Originally published on Creative Control Mag here: http://creativecontrolmag.com/an-interview-with-kevin-gullickson-of-radio-drive/
Imagine changing cities, surviving a mutiny and somehow turning that into the song. Though it sounds like a pirate’s story (possibly adapted to be a Broadway musical), it’s actually the adventure that Radio Drive has turned into “A Taste of Heaven” that we introduced you to last week.
Here, Kevin Gullickson explains his past, his transformation and a brief intro into what we can expect from Radio Drive in the future.
Creative Control: Do you have any formal music training? If so, how and in what?
Kevin Gullickson: Yes, I did. As for playing the drumset, I started when I was 7 years old. An older friend of the family taught me a few beats, then after that I taught myself by listening to records. I mainly drummed along to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and heavier stuff like that. When I was in high school I played drums in the school band and orchestra. I had formal training learning how to read drum music and playing with an orchestra. I even played in the marching band. I love marching drums, they’re so cool.
I also had about 6 months of piano lessons. I had several years of formal voice training with private teachers and while I was at college (Hamline University, St. Paul, [Minn.]). I was part of the Acapella Choir singing songs in Italian and Latin. I really enjoyed the harmonies and all the parts working together. It was a great experience. As for guitar, my brother showed me a few chords to get me started. He taught me how to read chord charts and tabs. From there I taught myself.
CC: How did Radio Drive begin?
KG: About 7 – 8 years ago I decided to put a band together. I spent 6 months putting ads in local music papers and auditioning people. I finally got a great team of phenomenal players and we spent a further 3 months getting a tight show together. I got the name “Radio Drive” from a street in Woodbury, [Minn.] It’s on of the main streets and has a huge sign. It caught my attention and I thought that would be a cool band name.
CC: Why did Radio Drive as a group disband?
KG: As I mentioned, I had a tight band of great players. We started playing the clubs and were getting a great response. I was the leader and we were doing songs that I wrote along with some covers done in our own arrangement. All of a sudden, the guys said to me they wanted to start a heavy metal band on their own, without me. It was like a mutiny. I was really devastated by that. It totally took me by surprise, especially since we were doing so well. I didn’t’ that see that one coming.
CC: What made you want to do Radio Drive as a solo artist instead of putting together another band?
KG: After that I decided it was way too much work to put another band together and rehearse and start all over again. Since I was able to play all the instruments (drums, keys, guitar, bass guitar, vocals and harmonies), I decided to invest in some recording software and hardware and start recording my songs to release as CDs. I turned all my time and energy toward that and things took off nicely with the release of my first CD “Dream the Impossible” in 2009. I was seeing some great results, getting radio play, online write ups, and even an invitation to play a fund raiser in Hollywood (the organizers heard one of my songs and chose me, flew me out for an all expense paid trip to perform at their event). After that I continued to write, record, produce and release more CDs and see even more success.
CC: “A Taste of Heaven” sounds a little different from past Radio Drive songs like “Footsteps” (to me, at least). What inspired you while creating this song?
KG: Yes, you’re right. This song is much different, mainly because of the production. All my other songs were recorded by me at my home studio with me playing all the instruments. This was the first time I worked with a producer on my music. I worked with Chris Garcia, a well known producer in LA (credits include Celine Dion, Katy Perry, Santana, etc). He brought in some amazing musicians: Nick Lashley on guitar (credits include Alanis Morrisette) and LA session drummer Ben Rose. I later flew to LA at Chris’s home studio to record the vocal parts. Chris told me the week before I arrived Chrissie Hynde, from the Pretenders was there doing vocal tracks for her upcoming CD. I knew I was in good hands with Chris.
As for the inspiration to create the song, I wanted to capture the feeling and essence of an idyllic time in my life when I moved to New York City. I was in my mid 20s and like any new adventure, I took a risk leaving everything behind in Minnesota. It turned out to be the best thing ever. Three weeks after moving out there I met my wife and we later got married. We had the best time. It was so care free.
There was so much to do, so many exciting things happening in our lives. I was playing the clubs, I even had interest from a major label and major management agency. It was all so perfect.
CC: What is next for Radio Drive?
KG: There are some very exciting plans in the making now. I’m not sure how much I can share at the moment, since most of these plans are still in their infancy. I can tell you I’m working with a music attorney in New York City and have begun discussions with a major management agency in Los Angeles. We are all very excited to be working together and totally optimistic for a prosperous business relationship. I will share more details as they start to unfold.
I’ve just released a video for “A Taste of Heaven” which will be airing in August on the Bongo Boy TV Indie Music show on NBC Comcast networks throughout the USA. I’m very pleased about that.
CC: Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like to share?
KG: I always like to encourage people, to motivate people. I would hope that someone listening to my music or reading this interview or an article or review of my music, would come away lifted up in some way, shape or form. Music is a powerful tool and I want to use it well to benefit others.
Also, I want to thank you for allowing me to share my music and thoughts with your readers. I really enjoyed this and I hope we can do this again someday.
With that, we leave Kevin Gullickson, looking forward to what Radio Drive has next. If it’s anything like the transformation from “Footsteps” to “A Taste of Heaven,” it’s sure to be bigger and better that we ever expected. You can still listen to “A Taste of Heaven” and other Radio Drive songs here.