Singer-songwriter Greg Holden's upcoming album Chase the Sun -- his first on a major label, Warner Bros., set to be released April 14 -- was inspired by a much needed trip to India and Nepal. It was in the East that the singer took a well deserved break and did some soul searching that payed off, inspiring him to write a deep and more positive group of songs than on his previous album. With a fresh perceptive on life and his career, he got to work creating a release that meant a lot to him, and he hopes that people will pay attention to the lyrics that are so close to his heart.
In addition to his Scottish accent and easy good looks, Holden will make the ladies and even some of the men swoon, with his heart of gold while playing on the road with his old friend Ingrid Michaelson. He's all about giving back and doing it for the right reasons as evidenced by his involvement with three charities which we spoke about in a recent interview.
New Times: You're the guy responsible for giving us "Home" which is American Idol's Philip Philips biggest hits, and you won an ASCAP Pop Award for that. What can you tell us about that process?
Greg Holden: Well, the song was written by me and a guy called Drew Pearson and the song was about a friend of mine that was going through a very difficult time. It was kind of my way of reaching out to them and saying you know someone's here for you. I felt very personally connected to the song. The publishing company for the guy that I wrote the song with, they pitched it to American Idol and they picked it up just a couple of months after we wrote it actually. The rest is history I guess.
Is there any single off Chase The Sun that you're most proud of or that means the most to you?
There's a single off the album called "Boys in the Street" which I'm quite proud of. It was a song that was written for some friends of mine who are with this organization called "Everyone is Gay" and every year they do this compilation album and they asked me to write a song for it, and yeah, that's the one that I'm the most proud of.
I read that it was a trip you went on to India and Nepal that inspired you to make this album. Can you tell me more about that?
Yeah, basically I wasn't really in a great place mentally. When I made my last album I was quite negative, I was quite angry and I needed to do something drastic to kind of change my way of thinking and I decided to go on this trip to India. It really kind of pointed my perspective of how lucky I am to be a musician And to be doing this for a living and it kind of gave me the kick in the ass that I needed. And It kind of changed the way that I wrote, writing songs with a lot more hope in them and a much more positive message, definitely less self-indulgent for sure.
On your website I noticed you have several links to charities that you support. How did you get involved with those charities and why are they important to you?
I picked those because they've basically inspired me personally. A while ago I wrote a song called "The Lost Boy," it was inspired by a book by Dave Eggers called What Is The What. From that book, the charity was created, the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation. Once I read the book, I heard about the charity, and that's kind of what inspired the song so I have a kind of personal connection to that charity.
There's one in India called The Shakyamuni Buddha Community Health Centre and I had been there while I was in India and met some of the people there who run the organization. Same with the one in Nepal called Blinknow. I met the girl Maggie Doyne who runs the charity through a friend. So basically I'm trying to work with organizations that I kind of know about, that I found out about organically and that maybe can be related to my music somehow. That way I can inspire other people to see it more through my eyes a little bit I guess.
Have you always been inspired to give back and get involved with the community?
Well I've never been a dick (laughs). This trip to India again, really kind of put everything into perspective and made me realize once again how lucky I am, how I should take advantage of the fact that I can reach more people now, and that I do want to do something positive with it. I'm ultimately trying to figure out ways to do it that's not in some pretentious way. I want to do it naturally and have it come from my heart and not some sort of motivation of popularity or anything like that. I want it to be pure.
You're currently touring with Ingrid Michaelson, what can you tell us about the tour?
Ingrid is doing an acoustic tour so we are too now (laughs). I'm touring with my bass player and my guitar player and we're doing more of an acoustic stripped back set. I'm playing probably half new songs and half old songs. The new songs being the ones from the new album. It's a much more intimate performance for sure.
How did you get involved with Ingrid?
Ingrid and I have been friends for quite a while. I toured with her six years ago in America and she was the first person that I toured with. So we've kind of been friends ever since. So this tour came through our booking agent but it made sense.
You complement each other really well too, you've got similar styles to your music.
Yeah totally it definitely works well together. And she's amazing so I love touring with her.
What do you enjoy most about performing live?
I just really enjoy playing in front of people. You spend your life or days or weeks or whatever, writing songs and recording songs. It's really nice to get out and actually play them for people and see people's reactions right in front of you. To watch that happen, that's what I really like about it.
Is there anything that you can't live without while you're on tour?
I'd say coffee. We have a coffeemaker on the road and we make our own coffee. We're very particular about what coffee we drink.
Oh yeah, you're coffee snobs?
Yeah we are total coffee snobs. I'm from Brooklyn so we're total coffee snobs (laughs).
Ingrid Michaelson. Stripped Lights Out Tour, with Greg Holden. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 12, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $28 plus fees. Call 954-564-1074, or visit cultureroom.net.
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