Radio Drive featuring Kevin Gullickson
Radio Drive is an Alternative Pop Rock band featuring Kevin Gullickson. As the engine behind Radio Drive, Kevin has won international awards and nominations for his songs and music videos. The music of Radio Drive is being aired on radio around the world alongside major artists and is receiving rave reviews by music critics. He has been featured on web zines and radio shows in Europe, Canada and the USA. We have conducted an interview with him.
How is it different to make the kind of Alternative Pop Rock music when you first started versus recent years?
Alternative Pop Rock has changed considerably from when I first started writing and performing in the clubs back in the late 80s and 90s, I was hugely influenced by bands like U2, R.E.M., The Cure, just to name a few. My songs kept to a pretty simple structure: Usually a fast strumming rhythm guitar, a lead guitar that played a hook and a driving rhythm section, simple vocals, maybe a harmony. They were fast, high energy and the lyrics were usually about girls and relationships.
Now I’d say my songwriting, song structure and lyrics has taken on a much deeper tone. I find myself constructing songs rather than banging them out. I’m more thoughtful in how I put together my songs. I don’t want any song to sound like something already out there. I don’t want the lyrics to be too sappy or shallow. I find myself writing about things that have a deeper meaning for me, and hopefully for others. There’s still energy in the songs, but it’s more channeled and harnessed.
Back in the 80s and 90s, I would write a song then bring it to the band and we’ll all hash it out. Now, I’m a solo artist and only play with a band when I’m playing the clubs. When I’m recording, I’ll either record all the parts myself, or work with a producer and session players. That makes it an entirely different songwriting and recording experience for me.
Has the audience preferences change?
Overall, yes, I think listeners are always looking for something new and fresh. Bands that can continually deliver, will stay on top. Bands and songwriters have to continually be reinventing themselves, otherwise they’ll get stale. One of the best examples of a band continually reinventing themselves is U2. They’re on the top because they never become stagnant and sit on their past laurels. David Bowie was another amazing artist who was always going with the flow of the times and setting new trends.
Who was/were your inspiration when you wrote the music and lyrics for A Taste of Heaven?
Two things mainly influenced that song: My wife and the time we spent living in New York City. The month I moved there was November, back in the late 80's. I met my wife shortly after moving there. It was an amazing time for me. I loved her and I loved New York. We lived a very simple carefree life in NYC. So many wonderful memories.
What was the first reaction of this person when he/she knew it was produced?
I’ve written quite a few songs about my wife. So when I first wrote it, it wasn’t such a novelty. But when it started winning awards, getting radio play and amazing reviews, someone asked her what it was like being the subject in such a successful song being played around the world. That question took her by surprise. Funny thing, she hadn’t thought about it until that moment. She was very flattered, of course.
Which other songs are made in similar settings and became as popular?
I’ve had a few songs that have really taken off. I think the first one to really get attention was “Never”, which won a nomination for Best Alternative Song by the Hollywood Music awards in 2012. That really launched me into the indie market. I’ve recently written a song called “Humanity” (produced by Stuart Epps, credits include George Harrison, Elton John, Oasis, Led Zeppelin and more). That song has also received nominations and tons of radio play. My song “Footsteps” was accepted for Grammy consideration, which was really cool.
Along your music career so far, what had been the most challenging for you?
Without a doubt, the most challenging has been a shortage of time and money. To supplement my music income, I have a day job, which leaves me evenings and weekends to work on my music. I have no shortage of musical ideas. What I need is more time to write and record songs. It takes such an amazing amount of time to develop a song, record it, and add all the arrangement and parts, the vocals and harmonies. Then when I’m finished recording all the parts, I need to work with a producer to take what I’ve got and work their magic. Possibly hire studio musicians, then the final mix and mastering. That costs money – lots of money. Then, when the song is finished, the time and money to promote the songs, and/or work with a promotional company. As I’m sure you know, it’s really hard for an indie artist to make all this happen on their own with their own resources. In the end you do the best you can with what you have in hand.
Do you go through seasons as an artists, such as a 'honeymoon' phase?
With most things in life, you have ebb and flow, ups and downs. You go through seasons. I’ve had several seasons where I feel like I’m on top – like the honeymoon phase. The most recent was here in these last few years. I was playing clubs with my band, Radio Drive, comprised of some of the best players and most amazing people. I was working with a management team who was promoting and planning a tour. My music was winning awards and getting tons of radio play. That was a great season.
Right now I’m in a more secluded season of reinventing myself and my music. As with most creative writers, they need to detach, unplug and get alone to write. My season of writing is usually during the winter. The winters get very cold here where I live in Minnesota, so I chose to hibernate and write music. I have a home studio where I’ve recorded most of my music. I’ve got several new songs in the works and hope to release an EP this spring/summer when I’ll enter a new season.
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