Gregory Darling is no newbie to the music industry. In fact, he's had quite the diverse and fascinating musical career. From being the frontman of metal band, Darling Cruel to working with Julian Lennon, to his surreal impromptu jam session with Prince, Darling is sure to have a few good stories to tell. He recently released a new album, "Songs From Under The Hat" and his single, "Shell," has been already been receiving thousands of impressions retail stores.
The music business has certainly changed since your Darling Cruel days. What are some of the advantages and challenges musicians face today that didn’t exist in the ‘80s or ‘90s?
Nowadays we have all these various platforms on the Internet, where people can showcase their work, like YouTube for example. However, due to the massive influx of music from all over the world, it takes a savvy mind and/or quite a few bucks to make one’s music go viral. Perhaps you’ve received a few million hits but are the returns significant?
Obviously sales aren’t what they used to be, which has sadly affected the outcome of so many artists. Yet when you see the likes of Adele selling millions of physical copies, it does give some hope for the immediate future.
I absolutely love your single, “Shell (Find a Better Way).” The melody is so uplifting and optimistic, yet the lyrics paint a picture of struggle and uncertainty. Is there a happy ending to this story?
Thanks for the compliment.
"Shell" was written in a time when a few good friends of mine were struggling with depression, including myself. To what degree, I didn’t know. I started writing down the words for "Shell" and they were quite bleak, showing no signs of hope what so ever. That was until I became fixated on this book “Noonday Demon” by Andrew Solomon. By the time I finished the book, it shed a whole new perspective on my not so dire situation. So I rewrote most of the words, then these positive melodies came about, and finally the words “We’ll find a better way” came at the end of every chorus.
3. Tell us about your incredible encounter with Prince and what kind of an impact it had on you, both professionally and personally.
In the 90’s, I had put together an improvisational band, and we played every Saturday night in Century City, California. One night, a gentleman approached me and asked if it was ok if the man formally known as Prince came up and jammed with us. I said of course, thinking this guy’s completely off his trolley.
A few moments later, the crowd parts down the middle, like Moses and the Red Sea, and here comes the little big man in a gold suit, strutting his way onto the stage. Prince comes up to me while I’m sitting in front of the piano, nervously tinkering away. He asks me “What key are you going to play in? I replied” The Key of C.” And he says, “Does your bass player know that?” I’m thinking, what does he mean by that? So I look at my bass player and he’s absolutely mortified. So the guitar player rushes over to Prince, gives him his guitar and takes the bass. Then we proceeded to jam for about 20, 30 minutes. We dove into every time signature known to man and he kept changing keys. I’m thinking, “This guy’s beautifully mad.” Then he took it one step further by playing rhythmic harmonics with his right hand and playing a solo on the B3 organ with his left hand.
Being such a great fan of his work since the very beginning of his career, this precious time that I had with him on stage took my level of respect and admiration to another level.
Prince is obviously what separates the men from the boys and it was this experience, which told me where I was and where I needed to go.
You were recently on the road meeting and playing for radio folks across the U.S. What were some of the highlights and what was your favorite city?
Met a lot of fine people along the way and they were great listeners. The performance for Skype/ Kink FM in Portland, Oregon was a lot of fun. Great sound, a vintage upright Steinway, and the audience was all class.
I didn’t have a lot of time to explore, except a weekend off in Philadelphia, where American culture actually exists. A great city!
What’s on tap for the summer? (Please say you’ll be back in the U.S., specifically L.A.)
Coming back to the US for another radio tour, commencing at the end of June for a couple of weeks. July 4th, I will be performing live in Vero Beach, Florida at Riverside Park, and a few other shows to be announced. At this time, I’m not sure if L.A is in the mix for the next radio tour, but everything is subject to change, especially in this business.
Finally, a shameless plug: What would you like our readers to know about you?
Life can be greatly complicated, so I make a conscious effort to keep my life simple as humanly possible.
Get updates on Gregory Darling here.