SXSW Music Coverage: Chatting with Seth Glier and Joe Nerney
I first met Seth Glier last year at SXSW and since have had the opportunity to interview him on several other occasions. His music and talent attract many diverse fans. Catching up with Seth is always like chatting with an old friend. Spending time with Joe was a treat as I learned a lot about being on the road and the bond the two troubadours share
Tell us about the new song you did today. It talks about your brother.
I talk about my brother all the time but that song has the most about my brother in it. It talks about in that first verse is where I'm 14 years old riding the bus with him to school. I rode on the special needs bus. I would get off the special needs bus and I wouldn't go to any of the special needs classroom but I realized all my friends would make fun of all the kids on the special needs buses. I was torn between this place at 14, one part of me wanted to fit in with everybody and the other part wanted to stand up for my brother. And I didn't always stand up for my brother. So that chorus, "Love is a language we hang onto." Even when we do the wrong things, love is something that pulls us together. As cheesy as it is. It's the same thing with my family and my relationships. Oftentimes when things are just are at the most uncertain, is when something else steps into the room that's undefined. Nobody ever gives us a framework on how to treat other people and that's something that especially with family, that's the beginning of when you start to learn what hurts someone else's feelings and what doesn't. You're always sorting that out for the rest of your life. That's part of what I recognize. The same stuff I was dealing with at 14, I'm still dealing with now; it's just different.
You're touring again. Did you enjoy the break?
I love touring. I feel like I never took a break. I feel like I'm always touring. Even when I say I'm taking a break that's more like a mental thing for me. I love touring. It's a place where I get to see the country. It's exhausting. It's incredibly hard work and what most people don't understand is when they're coming to a show, they're literally seeing the best hour and a half of my life. That's the best hour and a half of my entire day and the rest of it is really, really cumbersome sometimes. You meet the most amazing people and it fills your well. That's what I love about it. And I get to spend time with Joe (Nerney).
Tell us just how glamorous it is traveling.
After getting a Grammy nomination we stopped staying at cat ladies' houses and graduated to Motel 6. The more bullet shots in a room the more entertaining it tends to be. It's not glamorous but it does allow you to reinvent yourself every day to not take yourself so seriously. Joe and I are in a Prius in very, very confined quarters but I love it. I would do it for free. Well, I already do it for free. I sincerely mean that. It's something that I feel like I'm built to do at this point in my life. I have high expectations of where I want this to go. That's why I work as hard as I do.
Where do you want it to go?
I would love to sell out Radio City Music Hall. There's a theatrical element in what I do and I used to sort of lean away from that because in the pop world, Broadway was a dirty word and I think it still is but there are many elements of theater when they're incorporated with the right sort of style in the show. That's the difference between playing a rock club and playing Carnegie Hall. Theater is a huge component of where I come from and I want to live in that kind of stage; performing arts centers and stuff like that rather than rock clubs, rather than cafes. I want my music to live in the biggest world it could possibly live in.
What steps are you taking to get to that point?
I'm doing a lot of co-writing on this new record just to bring in other influences with a handful of other poppier songwriters that have had some success. I'm writing a lot with Steve Seskin who's had a really great success with country music. He wrote, "Don't Laugh at Me" the Peter, Paul and Mary song. He also wrote "Grown Men Don't Cry" for Tim McGraw. And he's just a veteran songwriter so I've probably written five songs with him for this new record and I'm gathering songs and I'm still writing a bunch; probably about 25 songs that we'll try to whittle down to 12.
When do you think the album's going to come out?
The beginning of 2015.
And Joe Nerney. How are you? You just had an exciting trip on a Greyhound bus across country. What was the most exciting part about the trip?
Most of the trip was in the middle of the night. I got to witness a driver being mad at somebody listening to rap music too loud in his headphones. He was threatening to throw the kid off the bus or call the police and the police would remove him from the bus. But, for the most part it was a quiet trip.
I did a lot of answering email and stuff. It was my birthday so we had lots of correspondence because people had wished me a happy birthday and since I've been doing this music thing with Seth, I have gotten to have a whole bunch more friends which is really nice.
What's it like touring with Seth?
JOE: We don't have any drama. If we have a disagreement on anything, I'll say, "I don't know." And sometimes like any disagreement, it works out one way or the other.
SETH: Joe's a lot smarter than me. But he doesn't set the bar very high.
JOE: Sometimes he'll go, "Yeah, you were right," or sometimes I'll go, "Yeah, you were right." It's kind of like a marriage really.
Is it exhausting for you? Would you see yourself getting out of this anytime soon?
JOE: I like doing it. I have a lot of energy to do it. It's not my first time doing it so I'm used to how it works. When I was the same age as Seth, I was doing the same thing, going out doing my music but having a band. The only problem with the band was there's always drama in a band. The drummer and the bass player would be fighting but at 4:00 in the morning they would decide to knock on my door and say, "Hey, man, you gotta help us out. He plays too fast and I keep trying to hold him back." And then there's always a fight and I've always been a mediator kind of person. In big families, I'm in the middle so I'm always the mediator. But, we don't have to do that.
SETH: The best part about touring with Joe for me is that obviously we come from two very different walks of time.
JOE: I'm really old is another way to put it.
SETH: And I'm an adolescent. But the fact that music is totally a universal language. My life the past year has been totally reinvigorated by Joe. By nothing other than Joe's presence and my musical life and the friendship that I've had with him because when we play together there's no eye contact. There's no comradery because we're both 24 and stupid enough to be doing this. The comradery is that we both have the bug where we fell in love with music and that knows no generation or demographic and I think that translates. It's way bigger than me and way bigger than any song I could ever write. Joe's allowed me to be a part of something that's bigger than myself.
JOE: I get to hang around with all these young people and it's usually, "What do you mean you want to go to bed?"
SETH: It totally is. It's Joe, one more shot, Nerney.
To read more about Seth and where he will be on his tour, check out his website www.sethglier.com for all the latest.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kathy Strain