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- Posted on Mar 16th 2010 12:07AM by Tina Benitez
How would you describe your sound?
I don't like to use the word funk. That word was ruined by bad white funky bands. It just has a negative connotation. It's more old soul, classic sounding rock.
What has been the response to 'Young Blood, Old Soul' so far?
I'm doing something a little different than the stuff out there - real old soul-funk music with a modern spin. I think people think it's refreshing and exciting to hear musicianship and songwriting. It's funny because I'll get older fans who are like "If this was 1974, you'd be huge right now!" They love it. I love those guys, and I love that they love it.
What are some of your musical influences?
I'm always influenced by what I listen to. I always listened to pop music and always listened to radio-still do. I listened to Snoop Dogg, Pearl Jam. I don't hear it in my music. Maybe I'm influenced by pop culture the most. Now you can listen to cool music and be intellectual. My first band, I started when I was 12, and I was in it until I turned 24. We started in 1989, and most of the songs we played were when GNR just come out like "Sweet Child 'O Mine" and Skid Row.
The album 'Young Blood, Old Soul' seems to say a lot about you as an artist. Was the title pretty straight forward?
It was trying to describe what my music sounded like. Someone said "You have an old soul," and someone else said "but you're young blood." I thought it was a good description. I've always had respect for people who came before me: Sly Stone, Ray Charles, Dr. John, Billy Preston. I'm not trying to recreate them. It's just in me. When I first played "Thunder Road" (Bruce Springsteen), it changed my world.
How old were you when you started making music?
I started playing piano at 4-years-old. I was really good when I was really young. I'm still good, but at that time if you had seen me at 4, you would have thought I would be a genius. I was like a party favor. My parents would have parties, and I would be playing half the songs off of 'Abbey Road' and stay up past my bedtime. It was cool learning Beatles tunes at that age. From then on, my mom took me to see Billy Joel and Elton John my whole life. Those are the only two guys that play keys and give you hope of being a rock star.
Is this your first time playing SXSW?
It's my first time as a solo artist. I played in the past with other bands. It's crazy. It's like spring break for bands. It's different from other fests. First and foremost, it's a music conference. Walking through Austin, there are six streets closed off. It's one long party. Every person is in a band or someone is at a record label. It's really cool. In the past, I've met so many fun people late at night in the middle of the street drunk and formed lasting relationships with them. The town is overflowed with music. You can be in the middle of the street and hear 20 different bands at the same time.
What's in your festival survival kit?
It's crazy down there. You leave your hotel at 10:30am and don't come back until 4:30 in the morning. You need a camera to remember everything that happened, a cell phone to get numbers of people you meet and money to buy alcohol. It's pretty simple.
What's your musical guilty pleasure?
Kelly Clarkson. I like some of those songs.
What's the craziest thing you've seen or experienced while on tour?
Once we saw a naked albino girl on a swing set in while we played in Minneapolis. It was a weird hippie fest. She was 20. It was disturbing.
Do you have any other projects in the works, or are you more focused on touring at the moment?
I've always been doing different stuff as far as what I can write and sing. Writing hip hop tracks. I've been working with one of the kids on American Idol, Jeffrey Gold, one of the last guys cut this season, and I'll probably start recording the next album this spring. Right now, I'm supposed to be doing laundry. I always wait until the last second and then realize I didn't do everything I was supposed to do.
If you had to listen to one band the rest of your days: Beatles or Stones?
I have to take the Beatles. I love them both, but to me the Beatles is what music is supposed to sound like. Lennon's voice is what music is supposed. It's what rock n' roll is supposed to sound like.
Tina Benitez is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.