Songwriting with Ed Kopp
**Morgan:** Ed, welcome to Zeitgeist Radio.
**Ed:** Great to be here. Thanks so
**Morgan:** much. Oh, I'm so excited to have you on. So you and I have played a lot of music together over the past several years. Do you wanna tell people a little bit, how would you describe yourself in a nutshell? What, who is Ed?
**Ed:** I would say I'm dual focused.
I am first and foremost a musician. And I teach, how I make most of my living is through teaching music, guitar. Beginning drums, ukulele. And I also perform, I play bass with a couple people and then do solo guitar shows mostly instrumental looping, kind of, that kind of thing. And then I'm also have my writing side where I I've always been a writer.
Never really published anything, but those two are coming together now in a a book called Backpack of Poetry, which I'm calling a memoir musical. So it's a story of a backpacking trip across Europe and. I've written 23 songs that go with it. So it works on a written and an musical level. So that's nice.
**Morgan:** pretty much what I'm looking. Yeah. So I definitely will get into that for sure. But I wanna know, do you remember the moment that you first picked up a guitar? Like how old were
**Ed:** you when you started? I I was eight. I do remember a couple. First, the first time I heard Blue Sky by the Allman Brothers.
I remember hearing, this is before I even played guitar. I remember hearing the guitar sound and consciously saying to myself, I like that sound. So that's the first five bucks, seven. And then I remember the first time I performed on stage, which was in second or third grade at the Camp Avenue Talent Show, and I performed this land is your.
And Crocodile Rock.
**Morgan:** Oh, . You were a cool kid. . What?
**Ed:** And it was just, it was basically just me and another student who already could play like Mozart on the piano. You know? I was like, could play some basic chords and he was already ripping. But those were the two that I remember. Yeah. So, and then you were hooked?
**Morgan:** Yep. Yeah. That's awesome. What about songwriting? Do you remember the first song that you
**Ed:** ever. Yes. So I, I become friends with my friend Chris in seventh grade. And we both had a love for music and we used to get together and just listen. And he played saxophone. And I played guitar and I borrowed, my brother started playing drums.
My younger brother Billy, and so we borrowed his snare. And we went over to his house Chris's house, and I still remember it's girl, I don't need you, Dan. I don't need no more. Babe. Start walking. Walking out that door bad. That was the first, sounds like a spinal tap dude, to be honest. But that was it.
That was. So I do, I did. That's pretty
**Morgan:** good. That's, that's a hit right there. How old did you say you were? Like 13, 13, 14, 12, 13, yeah. Oh
**Ed:** yeah. But it's, so here's kind of a funny thing there. Like there's been a lot of circles of completion or r going on right now for me. That's been amazing that Chris and I ended up forming a band at, called High Gear in high School and we were very successful, like two or three gigs a.
Macon back in the early eighties, 50 to 75 bucks a piece. That band is now all, they're all back East coast, but they're starting to rehearse and we are gonna have a reunion sometime later this year. That's so cool. Yeah. Then my band after college, a band called Panic Station. We just had a Zoom meeting yesterday or two days ago.
The first time we've all been together in the band together. Since 91, 92 and then my college when I went to St. Bon Venture to study journalism. So that's at dualism. I started writing, then transferred to music. This jazz sex film player in the St. Bonaventure jazz band connected with me and we're doing here.
He wants to do a reunion jazz band concert at St. Bonna Venture in upstate New York. Next. So there's all these reunions going on, which has been amazing. Been really
**Morgan:** fun. That's cool. Nice. Yes. So what you've, have you been in bands pretty much your whole life? Was there ever a time where you were not in a band?
**Ed:** Yes. From about 2004 to about 2000. Well, when I moved here I stopped being in a band. Wow. I was just teaching for time and you know, at that point I was driving to people's houses. And then my wife Carol and I were kind of exploring on the weekends and things like that, going to see different parts of the state and all that.
And I just, I was so full with teaching that I, I just did perform. And then around 2012, I looked up on Craigslist and it was an ad for bass player and I answered the, And ended up joining that band, we ended up doing like close to 400 gigs together. 400. So yeah, we were, wow. We were doing like six 80 gigs a year for like five years.
Something around there. So a band called The Insensitives. So but we were like a popular cover band in the area and we did, yeah. You know, casinos and lots of clubs and we did parties. And we were busy. So that kept me busy. So from then and then I took a break during Covid and then started up actually last year playing out again.
Same group has been, no, that band broke up. So but playing with this guy named Eric Larson who's a really, really good blues rocke guitar player. So playing bass with him. Nice. And did a band, played in a band called Showtime, which. Earth, wind and fire and guitar and that band and stuff. But yeah, so Covid took a break and now back on it.
And one of the things I've noticed from post covid, the gigs are earlier, so like seven to 10, seven to nine,
**Morgan:** that's like break a dawn for a musician. I'm like you gotta set your alarm to wake up by then .
**Ed:** Exactly, exactly. I'm having breakfast before the. Yeah. And then they're paying just as much or even a little more.
So there's, I think, a little more generosity due to the lack. And I've been getting tons of gigs in Silverton where I live, so I'm five minutes from my house.
**Morgan:** That's awesome. Versus when I met you, ed was driving what, an hour, an hour and a half, depending on where you were going in the, in the city every single day.
**Ed:** Yep. Yeah. Yep. It's a long haul. So now I'm teaching two days a week in Silverton, and then two days in Lake Swego area. And like I said, all the gig, most of the gigs are been in town, and I'm like, the best part of the gig is to drive home. It's like I'm five minutes away and I'm like, I'm home by nine 30.
It's, oh God, it's. No . I mean literally at towards the end with the Insensitives, especially on the Saturday when I had a help Chris break down, I was, I would leave at like six to go to the gig and then I'd get home at like four in the morning, you know? And I was sleeping in truck stocks, truck stops on the way home cuz I was getting so tired, you know?
So those days seem to be over and thank goodness, you know? Yeah. Yes.
**Morgan:** Yeah. Can you describe the difference between playing in a band? I mean, I've seen, I've seen the Insensitives. I think I was at the The Harley Davidson. The Harley Davidson. Yep. Yeah. So it's full band, drums, guitar bass, two guitars, possibly a sing lead singer.
Versus some of the gigs you were describing to me earlier, the, the loops and the single just being by yourself. Can you describe the difference of what that's like and, and yeah. What the joys of each are and maybe some of the challenges? Sure. Cause they're
**Ed:** very different. Yeah. Yes. Very different. The, so with being in a band the joys are that collaborative.
Co-creative force of nature that you are as a band. You know, you are when you're playing with the right people and you guys get along and and you play long enough, there's a, a synchronicity and a tele musical telepathy that happens where you know where somebody's gonna go. They have their patterns, and, and you create moments of kind of like instantaneous spontaneity and musicality.
Is wonderful. And you also, those gigs are, people are dancing, they're, you know, when you play the right songs and people are up, it's wonderful to get the crowd going. On the downside, every band is like a dysfunctional family. So you have issues, you have personality conflicts, you know, people are quirky.
You have all that. . So people will have different tastes. They have different, so it's, it's, you know, it's that push and pull of, well, I wanna do this song, eh, let's see this song. So there's some of that happening. And then also sometimes people kind of decide to leave, you know, I'm tired of it.
And so you have to fill in. So with that band, the Insensitives, we had 1, 2, 3, I think four different drummers. The original keyboard player quit. We got a new keyboard. , but that led to some cool things. And then we ended up having a female sax player, Chelsea, who could sing like Lady Gaga. So that was exciting.
So it brought, so there's that constant shifting with the solo gigs. There's no one to worry about but me, I get all the money and I get to do whatever I want. Yeah, it also sounds nice, and it's wonderful. The downsides. You know, there's not many that I can think of. The only thing you know you know, I have to do everything.
So I have to get the gigs, I have to, you know, promote them. I have to do, whereas with the band, sometimes some of those tasks were divvied up or given to someone else. But yeah, I'm loving the solo gigs, you know the, the ease, the independence, you know? Plus I usually play bass in a band situ. So I'm playing guitar and I'm playing the way that I like to play, and the response has been like, just overwhelmingly positive.
So I'll share one fun thing. I played at that Garris restaurant and the owner was there and he came up to me, he's like, where's your tip jar? I'm like, I'm sorry. I've forgot to put it out. So I, I go, you can put it right here. And it's like, he hands me a hundred dollars bill. And I was like, wow. So I was like, oh my God, thank you so much.
So I put my case. and then he walks up to me again, puts another a hundred in, and then came up a third time or put another, so I made $300 in tips. Oh my gosh. A couple other people. So I, I actually made $350 in tips that night. Yeah. So, you know, and I got to keep it all, which was great. So that part is wonderful.
So each, each has its place. You know, when I play with Eric, we have some really fun gigs and there's a lot of energy. You know, you can generate more energy with more. . So sometimes that is really awesome. Bass is when you play with a great drummer, playing bass is glorious. When you play with Soso, it's soso.
And when you play with somebody you don't get along with. It's like Chinese water torture, , you know? So it, it's, so, I still remember gigs where I played with somebody who was, we were just a great fit, you know, so, you know, dance. You and Wade obviously dance great together. Have you ever danced with a partner where you're like, dude, no left, right.
You know, with somebody, yeah, yeah. It's not fun, right? No. Yeah. No. Yeah. But it's glorious when you know all the right moves and you flow Oh, and all that, that's what bass and drums, that's what you want it to be, and you hope it is. And there's a lot of drummers that come in and out. So it's but then that's always, I'm, I'm having to learn how they play and so, which is fine.
Sometimes it's just nice to, oh, I know this guy. I know how he plays. It's, you know, so, yeah. But yeah, it's all good.
**Morgan:** Yeah. So when you're doing your your songwriter stuff, your solo stuff that you're kind of gotten more into now in, in post covid, do they let you play? So I know a lot of times you're, you're playing for an audience, right?
And they wanna hear the standards. Are you able now to play some of the stuff that you've written as well in some of your originals, or do they still want you to keep it to.
**Ed:** Yeah, no, they people are, people are open. Like, I'll do some covers and then I'll go like, anybody up, you know, up for an original?
And everyone's like, yeah. You know, so there's definitely a hunger for it, which is nice. And I played a gig in Eugene co couple months ago, and I was doing that same thing, playing some covers, and then played some originals and, and the, and they were like, play one, play another one, you know? I think there's kind of a hunger for that cuz people love the old stuff or love the covers.
But I think a lot of people like to hear some originals. As long as you don't pa, like if it's all originals, you know it and you don't, that's a different gig. That's a different gig, you know? But if you toss, and that's been my modus operandi my whole time. Like even in the bands, we would do a bunch of covers throw away in a couple of originals, couple.
And so you give them what they know, give the honest what they know, and then you tease 'em with something maybe they don't know, but they're more willing to go there with you because you've given them, you know, some stuff that they know and love. So I think that's a good move to do in general until you're more established and people like your own original music.
**Morgan:** Yeah, yeah, yeah. So you've. You have written, I know you've written individual songs, but you also have written at least to, again, we'll get to this memoirs thing. I'm so excited to talk about that. Yeah. But when I was in Portland, you were working on a project that was, it's kind of like, how would you call it?
Like, like a concept piece? The before your time has come, I mean, that was a whole production. It had, yeah, it had the, the music. But it also ha, I mean, it had a whole. It was a whole thing. Video. Can you kind of describe, had a video in there. Can you describe what that project was for people and also, you know, what, how, why you wrote it and what went into it and, and how that Yeah.
How that performance went.
**Ed:** Sure. So it's kind of fun to hear how the song came about. Well, fun, maybe not the word word, but it's almost like a mys. I had just gotten a new guitar effects pedal called The Helix, and I was just dialing through the sounds and Parkland had just happened. And this was like three days after Parkland.
And I just dialed in his tone. I was like, Ooh, that's kind of cool. It's like a Pink Floyd kind of snap. And it literally, it felt like kind of a door opened and the song presented itself through and I, it really felt like it was through the sound and I. Okay, so I, I started writing the chords and writing the lyrics, and it was done in 20 minutes.
You know, and that's always, the best ones are always, you know, you felt like you received it or you were, you know, and this felt like I was chosen to write it. And so the lyrics were about a teenage girl's experience of being in a school shooting, you know? And so I was like, I didn't, was not looking to do that.
Wasn't intending on do. , I was just playing with the sounds on the, on the, the guitar pedal, and that is what came through. And so I, after writing it, I cried. I played it for my wife, she cried. And so I was like, well, I, I feel like I've been chosen to, to do this, so I need to present it and, and make as good of a song as I can.
And, and felt the need to make a video for it as well. And so I recorded all the tracks at home and. The daughter of one of my students has a beautiful voice, and she was 15 at the time and she agreed to sing it, and so she sang it and then we, Leslie ended up helping me out. And then we had the premiere at for the video at P S U.
And the other synchronicity was the, the teacher in the video. I put an ad out and he was the only one that replied. And we met for coffee and he was like, well, you know, we're talking. He's like, well, my last day of teaching in my 30 year career, I was in a school shooting. I was like, geez, you know, I mean, so he's actually, he's in the video of the teacher and he's, his last day was in a school shooting, so it was just, I really felt like whatever was behind the scenes, I was being direct.
To the people and to the to the groups and whoever else could help make that possible. And we did it, we performed it live on tv, TV station. And we got, got the front page of a, you know, lake of Swego paper and yeah. And, and you know, it was a hard thing because, because the subject matter is so sensitive, you know, I, I thought it was like, well, this is a song that.
Can turn some hearts, you know, that's what I thought it was gonna be for. And I actually went to Mom's Against Mom's Demand Action, you know, which is a gun group, gun control group. And I was like, can I play this song? And they were like, yeah. But something about having a musical version of that topic Hmm.
Didn't land like I thought it would, you know, like I'm used to, like, a lot of my inspirations were songs related to social. Justice and, and civil rights during the sixties and seventies. You know how Yeah. Felt like the music propelled a lot of that, you know? Yeah. Like if you, I mean, it was directly in tandem and I felt like the musicians and artists were giving energy to those causes that helped them succeed.
And I thought this song was gonna help to do that, but it was so, such a delicate subject matter. And now with social media, You know, I think people were afraid that that song could be turned somehow. It could be, you know, like weaponized or, you know what I mean? I was like, yeah, after the premiere and after that it, you know, it, it had some impact and, and you know, I had some people write, reach out to me that I didn't know and say, listen to the song.
I was like, wow, this is amazing and thank you so much for writing it. And so, you know, maybe it was just to touch those few people, you know, who's to say I. Yeah, the whole thing still is like a little bit of a mystery of how the whole thing came about, you know? Yeah. It was very, this, very mystical,
**Morgan:** well, I was there for the premiere and it was, yeah, it was very moving.
It was, thank you. It was amazingly done. Beautifully done. The whole thing, the video you everything. Yeah. It was very well done. Yeah.
**Ed:** Again, just the actress. There was like, I don't know, two or three girls that showed up, but she was the only one that actually showed up to the audition. You know, like people getting back to me, sending me their head shots.
And then the girl who's in the video is the only one who actually showed up for an audition. So it's just like something was filtering out everything that didn't belong, and I'm just kind like watching it all going, you know, there was, I don't know.
**Morgan:** It was, did you feel like a bystander rather than a creator at the Epic Center?
**Ed:** Yeah, like I was almost like the, the human conduit. Yeah. That was making happen, but I was very much like an observer. Like, oh, okay, that's the way it's gonna go. And Oh, that, you know, very much I was, felt very little in control, but that's, you know, there's been other experiences that I've had, not as intense, but where you, you are, you're not really writing the show
That's the best. You're involved but you're not really running it. And you know, it's kind of fun to the synchronicities that start happening. You're just like, didn't know that could happen and didn't know that could happen. And oh, that's, so I think that the job, you know, as an artist and a creative person is to be open to those things happening.
And you know, I think we're all guilty of over controlling things to get things right. And so that's certainly been part of my journey is. Allow things beyond my scope of awareness to contribute. And how do
**Morgan:** you get into a space, like, so when you, when you write a song, how, I guess how intentional is it and how do you get into that space where you're, you're open to that, but also pulling on your knowledge of music to, you know, I'm assuming it doesn't come into a vacuum, it comes into you because you've played thousands of songs in your career.
And so you have an innate, innate vision of how things can fit together. Yes. But how do you get into a head space where that's possible?
**Ed:** It's like, you know, the, the, the story of like, the muse is, you know, I mean, that's kind of a real thing. I mean, you, you can be driving on I five and then all of a sudden, boom, and then I'll pull over and start writing down lyrics or I, I plot my phone and start humming something or, so that's, you don't know when and where it's gonna.
And then I'll just, you know, if I'm jamming on something and all of a sudden, Ooh, what's that? You know, you get a little inkling and then you follow it. It's like you get a little, a little crumb in the woods, you know, like, Ooh. And then now there's that part of it. And again, the best songs are the ones that really, you feel like you've dialed in to the cosmic radio and they're there already.
So now there are songs, other songs, I've worked on, like there's a song for the book called Life. It's a Trip. I originally wrote the original version of that song in like 96, 97. And it was cool, it was funky, but now I'm in Oregon and it's 25 years later and now it's kind of a little more folky and, but it got this whole end section.
That is this cool guitar, ascending guitar porn that I had written in New York and I never knew what to do with it. And I was like, God, this is cool, but what am I? Where's it? I'm working on the life of the trip, the re kind of revised version, and it's at the end of that, and I'm like, that's where it's supposed to go.
Like literally over 20 years later. The right part
**Morgan:** is you keep that in your head or down on paper or record. How do you remember what you did? 20. I can't remember what I did yesterday. .
**Ed:** Well, I, so as a, yeah, that's part of your job is to like, I mean I've got notes stack of stuff with core LA core things and I've got 300 or 400 iPhone memos of like, you know, little snippets and stuff.
But your part of your job, I think as a songwriter is. Wait for those connections to happen. And then, so then you kind of like, even though if you're not conscious of it, then you're like, huh, what? Oh, wait, that thing, let's try. And then a lot of times it's like, let's try it, let's throw it in. Eh, not really, but could it, can I change it a little bit?
Eh, nah, it's not the right thing. And then, and then you try something else and, and you know, it's very much like that. And then sometimes it's just like, immediately it's like two people, you know, connecting on a train. You know, it. . Wow, that's the right fit. So there's another song called Daisy in the bu in the book I've written six or seven versions of that same song.
And you know, some of them are, the earlier ones are as good as this one, but this one feels like the right one. So yeah, I, I, sometimes I do that, there's like rehashing of things and my wife will say, you. That's all right. But you capture the original vibe where you were at on in the earlier version.
Like that's you at 32. Okay, yeah, you're right. Not me, at 50, whatever. So sometimes I, I like something musically better now, but the energy of it is actually better from Earl.
**Morgan:** So let's talk about this. Why don't you tell people what, what is memoirs and, and where, where did it come from and how did you decide to make it into an.
**Ed:** Well a week before my 30th birthday, I was living in New York and I went on a trip, a six month backpacking trip to Europe. And it was a life-changing experience in many ways. Went by myself and started in Ireland and then went to France and went down to Italy and Prague and Germany and Amsterdam.
Got to London with like a hundred pounds of me and ended up staying almost five months without ever getting a real job and through busking in the subways. And ended up kind of squatting for a week in a, you know, all that stuff. And then just experienced some remarkable I call it anonymous kindness.
So where nobody knew me and yet was still kind to. And that left a huge impression on me. And ended up finding a hostel that was, it's like still like un unlike any other place I've ever been. It was like a univer an international co-ed dorm with a bar in the basement and a little stage. And I walked in before I stayed there and I went, I'm gonna play on that stage.
And I. Plank for my accommodation on that stage and and all kinds of things. So I came back very much a different person and I was like, God, I, I gotta write this down. I gotta, so I, first, I started writing it as a kind of a novel or some story. Then I went to, oh, you know what? No, it's a screenplay.
Nope. Then let's go back. And then and then I finally settled on making a memoir. And then I. I could not write songs to go with it. You know, they just were percolating and 45 years later, , it's kind of ready, you know, it's, it's that. So the the book part is pretty, pretty much done, happy with it. And now it's just getting the, the full version of the music done, which I'll spend, you know, a weekend on just the drum parts for songs.
So it takes a long time. It's worth it. So I love the fact that you can read it and listen to it, and you'll get two versions of the same journey. Are you
**Morgan:** gonna have 'em together where like a, like a CD or, or a digital file or something with the book?
**Ed:** Yes. Yep. Yep. So I think the easiest way to do it would be to do a, like an ebook where you could just click on a link and I'll go to a playlist or something.
Cool. So then you can, yeah. . And then I'll, I still want a paper version as well, but yeah. Yeah. So that's, yeah. How many
**Morgan:** songs are on it? Or how, how, how many songs are
**Ed:** part of it? 23, I believe. Wow. Yeah. Yeah. Are
**Morgan:** you also playing all of the instruments?
**Ed:** Yes. Yeah, except for the, I'm having someone sing backing vocals for me.
, but pretty much everything else I'm doing. Yeah. So it's been, that part's been fun and challenging and, and like I'm doing a song, working on a song now and kind of this Celtic six eight kind of thing, and it's fun. But, you know, I haven't played bunch of stuff like that before, so it's, you know, it's like, okay, there's so, and it's kind of soft and builds and along.
Okay. All right. So each song has its own challenge. . But I'm, I'm stoked about how it's coming out overall. Yeah. So, yeah.
**Morgan:** Nice. Thanks. Do you have a recording studio in your house or do you go somewhere for that?
**Ed:** For all the guitar, bass, drums, all that stuff. I've got a music room Yep. For that. And then I went and did do you know Dead Anne Thelma's studio in Portland?
Do you know that studio? But that that's where I went, went to do the vocals and. I just, in terms of the vocals, I really just somebody else pushing the buttons and Yeah. You know, I sent through a U 47, it's like a 5,000 microphone, which The Beatles sank through and got a big a p i board and all that stuff.
So that part I I just wanna feel comfortable and not worry about, oh, hit record and then sing and, and all that. So it's worth it for me to go in for that. But everything else I can. . That's one of the fun things too, is the technology's enabled. Yeah. I mean, you certainly, there's learning curves for sure, but you can get good sounding stuff at home now, which is fantastic, you know?
Yeah. So the, the challenge with that is, yeah, I can, but so can every, everyone else, you know? So yeah. It's, it's like now there's Aer , so it's like, but yeah, I'm, I'm happy with how it's coming out, so, and my goal is to eventually, Have it on stage, you know, like, and that's influencing my dec musical decisions, like so on this, say this newest song.
I started seeing like, almost like fairs dancing on stage and stuff. And I was like, you know, cuz it's about a part of the story where I go to this it's called a Rainbow Center. And it, I ended up staying there for a time and, and, and so they welcomed me into the circle and the name of the song that's called Enter the Circle.
And so, but just like thinking of it theatrically. , I started coming up with different, like a flute part and a so and so. That's kind of fun to like envision the stage version and have that influence the recorded version. Yeah. Cool. So
**Morgan:** that's, so you're writing a musical too? Yeah. like a, a play,
**Ed:** yeah. It's, it's, I call it a memoir musical.
Yeah. And you know what, what's funny is like, this is like on Broadway now, Pete, like Bono wrote a memoir and. Performed all the song, right. Anthony Rap from Rand is doing he just had a memoir and he wrote a bunch. So suddenly everyone's doing this. So I thought, oh, I'm gonna be this original. Now my wife always jokes at me, she's like, I know you think that's an original idea, but most certainly somebody else has already thought of it or has done it.
Damn it. You know, I thought out. But no, but it's, it seems to be a thing now, whereas people are mixing the, the literature with the. And so it feels like a good time to be doing this, you know? Yeah. So, and it's funny, I Anthony Rapp, do you know who he is? He played one of the characters in Rent, and we actually, in New York, we actually did a song together at a benefit concert.
Yeah. We played all apology together. Yeah. Nice. But yeah, so it's, it's, that part's been fun. and I like writing for stories, so I'm, yes, I'm not, you know, like I'm not a huge musical guy in terms of like, you know, I love, I've, I've performed, I was musical director from Cabaret, I've played bass in Jesus Christ, superstar and couple others.
But, you know, I'm like, somehow my brain works and loves to write music for a story, and so this is how it's happening and it's, and I, I really. . I like tying it in together, you know,
**Morgan:** so, yeah. Do you have the, the, the music, is it like sequential as well? So like, like later songs are referencing themes from Orig, you know, ones further at the beginning.
**Ed:** yeah, that's a good question. As of yet. Not directly, no, but that's a good point. I mean, I don't have as of yet like, like say like the main character's theme or. . So I'd say right now it's kind of more like a rock musical. We've got a collection of songs. But that's actually something good to think about actually is maybe weave in some, some themes in there per the characters and stuff.
So that's a good, thank you. Good idea.
**Morgan:** was inspired. What can I say? Good. Well, they do that. I know they do that in. in Broadway in a, it started in opera where they'll have like the overture in the beginning. Right? . And if you know the music really well, some people are like, oh, there's music playing when I walk in.
No, if you know the music well, it's like, oh wait, that's from that song. And that's, and they take all the songs and they smoosh it just like little pieces right into an
**Ed:** overture. Right? Yes. So it's Which da Yeah. The, that's a cool idea. The way I'm starting the book is I have a song called A Perfect Place to.
And so that's, it's
**Morgan:** the very beginning. Is that a throwback, very beginning sound of music there, .
**Ed:** So it's that lays out some of the dynamics of him, me, or the character before he leaves, and then going into a song called Life as a Trip. And then from there it's, it's off. So yeah. So we'll see.
Cool. Very cool. But it's fine, even just riffing on it with you, you know, you're giving me some ideas, which is. Nice. Yeah.
Let's go back a little bit. We've, we've talked about your, your start in guitar and then we talked, we talked about like, kind of now that you are you know, an established musician, all this stuff that you're doing, what about that in between period? Was there ever a time when you like, just were like, Ugh, wanted to quit, or just like were over it?
That's fun. Yeah. I gave up Qar twice for six months and I was like, I need to give you a break. Just breath out and and it was life, you know, like just trying to work in New York and I'm doing a bunch of stuff and I was like, and, and, but the thing was is that I, like my soul was like being crushed, you know?
And so like, I was like, so when I started picking it up again, I was, believe it or not, I was better. So I, I also like something processing. I never it's funny that you're asking me about this cuz I used to live for gigs, you know? Yeah. Like, that was like my thing. And I never stopped trying or pursuing it.
But there were times when I would do other things, like in New York, I did produce, somebody asked me to produce a film festival, you know, and then I had a production company where we did concerts in, in nightclub. and those, there were those types of things that gave me a new breath of life to keep going.
You know, like cuz music sometimes got like, it didn't seem like it was going anywhere and by the time I was 30 I'd been in five bands already and each one had broken up, you know, after about two or three years. So there was a sense of, and then what happened was is I became more of a solo guy. So I became a like a bass guy to play with people and then I would hire people to do my music.
Became safer and in a way more effective for me while I was in New York where I, it was really funny. I used to walk to gigs sometimes in New York, bring my bass, there was always a back line. I'd plug in play for 45 minutes, make a hundred bucks, walk back home or go roam around the East Village. That was pretty cool.
Yeah. And then when I do a gig, I would hire guys that I knew that were great players. and I'd pay them 75 bucks a gig and then we'd do a really good gig and then, you know, for a while. So there would I, that's how I adapted. And then every time I've moved, things got better. Mm-hmm. . So I moved out of New York and I went to Wilmington, North Carolina.
And that's where I first became a full-time musician is I was in about five different bands, teaching. That's where I made my. Movie. Down there I was in a, formed an all male performance tube. It was great. It was great. So, and then moved across country, and this is where I became a full-time teacher and all that stuff.
So I, I've often thought about this, like I had to kind of move and find the right place that would enable me to do what I wanted to do. And that's part, so that's that relentless, like not giving up on your. Maybe your dream can't happen where you're at, but maybe it can happen somewhere else. And that's what I've found is that, you know, New York is just, it's too hard to make a living and and do all those other things, and there's best people in the world are there.
So by moving out of there and maybe being a little bit of a bigger fish in a smaller pond, that was a good thing for me. And then moving again, where people out here. Really are willing to pay for education. You know, like, you know, like it's a good place to be a teacher out here better than a lot of other places that I've found.
And there's a, you know, there's been a good music scene and all that. Will we move again? I don't know. Maybe, I don't know. You know, not something else comes up, but in the past, have I been bummed out, depressed and Yes, yes, yes. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's funny that you said that because that's, I think, a. . So I, I met Ed when, when I also lived up in the Portland area, and I've recently moved away to California.
I never thought I'd ever moved to California, first of all, you know, from Yeah. But, but that, that process of, of moving and then you have, I think part of it is you have to establish yourself as an artist. And I, I come with all of these, all this training some level of talent and skills to. But people don't know that they see me and they're like, you could be anybody.
You could be tone deaf. I don't know who you are. So there's an element of like, okay, well I am gonna show you who I am, but I'm really, I'm only gonna show you, I'm gonna show you what I want to be here. You know? Right. Yeah. Yeah. . Yeah. Yeah. I wonder if that's part of it too, is when you move to a new place, you are like, you know what?
I'm done with this other aspect of being that I was over there. And those old habits, you get into the same groups, the same habits, like, well, who am I gonna be here and let me go find people who make that happen. Yeah. Yeah. And that's what a fresh start can offer you is Yes. Really like reinventing yourself, you know?
For sure. And it's, I feel like there's an opportunity to reinvent myself, but also just an opportunity to explore parts of me. They're already invented. They're in. But I've never had the chance to do them like down here. Which is funny cuz Portland has such a vibrant art scene. That's part of why I moved there.
But in this town I'm in now, it's a little smaller stuff just feels open to me in a way that it didn't in Portland. Like I could go join the opera. Like, I could just do that. Yeah. I mean, you can't just go join the Portland Opera , you know, it's a very intense audition thing. Like yes, there's a, there's a you know, A group here that just does Gilbert and Sullivan.
Yeah. You know, I, I haven't, it's been so long since I've done musical theater, but I feel like I could go do that here. Whereas in Portland I was like, oh no, that's for other people anyway. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don't wanna be when I'm being here forever, you know what I mean? Right. Yeah. It was funny how I got teaching.
I used to work for Portland Music, so. even that was like, again you know, there was ad for a job in Portland music and I mean, a guy had a stack of resumes like this. And I walked in and I was like, oh, I'm here about the job. And, and I started to start talking to this guy, Gilley. And I was like, yeah, just hanging out.
And the manager, I didn't know he was watching me interact and we were just, and then I met with the guy and he's like, so you here about the job? And I was like, yeah. And he's like, yeah. And. . So what do you do? And I was like, well, I'm kind of a bass guy and you know, I just said that. And he was like, actually, that's what we're looking for.
So, and I got the job and then a couple months in, people started asking me, do you teach? You know, like I'd sell guitars to people. I'm like, yeah. And I was like, oh, cool. Pretty soon every, all the other guys are handing out my business cards if you want lessons contacted within 10 months I was teaching full-time.
Oh, hello? and then never looked. And then I haven't stopped since, so I didn't know that I was actually a teacher really sure until I here. And then it's actually one of my strengths is teaching. So that whole side of me, yeah, I didn't know it even existed really, you know? And, and that's how I've been, you know, making the majority of my living doing.
And so that's been wonderful. And you know, a lot of beautiful experiences teaching. Just a fun thing. I'm, I'm helping a dad band the two, yeah. Bunch of guys in their fifties. They're all very successful, you know, very successful dudes. And two of the guys are my students and and they have a great space.
The bass player has this very deep garage. They have it set up. And, and so I, you know, I've been helping them you know, with. Own individual parts, but then sometimes I go and listen to them as a band and, and, and and now they're gigging, they're starting to gig and and they, the keyboard player might be out this summer, so I might jam play a couple gigs with them.
And you know, I'm doing band cams and things like that. It's all been very fun to, to share that knowledge, you know? And there's a very much mentorship in. Yeah, you, you mentored? I was mentored as a bass player when I went to music school at Ithaca College. My guitar teacher, one of the last semesters, he took a solo and I just naturally started walking on baseline.
He's like, Hey, you're pretty good at that. I've got 10 gigs this summer if you want 'em. I was like, of course I do. And so I basically learned how to play bass on the bandstand with people that. Incredible and much better than I was. And then now most of my giggling is on base except for the soul. Yes. You know, those types of things where people see something in you that you didn't even know was there.
Yeah. And then that kind of blossom. Yeah. I have two thoughts on this that are like burning . Okay. First of all, I think part of that is just the importance and what I'm kind of getting out of this whole conversation as well as others I've had with you. Just the importance of being open. Yes. Just open.
Don't pigeonhole, like, like you've already just dropped casually in this, that you've made a film, you've produced a play, a you know, you've written a screenplay, you've written a Yep. A, a full stage musical now as well as an album and a book like and it's just, but you're, you're just, you're open, right?
And you've had all of these amazing, enriching possibilities cuz you don't, pigeon it would be very easy for you to pigeonhole yourself as the, the rock and roll bass guy. Like, and that's what you. There's this openness in you of like, you wanna do this? Sure. You know, and, and you are not, you're not afraid to say yes to stuff that you've never done before.
Yes. Yeah. Well, thank you. Yeah, that is true. I mean, when I when I was in Wilmington, I wrote a screenplay for a film called Deadbeat about elite singer who dies on stage and I, all that stuff. And the first day on set people like, dude, why are you so calm? It's like, you know, like people were like, you can believe.
and I was like, I don't know. It was like, this is really fun. Let's just see what happened. You know what I mean? I was just like, got all these people helping me and got actors and lighting crew, and I was like, let's just, yeah, let's just see what happens. You know? So there's that curiosity of let's let's see what, what happens.
Yes. You know, and, and, and so that's why I, I, you know, thought about doing a YouTube channel and that kind of stuff, and so, but I don't wanna be like another guitar guy. You know? There's like a thousand of those guys. So trying to incorporate the different things that I like and, and are interested in.
That's been the challenge. But yeah, I, I do, I don't like being pigeonholed into one thing cuz I, like creativity itself gets to manifest in so many different ways. Right? And so I love being creative and I love the creative experience and so allowing it to be expressed through. in the ways that it desires is, is that openness Right.
Of of, yeah. And, and it's, it can be really fun, you know? Yeah. Yeah. And then the other, the second burning thing just related to what you said about mentoring is we are now kind of in a, a phase where we are the mentors, right. Where there, there are areas where we're really good. Yeah. And I guess maybe, maybe more, I don't know if it's advice or whatever.
The importance of doing something for someone who maybe isn't as good and just like enveloping other people now that you're, if you're in a spot where you have the, the opportunity and the chance to like, you know, to do that, the sa the same thing for other people and to, you know, just the smallest word of encouragement or just taking someone under your wing.
There's this girl who joined choir and she sits next to me in the group and she's, she's 19 and I know I must be getting old cuz I'm like, you baby. You're like you. Her pipes are amazing. She's just got a really powerful voice. And I'm so excited to, you know, I'm like, any opportunity I can offer her, I, you know, I was like, Hey, do you wanna come join this other group I'm in?
You know, what about this? I'll just, I'll toss stuff at her. She's brand new, as long as she's receptive, right. I don't wanna be pushy, but, right. You know, it feels really amazing now because other people did that to me. I can do that back to other people. For sure. That can be really comparable. It's a, oh, it's, yeah.
It's really, it's, I agree. And, you know, I there was a drum, one of the female drum instructors at Berkeley was, I don't remember her name, but she was on the radio and she was saying how a lot of times musicians end up becoming teachers. Yeah. You know, there's a lot of that, you know, and I was like, huh, you know, you're so focused on.
You know, you're rock heroes that, you know, whatever, or whoever they are. But a majority of musicians have world experience and they play, they often end up teaching mm-hmm. To share that experience. And it's a, I think that's a beautiful thing is that you go out and you learn and then you share and then that, you know, that continues on.
And I think, you know, you. or experiencing that with that girl. And I think that's just a beautiful thing, you know? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It's really fun. And it's fun when see people progress and improve and, and you know, and like I said, that, you know, that encouragement that fostering, you know, everybody needs that, you know?
Yeah. And, and, and you know, when you come from a place where you are more stable in your own self and your own abilities, , you can be that for someone. Yeah. And, and that really good cuz it, it takes a long time to get to that place because you understand, like, I understand how much work is ahead of her.
If she wants to, if she wants to go down that road mm-hmm. , like I just, I know how long it's gonna take. It's gonna take Yep. Well into your thirties until you're gonna really feel that sense of confidence in self if you ever get it. I don't know. But , you know, Well, you aren't. So if I can make that a little easier or open some doors for someone and yeah, so I'm curious.
I, I don't wanna like throw a huge, huge question at you, but I'd be curious your philosophy on what art and music is because and while you think about that, I'll kind of give the background for the question, which is Okay. One of the things that I so appreciated working with you in Portland is, you know, we would, one of the, the projects we did were these, these jam sessions and people would get together and a lot of it was, you know boomers or, or people, I would say over the age of 45, 50 were the majority of the people who showed up a lot.
And it's very easy to pigeonhole certain types of music with the generat. And what I really appreciated that you would do is you'd bring in stuff, I mean you'd brought in Green Day, you brought in pink, you brought in modern stuff. Even just from, you know, the, you know, you were two old. Yeah. And you were bringing it to this group with the same, and you'd already established credibility by bringing in a lot of their own standards and favorites that they have every single word of, and then you'd also challenge them a little bit with some of this newer music.
And I think that's so important cuz I think a lot of people. Brush off new music kids these days, you know, new music. Oh, stupid pop sound. It's all the same. It's like, well, yep. No, there was a lot of crap written in your era too. It's just now there are standards. It's been weed out, so most of what you hear is good , right.
So, right. Yes. How, how do you des like what, what's your philosophy on that and, and how to. When you encounter new music as a teacher, I think it's important to get excited about whatever your student's excited about. That's what you have to be excited about. You can't be dismissive of it. Yeah. So, yes. Kind of what's your philosophy around that and, and, and the flow of music across just, you know, the, the eras and, and what's, what is art?
Yes. Okay. So,
So I'll, I'll address, I'll address that from I don't search out new music as much, you know but that's what my students do for me. Yeah. So my students then become the teacher for me. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I become the student and they go so I've got two teenage girls that take lessons together and they're both very talented, Claire and Ely, and they're always like, they're sending me Ed.
This is the song we wanna work on, you know, today. And they'll send it to me and I'll listen. and there's some really good dreamy pop stuff that they like that I never would've found without them. And a couple of 'em stick with me. I'm like, oh man, that's, that's a really good tune. And so their interest in their own music when they bring it to me, I have to go, okay, what's cool about this?
What do I wanna get excited about? And then I show, then I try to show them. I use it as an opportunity to teach some of the maybe fundamentals under that underlie. , you know, and then maybe compare it to another, another song and that kind of thing. So that part's really fun cuz then I'm like, ah, okay.
That's a cool, oh, that's cool. And I get to my, immediately my ears are like, what's cool in here? What, what can I link onto? So that's the first part. Then you know, and that's gone to like another thing where I've had. Nine year old girl come in and play a YouTube video for me of a chicken singing a melody.
She's like, I wanna learn this. And I'm like, okay, . You know, I've had to, you know, and I've had to, you know, watch this animated chicken sing, sing a melody, you know, so, you know, sometimes it's, it's, you know, it's a little bit challenging to get excited about. But, but you know what? The thing has changed. I think, and I'm gonna get to overall one of the things I've been doing is actually getting together with a couple of friends and actually listening to LPs together.
Nice. Taking the album out, putting on, and then listening and, you know, and chatting. But and there's something about that experience that's really lovely, you know, like, You're listening to the whole album, you're, you're not, and there's no visual. Yeah. So that's the thing that I've noticed is that everything has to have a visual now that's on YouTube and all that stuff.
So one of the things I try to do is I, well, I ask my students a lot, like, how much are you listening to the song? And a lot of times they're not. So they're wanting to learn a song that they're not listening to. I'm like, you gotta go. And listen to that song to get it. So that's a challenge that I've seen through the, and that a lot of times people come in, well, I printed out this tab and they're trying to learn the guitar report from the tab.
And I'm like, have you listened to it? No. I'm like, that's really hard to play without listening to the song. So again, so there's this almost second or third removed from the actual music. So that's the part I keep. And now part of my. Okay. Here's 25 guitar players you should know about. How many of you listened to?
Well, I, okay. Last five minutes. We're listening to Maddie Van Halen. We're listening to Stevie Ray Vaon. We're listening to Jimmy Edrick. What is that? Yeah, just to, Hmm. Yeah. There's lots of new people that are doing in incredible stuff. Yeah. And, and so they're pushing the boundaries a lot. Technic.
especially in Guitar World, there's like just ridiculous people doing monstrous things. And the thing I don't hear as much is putting that technique in a great tune. So that's the part I'm like, okay, that, you know, when you hear a Van Halen tune, it's like, so is great guitar work and it's in a cool tune.
So that's the part. So I so I think somewhere Art is gone. Is due to all the technical you can slow things down, you can do that. The technical side of things is, is just leaps and bounds going, but because people are not in the same room as much, the collaborative sense of music is not as strong at the moment.
People are showing what I can do in my bedroom. But they're, they've had covid to practice. Like they've just had two years of Exactly. Of isolation. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And so to the bigger point of what I think art, music, you know I'm certainly older now and I have a different perspective now than I did when I was younger.
It's all about self-expression and it's all about expressing my view of the world, and it's all about me showing what I can do. And now I see it as that it's a means. To relate and to connect. That's what I see it is now. So and there's so many different ways to do that. One of the fun things I love to do in lessons is if somebody loves surfing and I'm showing him something about playing rhythm and guitar, I love to say, well, Steve, when you get on that wave and you ride that wave right and you glow, that's what you want to have happen with your rhythm guitar.
and so then there's all these kind of interdisciplinary mixes and matches. So one of the things I love to do is find out a little bit about the person. Try to link something they already know and find that similarity in the music. Because to me there, there's so many things that have the same fundamental principles and underlying guidelines.
Yeah. That you can link so many things together, and then they're like, oh, that's cool. Oh, I didn't think that. The guitar part is the same as riding a surfboard on a wave, but they are kind of, yeah. And that, that linking, that communicating the commonness of a lot of the stuff, rhythm and time and, you know, all that stuff.
So yeah. I don't know if that answers your question, but Yeah. I was just, I mean, it was, it came to me spontaneously, wasn't formulated in advance, but it was, you know, felt like, yeah. I just wanted to kind of hear your take on that. Yeah. Thank you. All right. I have one final question for you, so, sure.
There's, do you know what zeitgeist means? Isn't that like kind of the, the mood of the times of sorts? Yeah. Spirit of the Times. Yeah, exactly. So it basically like what it feels like to be, like alive at any particular point in time. And for me, when I think about it for music, it's like, like when you.
You just feel it and you relate to it and everything, like you were just saying with the surfing , like it just clicks. So yes. What was your most I'll, I'll call that a zeitgeist moment when it just you that with music? Yeah. So what, what was a recent zeitgeist moment for you or a particularly memorable zeitgeist moment where it was just, it just was all there?
Ah, that's a good question. Let me see. Well, a couple. Juan, when I play those solo gigs, I, I, I get into that zone, you know, like, I mean, almost the whole gig. I'm in that zone where I just set up, I set up a groove, I layer some stuff, and then I, I solo and yeah. So that's, that's recent. When I was working on this new song Y.
and there was a, a part, and I came up with a, a nice flute line. And then I added some some vocal acquire vocals and the way the two relate and I, I just kept, it's like, Nope, not quite there. Not quite there. And then I was like, Nope. Tweaking, tweaking. But I, I could. And then, and then it came together. I was like, ah, you know, there was that kind of, Yes, that's it.
And so those are two recent ones. I often go there on bass. If I just pick up a bass and I just start playing, I immediately go there. Nice. Yeah, because I doomed. So one of the things that's that's different about me as a bass player than adds a guitar player is on bass. I immediately get into a zone.
Complete focus and I would say like service to the groove where it's like, and you know, and, and that's the, and it's a very specific thing like, you know, I'm just there to support. Whereas on Qatar it's a little more Super Louis and, and but I get to express, I get to paint and describe things.
in a more maybe flowery way, if that's the what I, so, you know, there's this, it, and then on the guitar, you know, it's a different thing. So I, I'm so grateful I get to explore, like being in the zeitgeist, in the zone, on bass, on guitar. When I'm writing. I also, when I do my writing, there are times where it's like, you're right in that zone and that, that feels very different to the music even.
But, , it's wonderful because you're like, you feel like it's a, a language stream that you're getting into. And then again, if that's, that, if you're open now, it doesn't mean it's gonna be perfect and you probably have to rewrite a bunch. But if you start, you know, doing your thing and you're like, Ooh, there's like a, you get this buzz going where it's like, oh, this something's good here.
I, I know it. You know what I mean? So those are some awesome. Well, ed, thank you so much for being on my podcast. Thank you for having me. It was a blast. Really fun. Really fun. Thank you.