Such greats have influenced Dusty Edinger’s songwriting as Joe Walsh, Gerry Rafferty, and, of course, The Beatles. However, the Power Pop Rock Neo Soul also reminds me of Maroon 5, without all the affectation.
Sweet Sweet Music spoke with Dusty about the Keukenhof, cooking, relationships, motocross, standardized testing, Grease 2, his old band Star Collector, and how Missing Links and Kitchen Sinks came about.
What was the moment you knew you were on to something?
When they switched Darrins on “Bewitched” and I was the only one who noticed.
How did this record come together?
Just like everybody, I was stuck at home during Covid. I wrote the record and recorded demos over about a twelve-week period. I called my friend Gary Stone at Dream Antenna studios and sent him some demos. Soon we were off and running. I set out to write 4-5 songs. But that turned into 18. And then 18 turned back into the 13 you hear on the record. 5 didn’t make the cut. So I sold them to Rammstein. Now I drive a pink polka dot Lamborghini.
When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?
When it was done, I guess? I don’t know if I ever decided. I guess I just made the record and hoped someone would acknowledge the hard work. It was hard.
The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?
For me, I would like to make a living making original music. That’s a pretty lofty goal nowadays. Streaming has eliminated any real sales revenue(Thanks for trying, Lars). So that only leaves live performance. The original music scene in Atlanta is basically non-existent unless you are into metal.
And with these songs, in particular, it would take a pretty large band. I think “Sleeping with the Enemy” has 10 or 12 vocal tracks on it? I’m scouring local orphanages for talent.
How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?
For me it’s big. I need an outlet for sure. And my interpretive dance classes aren’t going as well as I had hoped. I already have the next record written. Do they let live bands play at the Keukenhof?
As an artist, you choose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?
Nope. But hey, all you young budding songwriters, I can tell you it gets easier. You have to write a bunch of trite, unrelatable, terrible lyrics before you can write better ones. It’s the same with, say…cooking, relationships, motocross, standardized testing, or karate. There’s a reason black belts are hard to get. Keep writing, and you will get there. And the more music and art you expose yourself to, the easier it is to tell junk from the good stuff. The more life you live, the more interesting things you have to say. You have to keep going.
You can pick three co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?
I have never been able to write with other people. I don’t think I ever would be able to. Songwriting to me is like making something out of clay. It pretty much looks like shit right up until the very end. I don’t want anyone else to see it until then.
…but maybe Shel Silverstein, Paul Simon, and Paula Abdul.
What’s the gig you will never forget? And why?
Gigs of mine? I love all of them equally. I can’t choose. They are all my children. 3,000 children. I’m the Wilt Chamberlain of unknown musicians.
Gigs of other people? U2 Joshua Tree tour. I wasn’t even a massive fan at the time. Changed my life. I saw Jellyfish on the last night of the Spilt Milk tour. Changed my life. I was offered a free front-row ticket to see Prince one time. Changed my life. I was offered a free ticket to see Peter Gabriel and didn’t go. I suspect this was the huge mistake of my concert-going career. All I can tell you is the next day; my life was exactly the same.
Lyrics are too often taken for granted. What is the line of text, or are the lines of text that you hope listeners will remember? And why?
“Sometimes I think it might be all in my mind
but I can’t be the only one
who’ll die trying to reconcile
all of the automatic weapons everybody becomes.”
Also, all of “Caught Red Handed”. Because lock the door, people.
When was the last time you thought, ‘I just wrote a hit!’?
Well, that word means different things to different people. But I remember being pretty excited the night I wrote “The Joyous Dinosaur Song”. It hit me so hard that I decided to make it the only song on the record that kept the demo title. That’s why the title makes no sense. All my songs start with a working demo title like “the Jaws 2 song” or “the song that sounds Britney Spears-ey” or “the terrible song”. Otherwise, “Joyous Dinosaur” would have been called “Dreaming Wide Awake”. But I found it absurd and, therefore, more satisfying to do it this way. I never thought I might be called out by a new music magnate in The Netherlands, or I would have thought it through more.
…That said, I expect “Infatuation” and “I Still Love You Anyway” will likely soon be racing up the Dutch charts.
Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?
Recording is way easier. Anybody can do it. Getting it heard is IMPOSSIBLE. I was talking to a friend of mine about putting this record on Apple Music. He told me they get 65,000 submissions a day. Every single day. It’s tough to get noticed with those numbers.
Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would make your first mixtape?
1) 10cc-The Things we do for Love
2) Queen-Seaside Rendezvous
3) Led Zeppelin-In the Light
4) Crosby Still and Nash-Suite Judy Blue Eyes
5) The Theme from “The Rockford Files”
Recording music. What’s all the fun about?
Well, in my case, specifically with this record, it was the first time it was only me and not a band. Bands are great, but that means every person gets an equal say on everything. Everyone wins except the listener(and the engineer). Ugh. This right here is why the tambourine ends up on every chorus of every song ever recorded. Pick your moments, tambourine people! I feel like the cowbell people have shown monumental restraint.
Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?
I can still remember the first time I looked out and saw a room full of people singing back to me words that I had written—pretty good stuff. Looking back, I wish the song hadn’t been about the Teapot Dome scandal.
You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?
I don’t try to reinvent the wheel. One of my favorite things about songwriting is the rules and how great songwriters work within the parameters of those rules—and even knowing when rules should be bent or broken. Also, I am an album person. I want to listen to a record in its entirety. So I try to write that way. Even something as simple as song order can change the entire experience. We live in this instant gratification world now; it’s very tempting just to download the single and move on. If you do that, you are likely missing the larger point the artist was trying to make. I like the journey. “Missing Links and Kitchen Sinks” is serious. It’s silly. And it’s everything in between. But I like to think it takes you someplace, however briefly. Back to your original question…
I like vocal harmonies. And I’m a fat trimmer. I agonize over the most minor details. It’s something I learned in my old band, Star Collector. Everything should be there for a reason. If there isn’t a good reason for something, I generally cut it. Get to the point. “Roll to Me” by Del Amitri is a perfect example of this. One of the best pop songs ever written at 2 minutes, 14 seconds. Also, don’t put dumb stuff in songs, like Lawrence Welk. Don’t do it.
They expect ‘the roaring 20s v2.0’. What kind of party are you looking for?
It would pretty much be the “Cool Rider” bowling alley scene from Grease 2.