New Discovery: Ted Simmons


New Discovery: Ted Simmons

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your latest album, “Dark and Dirty World,” and what themes or stories you aimed to convey through your music?

The inspiration was I wanted to make an album that reflects the present but also timeless at the same time. So what I came up with is a collection of songs meant to tell a complete story of a character searching for happiness, acceptance and a secure place in the world, as well as coping with grief and hardship in a sometimes humorous or satirical way, in the vain of Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks/Desire, Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever/Wildflowers, or Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run/Ghost of Tom Joad. There are two overall recurring themes. First, is the displacement of the working class and the corruption and greed that has spawned the current climate of popular unrest. Second is the emotional struggle that accompanies a failed relationship and a longing for love, companionship, and a sense of belonging that is seemingly out of reach.

Music often has the power to transport people to different places and times. Can you describe a moment in your life when a particular song or album had a profound impact on you?

I have a really great recent example. Lately, every time I listen to a Van Morrison song called Hungry for Your Love, I am immediately transported back to being a kid at the public pool in the town I grew up in. I have no idea why, but I can picture it perfectly clearly, the brown tile in the lobby, the gumball machine, the smell of the chlorine, it’s weird. Also weird is that if I consciously try and think about it, I can’t get to the same level of detail.

Your lyrics often tell a story or convey a message. Can you share the story behind one of your songs and the inspiration that led to its creation? Specifically, could you delve into the narrative of “Some Things Are Never the Same” from your new album?

This is one of my favorite songs from the album because it’s deceptively simple and it has evolved over time. At the time when I wrote it, I was looking for a different musical direction and I had started to write more on the piano, which wasn’t something I really did prior to this time in my life. One Friday night I had come up with an interesting chord progression in F and I was searching for an opening line or anything to get some ideas for lyrics. So, I went out, I walked down the road a little bit to a bar not too far from my house, it was empty except for the bartender and one other person. So, I sat down and ordered a beer, and everyone was chatting a bit, I introduced myself to the other patron, and she said her name was Miranda. Time went on and I went home, sat the piano, and the first line came out, “I sat at a bar with Miranda talking all night”, I later changed bar to train, seemed more interesting. After that it flowed from there, and what I ended up with was song about two people who are unable to be together, in this case it is more of an acceptance of the situation, we can’t make it work but sometimes that is just how it goes. The chorus can take on a broader meaning, to just in general some things are never the same, the idea that if you try and replicate or reboot something it never really matches the original regardless of what it is. When it came time to record, I changed the key to C and it took on more of a classic rock kind of vibe, but other than that it never really has changed. I still like to play it on the piano in the original key.

Music can be a powerful tool for advocacy and change. Are there any social or political causes that you’re passionate about, and how does your music play a role in promoting these issues? For example, your title track “Dark and Dirty World” seems to touch on sociopolitical issues. Could you elaborate on that?

Dark and Dirty World is mostly an unapologetic commentary on the destruction of the planet due to corporate greed and political corruption. It also speaks to the current discontent and disillusionment that most people in the world currently feel. The average person feels they are being lied to most of the time. It doesn’t make a lot of sense if I am a regular person, why does my standard of living, my existence slope downward while there appears to be some small class of people that become more affluent. They are being told it is the fault of some marginalized group, or some politician or political party, it leaves people very confused and left out. It covers a lot of ground.

Many recording artists evolve over time. How do you see your musical journey changing and growing in the next decade?

Who knows what the future holds, I could get run over by a car tomorrow, but for the most part I see myself getting what I perceive to be better, for lack of a better term. I see many areas I can improve, in my lyrics, in my arrangements, in my production techniques. Music to me is as much a learning experience as it is something I do. Also, I want to explore other genres and styles, most of what I have done in the past is pretty meat and potatoes Americana, I would like to start bringing in more electronic moody sounds, maybe even some pop influence in there. Either way I see myself growing as an artist and embracing change.

You mentioned wanting your next project to be more fun and embracing a lighter, humorous side. Could you expand on that and share your vision for the future of your music?

I am just kind of sick of my own music really. A lot of my current catalogue deals with the sadder side of life, troubled people, broken lives and relationships, etc. Not all of it but a fair bit, and quite frankly I just don’t want to talk about it anymore, and on top of that, the whole folk/americana space in music right now is so drab, I don’t feel like anyone is having any fun, and I like fun, so that is what I am going to put out into the world.

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