By ZACH BIRDSONG
Singer and songwriter Seth Glier will be playing in Nashville on Wednesday, headlining The Country. Glier, just released a new album, titled “Birds” in August. The Tullahoma News caught up with Glier, talking about the new album, life, his influences and about the upcoming tour.
Tullahoma News (TN): How excited are you to get the new tour underway, I believe it gets underway on Oct. 13?
Seth Glier (SG): It’s been sort of on-and-off. I’ve been doing a lot of weekend work and testing out some new stuff, but the 13th is when I leave for a really extended period of time for the next six weeks. I’m excited. I mean, being on the road gives me an overwhelming sense of optimism and hope… It’s easy to get just my information from the regular new streams and just get bummed out. I think that’s one of the reasons I love traveling so much is you just meeting a variety of people and exchanging values. It’s wonderful.
TN: You just released “Birds,” talk to me a little bit about the writing process for that album.
SG: I wrote most of it from home. In the past, I’ve typically gone down to Nashville to see the co-writing circuit since so many of my friends are down there. I enjoy that co-writing process, but this time around, I was really looking for more insularity and protection in my writing. The similar type of protection that I found growing up in a small town in western Massachusetts. Much of the writing happened from my apartment. I’m really, really proud of this record. It’s sort of a real thrill to take it out on the road in front of people. I hope they like it.
TN: I know you did a TED Talk last year and I was doing some research before this interview. How much sort of inspire you during the writing process for “Birds.”
SG: It did a few things. Just the writing of TED Talk, especially coming from this songwriting background. That’s been the way that I’ve typically communicated with the world around me is through song.
Having to write a TED Talk and not be able to hide behind my guitar, and all of sudden, my guitar felt like a shield than it ever had before when I did the TED Talk. It was different thing that happens when music is the undercurrent of the story rather than being the focal point. Obviously, making a record is different, being musically centric. But, the thing is, I think it brought more emotion to my writing, I think it charged it with a sense of urgency.
My brother passed away and I was lucky enough to have a TED Talk on my calendar. I actually sort of forgot that I until several weeks later. I was wrapped up my brother’s life, he was sort of dealing with a health crisis. I forgot to write the TED Talk until about four weeks until it was about to happen.
I realized by accident, I had a lot to say. I had a lot to say about what I had just seen in both in life and death and watching myself and my family navigate through that. I think the TED Talk anchored me to make sure that all of the songs I had, weren’t going to be 15-minute essays, but had the same level of purpose.
TN: You brought up your brother, for people who may not know, who was your brother and what was his impact that he made on your life?
SG: My brother was named Jamie, he was born with autism, he was completely nonverbal. When I was about 14, my parents came up with the idea that I would be his Personal Care Attendant… That was really a first interaction that I had trying to communicate with somebody without words. It totally changed the way that I communicate with words. My brother taught me a lot about listening. Having a relationship with him required a really different way of listening. It required me to really read his body language, his gestures and all of that really trickled into how I am observing the world around me, which are all of the tools that I use to write music. I often refer to my brother as a big musical influence though he never played an instrument, sang or spoke for that matter.
TN: You mentioned influence, I was born in Oklahoma. Why are you so drawn to the state?
SG: Well I’ve spent a bunch of time in Okemah. I’ve probably spent a week in the summer in Okemah for the last five years. That is due in large part to my affinity for the work of Woody Guthrie. I’ve spent some time in Tulsa and Oklahoma City both for the festival and the museum in Tulsa. I love Woody Guthrie. Talk about somebody who embodied something so simple and so simple.
As a songwriter or storywriter, whatever is going to get us out of this mess, I think Woody Guthrie had the best method, which is the awareness to tell a story, has the power to change the story. It’s so simple but he did that in his body of work. Whether he was talking about immigration, unions or farming, he changed the dialogue because of the way that he was telling the story.
TN: Now when you head out on tour, it’s just not you up on stage, you actually bring people along with you, don’t you?
SG: I’m going to be in Nashville with a trio. I have a Nashville-native Rachel Coats who plays the upright bass. She sings and she is remarkable. Then, I’ve been traveling with a one of my dear friends for the last five years or so a man named Joe Nerney. He plays saxophone, harmonica and sings. The three of us will be strapping percussion instruments to our hands our feet and we make a lot of noise for just three people.
Glier’s show at The Country is slated to start at 8 p.m. More information, can be seen here: http://thecountrynashville.com/event/seth-glier-justin-forrest-jake-rose.