Other Lives and Ashley Gorley looking forward to Sundance
January 26, 2016
The ASCAP Music Café has already presented some impressive acts during the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
Performances by established artist such as Sting, Nina Gordon and Louise Post from Veruca Salt, and X Japan’s Yoshiki have enthralled audiences so far, but there is still more to come.
On Wednesday, Jan. 27, and Thursday, Jan. 28, the venue, located at the Rich Haines Gallery, 625 Main St., will feature a Bluebird Café Songwriters Round with Chris DeStefano, Ashley Gorley and Josh Osborne. Then, on Thursday, Jan. 28, and Friday, Jan. 29, Other Lives will be among the artists who will showcase their works.
Other Lives’ Tabish feels lucky to be a musician
Jesse Tabish, lead singer, guitarist and main songwriter for Other Lives, said the ASCAP Music Café will be a new experience.
"We’ve never done anything like this before," Tabish said during a telephone call from the band’s stop in Portland, Oregon, last week. "I feel really happy to do this, because we’re always happy to go out and play our tunes for folks.
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He’s also looking forward to attending Sundance.
"I’ve never been there before," he said. "Hopefully, we’ll be able to catch a few movies."
Other Lives, which hails from Stillwater, Oklahoma, has been playing music together for more than 13 years.
The core group — Tabish, pianist/guitarist/prcussionist and trumpeter Jonathon Mooney and bassist Josh Onstott — recently welcomed drummer Danny Reisch and violinist/guitarist Daniel Hart into the fold, according to ASCAP.com.
"We started as an instrumental band," Tabish said. "Through the years, with each record, we’ve had different goals, aspirations and sounds."
The band boasts 10 releases, including extended plays, vinyl, albums and two-track promos, but at the fundamental level of it all, the band continues it’s goal of merging composed music into pop tunes, Tabish said.
"I don’t know if we’ve succeeded or not, but we’re going to keep on trying," he said with a laugh.
Last year’s full-length release, "Rituals," is the culmination of that journey.
"It was a gathering of all the influences and kinds of sounds and experimentations over the years," Tabish said. "The album ranges from folk songs and then looking towards the future with the hybrid sound of orchestral music and vast percussion spread sporadically throughout. And I think that kind of came together on one big record for us."
Diversity in music has always been part of Tabish life since he was a child.
"My mother was a piano teacher, so I grew up with a lot of classical music," he said. "The next big thing, as it is for so many kids now and back then, happened to me when I first heard Nirvana. That’s when I started playing the guitar."
Tabish also started writing his own songs and forming bands.
"I was 11 or 12 at that time," he said.
Later on, he discovered the post-rock styles of Iceland’s Sigur Rós and Canada’s Godspeed! You Black Emperor.
"[They] kind of stretched this idea of what a band could be, and that expanded my mind a lot," Tabish said. "I found out that it didn’t have to just be about pop tunes and three- to five-minute songs."
Throughout its 13-year career, Other Lives has toured with Radiohead, had songs featured on the TV series "Grey’s Anatomy" and performed at Coachella.
For Tabish, the real reward is more personal.
"Well, besides all of the money and cars," he said with a laugh. "No. Honestly, the two things that drive the band is the self satisfaction of being able to wake up every day and write about whatever I choose."
The second is seeing people react emotionally with the songs he has written.
"It’s still a stunning thing to me that something I wrote in my bedroom can reach someone across the world who feels a connection to it," Tabish said. "I have a beautiful opportunity to do this and i’m very lucky."
Still, these highlights come with a price, at least for Tabish.
"One of the more difficult things is that as a band you have to stay out on the road to promote what you’re doing," he said. "That’s hard, especially for someone like me who considers themselves a homebody."
The thing that gets him through that hardship is his songs.
"I’m a writer at heart, so to combat the challenge of being on the road is to focus on writing while I’m out there," he said. "That can be a good thing because you’re in the box and you have to find creative ways to still write a tune.
"You get an urgency or feeling of being trapped and that pushes something out of you that wouldn’t have come if you had all the time in the world for yourself," he said. "The fact that if [situations are] difficult, the mind will move in a stranger and more abstract way. So, I can look at it this way: I’ll be on the road, so I’ll have two months to write new songs. And that keeps me going."
Tabish is currently working on a new Other Lives record.
"It’s a little different because it’s coming back to a larger American sound," he said. "It’s early in the works, so I can’t speak too much about it, and I’ve only sketches of the songs, but I want it to be a warmer, more human record."
The band has yet to plan the set list for the ASCAP Café performances, but know the set has to make for an impacting 30 minutes.
"I imagine the songs will be mostly from the last two records, the hits, you know," he said with a laugh. "That’s funny because we have no hits."
Songwriter Gorley honored to represent Bluebird Café at Sundance
When songwriter Ashley Gorley performs at the ASCAP Music Café, he won’t be playing alone. Fellow songwriters Josh Osborne and Chris DeStefano will join him.
"The performance is called the Bluebird Café songwriter’s round," Gorley said during a telephone interview from Nashville, Tennessee. "So, if there are 12 songs and three writers, we’ll do a total of four songs each, but I’ll do one and the next person will do one and the other and then it will come back to me."
The segment is named after Nashville’s famed Bluebird Café, which has become an important venue in Music City, U.S.A.
"The Bluebird has been glorified on the TV show ‘Nashville’ and with the shows we have all played there coming up as songwriters," Gorley said. "Every time we play there is sold out and people are even asking the Bluebird to set up performances for corporate events and private parties."
That’s good because the songwriters who have written hits for everyone from George Strait to Luke Bryan to Reba McEntire can play those songs the way they were written.
"The writers are able to get some respect, or at least more chances to share the stories of where the songs come from," Gorley said. "So, it’s an honor to be asked to perform and to have enough songs at the ASCAP Music Café. It’s a blessing and honor as well."
Gorley got into music while growing up in Danville, Kentucky.
"I was a music junkie and watched lot of MTV," he said. " the time I was 11 years old, I was deejaying a lot of the school dances and parties and I would make mix tapes before everything was tempo-controlled iMac stuff."
While Gorley appreciated the artists, he always found himself drawn to the songs, themselves.
"I loved everything — pop, rhythm and blues, hip-hop, and worked in all of those kinds of genres," he said. "I would learn how to play those songs on the piano or keyboards, whatever, and found out how to remix those songs. As I did that, I learned the infrastructure of the songs."
He moved to Nashville, which was only three hours away from his home, to attend Belmont University, where he learned about the music business, including the publishing and studio-production aspect.
"It wasn’t until I moved to Nashville that I learned there was such thing as a staff songwriting position, where you don’t have to be prominent being a vocalist or instrumentalist," Gorley said. "While I was in college, I picked up and learned how to play the guitar and piano and learned to sing a little bit.
"I wasn’t good enough at one of those things to be my gig, nor did I want them to be," he said. "But once I realized it’s not always the artists who wrote the songs, I went hardcore into that."
Gorley fell in love with the country music business.
"I liked the the wide variety of subjects you could write songs about, so I put away the electronic stuff and focused on lyric and melody," he said.
For the past 13 years, he has written songs that have been picked up by Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw.
He’s also not one of those people who became a songwriter because he didn’t make it as a recording artist.
"I didn’t want any part of that at all," Gorley said. "I never wrote songs for myself, because my goal is always to have a song that makes an artist want to play it and maybe take their career up a notch."
What made him nervous when he started was getting in a songwriting session and yelling out the melodies that were in his head in front of many other writers who were better singers.
"Now, I have no problem doing that because I’m with people I’m comfortable with," he said.
Although he can be insecure about his own singing and playing, he still emits a level of confidence that someone will like his songs enough to record them.
"Writing scared isn’t a good place to write from," he said.
There are times, however, when someone he didn’t expect will decide to record one of this songs.
"The people that have surprised me are the legends like Randy Travis, because I remember my mom and grandma watching him on the Country Music Awards, when country wasn’t on my radar," Gorley said. "I remember him and George Strait, specifically, and also Reba McEntire."
All of whom have recorded Gorley’s songs.
McEntire picked up the song "That’s When I Knew" for her 2015 album "Love Somebody." The song Randy recorded, "Dig Two Graves,’ wasn’t a hit, but got a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song. Gorley was also shocked when he heard George Strait sing "If the Whole World Was a Honkey Tonk" and when Kenny Rogers also did "My Petition."
"These were classic people and impressive for my folks back at home," he said. "So to do something they wanted to do was most shocking to me."
A song Adkins picked up, "You’re Going to Miss This," is one of Gorley’s most personal.
"It stemmed from a real-life scenario of my kids acting crazy in our first fixer-upper house," Gorley said. "When I wrote that song, they were four and two, and now they are 13 and 11, and we have another one who is seven."
That song is about all the things people want to rush.
"When they’re kids, they want to grow up," Gorley said. "When they grow up, they want to go to college and while they’re in college, they want to graduate and get a job. But afterwards, everybody finds out how life goes by so quickly.
"My kids consider the song their’s, so when they hear it on the radio, they know it’s talking about them, and that makes it so special," he said.
Worley promised a fun performance when he, DeStefano and Osborne play in Park City.
"I’ll be playing with two guys I have written songs with, and one (DeStefano), I’ve written hundreds of songs with and the other (Osborne), I’ve had a lot of success as well," he said. "We all know each others’ songs and can jump in on some of the songs together.
"We make fun of each other, play instruments on different songs, and we all think the others are better than we are," Gorley said. "So, it will be like a sneak peek into one of our writing sessions. Plus, our wives are coming with us and they all get along, so it will be great."
Other Lives will perform at the ASCAP Music Café on Jan. 28 and Jan. 29. Ashley Gorley will perform along with fellow songwriters Chris DeStafano and Josh Osborne in a Bluebird Café round at the ASCAP Music Café on Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 3:20 p.m. and Thursday, Jan. 28, at 4 p.m. For more information visit http://www.ascap.com/sundance .