top 5 Concerts of 2009

There is nothing I enjoy more than that goosebumps feeling you get when an artist sings a song that particularly strikes you or tells a moving tale about the origin of the song. This year I attended more concerts than any year in my life and while it’s hard to narrow down my single favorite, I compiled five that stand out.

5. Mat Kearney — September 29 at The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza

I interviewed Mat Kearney back in May when he was on tour opening for Keane at Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, New Jersey. I hopped on his tour bus and talked with him about his latest album, songwriting process and breaking into the University of Oregon to use their piano to write a song. As an opening band, your set is always cut short so I decided to attend his headlining performance a few months later at Irving Plaza and was blown away. Having had his album, City of Black and White, on rotation over the previous months the songs struck me personally and Kearney put on quite the show. Jumping into the audience mid-set he started his own dance party on the floor with fans. You can bet I’ll be seeing him next time he’s around.

To hear Mat talk about the new album, his writing process and stories behind his songs, click here. For his view on writing about personal relationships, being an opening act and advice to aspiring musicians, click here.

4. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band — September 30 at Giants Stadium

He is The Boss. Does much more need to be said? Being a Jersey girl, Bruce Springsteen’s songs are anthems to me. I actually have Mat Kearney to thank of how I came to cover his show at Giants Stadium. The night before Springsteen’s performance I was buying my friend a ticket at will call because Kearney’s show was due to sell out. I recognized a photographer I met earlier that year at Ray LaMontagne’s show and we chatted for a bit. Low and behold, the next day he needed a writer to cover Springsteen’s show for a Web site he shot for and thought of me. Wendy picked up the tickets for me and we headed to Giants Stadium to cover the show for Bumpershine. And, guess who was sitting a few rows in front of me? None other than Mat Kearney himself. A bit serendipitous, don’t you think? For my complete review, click here.

3. Tyrone Wells — October 7 at Highline Ballroom

I recently found Tyrone Wells CD Remain and have been listening non-stop the past few days. Previous album, Hold On is quite striking as well. While compiling my top five list I realized I have witnessed Wells in concert three times this year. I first interviewed him during South By Southwest and caught his showcase with Tori Amos. Later this year, Wells opened for Better Than Ezra where a couple got engaged mid-set before he dedicated and performed “Sea Breeze” for them. I was lucky enough to catch his headlining show at Highline Ballroom in October after interviewing his opening act, Matt Hires. Wells truly blew me away as he mixed his soulful and energetic tracks with his emotion-filled ballads. His onstage banter with the audience and tales behind his songs are always enjoyable and like no artist I have ever witnessed. If you have yet to see Wells live, I highly suggest doing so as I foresee him selling out bigger venues very soon.

2. Coldplay — August 2 at Liberty State Park

I’ve heard only praises about Coldplay’s concerts from friends who have witnessed them firsthand. I really don’t know why I haven’t seen them sooner. Luckily, I caught their phenomenal set at the always memorable All Points West festival this past August at Liberty State Park. The way I described APW to friends was it being Woodstock’s reincarnation if it were around in 2009. Mud wrestling, music and beer gardens was more like it. Sunday’s four-hour rain delay resulted in multiple canceled performances and scaled down sets, but Coldplay managed to save the day.

Always comical, after traipsing through the mud onto a stage in the middle of the field, frontman Chris Martin realized what festivalgoers dealt with the entire weekend. “We have infinite respect for you now that we had to walk through that shit. Wish we had backstage passes for all of you,” he said.

Witnessing Coldplay live and up so close, I have incredible respect for the band. While they played many of their hits, they also performed a moving tribute to Michael Jackson and the Beastie Boys, who had to cancel their performance due to member Adam Yauch’s cancer diagnosis. I couldn’t imagine a better band to close the three-day mudfest.

1. The Gaslight Anthem — October 15 at Terminal 5

I’ve been covering The Gaslight Anthem on You Sing, I Write, since last year when I flipped through Rolling Stone to notice drummer Benny Horowitz, former paginator of my college paper, featured as a breaking band. I did a double take and contacted all the people I knew who used to work for Rutgers’ The Daily Targum. Since then, I’ve been trying to cover a show and set up an interview to no avail. You’d think garnering an interview with a rock star you knew would be easy. Think again. After several failed attempts I d
ecided to purchase tickets to their show at Terminal 5 before it sold out. I’m so glad I did. I feel like I reverted back to my high school days of Warped Tour and crowd surfing. Then again, I think the 30-year-olds in the room did as well.

I have never witnessed such an energetic (and frightening) mosh pit in my life. It was like Warped Tour for 30+. No more emo boys, these are grown men dancing in the pit and creating havoc. I’m not going to lie to you, I did fear for my life, but that was the beauty of the concert. From the looks of frontman Brian Fallon’s face, he was just as surprised. By far the most energetic show I’ve been to all year, there is no doubt in my mind that The Gaslight Anthem will be selling out Madison Square Garden. Hopefully, by then I’ll be able to get an interview!

You Sing, I Write’s Top 5 Interviews of 2009

I’ve been trying to cut down on long top 5 posts, but as evident from my concert list above I’ve been a bit verbose. I’ll try to keep it brief with my interviews and post the Q&A; so you can read it for yourselves and see just why I think they’re my top 5 of 2009.

5. Train

They’ve reached worldwide success and many of their songs garnered top spots on memorable songs of the decade. I spoke with guitarist Jimmy Stafford at the start of Train’s tour where he filled me in on Train’s latest release, embracing the Internet and a younger fan base and the reasons behind their longevity. Read it here.

4. Better Than Ezra

After catching BTE live earlier this year, the three-piece band was back in New York for press in August. Unfortunately, I was extremely sick and losing my voice during the interview but didn’t want to cancel. It was 90 degrees in New York and the interview was at a Starbucks that felt just as warm. You know when you’re nervous and feel like you’re sweating, but it’s probably just in your head? Well, it definitely wasn’t in my head…I was dripping wet. Remarkably, the interview turned out much better than I thought. But, I did learn no matter how important the interview, if you’re sick it might be best to postpone it for a later date. Read my interview here. Note my “hottest Starbucks” reference. Clever, huh?

3. Taylor Swift

There is no denying it, Taylor Swift conquered the music world this year. I was so excited to attend her press conference during the CMA Music Festival in Nashville and incredibly determined to get a question in. Luckily, I did. Note the “your music is like writing in a diary” question. I can honestly say, she is as nice and down to earth in real life as she seems onstage. There is no doubt in my mind that Taylor Swift will be around for decades to come. Read my interview here.

2. Joshua Radin

Joshua Radin has accomplished much as an independent artist. He bought himself out of his major label contract to go on to release one of the best selling folk albums of the year. Not to mention, he performed at Ellen DeGeneres’ wedding, toured the globe and remains so humble. Case and point: When asked how he feels about being called this generation’s Bob Dylan he responded, “That’s absolutely ludicrous. Bob Dylan invented music. I just feel like that’s putting a bull’s eye on the back of my head for everyone to be like, ‘No you’re not. You’re not really as good.’ And I’m like, ‘Of course I’m not as good, I wrote my first song four years ago!’ And I probably never will be as good. But, I bet you I’ll be much better at being Joshua Radin than Bob Dylan is. That’s all I can hope for.” Read more here.

1. Third Eye Blind

Not many know this, but Third Eye Blind is how I got my start writing for Marie Claire. I remember getting dinner with my friend and colleague Diana last year and venting to her how I had a great interview with 3eb frontman Stephan Jenkins, but no music publication seemed to care. I reached out to every music magazine and Web site you could think of and they all felt 3eb was a band of the past. Boy did 2009 prove them all wrong. Diana must have seen my frustration and thought they might be a good fit for the Marie Claire audience, being that much of the reader age group grew up listening to 3eb and Stephan Jenkins was always a heartthrob. 2009 proved to be a great year for the band who released their album independently and saw a surge in their fan base. Read my interview here.

What were some of your favorite interviews of 2009? 2010 will bring many more I’m sure. Happy New Year!


Free Album Download From Vanguard Records

Who doesn’t like free music? Vanguard Records is spicing up this holiday season with a free album download. A sampler of talented up-and-coming artists as well more notable musicians who have been rapidly climbing the charts, there is much to offer on the 16-track release.

Fellow blogger and radio host of Lyrical Venus, Heather Miller-Rodriguez, sent me the link last night and I’ve been listening all afternoon. While the sampler isn’t solely holiday music, its a solid mix of eclectic and extremely talented singer-songwriters.

You might recognize a few names from my blog coverage including Joshua Radin, Serena Ryder, Meiko, Brett Dennen and Katie Herzig. Additional contributors include Josh Ritter, Dar Williams, Greg Lasswell, Brandi Carlile and more.

To download the sampler click here. Love to know your thoughts!

Related Links:
Q&A; with Brett Dennen
Q&A; with Joshua Radin
Q&A; with Meiko
Q&A; with Serena Ryder

Features Q&A

Top 10 Interviews

While I’ve been taking suggestions on revamping my blog, some advised cleaning up the sidebar and deleting older interviews to make it easier on the eyes. After much thought, I really can’t just weed out certain interviews because each has a life of its own. Maybe its the frank musician that discussed exactly what’s wrong with the label executives, or the bass player that told me just how “gross” groupies are, regardless, each artist I’ve talked to needs to be showcased. So, when you’re bored at work or just surfing the Web, you have plenty of reading material on your hands.

While going through each interview I came up with my “Top 10” list of interviews that have surprised me or left an impact. Here’s my Top 10 list, in no particular order.

1. Jon Foreman of Switchfoot (photo above)
I’ve been listening to Switchfoot since high school. I’d buy tickets with friends and we’d travel to NYC together at least once a year to see them live. One year, when covering the show for MTV’s concert blog, I was able to meet the guys, and interview frontman Jon Foreman. To meet one of your favorite musicians and talk to him about life, his fears of being a songwriter and pretty much anything else you’d want to know was truly one of the best moments in my music writing career. Read the in-depth interview here.

2. Colbie Caillat
I remember my cousin from California mentioning Colbie Caillat on his visit to New Jersey right after her debut album was released. A few weeks later “Bubbly” exploded on the radio and I just had to buy myself a copy of her album. The next summer she was going on tour with one of her biggest influences (and mine) — John Mayer. I was able to set up an interview for the blog and was surprised at how humble and down to earth she was. Talking about her stage fright before performing and thoughts on just why “Bubbly” took off, Colbie shared insight into her life before and after her music invaded the airwaves. Read all about it here.

3. Marko DeSantis of Sugarcult
This was my first impromptu band interview. Before catching Sugarcult’s set at Starland Ballroom, I noticed a group of fans by the stage door talking to someone. My friend found out it was Sugarcult guitarist Marko, so I asked to interview him. Why not? He wrote down his email address in my notebook with the casual, “Just don’t show this around” and I emailed him questions a few days later. My first nationally published interview, it was featured on Jane Magazine‘s Web site. I still can’t believe I did that, but it paid off. Read the full email interview here.

4. Kris Roe of The Ataris (photo above)
I lucked out being able to interview Kris twice — first for Rutgers University’s entertainment section, Inside Beat, and last year for my blog. Having listened to The Ataris growing up, I attended a performance of theirs at Rutgers and was able to obtain an interview after talking to his manager. After interviewing him with my friend Monica, I remember leaving the room with the realization and determination that, “This IS what I’m going to do the rest of my life.” Haven’t looked back since. Read the full two-part interview with Kris from his performance at Maxwell’s last year here.

5. Joshua Radin
Incredibly honest about the music industry, Radin bought himself out of his five record deal with Columbia and put out his most recent release independently. Not to mention, it hit No.1 on the iTunes folk charts. Not too shabby. A class act to follow, Radin even performed at Ellen DeGeneres’ wedding. Read on for more of his take on the music business here.

6. Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind
I was extremely nervous for this interview. 3eb was one of the most recognized bands of the 90s and having read up on past interviews with the band I was a little worried how mine would pan out. Luckily, it went extremely well — good enough to be used as my first interview feature on! You can read it on Marie Claire here.

7. Vince Scheuerman of Army of Me (photo above)
Possibly the most open singer-songwriter I’ve interviewed, my chat with Vince revealed many of the stories behind his songs, the struggle of making it in the music business and a typical day in the life of a musician. Read on for more here.

8. Tyson Ritter of the All-American Rejects
Oh, Tyson. Brutally honest and never afraid to hold anything back. Though it was a quick 3-question on-the-spot interview outside his tour bus at a concert, it’s one that will always stand out in my memory. Laugh about it here.

9. Jeph Howard of The Used
Okay, I must admit interviewing Jeph on their tour bus was definitely a highlight of the interview. Possibly the longest interview I’ve had, he chatted with me for nearly an hour about life on the road, groupies, and struggles the band has faced. Read all about it here.

10. Sia
Australian singer-songwriter Sia was definitely the most captivating and lively phone interview I have ever had. With her infectious laugh and refreshing take on the music industry, it’s interviews like these that make me continue pursuing this crazy career. You can read the interview featured on here.

That’s my Top 10. What’s your favorite? Did I miss one that should be added?

News Q&A

Joshua Radin Interview Featured on!

I’m so happy to report that my past interview with Joshua Radin was posted on yesterday! Feel free to read it here and leave comments!

The audio of the interview is also available here. You can listen to a stream of his first single off recent release, Simple Times “I’d Rather Be With You” here and if you like it, be sure to visit Radin on MySpace and catch a show when he’s in town!

Concert Reviews

Joshua Radin Pours His Heart Out in New York

Taking the stage to a swarm of screaming female fans, Joshua Radin played to a packed crowd at Webster Hall last Friday. Radin’s performance was nothing short of surprises as fellow singer-songwriters Ingrid Michaelson and Dar Williams accompanied him on two songs throughout the night. Playing nearly an hour set, fans left the venue with the hopes of seeing Radin again soon as he told the crowd he moved back to New York just four days prior.

“Hello New York! My name is Joshua Radin,” he told concertgoers after first song, “Free Of Me,” as if they didn’t already know his name. “It’s New York City and you never know what can happen,” he continued before Ingrid Michaelson took the stage to assist on “Sky.” Their voices blended beautifully together and the crowd was energized from the moment Michaelson entered the stage, drowning out the rest of Radin’s introduction.

While he has referred to his music’s genre as whisper rock, one might imagine it difficult to hear his soft voice at a concert venue, however this was not the case. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Radin’s vocals remained hushed and undeniably airy at times, but the audience hung on to every lyric sung during his set. Incredulously, on numbers such as “Winter” the room was so silent you could literally (please forgive the cliche) hear a pin drop. He told fans that “Winter” was the first song he had ever written while walking around New York nearly four years ago. Taking the stage alone on acoustic guitar the crowd gave Radin their complete attention as he ended the song to screams.

Radin often introduced each song with the story behind it. One such song was inspired by Bob Dylan’s autobiography. Radin said the one thing that stuck out from the book was advice Dylan was given when moving to New York and how he should lose all his envy and fear. “I wrote a song about it because I had so much envy and so much fear and the song is called, ‘No Envy, No Fear’.” The light percussion, guitar and string features blended impeccably well with Radin’s vocals right up to the fade out of the song.

Many of his songs are detailed accounts of former relationships or fantasies. Take “Vegetable Car,” a song he told the crowd was written about a girl he had never met while “One of Those Days” is a heartbreaker that surely melted most girls’ hearts in the room. Having trouble getting over a former girlfriend that used to tour with him, the lyrics include “Now a year has passed/Alone I stay inside and I await the rain/To wash away your face so I don’t have to hide/The sight of you is painful/So I crawl underneath my blanket where I can hide away/I know I can’t take it anymore/’Cause I see now it’s just one of those days.”

“I have two ex-girlfriends and two records. This one is about the second,” Radin said before introducing “You Got Growin’ Up To Do,” telling the audience that the song is about meeting the right person at the wrong time. Ecstatic to have one of his favorite singers, Patty Griffin, accompany him on the track on his album, Radin described it as “the coolest thing ever.” Singer Dar Williams then took the stage filling in for Griffin’s vocals.

The rest of the night showcased songs from Radin’s latest release, Simple Times as well as his previous album. Ending with a cover of his favorite song ever written and recorded, Sam Cooke’s soulful “Bring It On Home To Me,” Radin promised fans he’ll be back soon since New York is now his home. From the crowd’s response, I think they’ll be eagerly waiting.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to visit Joshua Radin on MySpace and catch a show when he’s in town! To listen to a stream of single, “I’d Rather Be With You” click here.

Photo credit: Wendy Hu

CD Reviews

What Are Your Favorite Albums and Songs of 2008?

I know all the music bloggers and magazines have been writing about their favorite albums, songs and moments of 2008, but instead of reading another journalist’s massive “best of” list for 2008, I’m more curious to know YOUR favorites. Was there an album you continually had on repeat in your car or your iTunes play list? What song could you absolutely not get out of your head no matter how hard you tried? What about your least favorite song you seemingly couldn’t escape from wherever you went — be it your drive to work, shopping at the mall or at your favorite bar? I’d love to read your “best of” lists! Plus, it’ll give me some new music to listen to as I ring in 2009!

Below, I’ll post some of the music I’ve featured on my blog this year — hinting at 10 of my favorites to give you some possibilities of new music to check out for yourself. Take a listen. I think you’ll enjoy them as well.

Brent Shuttleworth‘s video for “When I Reach California” below.


Joshua Radin – “I’d Rather Be With You” listen here.

Jason Reeves – “You In A Song.” For Windows click here, for Quicktime click here.

Brett Dennen‘s music video for “Make You Crazy” featuring Mandy Moore below.


Passenger – “Night Vision Binoculars” check out here.

Pete Murray performing “Opportunity” live below with John Mayer or check out the music video here.


Serena Ryder – “Brand New Love” here. For Windows users you can listen here.

Sia performing on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. For Windows. For Quicktime.

Theresa Andersson‘s video for “Birds Fly Away” recorded live in her kitchen.


Lastly, Ray LaMontagne‘s “You Are the Best Thing.” You can listen to it here for Windows Media or here for Quicktime if you haven’t yet.

What do you think? Can’t wait to read your lists! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


Joshua Radin

The first time I came across Joshua Radin was last spring when I caught the Hotel Cafe tour as it passed through New York. The night had some amazing performances by Ingrid Michaelson, Cary Brothers, Meiko and Priscilla Ahn, but Radin was one performer that left an impact on me. His soft voice and light guitar strumming seemed to put everyone in a trance and the lyrics to many of his songs stuck with me long after his performance was over.

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Joshua as his second album, Simple Times, was released. Not only has his album received rave reviews as well as graced No. 1 on iTunes, but Ellen DeGeneres has been an avid fan, even having Radin perform at her wedding. He spoke candidly to me about the album, as well as his break from Columbia and the state of the music industry today. You can listen to an MP3 of my exclusive interview with Joshua Radin here and read it below as well.

Congratulations with all the success of your new album, Simple Times. It recently shot to No. 1 on iTunes. Did you ever imagine that happening?
Thank you so much. No, I didn’t. That was really cool. It’s one of those things [that] are so fleeting. You don’t want to give it too much credit, things like that or any monetary success. It’s basically like how a good review and a bad review are the same to me. If you take the good review to heart you have to take the bad review to heart. I just try to basically keep writing songs and do what I do and do it for the fans. The only reason to make a record really, is to be able to make another record. If you play a show in a city, you play the show so you can play a show in that city again. And if you keep your head up about it and keep that mentality, then I think it’s much healthier.

This is your second full-length album. How was the recording process different for you this time around?
We definitely did it in less time. The first record I made with a buddy of mine in his bedroom. It took about six months because I didn’t have any money and he was just doing it whenever he had time, which was so rare. So, this one was the first record I ever made with a label and got to hire the producer I wanted. We took six weeks at my favorite studio and I hired these amazing musicians. It was quite the experience.

Did you go into the studio with a specific concept for this album?
I don’t think so. I don’t know if I had a concept in mind for the record. It was more just like, this was really just the last two years of my life. I guess that would be the concept.

I wanted to ask you about your first single off the album, “I’d Rather Be With You.” That’s my favorite song on the album and I was just wondering what inspired it, it’s such a beautiful song. (You can listen to “I’d Rather Be With You” here.)
Thank you very much. Every song I write is true. The feelings I go through, they’re like journal entries. Really the record itself is about falling in love, falling out of love, it’s about my friends, it’s about my family, it’s about the world I live in. It’s a little more expansive, I think, than the first record, which was pretty much a breakup record. They were all songs that I had ever written that came out of a pretty gnarly breakup. I kind of got my life back together and started thinking, “I want to do something a little different.”

I think “I’d Rather Be With You” is a song that maybe has more of a grove to it. I wanted it to be a full-band on this record, I actually have drums on it. There are quite a few songs on the record, like “We Are Okay,” which is a lot of percussion from Lenny Castro, who is Stevie Wonder’s percussionist, who is just an incredible guy. I just wanted to make every song, production-wise, sound a little different on this record. Because, the first record every song, production-wise sounds very similar.

Do you have a favorite song on the album?
I think my favorite would probably be “You Got Growin’ Up To Do.” It’s one of those songs that came out in 15 minutes, which is pretty rare for me. And also, that I got to record it as a duet with one of my favorite songwriters in the world, Patty Griffin, which is just a complete and utter dream with just about the coolest person ever.

How did that come about?
I just sent her the song. I had never met her before, I’m just a huge fan and she loved the song and she didn’t even want to get paid or anything for it which is so cool.

What’s your typical writing process like? I know you said a lot of it comes out of breakups.
Well, the first record at least. The second record really is not much of a breakup record; it’s really about everything I have gone through in the last two years. I would say my writing process is, I usually have melody or something floating around in my head as I’m trying to fall asleep. Once I’ve got that melody that sort of comes to me, then I wait around until I have something to say about something I really need to express and then I put lyrics to it.

I know you said writing songs is like writing journal entries. Are you ever scared to write too much in a song or be too personal?
Yeah, I was when I first started writing. I started writing songs about four years ago, but I realized really quickly what people respond to is brutal honesty. That’s what people relate to. I’m as honest as I can possibly be when I write.

I read that you were on Columbia for your first album and then you basically bought out your contract to put out this album.
Yeah. Well, essentially what happened was I made that first record, We Were Here, on my own. Then Columbia signed me after hearing that record to a five record deal and re-released that record under their name as is. This was the first record I made with Columbia. I turned it in and they wanted it more poppy sounding and I said no, so I bought myself out of the remaining four record deal contract and put this out independently.

For a lot of artists, it’s their dream to sign a record deal.
Well, it’s much different now a days. The major record companies are dinosaurs, it’s impossible to get anything done with them. It’s just too much bureaucracy. One day someone’s telling you they love something and then the next day they’re fired and someone new comes in with a completely new set of criteria. When I signed with them originally it was to my understanding that I would have full creative control of what I released. And they were by no means dropping me, they just said, “We want a single on here that’s gonna make Top 40 radio.” And I said, “I don’t do Top 40 radio.” I don’t listen to anything that’s on Top 40 radio. There’s nothing about Top 40 radio that I want to be. It’d be fine if they played what I wrote and what I believe in on Top 40, that’s fine. I just don’t think that’s going to happen. At the end of the day you have to be able to sleep and be able to look yourself in the mirror and say, “I did what I believed in rather than what some guy in a suit in some office in New York believes in.”

Do you think artists have to be on a major label to be successful today?
No, not at all. In fact, there are so many that are hindered by being on major labels. It’s one thing if you’re like Beyonce or someone like that, if you’re a cash cow for Columbia, then you have the machine and you’re this big pop machine. But, they don’t have the money to develop artists anymore. They’ve lost so much money by piracy that there’s just no money to develop artists. So they make you sit around and make you write and write and write and write and try to fit you into a little formula that has worked with them before, like a movie studio that only has time to make sequels because they know that it’s something that has succeeded before and they don’t take chances. If you’re a huge pop act or you’re in hip-hop that’s one thing, or country music, those genres in our country sell like crazy. But, for my genre, which I deem whisper rock, it’s not going to see millions and millions of record sales. The only way for me to keep creative control for what I put out is to do it independently.

A huge platform are television shows and movies, which your songs have been featured in. I’m sure that has helped you a lot.
Yeah, for sure. But, I didn’t get any radio play on the first record and now this record actually “I’d Rather Be With You” has started to pop up all over the radio without a major label. It’s really cool to see that we’re able to do this and have a number one record on iTunes, something like that that’s commercially successful, but also do it my own way, the way in which I believe.

And you have Ellen DeGeneres backing you too. I saw a clip of your performance on her show and she said you performed at her wedding.
Yeah. She’s really cool. I played on her show in January and she came running up to me and said, “I would love it if you would play at my wedding.” And I said, “Okay, sure.” So a couple days before the wedding she called my manager, or someone from her show called and said, “She’d love to fly you in and you play her wedding at her house.” She’s been such an incredible support and she’s been talking about me on her show. She couldn’t be a more down to earth, mean what she says type of person.

How is it performing a TV show vs. your own concert vs. a wedding? Do you prepare a certain way or do you do something different?
No, not at all. I just get up and bring my guitar and play songs. I try to keep it as simple as possible. Which is why I called the record Simple Times because as much as we were arguing with the label about the record and everything like that, I just wanted to go back to how life started four years ago, just as honest and organic as possible and as simple as possible.

You’ve been called this generation’s Simon and Garfunkel. How do you feel about that?
I don’t think that’s it at all. If anyone wants to make comparisons, they do what they do. People always want to put you in some sort of box to make other people understand what you’re doing creatively and other things and I understand that. I just think I’m just trying to sound as much like Joshua Radin as I possibly can. I mean, I’m influenced by some of the songwriters; of course Simon and Garfunkel are a major influence on anyone that plays music I’m sure. But there are also tons of other musicians I’ve been influenced on and other features and novelists, my parents and my friends and my teachers. It’s pretty ridiculous, this generation’s Simon and Garfunkel. First of all, I’m only one person. Second of all, they’re incredibly prolific and music icons. I just started.

I read on Amazon that Rolling Stone called me this generation’s Bob Dylan and that’s absolutely ludicrous. It’s ludicrous! Bob Dylan invented music. I just feel like that’s putting a bull’s eye on the back of my head for everyone to be like, “No you’re not. You’re not really as good.” And I’m like, “Of course I’m not as good, I wrote my first song four years ago!” And I probably never will be as good. But, I bet you I’ll be much better at being Joshua Radin than Bob Dylan is. That’s all I can hope for.

Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “I’d Rather Be With You”

I first came across Joshua Radin when catching the Hotel Cafe Tour this past March and fell in love with his voice. His music is somewhat laid-back and comparable to that of Jack Johnson, having that perfect acoustic singer-songwriter feel. I received a stream of his song, “I’d Rather Be With You” in an email a few weeks ago, right before his second full-length album, Simple Times was released. If you haven’t picked it up yet, definitely do. Incredibly solid, both lyrically and musically, Simple Times has that intimate feel — almost as if you’re sitting in Joshua’s living room as he’s serenading you on guitar.

This week’s song is my favorite track from his recent album. You can listen to it here. Be sure to check out his MySpace for tour dates and more music.