Our team had the chance to interview Dave and Licia from The Gray Havens. They just released their new album "Where Eyes Don't Go" on Jamendo and agreed to tell us a little more about it and their incredible story as a band.
1. You are The Gray Havens, a pop folk band, where did your artist name came from?
We actually reached out to fans during our Kickstarter campaign for ideas. We had passed over The Gray Havens once before, but it wasn't until we received it as a suggestion from a fan that we found it appealing. The name is inspired by The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King. The "Grey Havens" (spelled with an "E" in the book), is the harbor from which some of the main characters leave at the end of the story in order to sail off toward Valinor, or the Undying Lands. It's kind of nerdy when you type it out like that, but there you are. We also had a song called "Gray Flowers" already written, so we thought "let's go with it!"
2. At what age did you start singing? Are there any fun facts you would like to share with your fans about your debut?
I started singing when I was a kid watching Disney movies I suppose, but I started singing more seriously after joining the "Men's Choir" in high school as a freshman. My first time ever singing a solo on stage required that I use a "growl" affect with my voice, which did wonders for gaining the approval of my female peers, but was a bit awful for my ego. Licia started singing publicly about 6 months after we started dating. No one knew she could sing until my mom started giving her voice lessons. When I first heard her sing, I was flabbergasted. I couldn't believe it.
3. You have an interesting story as a band. For example, Dave, you were a contestant in the 5th season of American Idol. What did you learn from this experience as a musician? Did it inspire you to write your own songs?
American Idol was the springboard for a ton of things that have happened (and are still happening) in my life. I learned, perhaps most importantly, the dis-enchanting realities that accompany fame. Even though my time on Idol was short-lived, I was able to experience firsthand how fame, pursued for its own sake, can be very destructive. I wouldn't say the experience inspired me to write my own music. However, it was because of American Idol that I received an offer to record an EP. During the process, I just happened to stumble into co-writing a song with a friend that ended up on the album. This, in turn, sparked a passion for writing that has continued to grow ever since.
4. Your adventure as a band started from scratch, first with an improvised performance at a friend’s concert, then using crowdfunding to release your album. Could you tell us a little more about your story?
Yes, the opportunity to record seemingly fell into our lap at a friend's concert. After he finished his set, we were introduced to the band members, who just happened to be three guys that owned a recording studio in Nashville called ZodLounge. Licia and I visited their studio a few weeks later to see if we might be a good fit, and were pretty much sold after the first day. We used Kickstarter to fund the album and had a very positive experience. We will probably try another Kickstarter campaign this fall for our first full length album. So excited!
5. Some artists travel to far away places to find inspiration, some others prefer to analyze the world that is surrounding them. How do you compose your songs? Do you have a specific way of finding inspiration?
C.S. Lewis, answering this same question, said "For me it invariably begins with mental pictures...a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion." I am very much the same way in writing songs (though NOT very much the same way in my ability to think and write in general!). I usually begin with either the chord progression and/or melody. Sometimes the mental picture emerges right away. Other times I have to work much harder to produce it. Often, this involves singing random words and jibberish until I sing a word that strikes me as somehow important, or just seems to fit there. My mind then takes the word and is able to build mental pictures around it. The word may be the whole point of the song, or just a passing lyrical bridge, but it certainly helps give my imagination something to go off of. A plot line eventually starts to form, and then begins the hard process of crafting it all together in order to form some kind of coherent story that actually says something.
6. Your album “Where Eyes Don’t Go” was released some time ago. Could you tell us a little about its main themes or influences?
Where Eyes Don't Go is virtually a concept album about a Song. The Song represents the true "Music" of reality that exists now in large part as a mere echo. The characters in the album struggle to search for, understand, and sometimes follow the Song. The first track is called "Where It Goes," and is a story told from the perspective of "History" as though he were a person. He describes the song's origin, and sets up the theme for the album.
A song ran in the oceans of color,
surrounded by the stars inside the universe,
before it bursted into light,
And after a long time,
A world came alive and played that music I first heard,
And so I stayed so I could write down every word.
7. You decided to join Jamendo and share your music for free under a Creative Commons license. When and why did you make this decision? Did you feel the need to share music more easily?
I uploaded our music to Jamendo a few weeks ago, never expecting it to be featured. I suppose I made the decision because we are interested in finding new listeners. Jamendo seemed like a great resource to help us do this, so we went for it.
8. Is there anything your fans would be surprised to learn about you that they don’t know yet?
Somehow or another, we became convinced that the "Paleo" eating lifestyle was more healthy. We go without any kind of grains or dairy and regularly complain to each other about it. It's our own fault, really, but we lament out loud every time we pass cakes or pastries at the grocery store.
Official website : The Gray Havens
Facebook page : The Gray Havens Facebook
Jamendo : The Gray Havens