Don Felder returns next week with his first solo album in nearly twenty years Road To Forever.
I caught up with the singer/songwriter to chat about the new album and what it was like recording solo material again.
- You are about to released your new album Road To Forever so what can fans expect from the new collection of tracks?
This new CD is somewhat of a musical autobiography. The songs all came from experiences in my life thus far and represent common themes we are share in life, the loss of love, healing ourselves, greed and betrayal of friendships etc.
- This is only your second solo album - the first since 1983 - so why has it taken so long for you to strike out on your own again?
While in The Eagles I really had no time to write and record a solo project. The Eagles lifestyle is all consuming in that all you can do is The Eagles.
Once I was out of The Eagles I set about writing my autobiography and while doing that I started writing these songs to release the emotions I was going through.
I finally ended up with about 26 song ideas and once I had published my book. Heaven & Hell (my life in The Eagles) I set about recording these songs for this CD.
As you might know an Eagles record could easily take up to 2 years in the studio to complete but I was able to finish this project in 12 months.
- This is a guitar driven album so what made 2012 the right time to get back in the studio and work on some new material?
During the period in which I was writing my book I realized that the one thing that had gotten me to this place in life was my love of playing guitar for people. It was time for me to put together a guitar driven record and play it live for people.
- And how have you found the response to the CD so far?
I have been amazed at how well it has been received by both the industry and audiences everywhere.
It’s a daunting task on stage to put a new song that no one has heard in my show amongst all the Eagles songs but the audiences respond very well to the new material which makes me very happy.
- You have penned all the tracks on what is a rather personal sounding record so what was your major inspiration behind writing the songs?
Writing, recording and performing music is the one thing in this world that truly makes me happy.
Even if the song is about a tragic loss of love or a broken heart. People relate to real life experiences and find themselves 'FEELING' the essence of the song.
That to me is what the art of song writing and music is all about. Touching people and sharing the feelings we have all had at one time or another that we share.
- Robin DiMaggio produced the album alongside you so how did that collaboration come about? And what were you looking for in your producer?
Originally I was in about a 3 month process of preproduction with a producer named Greg Ladayni. Greg had produced some of the biggest acts in show business and I was very excited to be working with him.
We were discussing who would play on the CD, where it would be recorded, what songs would be on it etc. Greg had to fly to Greece to visit one of his other acts.
He unfortunately unexpectedly passed away during that trip. He had introduced me to another great musician and producer named Robin DiMaggio during that time.
Robin and I started talking about how we could pick up where Greg had left us and finish this project. We decided to use what ideas Greg had mentioned and used a great deal of the players he had talked about that I knew and we set off to finish the CD.
On the song 'Road to Forever' Greg appears in the very ending of this track. We found an audio clip of Greg speaking at an engineers/producers convention and used it on the record. It says 'and that’s the difference between the two worlds'.
Even though Greg had passed away he is on the CD and that track was written and produced in his honor as well as all the musicians were all the people he wanted on the CD.
- How did you find working with him and what did his experience bring to this record?
Robin is an amazing musician and a great player. He helped me think outside of the box on many occasions. Where I would normally go do something I would have done he pushed me into new territory.
He made me reach for new things and wouldn’t let me get away with anything less than greatness. It worked out very well and I truly enjoyed working with him on this project.
- You also produced the record so how much is that a side of music making that you enjoy?
I have spent years in the studio from when I first worked in a studio in Boston 6 days a week for $50 a week. I wanted to learn how to make records in every detail I could.
I wrote charts, produced singers, wrote string arrangements, engineered sessions, played guitar on tracks, every detail that I could learn there I wanted to grasp and understand. I find song writing, producing, arranging & engineering fascinating.
I’ve had a studio in my home now since 1982 and spend a great deal of time there exploring recording techniques and experimenting with sounds. To me it’s as important and the song itself.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer that you have to start with a strong SONG first, but the production and recording techniques can enhance the final product a great deal. I love it.
- You have enjoyed a career that has spanned over forty years so what has kept you in the industry?
It’s really very simple. I started playing guitar when I was 10 years old and have not been able to stop myself. I love playing music, writing songs, recording in the studio and performing in front of a live audience.
It’s truly the one thing in my life that has propelled me through out my entire career and given me the utmost joy. One of the songs on this new CD is 'Give My Life'. It’s about finding something or someone that you give your life to. Mine is the love of music.
- Those forty years have seen the industry face many changes so what state do you think the music business is in today?
Sadly the music industry has started it’s decline due to the digital revolution. There are very few brick and mortor stores left where you can go and purchase CD, vinyl or other forms of music.
The digital age has revolutionized the entire industry. On the other hand, music itself it very much alive and will always be something people need and want to have in their lives. It is truly the food of the soul and will never leave us.
- There doesn't seem to be any longevity in modern music anymore - which is a shame - why do you think that is?
I think todays society has become a very fast paced, disposable society. I like to think of it as a Dixie Cup society.
You use a product and toss it away much like a Dixie Cup. This view is demonstrated not only in modern music but in fashion, film, art, electronic products etc. It’s the need to be constantly feed something new.
The better, faster version of what you have now. It will only get worse until we stop needing something outside ourselves to make us happy.
- Finally what is coming up for you between now and the end of the year?
I have many shows to perform live for people in order to promote this new CD as well as I like to try to get in as much time with my family as possible in the midst of the madness of non-stop travel.
I have another set of songs to finish writing and to record, so much of my time when I’m not on the road will be spent in my studio preparing for another solo CD which with any luck will be out in 2014.
I really could use a sunny beach with warm water and long rest but I don’t really see that happening any time soon.
Don Felder's new album Road To Forever is released 8th October
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw