Aug 15

An Interview with Derek Close

RockCriesOut.com: Hey, Derek, thanks for taking time today to answer some questions for everyone. You’ve been busy this past year from releasing a Christmas album to releasing a single. Tell us bit more about these releases, if you will, and what we can expect in the future from you.

Derek Close:  You’re welcome and thank you for the opportunity!  For many years now I’ve thought about doing a Christmas album of some sort.  But it had to be different in that it’s not just another rendition of the same songs we hear over and over.  So back in the winter of 2009 I had a vision for an epic piece of music that would be based on Carol of the Bells but all the parts, except drums, would be done on the bass.  Long story short:  It sounded really bad.  So I went with my gut and created a simpler, more upbeat piece I called Carol of the Bass.  People seemed to like it.  Fast forward to Fall/Winter 2010.  I got the bug to work on another Christmas song.  I chose “We Three Kings” because I’ve always disliked that song and wanted to see if I could make a better (at least in my opinion) version.  “3 Groovin’ Kings” (iTunes, Amazon, Google) came out that effort.  I released the song through TuneCore and decided “Jingle Bells” was next.  Thus “A Little Jingle Jam” (iTunes, Amazon, Google) was released that Thanksgiving.  Both songs are instrumental because a lead singer I am not.  I decided to set a goal to release a full ten song album in time for the 2011 Christmas Season.  So needless to say 2011 was spent working on composing and tweaking new versions of old classics.  Playing Christmas music in July is quite strange.  Fortunately I was able to meet my goal and In the Christmas Groove (iTunes, Amazon, Google) was released October, 2011.

Now my latest single, “Moo Moo Clank” is an inadvertent direct inspiration from working on the Christmas album.  I had posted “3 Groovin’ Kings” on the Christian Soldiers’ (a gaming clan) forums and one of my buddies joked that it needed more cowbell.  I told him I could replace the jingle bells in “Jingle Bells” with a cowbell and call it “Moo Moo Clank”.  It’s available for free download at: http://www.reverbnation.com/dclose.  It was done just for fun.

RCO: So, how long have you been doing music, and have you always primarily done instrumental music?

DC:  I started playing guitar about 25 years ago with bass being my primary instrument for the vast majority of that time.  Most of the bands I’ve worked with have been the traditional 4 or 5 member groups, with guitars, bass, drums and vocals. One group ended up as a power trio.  There were some instrumentals but by far the majority of the songs had vocals on them.

RCO: What draws you to this genre?

DC:  It must have been the early 90’s when I heard Tony MacAlpine’s album Maxium Security.  The guitar layers, rhythm and melody just blew me away.  Then I was introduced to Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien. “Satch Boogie” is a groovin’ tune that really lights me up.  That’s when I really started leaning toward listening to instrumentals.  Hearing Satriani’s “Summer Song” really sealed the deal.  I’d much rather listen to instrumentals than songs with lyrics.  Bad vocals, or lyrics for that matter can really kill a potentially good song.  Take Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” for example.  Great song musically.  Even the melody is great.  It fits the song wonderfully.  But the lyrics?  “Oh no.  There goes Tokyo.  Go, go Godzilla!  Woooo-oooo-oo-oo.”  Not so hot.

RCO: What other forms of music do you draw inspiration from?

DC:  Anything that sounds good.  Which is an arbitrary statement.  What gives one person goosebumps makes the next person’s skin crawl.  I prefer upbeat, hard rockin’ music with a touch of offbeat or funky riffs.  I’ve broadened by horizons over the years and have come to really appreciate classical music.  I don’t listen to it often but the compositions are amazing!  I heard something on the TV a week or so ago that gave me an idea for a really epic piece.  We’ll see if it materializes or not.

RCO: Now, you’re a big supporter of Indie Christian music, as anyone who follows you on Twitter would know. Who are some of your favorite Indie bands right now?

DC:  Wow.  There are so many really good groups and individuals out there that it’s easy to lose them in the shuffle.  A few of my favs off the top of my head are:  Pastor Brad, Anthony Gravley,  Chad Laniewski and Jimmy Earls.

RCO: Have you done any live shows recently you’d like to tell us about?

DC:  To be perfectly honest I haven’t played a live show in quite some time.  Playing on the worship team at church doesn’t count as it’s not a live show.  It’s worship.  Not a performance.  I’d really like to get out and do some live playing again.  Right now I’m working on getting my partial songs completed and am enjoying the process and ability to record out of my home.  Though the thoughts of a live band are never far from my mind.

RCO: If you could perform live at any venue where would it be and why?

DC:  That’s a tough question.  I haven’t had the opportunity to visit a lot of different venues so my knowledge is fairly limited.  After quite a bit of thought I think I would like to play at The Gorge in George, Washington.  Since it’s an outdoor amphitheater the show would have to take place in August.  Hot summer night.  The spectacular canyon and setting sun as the backdrop.  That would be pretty cool.

RCO: What’s your favorite piece of gear you own?

DC:  That would have to be my Ibanez Ex-Series 4-string bass.  Hands down.  I bought it brand new, on sale back in ’90.  It has a great tone, it’s very light for a bass and fits me perfectly.  I’ve practiced, composed, recorded and played live shows with it.  A lot of people have commented on the tone of that bass.  It’s a keeper!

RCO: And for fun, what’s your favorite movie soundtrack?

DC: It’s funny I’ve never really been into movie soundtracks but there are 3 that come to mind:  Flash Gordon & Highlander which are both done by Queen, but the one I would have to pick as my favorite is Braveheart.  “Playing outlawed tunes on outlawed pipes.”



We would like to thank Derek for taking the time to do this interview. Be sure to check out his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DCzMusic.

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  1. An Interview With Derek Close... Round Two - RockCriesOut.com

    […] over a year ago, RockCriesOut’s Randall Latham got the opportunity to interview Derek Close. At time Derek was pushing his holiday album In the Christmas Groove and had just […]

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