Interview With Ted Simmons
How would you describe your music to any person who may have never heard it before? Ted: I would describe my music as Americana -mostly in every sense of the concept. My songs cover a lot of ground. Some blues, some country, some folk, some southern gospel, even a little bit R&B. I also mix in a little indie rock and some regular old rock and roll. My work is very lyrically driven, poetic, emotional, and political. Songs about love and heartache, songs about the downtrodden and forgotten, songs about injustice, and then sometimes, songs that are witty and funny, about humorous situations and people.
What are your musical influences? T: My influences are artists such as Muddy Waters, Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and The Band.
What are your musical inspirations? T: Depends on what you mean by inspiration. If you mean what inspires me to create music and write songs, that comes from everywhere and anywhere. It could be a story I see on the news, something that happened to a friend or acquaintance, or something that I am personally going through or feeling that I want to express in a way that words alone just won’t do.
In terms of just the music alone, I get a lot of inspiration musically from my favourite artists, especially if it is a song that I never heard before or never paid that much attention to. I like a lot of different genres of music, so I can take pieces of all those things and make a song, classical music, rhythm and blues, country, or folk. It isn’t anything specific to any one thing. It’s more about taking all of that music and trying to create something new.
If given the chance, what musician(s) would you like to collaborate with? Rather this is to either write a song or be featured on a track. T: If we eliminate all barriers to entry, then Bob Dylan. That would be a lifetime dream come true.
What is your recently released album about, if you don't mind explaining? T: I just released a new album called Dark and Dirty World. Dark and Dirty World is a collection of songs meant to tell a complete story of a character searching for happiness, acceptance and a secure place in the world, as well as coping with grief and hardship in a sometimes humorous or satirical way, in the vein of Bob Dylan’s "Blood on the Tracks" or "Slow Train Coming," Tom Petty’s "Full Moon Fever" and "Wildflowers" or Bruce Springsteen’s "Born to Run" and "Ghost of Tom Joad." There are two overall recurring themes. First, is the displacement of the working class and the corruption and greed that has spawned the current climate of popular unrest. Second is the emotional struggle that accompanies a failed relationship and a longing for love, companionship, and a sense of belonging that is seemingly out of reach.
What’s something you hope people take away from the new songs?
T: I just hope they get inspired in some way or that they are not alone, and I hope they find some humour in there as well and it brings a smile to their face.
Which songs on the album were the most fun to write and which were the most challenging to write? T: The most fun to write was "Rainy Day April" because it’s supposed to be just a comedy, it’s a humorous look at relationships or the lack thereof.
The most difficult was "Dark and Dirty World," it’s an epic political statement with a lot of moving parts, both lyrically and musically.
Do you have any particular favourite songs off the new album? T: They are all special to me, but the top three would be:
1. "Dark and Dirty World" – I was really working on trying to make a Dylan-type song that is a commentary piece on the state of the world, and I think I came close. It is pretty epic.
2. "Some Things Are Never the Same" – This one is great because it started out as a piano ballad and through the recording process and working with a band, ended up more as a rocking kind of romp.
3. "Susanna" – This might be the song in life I am most proud of. It started off as a simple piano piece, and I really got to stretch my musical muscles in the arranging and composition to create an elaborate, multilayered, boozy kind of fun, easy-listening song.
Do you have any favourite songs to perform live? Could be your own music or even a cover. Any reason why? T: My favourite song to perform live is "Ain’t It a Shame," which is one of my songs. With a full band it is a full-blast good time for the audience and the band, which is what you want in a live show. It puts a lot of energy into the room.
If you could perform a show this very second anywhere in the world, where would it be?
T: Greenwich Village in New York City. Is there any particular venue(s) or city/cities that comes to mind?
T: The Bitter End on Bleeker Street, that to me is the mecca for a singer-songwriter, it’s where all the greats have performed at some point.
What do you currently have planned for the remainder of the year? T: I am in the early stages of a music video for track two from the album. Expect that in the early fall. I am also hoping to get back to the studio soon to start recording a new album. I have lots of new songs to work with. For the remainder of the spring and summer, I have a list of shows lined up around Nova Scotia, which is the province in Canada where I live. The biggest one is an album release show at the end of April at New Scotland Brewery in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
Thanks for taking some time out of your day to talk with us, Ted. Is there anything else you may want to add before you go? T: I love to make music and play with my friends, and even though I have never achieved any real success in how it's typically measured, I will do so for the rest of my life.
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