Most of us know Brad Love as the songwriter, singer, and keyboard player of 1970s pomp rock band Aviary, who release one album on Epic in 1979 (click here for a review of that album). A bit of AOR or stadium rock mixed with a great deal of progressive elements shown in complex songwriting, plus amazing solo and harmony vocal performances.
With Aviary, Brad Love recorded several albums worth of music, but except the debut album, all of it remains unreleased. However, early 2003 will probably see a CD full of previously unreleased tracks from the vaults!
In 1982, he released a solo album called Colours, but after that nothing he recorded was officially released. Recently, SongHaus have released his second solo album, titled Through Another Door. Although slightly more in the vein of Colours, the album is full of songwriting and both musical and vocal performance you know from the Aviary album. In this DPRP exclusive interview, Brad Love tells about his album, his music, his past... about himself.
Through Another Door
Congratulations on the completion and release of your solo album Through Another Door. What do you think of it yourself?
I've heard it a thousand times and gone over ever inch of it with a fine toothed comb so sometimes I wonder, but it is what I worked hard to create and I am proud of it.
How does it feel to have a new album?
Like every album I've ever done, it feels like someone else did it. Once it is finished I am already different than when I started. It's odd.
Is the feeling different than after finishing the Avairy or Colours albums?
Yes, those albums I finished thinking the record company would "make it happen". With this new CD I can say I have a different attitude about that. Musically though, it is the same feeling, I finish thinking they are fantastic, everything I wanted them to be. I wish I could always keep that feeling.
How long has this album been in the making?
About 5 years in the making, longer if you count that a couple of the songs I pulled from the past.
Have you always been recording off and on, or did it come to you one day that you had to start recording again?
I'd stopped recording for awhile in the 1990s but I really felt like I had to get these songs recorded if only so that I could move on.
I don't mean to use 'move on' in a dismissive manner, it is a way to free up my mind for new things. With a large back log of unrecorded music I feel like I can't fit anymore in till I have a chance to lay it all out. Too much unfinished business, you know. Now things are pretty much open and I can look at it all and start to get a clearer picture and that starts giving me ideas of what I would like to hear next.
How did you make the selection: what songs will be on the album?
I chose what I thought were the very best songs I had, songs that needed to be finished, finalized you might say.
Which songs are your personal favourites on the album and why?
My favorites shift around, the opening song, Perfect World, stays fresh for me and the ending, Home, always works, so I am happy.
There's about 24 and 19 years between your other released albums and this one. Did your way of composing change in those years?
Yes it has. Now I enjoy searching for just the right "next part" in a song, so that it goes exactly where I want it too. Before I was quite ready to take what ever came up, whether it worked or not.
Is that because you took more time for yourself to write and record and there was more pressure in the past?
Well yes, in my youth I could write about anything, everything was new and any subject would do, so the pressure was about quantity because there was so much to write about. In that mode I was not very selective. Often good ideas would be set next to not so good ideas and that brings the whole thing down.
Are there songs on those albums (Aviary and Colours) that you wish you'd never recorded?
Not really on those two albums, but there are other recordings I am not fond of.
The lack of promotion for Colours - did that in any way affect your view of the music business, and how do you see that now?
Well the music business is a hard lesson. Artists want to make money. So a writer or performer usually try's to access the market and use their talent to find a money making niche, if they are good at this then they are successful in the business. If you don't fit the current mold or you are not interested in what the business thinks then you are free. I am free in that I no longer care if a record company likes what I do or not. It makes no difference to me. 'Colours' did not fit the market at all, but at the time I thought it did, so naturally I was disappointed when nothing happened.
How does it feel to be with SongHaus instead of Epic?
Dane Spencer, the president of SongHaus is in the business for the right reasons, his philosophy is that the musician should own his own masters and not give away his soul to the label. It is more of a partnership with the artist to get the music out there and share the profits in a even way.
As you can imagine, walking into a large company like Epic or MCA is an overwhelming experience and it is meant to make you feel small, so you feel its fair getting 8 or 9 cents a record just to be a part of this grand place. The corporate hold on the radio broadcasting network is iron clad: they are well paid 'employees' of the major labels and aren't about to play music not from the pipeline. The situation is a monopoly, if you want access to the radio you will have to give everything to the label.
How did the contact with SongHaus go?
A true Aviary fan, Stephen B Allen contacted SongHaus and basically made them feel they were missing a much overlooked album. Stephen emailed me and let me know what was happening and from there I contacted Eric Abrahamson at the label. I was just finishing up this new album so it was perfect timing. I sent the new album to Dane after the Aviary re-release and he flipped. So I have to thank Stephen for this.
Has the changes in the music world in those years been of any influence to your writing?
Yes, I always hear what is going on, sort of like you notice what other people are wearing. It influences me to a point, but mostly it is cosmetic.
Who and what have been the biggest influences?
What do you think of contemporary music and what do you listen to yourself?
There is no surprise in that The Beatles were the biggest, but Chopin is my next biggest influence. His extraordinary harmonic genius is totally captivating to me. As a pianist, exploring his music, the depth and twist of his harmonic movement never ceases to amaze. I've never heard anything like it. All the big bands, Queen, Yes and the like from the 1970s, all had their effect. I love Kate Bush and Tori Amos. There are so many influences, even on the radio today I hear fun stuff.
It is easy to see the progression of popular styles from earlier music. Each 'new' thing building on the last. Sometimes I think 'how clever', or 'that's cool' but always I feel a lack of real interest in contemporary music on the whole. I suppose I am quite educated now but I still enjoy pop music for what it is. What interests me is what comes next. Each step is new and then where do we go next? Do I want to hear music based around one note? Or should it forever change? How complex do I like harmony or how simple? That's what I enjoy - the wide open choices you have every time you sit down to write.
You're a piano teacher now. Do your students know your musical background?
Yes, I think so. For the most part I am just their piano teacher. Now if they saw me on TV or on the radio they might notice that. Kids are each their own 'center of the universe' and I understand that.
When being in a band, I imagine there is feedback between the composer and other players bringing in ideas. Is there a big difference between working with a band like Aviary and doing your solo album?
Boy is there! Ideally I would always work with a band, but do you know how hard it is to get four or five guys together to work out songs? In Aviary we all lived in the same house and had the same dream, to hit the big time, tour and record in the spot light, make lots of money and see all the girls in the world. Plenty of motivation for guys in their 20's, even without pay. Things are quite different now, as I am sure you can imagine.
Would you like to work with a band again like that?
There is nothing like working with other musicians when you want to take a new song and make it work. For me it changes everything. I've worked with a band and without a band, band is better.
There's a Tour Dates page on the website. What are your plans regarding live shows - will you be playing the piano solo, or will it be a full band?
We are exploring different avenues for performance. It would be a full band and I would like to start with prog fests. It really is a matter of organization and timing.
Would you consider playing old (Aviary and Colours) songs?
I think we would probably play songs from all three albums.
And of course, interesting for myself and other European fans, will you come over to Europe?!
I'd love to, that would be quite a wonderful thing to do if we could pull it off.
Is touring real fun or part of the game?
I have not had that great of a time in the past. If we do get to go out on tour, we're in the planning stages now, it would be very different.
Do you already know who is going to be in the band? Will that be the musicians that are playing on Through Another Door?
I know Dane Spencer wants to play bass and from his recordings he is incredible, so we have a start. As for the rest we will have to wait and see, it will be very exciting!
Is it tempting to invite one of your former band members?
I am not sure they would be interested unless it was a reunion. Everyone is very involved in their lives you know.
How do you look back on your time with Aviary?
As a lifetime ago, it seems like a dream now.
Are you glad the Avairy album is finally available on CD?
You're going through several CDs worth of Aviary and Curves material. Do you like doing it, or is it just for nostalgia's sake?
Well, Toby (Aviary guitarist) has been going through the old tapes and has put them into groups of fifteen songs or more on six CDs. There is a lot of stuff but we have decided to put out a new Aviary CD from 1979, just after the group finished the Aviary album and before we went to England. We had a group of thirteen, fourteen songs that we recorded in three days. The band was in top form, most of it was put down in one take, and the only overdubs were vocals. I think it is amazing. I am hoping to have it available in January 2003.
Does it bring back memories, or is it all exactly like you thought it was before you started going through the old tapes?
Its much better than I thought it was. The memories? Yikes, there are too many!
How do you feel about it now? If Paul Madden, Toby bowen, and Richard Bryans (Ken Steimonts has sadly passed away in 1994) were interested, would you reunite Aviary?
Tough question. It is hard to imagine a situation without Kenny. It would be very different. Yes, I think so.
Now Through Another Door has been released, what are your plans to do next?
Well obviously doing what ever we can to get this album heard. I am already writing a new set of songs for myself and like I said, getting a new Aviary album out.
You sound like you're happy with how life's going. Are you happier now then, say, five or ten years ago?
I don't have much choice, you do the best you can and then learn to accept the way it turns out. Sometimes I am OK with that and other times it is very hard. I am happier now simply because I can do that better than before.
Thank you, Brad Love, for this interview. All the best, and hope to see and hear you in Europe one day!
Thanks Jerry, all the best to you!
For more information about Brad Love, Aviary, to buy the CDs, or to hear samples, go to: www.bradlove.com.
Click here for the review of the Aviary album.