The lyrics to “What’s Wrong With That,” from Ross Seddon’s new album, You’re the Reason, are candidly told while the music is deeply felt. The 4:58 track is a blues rock original filled with passion by way of subtle Dylan-esque vocal work. Using skillfully created single string runs and bends, Seddon works the chord progression into an exciting crescendo. That is just for starters.
More about the Music
Available on Soundcloud, another standout from You’re the Reason is the unplugged “Not Sure Anymore,” a driving, plaintive melody complete with haunting vocals and acoustic guitar triplets. Seddon’s fret work, as usual, is skillful and spotless. So is the gritty harmonica-laced electric twanger, “Coming Home.” In a bit of a departure, a poignant piano intro is the lead to the heartfelt “Don’t Let Me Go.” Overall, the entire album is a collection of solid cuts which are both well written and performed.
A Musician’s Reemergence
Besides fronting and assuming most of the songwriting duties in his various bands along the way, the Australian-based rocker also has written and produced for other groups. But after suffering injuries from a motorcycle accident in 2016, Ross decided to reawaken his solo music career. The result is You’re the Reason, a ten-song album you will not soon forget.
Music Interview Magazine caught up with Ross Seddon, where he talks about the new album, his re-emergence as a solo music artist, songwriting and more.
An Interview With Ross Seddon
What was the inspiration behind the song, “What’s Wrong With That,” from You’re the Reason?
This song probably has one of the most intense set of thought structures of any song on the album, along with “Not Sure Anymore.” The song is very much a retrospective, almost an “arty song” in the many integrated thoughts and situations each verse thrust us into. Nothing is simple, nothing is how it should be, or maybe it is. What does “how it should be” mean? With that question in mind, the ideas flow about one’s life journey. Is it me, or is it you? Each verse is almost like another page of my life, situation, or thought pattern. But they are all interrelated.
In the song, this person is looking and wondering at his or her life, the sorrows, love, decisions made, decisions not made and so on. He or she is caught up in the almost dreamlike review of what, where and who they are seeing, when their moments unfold into the statement, “What’s wrong with that?” The phrase is sort of like saying if I had my life, or the time over again, what would I do? The answer is I would do this. So, what’s wrong with that?
Could have and should have are things that we sometimes get caught up into, especially when sad, upset or feeling despondent. Asking what’s wrong with that is the defense, the reason, the answer to what someone did or didn’t do.
I hope those listening and thinking can get into the song and consider their own “what’s wrong with that” situation. The song can be thought provoking if you‘re listening and thinking. The feel, tempo and arrangement are mirrored to allow the listener access to the content, if they are willing and ready.
Can you talk about how the motorcycle accident affected you as a musician and songwriter?
The accident itself was only a moment, but a trigger. I had five broken ribs and a punctured lung and discovered singing helped. In that condition, God knows you physically can’t run around. My music has never been about perfecting the instrumentation, although I always try to improve and learn. But it has always been about creating. The accident forced me to play more and with that the inspiration flowed, the doors opened and the songs flooded in, just like the old days.
Before I knew it, I had more than 20 new songs. Having no goals over the years meant the songs just withered away. But this time around I met up with “muso” friends, made some new ones and recorded the songs, which I hadn’t done for 35 years. I was definitely inspired. The result is You’re the Reason, as well as newfound confidence as a song writer, singer and musician working with the knowledge that I can get out of a recording session what I need to. What a nice result. The next step will be more of the same.
The song “Liers,” available on Soundcloud, with its Farfisa-ish keyboard line, is quite a departure from the sounds of You’re the Reason. How did “Liers” come about?
“Liers” is a song from my last band, Homegrown. The song was written and recorded live to a four track with a vocal overdub in 1979 after a trip to LA with CBS. My YouTube channel has a few of the golden oldies featured. The song was aggressive musically and meant to be squarely aimed at a pop rock market near end of the 1970s. The sounds were consistent with the time and what the band played, although a little more on the pop side. The keyboard type of band sound being developed on the West Coast started its draw away from main stream just as punk, new age, new Aussie rock like us and a re-formed rock began its surge in popularity.
“Liers” as a title and its content was not very cool, industry reception wise. Perhaps it hit too close to home. The song is about reaching out for my goals but lamenting about how the environment, the type of music being demanded, the groupies and the wolves of the music industry were all confronting me and wearing down the reasons of why I should remain involved in music. Our band was like many, only finding the bottom end of the industry with the broken promises, bad gigs and payments and little management. Opportunities in Australia were limited and industry was small.
I want to mention the keyboard player on “Liers,” Rob Dixon, also played keys on “You’re the Reason.” Rob developed the arrangement and played piano on “Don’t Let Me Go.” He also did lead sections on a few of the other songs.
Can good songwriting be learned, or is it something innate?
I’m not sure it can be learned. Anyone might write a hit song, but to be consistently creative is, I think, God-given. I mean, I feel it’s in you and you feel it, it talks to you if you trust it. My beginnings began whereby my guitar teacher realized early on that I could create melodies and write words to match rather than practice scales. We suspended guitar and began a sort of how to develop a song writing instruction. I mean he never tried to say something good or bad. I think we both knew that. Since then I have met so many wonderfully gifted players who seem to struggle to write a single tune with words. But show them a song and they can craft an arrangement, a solo or a chord, to make it fly. It seems there are a few different parts as far as writing a song, but without the skill to create, the process doesn’t matter. An insight to song development might be the initial creation, which could be anything from five minutes to a few goings over, or through a few sittings. Any more than that and you might be flogging a dead horse. Better to put it aside and come back. If I fight to move forward, then I just stop and then move on a bit later.
As for the general development of songs, two or three bits of the song’s core should be in place, be it verse, chorus, bridge or intro, with no particular order. While I normally play looking for arrangement, tempo and feel, the layers of music will unfold and start to appear through trial and error. Again, if I start to fight it, I stop and come back later. Word development is important, always part of each phase. It can be the first, second or third thing that arrives. For me it varies with each song. I want to remain flexible to be a servant of the song and not the other way round. Can songwriting be learned? The answer is yes, but with conditions. Is songwriting something innate? Yes, I think it’s very innate.
Who are some of your guitar influences?
I’ve heard so many it’s really hard to settle on a few because of who will be left out. But here we go. Bob Dylan is a master of making the song have a core. His guitar is always there making sure the others have the core under. He’s simply a master songwriter and great rhythm guitar player. Jimi Hendrix changed everyone’s ideas in the blink of an eye and the crash of a chord. Regarding English legends, they include Robert Plant, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton and David Gilmour. The US masters, including all the ones you know; there’s just so many. Then there’s Joni Mitchell, J.J. Cale, Neil Young and John Fogerty, who all hold a special place for me due to their songwriting and guitar playing. The lead guitarists take in the blues masters who led the path that others copied perfectly.
What’s next for Ross Seddon?
That’s a great question and hard to answer. At almost 64, time is not on my side. But my creative urge is strong and revitalized. My confidence is good and my ego has been nicely massaged by the favorable response to my album. The next steps from here include creating and recording, my first goals and the most important. Writing for me or others remains my creative focus and goal. I’m planning a new studio recording, but this time with a female lead. A film or TV project would be nice. I’m certain I can address those creative options. I remain wary but hopeful that management will fit in with who I am and might consider my aims. Recording an EP in the US also is on my short-term list, thinking this might be in mid-year 2018. Developing a performing band would be nice, having some guaranteed income with gig momentum. But as we know, bands tend to fail due to lack of money and the various personalities and lives. I’m a realist and would only consider it a short term goal, only if all the clouds align. All the recent gigs went well and so I’m considering some acoustic shows this summer.