Drew Brody: "Songs I Drew"

I was first introduced to Drew Brody in 2009 when he opened up for singer/songwriter Jay Brannan at Le Poison Rouge. I was immediately entranced with Drew's music and lyrics and knew more great things were going to come from him. At that time Drew had already released his debut acoustic solo album "Drew Brody." and co-produced Jay's second album "In Living Cover." In addition to his solo work, Drew continued to be the front man of M-Lab, who he's been playing with since 2001 and has released two albums "From Baser Elements" and "A Bold and Hopeful Spark." Drew is currently working on his 2nd solo album and has also wrote the music and lyrics to his first musical "Cutman: A Boxing Musical" which will be making it's debut at the Goodspeed Theatre in CT from May 12-June 5. Before Drew heads off to Goodspeed for "Cutman," he will take New York City by storm for a one night only concert on Thursday, April 14 at 9:30pm at Joe's Pub in "Songs I Drew" where such artists as Alan Cumming, Alison Fraser, Stephanie d'Abruzzo, Christian Campbell, Tennman/Interscope recording artist Matt Morris, will sing the songs of Drew Brody along with some of the songs featured in "Cutman: A Boxing Musical." "Songs I Drew" is presented in association with Lance Horne, who will be leading the band. Click here for tickets to "Songs I Drew" this Thursday, April 14 at 9:30pm at Joe's Pub!

1. How did you come up with the idea for "Songs I Drew"? Lance and I had been wanting to work on something together, but the timing for any large project was not really working out. So we thought - why not start small? I had the idea for a night of my songs at Joe's Pub where he could music direct and help sculpt the evening, and he was excited to help put it together. I originally envisioned it as a combination of people singing my songs and then me singing other people's songs, but then Lance came up with the title "Songs I Drew," and we decided to focus it just on songs I had written the music and lyrics for, with him putting his name and imprimatur on the evening. We had to work the timing around when we would both be in town, and it happened to work out perfectly for right before I head to the Goodspeed for Cutman.

2. How did you and Lance Horne get to work together on this project? Lance is a fantastic, truly gifted composer and musician, and everyone he works with develops a strong loyalty towards him. I completely admire his talent and his work, and he's been a real mentor to me in the musical theater world, which I'm more or less just stepping in to. However, we had actually known each other for a long time without hearing each other's tunes. One night, we were driving back to NY from Boston (where he had been MD'ing Cabaret for ART) and we spent the whole car ride playing our songs for each other and talking about them. That must sound like the most god-awful car ride imaginable to a lot of people, but to us it was inspiring and energizing, like getting a musical crush.

3. How did you decide which performers to ask to participate in "Songs I Drew"? The lineup of performers is very particular to the evening. The songs in the show are a mix of theater songs and non-theater songs (folk or singer/songwriter genres) that I've written, and so the lineup reflects it. BUT it's not so simple - I've got some of the Broadway crew singing non-theater songs and vice-versa, because I think it's really interesting to see how the sort of cross-genre interpretations add completely different layers to the songs. Many of the performers are friends of mine and most of them I've worked with before in some way or another, they're part of my community. I will say this - some of the performers might be more familiar names than others, but they are all handpicked because they are knockouts.

4. What excites you most about "Songs I Drew"? Everything - especially how it all comes together. Because of everyone's busy schedules, you can't rehearse a show like this in its full form, ever. So a lot has to wait until the last minute and there will definitely be surprises on stage. Mostly, though, I'm excited to have a show with all of these talented people in it. Some of these performers are really close friends of mine who don't actually know each other, so it will be a lot of fun for me just to have them all in the same room and to see each other perform. The fact that they're singing my songs - well, that's just incredibly humbling icing on the cake.

5. How did you get involved with "Cutman: A Boxing Musical"? I've been working on this show for what feels like forever, but actually is not that long in musical theater terms. Since I moved to New York City in 2001, I've been working with my partners Cory Grant and Jared Coseglia on various theater projects. I deeply believe they are both artistic visionaries in their own ways, and i feel really lucky to be their music man. Cutman was actually the fourth or fifth project we worked on together, but it was the first musical. They came up with the idea for a musical about a Jewish boxer who gets a shot at the title fight on Yom Kippur and has to struggle between his ambition and his faith - what he wants vs. who he wants to be. The show is incredibly touching and powerful, and boxing has such an inherent musicality to it, that it just made sense. We did our first reading for NYMF in 2007 and we've been crafting it ever since.

6. What do you get from writing/performing your own music as opposed to writing the music/lyrics to a musical? I truly love singing and performing---when everything feels right, singing can be cathartic, transformative, and I feel I can connect with people in a way that I can't match in a non-musical way. But there's also something I've come to love about crafting a song and leaving it in the hands of others to execute. It's satisfying in an entirely different way, and it allows me to take on different characters and try to see (and write about) the world from different perspectives. At the Joe's Pub show, I'll get to do a little of both, which I think is the perfect balance for me.

7. What's the best advice you've ever received? My friend Emily Lazar, who runs the mastering studio The Lodge, gave me a piece of advice that I think about all the time and have passed on to so many people. She said,"If you want to be able to shake off bad criticism, you have to shake off the good feedback as well. You can't just selectively believe the good stuff." So hard to implement, but such good advice.

8. Who's the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? There are way too many to name. I am definitely just at the tip of the iceberg in terms of the people I've worked with, at least I hope. One day, what I'd really like is to be the answer to this question for someone else.

9. Favorite place to write/practice on your own? I like to go away a lot, out of the city. Especially for the musicals, Jared, Cory, and I have found that being away from New York can do amazing things for productivity. It's just too easy to get distracted in New York. That's what makes it great to live here, but it's not conducive to staring at a blank page for a couple of hours, which is sometimes what it takes to start a good idea.

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Clark Kent.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite way to spend your day off? The beach.

12. Favorite ride at an amusement park? The Eagle at Six Flags Great America in Illinois. It takes forever to slowly climb to its peak, maximizing that nervous anticipation, then it drops precipitously, then it's over. It's the Brooklyn Bridge of amusement park rides - all wooden and creaky but simple and perfect. 

Charles Busch and Julie Halston

James Archer