Call Redialed: NEW Aaron David Gleason Interview: David Bowie's "Rock 'n Roll with Me"
Two years ago I got to interview Aaron David Gleason when he released his album Wry Observer. Four albums later, Aaron is teaming up with David Bowie’s original piano man Mike Garson to release an excellent cover of David Bowie’s “Rock ‘n Roll with Me.”
I had a great time learning about the making of this video and recording of such an iconic song.
1. It's been two years since our last interview together. What has been some of the biggest changes to happen to you in these two years? Oh, I became a father! That's kind of the most major development of my entire life! But yes, as far as music, I've been releasing new records and have continued building my record label, Brashtooth Records. Currently looking for new artists to work with as a producer.
2. You just released a music video of David Bowie's "Rock 'n Roll with Me." What made you want to record this song? I've known Mike Garson for about 13 years. He's always been a mentor and fatherly figure to me in the music industry--and in life. I called Mike back in January and said, "Hey man, I'll come to you, anything, but I really want to record with you, I mean we never have!" He laughed and was charmed. “Rock 'N' Roll With Me” was his suggestion. He knows my idiosyncrasies and that song seemed to line up with them a bit.
3. I think your vocals work really well with this song. What was the hardest part of the song to record? It was live. That is so so crazy in many ways. We had never rehearsed. This whole thing was winged. woof! nuts. But the energy in the room saved us all, and I think really put wind in our sails.
4. What do you relate to most about the song? It seems to be from the perspective of a depressed adrenalyn junky. I. CAN. RELATE. ;) It's like he's saying, "I see all these colorful people around me, and I myself don't feel too alive unless I'm performing."
Now, I've grown up enough to not HAVE to live on stage. In fact, with the addition of my wife and son into my life, I have the sweetest "real life" I could have ever imagined. But still, I get it. I WAS there at a point in my life. Not hard to recall it.
5. What are your goals with putting this video out into the universe? I mean, I have different goals for different people--who doesn't? When I first got to NY I was straight off the boat from the Indie Rock world--which is to say, I didn't fit in too well at times. My vocals needed to improve in many ways, and my performing did as well. That was 10 years ago now.
In the meantime I was totally embraced and nurtured by the New York cabaret scene of all people. I NEVER would have thought 10 years ago that Feinstein’s/54 Below would be the place I've performed MOST in my life.
Anyway, that love and acceptance brought me out of my shell. I also got very serious about becoming more of a legit singer. Of course I want people to see how much I've grown. I'm hoping as well that people like the production on this song AND video and ask me to produce THEIR work.
Lastly, this is a tribute to my idol, and I've already been hearing from Bowie fans about me "doing this justice" and so forth. A few of those comments have already made me cry, so I'm so thrilled with that.
6. The video features Bowie's original pianist for this song Mike Garson. How did you get him to play with you? I was a punky, cocky, youngish Rock 'N Roller...surprised he stayed friends with me haha...But he did. I love the guy, and really just wanted to do right by him in making this all it could be.
7. What was the best part about working with him? Well, I know him very well--as he does me. He's fearless and brutally strong as a player. I know that about him. So when he pulls a wild card, hey guess what, I KNEW HE WOULD! That's Garson. You better be ready, willing and able--and I always am, because it's a THRILL in every way to play with him. This goes for all the other musicians working with him. He elevated the proceedings.
8. Did he have any fun David Bowie stories you can share with us? He always drops some of those during a session. We all gather round with saucer-like eyes and listen in total rapt attention. Oh, I can't repeat them. hehehe.
9. How has David Bowie inspired you? In about 100 different ways. To be dangerous as an artist. To be sensual as an artist. To take huge risks. To surround yourself with much better players.
10. If you could have asked David Bowie any question, what would you have liked to ask him? I was once in a position of meeting an idol. I mean, you don't want to start off TOO crazy, but you both know the score. So I leaned over to this particular god and said, "Do you have a favorite key?" He was charmed, bemused and knew I was a puckish weirdo at that point. Mission accomplished. The ice had been broken. I'd probably try the same trick. ;) I mean, I'd like to get a second question, maybe a third.
11. As a big David Bowie fan, what do you think is something most people don't know about him? There's nothing wrong with worshiping the myth, but that is exactly what David Robert Jones was incredible at writing--myths. Sometimes he cast himself, sometimes he cast others. But the man wasn't the myth and the myth wasn't the man.
What doesn't the average person know? He was sober for practically the last 30 years of his life. He raised two wonderful people. He was a devoted husband. He helped out a lot of friends. These things didn't matter to me at 23. But now, at 103, they matter. He'll always be a teacher to me.