Howie Day Comes To UVM

Despite his stubborn and unyielding tour manager, I was able to sit down with Howie Day after his concert this past Friday evening at Ira Chapel. After a young female singer/song writer opened, Day went on to play an hour-long set of songs from his older album as well as his more recent work. He is currently touring to promote his new album, Stop All The World Now, his first full album for his record label.

VC: Tell me about this concert, and being in Vermont and at UVM.
HD: Well, I actually started out doing a lot in Vermont. I did a lot of happy-hours in small bars here, with a lot of cover songs and decided that to go on in the business and really become a musician I would have to write my own songs. We’ve done many shows in Burlington before, many sold out, like at the Higher Ground. It doesn’t matter [that the place wasn’t packed]; I still go out and do my own thing.

VC: About your profession, in the music industry:
HD: It’s actually easier than most think, it is what I do for a living, and I am lucky for that and because I tend to have a lot of fun with it, its great.

VC: And your music style, do you only use the guitar to write?HD: I wrote about half of my songs off the latest album with a piano, which is not how I usually write, and used a guitar for the rest and mixed it up.

VC: How do you use looping in your performances (like you did tonight)?
HD: What I did tonight was called loop sampling and Joseph Arthur, a musician that I toured with, introduced me to it. Basically it is a long delay, a recording of two, four, eight bars, of guitar beats that I’ll do over, dubbed with chords, bass lines, lead lines used throughout songs with similar progression.

VC: Why use this for a different sound?
HD: It is always something that sets me apart from all the other twenty something singer/guitar songwriters. It is sort of annoying how everyone compares me to John Mayor or other people in that genre, even though technically it is what I am, a singer, guitar player. It is definitely a different sound, acoustically, and it makes my music suit me more, again anything to be a bit distinguished, and have my music be more of my own is good. But at the same time, it has certainly commercially helped me out to be grouped in it these sort of groups, there is a fan base, but I do want to be independent, its just me putting out records

VC: Any future plans?
HD: I am going to finish the year touring. I think we tallied up some 58 shows in 52 days. I am definitely on the verge of being burnt out so[my tour people] are going to take off a week and go home for Thanksgiving, and then back on tour for a bit. Early next year I plan on taking a month off as a sort of break from the world and all to breathe, and then I plan on starting a new album during that time.

VC: What did you think you would have wanted to become if not a musician?
HD: Well I still do think about it. What am I going to do is this all dries up in a few years- I don’t know though. I haven’t come to a solid conclusion. There are other jobs that are born with that [the music industry]. At one point it will be useful that I was in the industry and I played and understood music, and later on I can see it from a different angle, be it producing or whatever.

VC: Would you consider yourself successful?
HD: This is of course hard to answer. It is always hard to answer- every person has a sliding goal that seems to move more and more, especially for ambitious people. At first, it was to sing and play guitar but my goals are different, I am always chasing that light, it’s a good way to be.

VC: Tell me about your style.
HD: Style’s tough. It’s basically grouping of people, based on a certain look to a lot of people. I think when I look in the mirror at the same person everyday, I see a different person than most see, maybe even more critical- and that’s where I think the most original style comes from, when a person is no longer overly self-conscious about their look or what they wear and becomes part of them. I think it’s all about being different, being an individual, what the magazines do, isn’t. They just are trying to put everyone into the same uniforms, but as for me, some people say I have big hair, or that I just wear t-shirts and jeans, I don’t know.

VC: What artists do you admire, or want to work with?
HD: This is ever changing. My favorite role model? Well I met Paul McCartney several times actually, and obviously he was a Beatle with a successful, mysterious career, but he doesn’t seem to be too snobby, and was very comfortable. And that is something I really respect. You could probably give him the title of the most influential musician alive. My taste in music, well its all over the place. I really like Rufus Wainewright, definitely the newer albums, even though my friends tend to like the older own. I am Brit-pop fan, Oasis, the Verve, Youth, who produced my new album also produced the Verve, and Blur. You should check out the DVD of their videos, they make great videos. I definitely like a little bit of everything.

VC: Any jazz?
HD: Well maybe down the line, but I am not there yet, if I named any Jazz musicians that I liked I would be a phony, because I definitely am not familiar enough with it, it doesn’t mean I don’t like it but it means later down the line I’ll probably know more about it.

VC: Your background?
HD: I’m from Bangor Maine, and I still live there. Stephen King is actually from my town, I guess that makes me the second most famous person from my town. And I guess that makes me a Red Sox fan, but only when the world series is happening because otherwise I couldn’t give two shits about baseball or the Red Sox, but when they won, it was unbelievable, everyone I knew just walked around in disbelief, it almost took away the fun in being a Red Sox fan.

VC: You are a colorful character and it certainly comes out in your performance-
HD: Yeah well I guess its just New England baby coming through- if I was from San Diego I probably would not be as facetious and sarcastic, that’s just me, I’m always that guy to make the harsh joke, that crosses the line every once and a while.

VC: What do you have to say about music and politics?
HD: Well I don’t endorse anybody, I didn’t see a point in it, especially because I didn’t feel so strongly either way. In the end, they [the musicians who endorsed a certain politician] didn’t really get their way and they looked kind of silly, they weren’t so bad-ass after all. I’m young and in my twenties head space, sure I have an opinion, but I am not a politician and I don’t go around saying it. I know other musicians in the past have really used their music for it, like Bob and John, but they began to define their selves with that, and lose a little piece of the music.