Regent Media, in partnership with here! Tunes and Out magazine presented the inaugural tour of Rock the Folk OUT last December along the East Coast. The tour was a huge success, and now has been opened up to a 19-night tour throughout the western United States.
Together, the same three singer/songwriters return to the road: Stewart Lewis (first to sign to here! Tunes label), Tom Goss and Jake Walden. These contemporary folk artists share insights on their rising success, their music and future goals.
TONY HOBDAY: Let’s begin with your musical and educational backgrounds.
STEWART LEWIS: I grew up with parents who moonlighted in a bluegrass band. There was always three-part harmony in my living room — it was very Partridge Family. When I was 4, somebody threw me a tambourine. I’ve never had music lessons, as it was basically in my blood. I play through my heart, not my head.
TOM GOSS: I received a guitar for my high school graduation. I’ve never had any formal training. I was pretty obsessed with Dave Matthews Band so I was focused on learning his [Dave’s} songs so I could try to imitate what he was doing. Through that, I learned a love for the guitar and started to find my own voice.
TH: ‘Love’ is a universal theme or inspiration to music, but it also comes from deep within each artist. Do you agree? What deep feelings, motives or beliefs inspire your lyrics?
JAKE WALDEN: I believe when we love we lose nothing at all. I’ve always found in my heart and my work that there is an ache that resides within the hope I carry. Love, in all it’s forms is a risk … it hurts and it also gives us something unlike any other experience in this life: Connection — exposing who we really are, overcoming our fears.
SL: Yes, love is that ever-present emotion that we strive toward. I write about love, but I also write about hope, forgiveness and pain — all things that are born out of love.
TH: As a gay artist, how has the road been in your music career, difficult or bumpy? Supportive or encouraging?
JW: What I write about has nothing to do with this fact [of being gay], and yet if I were to hide it, the purpose and message of what I am trying to create would be tainted … that’s what I think at least. Honestly, I rarely talk about this, as I believe it’s a musicians job to paint a picture for each person to see differently, and the more detail of yourself you engrave in stone onto the music, the less personal it becomes to the listener. All three of us on the tour are interested not in being gay artists … boring. But we sure do love gay people, however they come, in every package and in all the ways they are human.
TG: The road for any artist, gay or straight, is full of bumps and bruises. However, I don’t feel I have experienced any additional road blocks because of my sexuality. In most cases people are appreciative of my honest portrayal of my love and experiences, they don’t get caught up on if my love is geared towards a man or woman.
SL: Mostly supportive, as I ended up being signed by a gay label. For a while, I had a management deal in L.A. where I had to “play straight.” I couldn’t accessorize or cross my legs. At one point they just said, “Don’t talk.” I published a book about it called Rockstarlet.
TH: What are your favorite songs of your tour partners, and why?
TG: Stewart’s is “This is Not a Love Song” [off his newest release In Formation] because it’s such an honest portrayal of the early stages of a relationship. It is fun, pop-y and has a real heart at the center. I think we all have similar fond memories. Jake’s is “Be Still” for the exact opposite reasons. It’s a passionate song about the end of a relationship. Jake’s voice and lyrics can easily capture your soul; it’s never more prevalent then in this song. Simple and beautiful.
JW: My favorite song of Tommy’s is off his new album [Back To Love] called “Lover.” It became a bit of a joke for Stewart and me the last tour as we found ourselves singing backstage every time like 5-year-olds … it’s such a serious and beautiful song, and yet we couldn’t help but constantly make fun of him for it and put insane harmonies to it. Stewart’s music constantly amazes me … right now I’m obsessed with “Gravity,” but I also love his single “This is Not a Love Song.” During his sets I’m always mesmerized and never seem to get tired of anything he does.
SL: I like Jake’s song “We Are” because I get to sing backup on it, plus it’s a beautiful song. My favorite of Tom’s is “Rise” because it has such an infectious guitar line.
TH: In as much detail as you wish to give, tell the readers something about yourself that you’ve never shared before.
SL: I sleep in the nude. I love chocolate and champagne. When I was 5, my family vacationed in Cape Cod and Jackie O. used to jog by and squeeze my cheeks. My mother says she adored me(!!) I’ve travelled to over 40 countries. In fifth grade I was suspended for streaking in class.
TG: I grew up with a seizure disorder and used to have regular EEGs, and the medication knocked me out like a light. My family used to jump on my bed to wake me up to no avail — pushing, kicking. none of it mattered. Sadly this strong medication was an avenue for a suicide attempt in my early teens. It was a very troubled time in my life.
TH: All three of you are good looking and talented, passionate guys, which obviously is quite attractive. For your fans, are you single and looking or in a relationship?
SL: I am in a relationship with someone I really love and admire. He rubs my feet and treats me like a king. As of [your] press time, I believe Jake is single.
JW: I am very single and looking. There is no greater purpose for me in this life than to find true love and to share it with someone. I am looking to find my witness, you know.
TG: I am madly in love, recently engaged, just bought my first house and I could not be happier.
TH: After the tour ends in May, what’s next for you, i.e. a new CD, a vacation, another tour?
TG: I’m in the beginning of a 50-city tour. My third CD released April 7. I’m more excited about this album then anything I’ve done in the past. When I leave Jake and Stewart (what a sad day), I’ll keep touring until June and then start the pride and festival circut. I’ll get married in the fall.
SL: I’ll be doing some shows on the East Coast, and working on my third book — I write too, you see. I’ve just got talent coming out of my ears! Seriously though, I just try to create music and books as best I can, and hope they touch people in some way.
JW: Only time will tell, and your paper doesn’t have enough space for all my dreams and aspirations. Ultimately, I just want to get better, to travel and play, and follow up my debut album [Alive & Screaming] with a new opus, a new call to all the dreamers — whether lost or whether found.
Rock the Folk OUT Tour featuring Tom, Stewart and Jake hits Salt Lake City on April 24, 6:00p.m., Utah Pride Center, 361 North 300 West. Visit the artists’ myspace pages or myspace.com/rockthefolkOUT.