ARTIST NAME: Bob Helfant
SONG TITLE: Long Life
ALBUM TITLE: Better Late Than Never
RELEASE DATE: 10/29/2018
Tell us when you are most comfortable singing.
I am most comfortable alone recording and very comfortable performing outdoors. I recently played the Rock n Roll Marathon in San Diego and felt completely at ease from the first note to the last (2 ½ hour set).
Tell us what you like to write about in your lyrics.
An idea or phrase comes to me that turns into the song title – Lonely Without You, Take Me To The Music, etc. Almost every song is a love song of one kind or another. Good, bad, frustrated, satisfied. I’d like to write socially conscious songs and stories, but that isn’t what comes out.
State your most emotional song and the reason.
Depending on the day, Misery and Miracles – the title of a book by my wife Laura; about very painful parts of her life, Long Life – I came to grips with the end of a long, bad marriage in this song. I Want To Be In Love – this one touches me in different ways. It asks the question “what do you want” when you don’t have time to think about it and I/we really want is to be in love. Is there a feeling better than that? The song also touches on tragic mistakes made in past lives and how unconscious we are in this life.
Discuss the process of finding the right sound for your vocals.
I never think of myself as a really good vocalist so the sound I go for is trying to sing on key. I feel I do best on rockers like Take Me To The Music where I am focusing and transferring energy more than “singing.”
State the challenges you have faced as a musician.
Early on the challenge was to record decent demos with no money. I played clubs from when I was 17 years old. It was a terrible living in my twenties – So much so that I found other work in my thirties but kept playing and writing.
In the past ten years, quality recording and mixing became more possible at home. I worked as an assistant engineer for a few years way back and that helped me understand sound well enough to make a recording at home.
On this CD ‘Better Late Than Never’ I recorded all the drum and bass tracks at a studio and most of the vocals and guitar tracks in my home studio. I mixed and mastered it at home.
Tell us your opinion on how artists should raise funds for their music projects.
When the band didn’t have enough money to record, we joined up with an engineer who recorded us for no charge in hopes of getting a piece of possible sales and publishing. It didn’t work out financially but we did have a single on the radio in NYC for a while. Don’t be afraid to partner with people who have what you don’t have, connections and money.
Tell us about the present state of your fan base.
Very small – Let’s make it bigger. Some people have been listening to my songs since the ’80s and others have come on board in the past few years.
Tell us if you consider sharing your music with the world or a specific geographical zone.
I would love to share my music with any and all in the world.
State the title of your best song and share the link.
Here are two of my favorites. I don’t have any live videos from the ‘Better Late Than Never’ CD. These go back to one I recorded before that one.
Tell us your greatest supporter.
This may sound corny but it was my mother who always found a way to pay for guitar lessons, for another amp or a PA system to keep me playing, learning, and growing.
Tell us the artists that have impacted you.
I am a product of all the great musicians and writers who I watched and listened to over and over that fed my desire to write and play – from Django and Stephane to Charlie Christian to B.B. King, Albert King, Elvis, The Beatles, The Stones, Jimi, Robbie Robertson, Stephen Bruton, Albert Lee, John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, Dylan, Randy Newman, Lucinda Williams, Paul Simon and I could fill pages with all the rest.
Describe the listeners that listen to your music.
They are the best people and the most discerning listeners.
Tell us many ways of generating revenue as an artist.
This is something I have no clue about. I know people who do it successfully, mostly by writing, recording, and then licensing the music for TV or movies. I feel like I am looking at it from the wrong end of a telescope – “the wrong end of a telescope” sounds like a song title. I’ll start work on it this weekend.
Tell us the future of the music business.
The business itself has changed drastically in my life. Acts used to come up through the clubs. Record labels developed artists. I don’t know what the business is now. I’ve tried to get artists to listen to my songs but they get rejected without anyone listening. I have a “close” family in the business and can’t get them to try to move a song. It’s a miracle every time a writer or artist breaks through.
Discuss the gains and losses of technology to the music business.
I have been in it since studios ran tape machines, just at the beginning of guitar effects. It is much easier to get the sound you want now, but you still need a song to play. Technology has made “sonic perfection” the goal which can take life out of a track. I have found early mixes of my songs that sound much better in terms of communicating energy and emotion than the final mix. My favorite recordings are generally from the days before digital editing. Listen to Linda Ronstadt’s Blue Bayou or any Beatle’s recording. They relied on the performance and material, not on an audio version of Photoshop to make a track sound better.
Tell us if you still make CDs of your release.
Yes, I do – Available on CD Baby.
Tell us your definition of a song.
The song is the foundation. It can stand alone with a single instrument and voice or grow with instrumentation and arrangement. The lyrics are the start of every song for me. I want to hear about what the writer is saying. The best writers can give you years of life in a sentence. “I have a picture of another man’s wife tattooed on my arm” John Prine.
Elaborate on your artist name and the title of the album.
My name is my name. Pertaining to the title of the album, I went through a hundred or more titles and bounced them off my wife and kids before narrowing it down to “Better Late Than Never”. I got pretty ill before it was done and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish this CD. Some of the songs were written decades ago but never recorded to my satisfaction – Better late than never.
Send a message to those involved in helping you with this project.
Some of these songs have been around since the 1970s. Others were written as recently as this year. I have been waiting sometimes patiently, sometimes less so for the opportunity to record them. When I finally got down to it, it was my pleasure to work with such great artists on this collection of songs. Jason Smith, Lance Morrison, Kristen Toedtman, Doug Snyder, Harry Helfant, Tom Weir, Rich Friedman, Doug Livingston and 5 Veterans from New Directions, Inc. Thank you for taking time for this project and I look forward to working with you again on the next one. I will take this opportunity to thank my friend Del Casher for inventing my favorite guitar pedal – the Wah, and Geoffrey Teese, Dan Albrecht, and Roger Mayer for perfecting it. Thank you, Mike Piera, for making so many of the boxes that help shape my sound. Thank you, Lindy Fralin, for the hand-wound pickups. Thank you Jimmy D’Aquisto (posthumously) for keeping my guitars excellent when I was younger and Jim Foote for the past 20 years for keeping my guitars playing perfectly. I hope you all enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it.