This blog is a part of The Directory of Contemporary Musical Theatre Writers, found online at www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com.
Multi-talented Australian singer David Campbell and celebrated American singer/songwriter John Bucchino recently teamed up to release a beautiful new CD of Bucchino’s songs. Largely considered the writer of gold-standard story songs, Bucchino has been a member of contemporarymusicaltheatre.com since our launch in January, 2013. You can see a trailer of our previous interview with him about his masterclass series here. In addition to maintaining an active performance career, Campbell is a co-host of Mornings, an Australian talk show.
Amid their hectic schedules, they made time to share their thoughts on the new album and their collaboration.
How did you first meet?
John: It was back in the mid-nineties. I was a guest in an Amanda McBroom concert, accompanying her on my song “Sweet Dreams,” and David was there. He had just arrived in the U.S., and a mutual friend, who’d heard him sing, introduced us and suggested that he’d be a good person to sing my songs. We went out for coffee later that night and, a day or so later, we got together at my piano. As soon as I heard him sing, I was sold. Not only does he have a gorgeous voice that can do almost anything, he’s also a brilliant actor – a necessary skill for performing my songs well.
David, you’ve had a busy career since your last album release three years ago. What was the genesis of this project and how does it feel like a natural evolution for you as a recording artist?
[The] evolution of this was to sort of get closer to the fans and as an indie artist to try something different, to get a more immediate response. It’s about trying to be more in control of what I put out.
On whose soil did you record and why?
John: We recorded here in Sydney because of David’s schedule as host of the daily “Mornings” show here.
David, what about John’s writing appeals to you as a performer?
I think John has an intimacy and heart as a writer that appeals to me and I think that he writes songs that have a beautiful storyline and emotional impact. They kind of remind me of Paul Simon and Randy Newman’s style and, like those two, they have a familiarity about them…they feel like a comfortable pair of shoes. There’s a classic songwriting style to them.
John, how did you and David go about picking the eleven tracks and devising the order for this recording?
In the months before our recording, I sent David lots of possible songs and he picked the ones he wanted to sing, the ones he thought would make for a cohesive CD. As for the order, we discussed it and rather quickly settled on the current order.
How much time did you have to discuss the songs and what kinds of things did you talk about in preparing for the recording sessions?
David: We discussed it over skype and email for a couple of months. John had a vision of how he wanted the songs represented, but I also had a vision of how I wanted them to appear to the listener. I have a good knowledge of his music, but it was a long and lengthy debate to try and get the songs down. I was also very clear that I didn’t want the album to be too long.
John: We’ve previously performed some of the songs, so those were easy – though, we did vary them slightly, given who we are now, both musically and personally. The rest, we shaped during the 9-day rehearsal period before we went into the studio. David found the right voice for the CD, and I adapted to the new keys in which he sings some of the songs. Once we were recording, however, spontaneity took over, and the accompaniments and vocal phrasing organically emerged from the moment.
John, we’ve had the pleasure of talking to you about working with performers on your songs. Going into the recording studio, however, presents its own kind of challenges and opportunities. Can you speak about them and, perhaps, share what about this recording process might have been different?
The biggest difference about this recording is the speed with which it was done. We recorded over one and a half days, mixed that second night, mastered the next day, and had the manufactured CD in our hands a week later – unheard of! Normally, I’m very meticulous about every tiny detail of a recording, but there simply wasn’t time. So I got into the mindset of a “live” recording, without the opportunity to overthink things. And, rather than being frustrating, that was actually liberating. We would often do 3 or 4 takes of a song and, in nearly every case, we used the first take. So there’s a beautiful immediacy to the CD. I couldn’t be prouder.
What’s next for you both in your collective and individual careers?
John: I’ll be mixing and releasing my new solo piano CD of improves on Beatle songs, tentatively called “John Bucchino Meets the Beatles.”
And I’ll be shopping my new Danish-commissioned musical, ESAURA, hoping to secure some productions in English. No other big projects in the works yet, but I’ve had some invitations to return to Australia and New Zealand to do some teaching, which would be wonderful.
David: John’s back in New York, but we’re working on the DVD and filming and what we’re going to do with it and how we’re going to get it out there.
If you’re interested in checking out the CD (and you should be – it’s gorgeous!), click here.
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