This guy is hilarious. I have never met him, but I can just tell from the photos on his website and the conversations we share through email. His music is pretty impressive too. He writes some awesome lyrics is wicked on the guitar. I am actually not sure where I met him… but I am glad I did. One of the first things that he did was offer to send me a copy of his latest album. It’s not out yet, but he wanted me to hear it. It’s good. But what impressed me the most was the thank you card that he send. It was personalized and had a nice note on it. It was totally unexpected, and through all of the albums that I have received in the mail it was the first time someone attached a personalized note. It was just nice! He is also good friends with a ton of guys I have connected with on the west coast. Really excited to have Corey Durkin here with me today.
Durkin… is that German?
It’s actually an Irish name and some ancestry site once told me that the majority of Durkins live in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Of course, this was in the 1920s so take it with about ninety-one grains of salt.
Your music has been described as “coffee house rock”. Let me guess… you play a lot of coffee shops?
I have played coffee shops, absolutely. There are so many great coffee houses in the CT/MA areas and playing those places was a great way to gain experience.
I am a good friend with Keaton Simons. He was featured on your debut album Go Easy. How do you know Keaton? What was it like working with him?
Keaton and I met in New York about two and a half years ago. He is an incredible musician, he does EVERYTHING so well. He’s one of those guys who has so much soul and what I love about him is, like me, he’s an old soul – I really enjoy being around people who have that old school vibe which I totally relate to. Just listening to how he put this guitar parts together was incredibly fascinating and I’m very happy to have him on the record.
Where are you originally from?
I’m originally from the woods of Connecticut. No electricity, no running water, just myself and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (organic).
Do you have a job outside of music?
I do a lot of things that are totally unrelated to music. I’m an entrepreneur and I really enjoy being in the business world because I can be creative in that environment. At the same time, there’s something so creatively satisfying about writing songs and performing so music really gives a lot to me in that sense.
So you are classified as a singer/songwriter. Which do you like better, singing songs or writing them?
Writing songs is so much fun for me but performing is so much fun because I can share my music with other people.
Do you write all of your own lyrics?
I write all my own lyrics, the jingle for Charmin Ultra-soft not withstanding.
Where do you get inspiration, in both life and in music?
There was a book I read as a child, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and I definitely live my life and get the most inspiration from the mantra of that story.
You have done some pretty sick covers. Who has the guts to cover Adele? Then you cover Bruno Mars… how do you pick which songs you want to cover?
I just listen to the radio and when I hear something that hits me, I’ll pick up the guitar and figure it out.
What are some of your first memories of the guitar?
Probably the episode of Oprah when she dressed up like Ozzy Osbourne, did a trapeze act, changed into a leotard in midair and shredded to I Believe I Can Fly. That could have also just been a really weird dream.
I am sure you have been to plenty… what’s the best concert you have ever been to?
That’s SUCH a tough question but I finally got to see Tom Petty this past summer… I’m gonna go with that. They did an incredible version of Here Comes My Girl that about blew my mind.
Your website is a blog. You are also on Facebook and Twitter. How has social media changed the way you market and promote yourself?
Social media is so much fun because I love meeting new people and I’ve made some amazing friends by way of talking to people on the Internet. I’ve found that when people enjoy my music, they want to share it with their friends on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. and that support and willingness to tell other people about my music is really special.
You currently live in Connecticut. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would you go?
Hayward, Wisconsin because they have the world’s largest man-made fish there… talk about your oxymorons… this particular fish is 140 feet long and it’s about five stories tall. I know nothing about fishing and have no desire to but I saw it on TV once and decided that some day, I must make a pilgrimage to Hayward, Wisconsin.
You play a ton of shows… what’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
An older lady, about seventy-years old, was so taken with me that she leapt over the security guards to dance with me. She professed her love to me before the night ended with her husband was in audience. He was not amused.
Really enjoyed the video for Concentrations in Love. Where was that recorded?
Thanks man! We shot it at Piedmont Park in Atlanta. That was so much fun and it’s just cute, you know, those kids in the video are adorable. People really seem to like it and they’re sharing it like crazy with their friends which is awesome. I can’t wait for the next music video to come out.
I haven’t seen you live… yet. What can someone expect from a live performance?
On most nights, people can expect the dancing monkeys, the roller-derby girls and at least one of the Harlem Globetrotters to be on stage with me. But they can also expect that I’m going to talk a lot and be a little silly… I’m just me on stage, I just happen to have a guitar while I’m being me.
Wait a second… you also know Curtis Peoples. And Jason Reeves. How do you know all of these guys?
Our community is very small, you know? There’s a group of singer/songwriters and it’s just, “Oh, you know Brendan James? Oh, you know Keaton?” and it continues. The community is very supportive of each other and it feels great to be a part of that.
What’s the biggest crowd you have ever played for?
I’ve played to quite a few crowds of a couple thousand people, I’d say four thousand people was my biggest show at this point.
What about the smallest?
One person – usually when I’m with a friend and I want to play them a new song I’ve written. I know they support me and believe in what I do so those moments or “shows” are very special.
Go Easy is your debut album. Tell me about the process, from concept to completion. What was it like recording an album?
It was a blast. I had so much fun recording the record, I worked with amazing people on it and learned so much about myself as an artist. You picture your songs in your head, how you think they’re going to sound and how you want them to sound. After our third day of tracking bass and drums, I remember saying that the songs sounded exactly like what I knew they could sound like – but even better. I don’t think there’s a better feeling in the world. The album goes so many different places as well and I really like that – lyrically, sonically, there are twists and turns that came about in the recording of the songs that I’m so in love with.
You know, it’s funny… I have been working on several tanning lotion websites at work. You would make a great model for the lotions! I have to ask… why were you showing off tanning lotion?
I see myself as a taller version of Zoolander so I feel obligated to pose with every single bottle of tanning lotion that comes my way.
It appears you wear a lot of flannel. Any particular reason?
Yes, if I didn’t wear flannel, I’d have to wear the other half of my wardrobe which is modeled after every outfit Lady Gaga has ever worn to an awards show. And those outfits are tough to squeeze into for a man so I like to stick with the flannel.
I feel like I could ask you questions all day long… I love getting to know people. You are a writer as well. What do you write about? Where do you come up with ideas for new blog posts?
I write a lot about music and art, new bands that I like and artists that I recommend. And stuff relating to my music as well. I also write about crazy stuff, for example, how I made friends with a man on a three hour plane flight and ended up going to his house for dinner with him and his wife. So it’s mostly music-related but there is a lot of quirky writing as well – just like me. You never know what’s going to happen.
You have some pretty sick photos on your Facebook page. Are you a photographer as well?
I am, I really love photography, it’s such a fun hobby and I travel a lot so it’s wonderful to be able to capture the places I go to.
You have managed to build quite a database of email addresses. How often are you emailing your fans and what sort of reception have you seen from the people on your mailing list?
People who are on the mailing list really enjoy being on the mailing list and that’s because it’s the best mailing list ever. The conversations are usually related to my music, creative projects I’m working on and occasionally, some quirky, funny stuff. The reception has been great and I see the mailing list as a fun and creative conversation – we’ll have conversations that we’ll actually put in the newsletter. I bounce ideas off of them, they bounce ideas off me and it’s really fun! It’s this hysterical little community we’ve created on my mailing list. And it’s easy to sign up if you go to my website, you’ll see the spot where you can put your email right in.
How do you think the Internet has changed the way people absorb music?
I think people will always absorb music the same as they did in the 60s, 70s and 80s when they were listening to vinyl. Music marks periods in peoples lives and brings emotion into people’s lives so I see the Internet as a faster and more efficient way to embrace all of the wonderful music that’s out there.
Do you have a band as well, or do you always play solo?
I always play solo; I’m a pretty independent guy. I’ve never believed in waiting around for anyone or finding band mates. It’s much easier to get out there with my acoustic guitar and bring my music to people.
If you could only play one song for the rest of your life, which song would you choose?
I would play Remix to Ignition by R. Kelly.
I know it’s a long time from now, but where do you see yourself in five years?
I don’t think that far ahead, I just know I’ll be incredibly happy with whatever I’m doing at that point.
What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?
I think legacies are overrated because it’s impossible to control what other people think of you so I’ve never worried about that for a second. I have a great time living life and creating things and whatever people I attract into my life as a result of that, those people were meant to be there and we’ll have a lot of fun together.
I always let the artist get the last word. Go.
I would definitely encourage anyone reading this to sign up for the mailing list on my website. I’m always giving away free videos, songs and we have a great time over there. You’ll be happy you did.
And I’d like to make Sir Ricky Potts a bet – one day, we are going to go out on the golf course and play nine holes. The loser has to make the other one a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Honey and bananas is optional and will be greatly appreciated. Oh, and I’ve never played golf in my life.