I love how multi-faceted people are. I know Gary Bloom through a previous job and we’ve kept in touch over social media. Recently he posted a preview of a song he is working on and come to find out he had already released a whole album, and this song was part of his second.
Gary looks at music as “just a large part of life, and not a career.” Whether he is playing at a bar, hearing a coworker quote of his lyrics, or signing a CD for a fan, he doesn’t limit himself to defining one moment over the other as being better or more memorable. He says is all just “pretty cool”, adding that getting paid for his work feels “really good.”
Gary, who doesnt have a top favorite song, but says “My Hero” (Foo Fighters) and “King’s Highway” (Kenny Wayne Shepherd) would both make the top 25, also has done work with comic books, is a dad, and a loving husband to a “musical savant”. Gary grew up watching his father play guitar his entire life. When he turned 13, his mother gave him her old acoustic, and his dad gave him a couple of books on how to learn to play guitar.
From the music den of his childhood to the times of today, Gary has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience in various industries. He agreed to chat with me about his musical career thus far, his latest project, and share some learnings from his journey. Read the full interview below!
“The true delight is in the finding out rather than in the knowing.” ~ Isaac Asimov
One of Garys favorite quotes.
Describe your sound. What is your music about?
The concept of describing my sound cracks me up a little, because it seems to change a little from song to song. There is a strong classic rock influence because of my dad, so I have no doubt you hear Who, Stones and Neil Young in there. There are blues overtones, because I love KWS And SRV, and my dad indoctrinated us with Clapton, but so many others.
My first album – “Lighting the Dark” – was a bit more about coming through some dark times. My most popular song, “For One Smile” is about helping a friend who had an emotionally abusive boyfriend. “Remembering Jordan” was about an old friend who’d taken his life. There are certainly some happier songs, but so much of it has a lean towards coming out of darkness. Literally, me trying to light the dark.
That might be why the song “Hailey Girl” has been so popular, probably my most downloaded song on iTunes, because it’s about my then-8-month-old cousin. She was like a niece, and was the greatest part of my world. At 14, I still look at her and remember that amazing little baby who used to get angry when her parents said it was time to go home.
“We can care about our own things – some people are all about family, some hate the idea of kids; some people could kill for a nice steak, others are horrified by eating another creature – and still let other people have their opinions.”
This new album, which I’m tentatively calling “Lantern”, aims to be a bit more upbeat. Not precisely mirroring after Hailey, but trying to capture a positive spirit. “Just Let Live” which I released a very rough in-progress demo of on my Instagram really just aims to talk about all of these differences that we have, but that we have to let one another be. That we can care about our own things – some people are all about family, some hate the idea of kids; some people could kill for a nice steak, others are horrified by eating another creature – and still let other people have their opinions. I don’t know that I’m qualified to comment on a lot of the major issues plaguing our country, so I decided to write something about the little things… and how we can let those go.
“The Sun Came Up” is another newer one that’s basically saying, hey, I’ve had some really bad dreams, and I’ve had some really bad days… but as long as the sun keeps coming up, I have a shot at trying it again. “Lantern” is about my wife, and intentionally imperfect, because real love is imperfect. There are parts of it that are cheesy, because it’ll make us laugh. Some of it is sappy and corny, because that’s who I am, and why I even include the line “so cliche” because we joke about romantic cliches all the time. Sometimes she leads, sometimes I lead, but that’s how we make it together.
There is one song on the album plan that’s a little darker, sort of grabbing all of the people who have shunned, beaten me up, and then asked for favors. And, I’m considering doing my version of “House of the Rising Sun” just because I’ve always wanted to include that version. But everything is going to be acoustic, and it’ll all be mostly positive stuff.
“When a new idea hits, and I just get on a roll… so much that most of a new song comes out in one day. That’s hard to beat.”
What is the funnest part of being an artist?
When a new idea hits, and I just get on a roll… so much that most of a new song comes out in one day. That’s hard to beat. “Just Let Live” came on while I was walking my dog. Had to stop and email myself some of the lyrics in my head. When we got home, I picked up the guitar and started writing. Recorded a really rough one to send to a buddy, then practiced it, he came over with his conga and we played it through a few times… and it just felt good. Now, I’ve been messing with it a little, tweaking the phrasing, and I added a solo (which I may not be able to play live, if it’ll just be the two of us for a while, I’m realizing now), but 95% of that song came together in one day. And then I had another one hit me in the same day. When inspiration strikes… it’s just such a great feeling.
If you could be stuck in one year musically, which year would it be?
Are you kidding me? Just one year? The “British Invasion” started in 1964 when the Beatles got to the US, so that might be pretty cool. 1971 would probably be the best year for me, with “Who’s Next”, “Sticky Fingers”, “Madman Across the Water”, “Aqualung” and “Led Zeppelin IV” make for a really good release year. I suppose saying, “the songs that came before are already here, and I can listen to those, too” would be great… but by that right, I might want 1991 – when Pearl Jam and Soundgarden got here, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Def Leppard and GnR were already doing great things… you know what? I’m just not sure I can do it. I can’t pick just one year. Give me a whole decade, and I’d have a better shot.
“To get to actually learn from Dave Grohl would be incredible.”
If you could tour with anyone who would it be?
Foo Fighters. As in, not even hard to pick. To get to actually learn from Dave Grohl would be incredible. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to the Foos in the last year, and it had some influence on the music that will ultimately become my 3rd album (since I decided to put that stuff, it’ll be all electric), but also his music style has gotten into my acoustic tunes for this album. Mr. Grohl is such a tremendous writer, I’d really relish the chance.
Close seconds on the “still alive and kicking” list are Kenny Wayne Shepherd (recently saw him in Westbury, NY, with Buddy Guy, 3rd row, and this was my favorite of his shows so far), Def Leppard, and Train.
In the “oh man, if only they were alive/in their heyday” I’d have to say Tom Petty, The Who, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Bon Jovi. The “New Jersey” tour was my first concert, Tom was a brilliant song writer, the original Who lineup was one of the most powerful ever, and if you don’t think SRV is one of the top 5 greatest guitarists of all time, you need to go back and listen again. All of them, I think I could learn something from.
What advice would you give to up and coming artists?
Making money at music is hard. Super hard. I’ve got a full time job, and I love it, which lets music be my passion. While I make sure that I’m playing stuff that I know other people want to hear, I also make sure that a lot of the tunes are what I want to do. That means there won’t be as many people clamoring to see me, sometimes, I know… but if I get stuck just playing what other people like, instead of what I like, I’ll eventually get sick of it. I say that because I tried that route, and I did get sick of it. Stopped playing altogether for a few months.
Be passionate about your tunes. And don’t be afraid to go elsewhere with them. Over the years, I’ve changed as a person, so why not change musically? Bands that I like now didn’t exist when I First learned to play, after all. Bands that I loved back then don’t sound the same now.
What do you see for the future of “the scene”?
At this point, who knows? The Internet has made such a change, and the iPod revolutionized music. The day that I found out my tunes were being streamed on Spotify was slightly mind blowing. I knew that I’d gotten onto iTunes, but then I showed up on Amazon. Music is just out there, and there are new ways to connect and find cool tunes. Do you guys listen to Crash Kings? They’re really good, and I can’t even remember how I found them, but it was internet related, and they’re really fantastic. My wife teased me that I was behind the times in my rock, so I hit Wikipedia to find the top rock songs and albums since 2010, and fell in love with The Pretty Reckless, then dad emailed me that I needed to hear Greta Van Fleet. You used to get on the radio, and that was it, and now everyone is streaming, and there’s Soundcloud, and smaller venues are picking up bigger acts, and then there’s streaming… and I can’t be sure what’s next, but I read and write a lot of science fiction, so I’ll bet it’s going to be really cool!
But, you know, if the Black Crowes could get back together, that might make the future a little brighter. Too much to ask?
Gary Bloom is an original musician with roots in Classic Rock and Blues. Survivor of an especially pleasant childhood, son of a guitarist father and dancing mother, brother to an epic drummer. Husband to a musical savant. Father to music infused child.
“I live in NY state, but not New York City. There’s certainly a difference. Not sure I’d hack it in the city.” – Gary