The RSFC speaks to Conrad Korsch on the release of his new CD
Your latest album "ON THE THRESHOLD" has recently been released. How would you compare it to your 2009 "LIVE LOVE LEAVE"? How different are they in terms concept?
"LIVE LOVE LEAVE" features my more poetic, melancholy and mellow "Singer-Songwriter" material. It's weighted towards ballads with a strong focus on storytelling and acoustic production including
string quartets, upright bass, and melodica in addition to electric instruments. "ON THE THRESHOLD" has an electric "band" sound and features my more upbeat, power-pop / rock 'n' roll material with a
focus on hooky melodies and grooves.
RSFC... I have to say this album is more upbeat than your last one, any reason for this ?
Funny, in the case of "LIVE LOVE LEAVE", so many people were shocked and concerned for my mental and emotional well-being when they heard it because the songs and subject matter were not what people
expected from what they knew of my personality, it really cracked me up! The fact is, several of the songs on "ON THE THRESHOLD" were written at the same time as the songs on "LIVE LOVE LEAVE", but
as the production concept for the ballads began to develop I began to focus more on them, and I decided to make two separate albums with the different styles of music as opposed to two albums each
containing half of each style of material. In general everything about the production of that first album was a bit more "precious", and I particularly enjoyed writing the string quartets while on
the road. I wanted to create a consistent mood piece that would take the listener on a journey without too many sharp turns. I think I succeeded in that, but in hindsight I suspect the album would
have had more commercial success if I had put a handful of the more commercial songs on there. That said, my goal at the time was to expose a different side of my personality and provide myself with
a unique creative outlet. I did have some small commercial successes with it though, a couple of the highlights being that "I'm Leaving" was played in an episode of the TV show "Royal Pains", and I
performed "Firefly" live on the Jerry Lewis / MDA Telethon in a duet with Kristina Train (Rosanne Cash sang the duet on the album). So the concept for "ON THE THRESHOLD" started with some of those
more upbeat and commercial songs from that earlier period, combined with new compositions in the same vein.
Where do you find your inspiration for song ideas?
Sometimes from personal experience, sometimes from my imagination, and sometimes from other songs or even movies. Occasionally, if I'm lucky, a melody or lyric will just pop into my head and inspire
and entire composition. Other times it's more of a thought process.
Do you have plans to tour to support the new album?
Right now I'm just trying to get the word out via internet because I'm gearing up for a lot of Rod touring starting this Spring and continuing through the end of the year. It looks like we may have a
couple of months off in early Fall during which time I hope to do a CD Release Party / Concert in NYC. If some of my Rod Stewart bandmates are up for it I may explore doing some live shows on days
off on tour, but that can be very tricky to schedule in advance because sometimes our days off get booked with travel or other gigs. I did just have a 4 page feature in a German magazine called
BassQuarterly, and we have some tour dates in Germany, so that might be a good place for me to start looking to book something.
Do any of the songs on the album reflect on your life?
Yes, but not necessarily the ones you'd think. On "LIVE LOVE LEAVE", many of the most personal songs were shrouded in metaphors and told via characters, eg: "Love Story Of A Blade Of GrassAnd A Pine
Tree" and "Firefly". Many of the songs sung in the first person were just stories I imagined, like "I'm Leaving" and "I'll Be Doing The Same Thing Tomorrow". The songs on "ON THE THRESHOLD" are much
less autobiographical, although "I've Been" is entirely biographical and all of the things I lay out are true. Gosh, I miss that Buick! A fun fact about that song: I wrote that in Spring of 2002,
half a year before I started working with Rod. If I'd written it now I'd need 100 more verses!
What excites you the most about the new album? and do you have any favourite songs on it ?
I'm excited to finally have this other material out there in the universe to compliment and contrast with the material on my first album, and to show yet another side of my musical personality.
While, of course, I like all of the songs on the album or I wouldn't have included them, I think "I'm Alive" is a pretty special and unusual song, if I may say so myself. I'm also partial to "I've
Been", for obvious reasons, and I'm pleased with the jazz / bossa nova influenced writing on "Until We Meet Again", similar to the bonus track "I Quit Falling In Love" from my first album.
How would you describe yourself as a musician in one sentence ?
I'm a musician.
Did you use the same musicians for both of your solo projects & have used any of your fellow band mates from Rod’s band?
Everything you hear on "ON THE THRESHOLD" was performed by me (including the percussion on "Until We Meet Again", tambourine on "Earthlings", etc) except the drumset, which was performed by John
On "LIVE LOVE LEAVE" I performed upright bass, electric bass, keyboards, guitars, melodica, percussion, programmed drum loops, and wrote the string arrangements. Additional musicians included a
string quartet, a French Horn player, 2 female vocalists (Joy Askew and Rosanne Cash) and David Palmer from Rod's band and Shawn Pelton (who also played on many TV appearances with Rod and is on some
of Rod's "American Songbook" recordings) on drums, and Matt Beck (who I brought into Rod's band in 2007) and Thad DeBrock on guitars.
Why is music important to you?
It feeds my body, literally, and my soul. I'm very fortunate to have discovered and been given the opportunity to nurture my talent and turn that into my life's guiding force.
How do you get your music to your fans who can’t access it in local stores? Do you have an online channel where the music is sold, maybe via iTunes or other sources?
Both of my albums are on iTunes and CD Baby, Just make sure if you look for my new album on iTunes you use the iTunes STORE, not the "iTunes Music" App, as my new album is not on the streaming
Have you got a target audience for your music?
Yes, the deaf (ha!).
Your vocals sound great on both albums why doesn't Rod use you more for backing vocals?
Well, thank you very much, first of all! Rod has the 3 girls up front who bring so much more to the show than just their amazing vocals. Chuck, who is stationary at the keyboards, covers a lot of the
male background parts. I think Rod prefers to have us guitarists be more "mobile" rather than stuck behind a mic stand, given the choice. It's nice that he has us singing now on "You're In My Heart"
and "Motown Song", though. Maybe I should lobby for him to get us those Janet Jackson style headset mics, what do you think?!?! Please say no. Besides, it's all on tape anyway…you know that, right??
Do you have any other projects coming up?
Besides my freelance bass playing work, which keeps me quite busy, I'm currently producing 2 other artists in my Scrumptious Music production studio. On Rod's break in April I'm doing a bunch of
dates with jazz vocal group Manhattan Transfer, including a weekend at the legendary Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC, and I have a steady Thursday gig I've been doing in Tribeca backing up a jazz pianist
/ singer-songwriter in a trio. I've also been doing some TV promo with a new pop artist named Shawn Hook and have been in touch with Christopher Cross about doing some more dates with him as
One project that I'd like to remind people of is Emily Kinney's "Blue Toothbrush" EP, which I cowrote and produced back in 2011 in between working on my own 2 albums. You might recognize her name
from starring in the TV show "The Walking Dead", playing Beth Greene. I produced her album much in the same way as my albums: I played / recorded / mixed everything except the drums were played by
our beloved David Palmer from Rod's band. It's available on CD Baby andiTunes
Can you tell us about your bass guitars, which one is your favourite to play?
This will probably sound too technical and be boring for your readers, but I'll indulge: For many years on tour with Rod, I've been using an Alleva-Coppolo custom 4-string bass with a Hipshot D-tuner
and a Lakland "Joe Osborne" 5 string bass. Both of those basses are Fender Jazz Bass style. I've been using the Lakland 5 since I joined the band, and I used to use my trusty old 1972 Fender Jazz
Bass (that's the white one in the "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" slap bass solo video on youtube), but I use it so much in the studio in NYC that I needed to have it around, and it was a hassle transporting
it to/from tours or one-offs. It's also much less replaceable, as it is a vintage instrument, so I replaced that on tour with the Alleva-Coppolo. My tour upright is a "Kay" that's about 50-60 years
old…a real workhorse. All of those instruments stay out with the gear, even when I go home. The electrics run through a wireless system that the production provides, then into a couple of effect
pedals (Chorus and Compression) that I only use in the solo on "Sexy", into my BAE Desktop Mic Pre, then into an Empirical Labs Distressor (Compressor) and back via long cables to a tuner/mute pedal
behind me onstage, then out of that pedal into a "Direct Box" which sends the signal to the monitor and front of house soundboards. Too much information?That's why we have techs!
At home I have the aforementioned Fender, a 1966 Fender Precision, a Rob Allen 5 string fretless bass, a 1960's "Conrad" bass (yes, that's really the name!), a silver sparkle Danelectro reissue circa
2000 that I use with The Faces (matching silver sparkle strap…crucial to the sound…not), Moollon 4 and 5 string basses, a 5 string Alleva-Coppolo, 2 more Laklands (4 and 5 string), another Kay
upright, a Juzek upright, and an Azola electric upright, plus lots of amps and effect pedals, as you might imagine. I also have many guitars (including one of Jeff Golub's Hamers)and some keyboards
for when I'm producing.
Who are your favorite artists/bands - all time and current?
(Said in robot voice) Past = Rod Stewart, Present = Rod Stewart, Future = Rod Stewart (…job security!).
Actually, too many to list, and in too many styles of music. Remember, I also have a jazz degree, so that's a whole other animal that we haven't even touched on. I don't claim to be any kind of
visionary with regards to discovering music that other people don't know about, so if you think of most of the heroes in any particular genre you'd probably end up with a lot of the people I'd
Do you get to watch many live shows with your busy work schedule?
Fortunately, since most of my friends are in the same industry, I do get to see a lot of shows. In the span of about a month this winter I saw Bruce Springsteen, Hall & Oates, and The Who all at
Madison Square Garden, all with backstage passes and even had a chance to chat with Daryl Hall, Pete Townshend and others. On the road we often cross paths with friends who are in town playing shows
too, so we try to invite each other whenever we can…it's a real community
Where's the best place people can find more information about you?
www.conradkorsch.com is the most comprehensive. That page also links to my ScrumptiousMusic site, CD Baby, iTunes, etc.
One last question before we finish up, Would you ever consider coming over to the UK and playing for us at an RSFC Big Weekend event ?
Yeah, that would be a blast!
Its been an absolute pleasure speaking with you Conrad and on behalf of everyone at the RSFC I would like to thank you for taking time to talk to us and may I wish you every success with the new
album and the future.
Conrad Korsch was interviewed on behalf of the RSFC. March 2016
Conrad Korsch interview on Jacky Bam Bam Radio
Philadephia's biggest and best rock and roll radio station, WMMR 93.3 FM. Conrad grew up in Philly listening to this station and that's how he got exposed to all the classics like Zeppelin, The
Stones, The Who, Rod, Bruce, etc, etc, etc, so it's a real honor for him to be featured!
Conrad Korsch New CD out now. To order please click the link below
On the eve of Rod Stewart's summer tour RSC researcher Helen Clowes talks to his bassist Conrad
RSFC You were born in Philidelphia, would youlike to describe what it was like to grow up there and was music one
of your favourite subjects at school ?
Philly is a great city…it has a good arts/music scene and all of the other diverse things you'd expect from as major city, plus lots of history that was central to
the formation of the country. I studied music privately at Settlement Music School, which is the largest community school of the arts in the USA and who's alumni includes many famous musicians
and artists, even Albert Einstein! I did study music theory at my high school, but by my senior year I'd scored 100% on the placement test, so they put me in the back of the room with a
keyboard and I would just work on stuff on my own.
RSFC When did you realize you wanted to become a musician ?
After I realized I was useless at sports…ha ha. I started taking piano lessons at age 6, but I'd already been asking my parents to get me lessons for a year or
two. I studied piano for about 10 years and switched to bass during high school.
RSFC Who are your musical Influences
There are so many…I play jazz, latin/brazilian, rock, pop, etc., etc., so there have been many influences in all of those fields. When I first started playing
electric bass, Led Zeppelin (John Paul Jones on bass) was a big influence on my rock playing. I learned alot of those great bass lines from the records and that was an education in
itself. Then there are all the great players on other instruments, as well as composers and lyricists who have influenced my musical style in a broader sense, beyond just playing the
RSFC Do you have a favourite musician
Part of the process of growing as a musician is to study other musicians and take bits and pieces from what makes them connect to you and combine them with
your own personality and skills to eventually have your own voice. So, ideally, we should all be our own favorite musicians, but that's always a work in process…check back with me in 100
RSFC Having played alongside many musicians in your career are there any special moments that stand out
from others ?
I'm grateful to have been afforded many great memories and opportunites because of playing music. Playing the Concert for Diana with Rod was a highlight, as was
meeting Prince Charles…a few times! Opening for Stanley Clarke at the Academy Of Music in Philadelphia when I was about 20 is another. Performing a featured duet on center stage in the
Broadway show "Swing!" for a year was a unique experience as well, and releasing my own CD and selling out the release concert in NYC was a bit of a milestone.
RSFC You have recently released a new CD ' Live Love Leave ' would you like to tell me a little more about this?
It's a collection of 13 original songs that I've written over the last several years and released in the 2nd half of 2009. The production ranges from full band
plus string quartet and backup vocals all the way down to just guitar/voice, and even one song with just upright bass and voice. For the most part it's a "singer-songwriter" record with the focus
being on the stories and poetic-style lyrics supported by the music, not necessarily a commercial or pop sounding record.
You can sample the songs and buy the CD or download the mp3s at www.cdbaby.com/cd/conradkorsch or download on iTunes at http://lnk.nu/itunes.apple.com/xif. You can also hear 3 full songs on my myspace page
Be sure to send a friend request on Myspace and Facebook as well…!
RSFC Did you write the songs on the CD?
Yes, all of the music, lyrics, string arrangements, production, etc.
RSFC Do you have a particular favourite song on it ?
I can't say I have a single favorite..they're all special to me for one reason or another, depending on my mood.
RSFC Do any of the songs reflect on your life ?
Next question, please…Ha Ha. Yes, some do, but many of the songs that seem like I am just laying my own story out there in plain words are actually fictional,
while I tend to shroud the more personal stories in characters and metaphors. Sometimes.
RSFC Are there any particular things that stand out from others while making the CD ?
*Well, since making the CD there have been some standout moments:
* "I'm Leaving" was featured in the TV show "Royal Pains"
* "Firefly" (which features a duet with Rosanne Cash, who's band I used to play in) was brought to life through the choreography of Andrea Kramer and premiered at the
New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
* "Weeping Willow" was chosen to be the opening track of the 2010 Cape May Singer-Songwriter Festival's compilation CD.
RSFC What is the story behind the song... Love story of a Blade of Grass and a
Pine Tree ?
That's one of those personal ones with the characters and metaphors…I wrote it about a long distance relationship. It didn't quite work out like it does
in the song though!
RSFC Is there any other instrument you play apart from guitar and is there a particular guitar you prefer ?
Well, I play BASS in Rod Stewart's band, and I generally make a living playing upright and electric bass. On my CD and other projects that I compose and
produce I often play guitar, keyboards, some percussion, and I sing, as well as writing some string and horn arrangements, but that's when I am in my own studio and can take my
RSFC Will you be appearing at any upcoming gigs to promote your CD ?
I've done a couple of full band + string quartet shows in NYC that were a blast, as well as some smaller solo shows. I'm booking some solo shows on
nights off while on tour in Europe this summer with Rod. So far, I've got the "Regal Room" in London on June 2nd, which also does a live webcast, and "Sandbar" in Manchester on May 25th as part
of a music and poetry night. These will be solo shows where I play acoustic guitar and sing, sometimes loop recording and overdubbing myself live. I'm working on booking some shows in Germany
during the week of July 5th (currently I've got July 9th at "The New York Grill" in Albstadt and July 12th at "Vogler" in Munich), and my friend Everett Bradley (who works with Hall & Oates,
Carly Simon, STOMP! + Jon Bon Jovi) will most likely be joining me on percussion and background vocals for those shows. I'm also putting some stuff together in Norway for another week of solo
shows after Rod's tour and finally fly home to perform in the Huntington Summer Arts Festival in Long Island on August 8th. Keep an eye on the "Calendar" page of my website www.conradkorsch.com and my myspace page for
RSFC Can you tell me more about the people who were involved in the making of the CD and what it was like to work
with some of them ?
In addition to the instruments I played, the following Rod Stewart alumni also contributed: Matt Beck (alot of electric guitar), Shawn Pelton and David Palmer
on drums, and a string quartet made up of several of the string players who also worked with Rod on some of the Songbook stuff: Jonathan Dinklage and Antoine Silverman on violins, Hiroko Taguchi on
viola and Anja Wood on cello. Also Thad DeBrock played electric guitar on "I'm Leaving", Joy Askew (formerly with Peter Gabriel and Joe Jackson) sang background vocals and plays keyboards in
the live band, Rosanne Cash sang the duet on "Firefly", and Alex Brofsky played french horn. I've known many of those musicians for years and was very happy to have their support on the album
and at the CD Release Party concert (David Palmer was particularly generous by flying from LA to NYC to perform in that show!). Everett Bradley was also extremely helpful along the way by listening
with fresh ears and offering feedback. He doesn't play on the CD, but there's a video on www.youtube.com of him playing a percussion solo and singing a bit in a duo song with me at my CD Release
Party…he's an amaging musician. Also on youtube is a 5 minute video of highlights from that night…just search Conrad Korsch + Joe's Pub...check it out and leave a comment!
RSFC Just one more question before we finish and that is do you have any plans music wise for the future?
When I'm not on the road I tend to stay very busy working in NYC in recording studios, Broadway pits, TV shows and live music venues, as well as doing smaller tours
with other artists. Following this summer tour, I expect to start the Fall with my regular gig in the house band of the Jerry Lewis/MDA Telethon's NYC broadcast, followed by some tour dates with
Christopher Cross, and then hopefully will tape season 2 of the new Emeril Lagasse TV Show which Martha Stewart is producing. I played in the house band for the entire Spring/Summer 2010 season
(under the direction of Dave Koz and alongside Rod's old guitarist Jeff Golub) which taped in March. I will continue to try to get more exposure for my own CD as well, though some live shows
and hopefully some more licensing opportunities, and will try to find time to pick back up on a project which I've started producing for another artist through my "Scrumptious Music" production