Interview with Doug Bell of Bellevue Cadillac
Lamitschka: Music has many new fans throughout Europe who may be hearing about you for the first time. How would you describe yourself and the music you play to someone who has never seen or heard you?
Doug Bell: The music I write and perform ranges from American Roots, Jazz, Acoustic and Americana.
MY BAND AND CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
~ Nominated for 11 Grammy Awards (NOTE: make that 13 after December 6, 2012)
~ The Band has been Performing Together for over 20 Years
~ Released 20 CDs and Compilation Albums
~ Released Sound Tracks for 3 Motion Pictures
~ Released Sound Tracks for 30 TV Shows
~ In 2010 performed 13 SOLDOUT Shows in Greece
~ Were asked to be JFK Jr's Secret Wedding Band
~ Have been on the Covers of Rolling Stone, Jazziz and Swing Time Magazines
Lamitschka: How was the last year for you? What were your highlights?
Doug Bell: The last year for me has been great, I have played with some fantastic musicians in All-Star Band lineups which included Robin Zander (singer/guitarist for Cheap Trick), Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (guitarist for Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan), members of Bon Jovi, the band Boston, The Cars, J. Geils, Rick Derringer, The Wailers, members of Aerosmith, Jonathan Edwards, Dionne Warwick, great American bluesmen like Dave "Honey Boy" Edwards, James Cotton, James Montgomery, and Jazz greats like Fred Lipsius (Blood Sweat and Tears) and Harry Allen (Jazz Saxaphone).
Lamitschka: What is your latest CD and how's it doing?
Doug Bell: My latest CD is "Once in a Blue Moon" (Recorded Live in Athens, Greece). We were on the Grammy nominations ballot in several categories, and it has been well reviewed and received. I have released 2 digital singles, they were placed in the country category by the Grammy nomination committee and distributed to all the voting members of the Grammy awards for this year's Grammy ballot (2012).
Lamitschka: Do you write the songs yourself? If not, how do you go about finding the songs for your CD?
Doug Bell: I do write the songs I record. Songs come to me in many different ways. Usually they are character driven, and when I think about the characters and the circumstances, the songs begin to write themselves. They take on the complexities, strengths and weaknesses all human beings possess, and you let them play out various actions and reactions that life may lead them, or certain situations dictate.
Lamitschka: Please tell us about the songs on your album (influences, etc).
Doug Bell: The two digital singles, "Whiskey and Water", and "Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained" are quite different. "Whiskey and Water" is about an inner storm colliding with an outer storm ( Katrina) taking place during the onset of a hurricane, the internal emotions are out of control as the girl in the story is trying to escape the powerful control of her father who is the chief of police in New Orleans. "Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained" is about someone looking back at their life, realizing that they missed the important opportunities to love and be loved because they didn't put enough effort in, while looking for that next possibility and wasted a life in the process. And, never really learned the lesson.
Lamitschka: What is the difference between your last CD and your current one?
Doug Bell: The "Once in a Blue Moon" CD was live on New Year's Eve in Athens, Greece, with my Bellevue Cadillac horn band, so the songs spanned from Lyle Lovett big band style of ironic songs with a more blues/jazz edge combined with American Roots songwriting. Lots of energy, fun and great performances from a solid band. Everything from island influences to New Orleans, surf/spy to ukulele!
Lamitschka: Your current single is being played by radio. What do you feel is special about this song that makes people want to hear it?
Doug Bell: My song "Whiskey and Water" has a real American vibe, the guitars have a Tom Petty, Dylan, The Band, Dire Straits, straight ahead rockin' back beat while the vocals have an Eagles, The Byrds and Elvis Costello thing going on.
Lamitschka: What will your next single be?
Doug Bell: I have a new one called "Summerset" I'm quite proud of. I have always been a fan of Hank Williams, Dan Penn, John Hyatt and Willie Nelson, I love the song writing, but sometimes I take a left turn when the subject matter moves me, and in this case, I went for Beach Boys and Beatles. I just love a well written song, it doesn't matter if the character wears worn out jeans and a t-shirt, or a tuxedo, just so long as it's true to the character, and you believe the emotion and character is pure, and you believe the emotions are true.
Lamitschka: What kind of songs do you like to record the most?
Doug Bell: I enjoy writing the song and then experimenting to see what best fits the situation, sometimes I like to twist the meaning and make a sad song happy and visa versa. I also like to use humor with very serious topics. I try very hard to say things in simple language to try and put across very complex situations. For example, I might do a song with agnostic concepts and make it a gospel song, or do a light Carribbean feel about a deposed Nigerian King like "Ja Ja Opobo" (Doug Bell Song) or banana republics like "Blow Wind Blow" (Doug Bell Song).
Lamitschka: What is your favorite song among all the songs you have recorded and what's the story behind it?
Doug Bell: I really like summerset. I wanted to tell the story of Americas summer of love from the Monterey pop festival to Altamont festival with the rolling stones. Woodstock was in the middle so I used this as a metaphor for lost of innocence. It was a very short time, but so much happened. The Vietnam war ran like a river underneath it all, and from the beautiful promise to the death at Altamont speedway, it all ended so sadly, Sgt Pepper was the summer of love soundtrack for that year, and the beach boys had influenced the Beatles and by the end of that summer we lost Hendrix, Janice Joplin, Jim Morrison and Beatles broke up. I wanted to try and capture that moment. Another song comes to mind... my song “Havana Moon”. I tried to portray Havana as a mistress for 3 suitors, the soviets, the mafia and the American president all during the bay of pigs and the missile crisis, using the moon shot and the assassination as a backdrop, and Havana as the mistress besting all 3 of her suitors.
Lamitschka: How much creative control do you have over your music?
Doug Bell: I am fortunate to own and control all of my masters and my music publishing, I have no record company, and no one to force me into a niche that is for the sole purpose of making money, I get to do what my heart tells me is right for every song. I am blessed!
Lamitschka: Who inspires you musically and how deep do your musical roots run?
Doug Bell: I started with Elvis, have played with Ray Charles, James Brown. I love Gershwin, Harry Belafonte, Marley, Louis Prima, I've been on CDs with artists like Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Joe Jackson, Louis Prima, Mel Torme, played with Tito Puente, the list is very long. I love an artist, a true, no bullshit, one hundred percent, artist, from Louis Armstrong's hot 7 to Van Morrison and Bob Dylan.
Lamitschka: What do you think about today's music scene versus its post and where do you see it going in the future?
Doug Bell: I believe the playing field I the most level it has ever been, and the ONLY way to develop a fan base is to be truly great. Why do the Avert Bros and Mumford and Sons out sell Justin Bieber, it's a new world, in a biz that is usually drought with special effects, side shows and the like, out walks Adele!
Lamitschka: What inspired you to become an artist?
Doug Bell: Dylan, Ray Charles and Gershwin.
Lamitschka: What inspired you to become a songwriter?
Doug Bell: The above plus The Beach Boys, Beatles, Bacharac, Louis Jordan, Dan Penn, Paul Simon, Randy Newman, Laura Nyro, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Carole King, Van Morisson, Marvin Gaye, Harry Belafonte and more...
Lamitschka: Many music fans today get their information about artists online. Do you have your own website and what will fans find there?
Doug Bell: You can "Friend" and "Like" us on these web sites:
Lamitschka: What message would you like to send your European fans?
Doug Bell: Thank you for digging deeper than most American fans do.
Lamitschka: Describe what a perfect day is like for you.
Doug Bell: When I get a great idea for a song, 2 cappuccinos, an afternoon recording session and a live show that night.
Christian Lamitschka ( CountryMusicNewsInternational@googlemail.com )