David Haerle tells us his own story, reveals musical influences and talks about the new single “Finding Natalie”. A pretty nice song we’re digging at the moment. Definitely, if you pay attention to the lyrics its emotional component will make you remember your first crush! 💕
1 — What’s your general taste in music?
I really love a lot of different music, but my taste developed and unfolded in phases. As a kid, I remember riding in the car with my dad around Los Angeles and hearing David Bowie’s “Fame” on the radio. I thought now THAT’S cool! His voice, the groove, the background vocals, the band, I loved everything about it. If asked to name my favorite album of all time, I would say Bowie’s ‘Hunky Dory’. Then there were all the AM radio singles at the time by groups like The Commodores, K.C. and The Sunshine Band, Wild Cherry, Hall and Oates, to name a few, and of course, disco. Then I gravitated towards rock and hard rock, more specifically bands and artists with great lead guitar playing: Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Frank Zappa, Van Halen, Ted Nugent, ZZ Top, Peter Frampton, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple were all early inspirations of mine, especially with respect to guitar. I also loved The Cars, and then many, many bands and hits of the 80s.
My mother’s parents, and my father, had backgrounds in the country music business, and I have very early musical memories of hearing Johnny Cash’s live recording of “A Boy Named Sue” and Tanya Tucker’s “San Antonio Stroll”. Eventually, I developed a passion for my dad’s great love, country music. Artists like Merle Haggard, George Jones, Johnny Paycheck, and also great bluegrass artists, especially those who recorded for CMH Records, the record label my father co-founded with Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith and which I continue to run today.
Over the years my ears would be turned on by so many great artists, I can’t give you a complete list, but here are a few in no particular order: Stereolab, N.W.A., The Chemical Brothers, Radiohead, The Avalanches, Convoy and Anita O’Day.
2 — How many years have you been active in the music world?
Professionally, over 29 years. I had been a music agent for around 2 years at International Creative Management (ICM) when my dad passed away suddenly. I decided to quit that career and take over CMH Records. I have been president of that company now for over 27 years. This does not count starting on guitar around age 13, playing in bands at parties and clubs around Los Angeles in my teenage years, and so forth. Around seven years ago I began working part-time at the label and spending my other working time writing and recording music. It was around that same time that I began work on what would become Garden Of Edendale.
Though I will gladly accept a Grammy if offered one, and would excitedly share news of topping a chart, I would say my goals are more along the following lines: Write the best songs and make the best music I can, with the skills and abilities that I have, and share that music with friends, with loved ones and with the public. I’d be thrilled if my music achieved some measure of commercial success and/or critical praise, as those are forms of acknowledgment that make you feel pretty good. It lets you know that what you have done has connected with someone, somewhere, and thus what you have done has had a purpose beyond yourself. I was very excited to hear that Electro Wow was liking what I am doing and wanted to do this interview with me.
The other day a childhood friend and fellow musician I respect wrote me a long e-mail with quite a lot of detail concerning how he liked my album. That felt quite wonderful and, truthfully, it’s hard to imagine that feeling being topped.
4 — What came first when composing “Finding Natalie,” the music or the lyrics?
The music came first, I had a chord structure and melody for the verse and the chorus, and had an instrumental jam developing.
Sometime after I developed the music I attended an alumni reunion at a school I went to in Los Angeles. I was a student there from kindergarten through third grade. At the reception, I noticed they had a table stacked with old yearbooks. I went over and began flipping through pages looking for Natalie.
Sure enough, there she was, smiling in those old photos. We were in the same class for 4 years before I switched schools. I was looking through the later yearbooks trying to find out how long she stayed after I left. She was there until 8th or 9th grade.
Natalie was my crush, or perhaps I should say, my first love. I started imagining what it would be like to find Natalie again, to tell her after all these years what she meant to me. The chance to tell her she was my first love would be fulfilling because that was not something I was able to do at the time. I was too young. Too afraid of my own feelings.
She wasn’t at the reunion, but the phrase “Finding Natalie” stuck with me. I knew it would go perfectly with the melody and chord progression I had been working on. I debuted the song at a live performance in Los Angeles at an event I love called Strong Words.
5 — I noticed there’s a classic rock feel to it. Are there any legendary bands that inspired your style?
I know I am influenced by classic rock bands and artists, especially those who would have instrumental sections, jams and/or guitar solos in their songs; where the drums, bass, lead guitar and other instruments would let loose on a particular chord progression or musical idea. My love for that is in my DNA, and I know Zeppelin, Zappa, Aerosmith, Sabbath, Hendrix, Nugent, ZZ Top, Van Halen, Deep Purple and many others are responsible for that.
Finding Natalie features a wonderful improvised solo by Luanne Homzy on violin, I take a guitar solo myself, and then Luanne and I do certain melodic lines together in unison and also with her harmonizing to my guitar.
I hope many people can relate to a story of first love or of a first crush. And I suspect quite a few folks might be able to relate to being too afraid of your own feelings, or of rejection, to express them to the person you feel those things for.
7 — Was the music video filmed at your own studio? Who participated in it?
The music video was filmed at the legendary studio Sunset Sound, in Studio 2. That is where we did all the basic tracking. We had done some pre-production before going in, and then overdubs were done at my own Edendale Studio in Los Angeles afterward. My amazing band consisted of Carson Cohen on bass, Reade Pryor on drums, Alex Wand on rhythm guitar and Luanne Homzy on violin. Sabrina Doyle directed the video, and her team included Stephen Paar, Lee Young, Chris “Moose” Stalsworth, Samuel Phillips and Daniel Myers. And you need great engineers, and we had them in David Bianco, Geoff Neal and Jose Salazar.
So many legendary artists and bands have recorded at Sunset Sound: The Doors, Prince, Van Halen, The Rolling Stores, Zappa, The Beach Boys, Neil Young, Zeppelin, the list goes on and on.
8 — What’s the best thing about working with other artists rather than working all alone?
The input and great playing they bring to the table make all the difference in the world. In “Finding Natalie”, I love the drums and drum fills, the bass playing (it is outrageous on section 5 of the jam), the violin answers to the vocal and improvised solo, Carson Cohen’s and Alex Wand’s harmony parts and singing, and so forth. That is all them, not me.
9 — What can your fans expect from your next single?
The next single is a favorite of mine on the album, and it is called “Always.” It’s about a relationship between two people in the late summer of their lives. It is a call to love, from one to the other saying that it’s now or never. They’re both aware their time is finite, but there’s still the chance to pursue a dream, the dream of embracing and loving each other, and spending the rest of their lives together.
In my teenage years, I wrote a song called “Amazon Laura” about a crush I had on a friend of a friend. The chords from that song, simple as they are, have stayed with me and I drew on them for this song and while making my first album. The music has been with me since the early spring of my life, but did not come to fruition until the late summer of my life.
10 — What are your thoughts on the streaming era? Do you see more benefits or more disadvantages?
There are a number of things to like about the streaming era from an artist perspective and an independent record label perspective. But first the disadvantages and what I miss: I grew up holding LPs in my hand, looking at the artwork, the photos, and the liner notes while listening. That is an experience that is hard to beat, and I do miss it. Something tangible to hold and to look at. But as far as advantages go, you have the ability to make your music available to a huge audience at very little cost. And around the world for that matter.
From the independent record label perspective, manufacturing CDs and sending them to stores around the country was and is a fairly costly endeavor, and you have to spend time managing your inventory and keeping track of components (booklets, stickers, etc.). And it was sometimes hard to know what was really selling vs just sitting in record store bins. CDs could be returned by stores to the distributor and the label if not sold, for full credit. With streaming, your manufacturing costs are about zero in one sense, returns are not consequential, and you can stay right on the pulse of what is being listened to via reporting that is available. However, with Garden Of Edendale, I did choose to make a CD with a pretty elaborate package. I just wanted to!