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Three years is a long time for a peppy musical to stay peppy... But gosh darn it if I didn't feel born again all over again!
Ben Brantley, New York TimesBuy Tickets
"The Clown Parade" is Adam Ray's debut album of country music that stirs the soul. His strong vocal abilities and excellent writing skills makes this a country album worth listening to over and over again. The lyrics show the raw side of Adam Ray as he shares his thoughts and feelings through strong, wonderful country music. Already climbing the country music indie charts, "The Clown Parade" is up there with the likes of Keith Urban and Tim McGraw. It's one you will want to add to your music collection.
BWW caught up with Adam as he was on the road and hse shared some of his thoughts and feelings surrounding his new music.
You are still touring with The Book of Mormon. Can you share with us a little about how you found time to record the album while being on the road with such a high profile show?
Yes! We perform 8 shows a week, but when we're not performing or rehearsing there is a ton of free time. Since we travel so often and the landscape is constantly changing, I think it actually infiltrated my songwriting in a lot of ways. For whatever reason, I tend to do my best writing late at night, so I would usually stay after the show and use a piano in the theater's rehearsal room until 3 or 4 in the morning or until they kicked me out. When we finally recorded the album in Toronto last fall, it was a similar situation. My arranger, Jon Balcourt and I would head to the studio after the show every night for two months and record until 4am. It was exhausting but definitely worth it in the end.
"The Clown Parade" has been something you have been working on for a while. How did the idea come about to make this album?
I remember waking up suddenly in the middle of the night while we were in Hartford, CT last March, and for whatever reason, I sat up in bed and said out loud "I have no idea who I am" and I wept. I know it sounds crazy, but in that moment something inside me changed. The next morning, I went for a walk and found myself at the theater, so I went inside and sat down at a piano for the first time in years and began to play. That day I wrote my first song and it's actually on the final cut of the album. It's called "The Painter." After that day I started writing constantly - sometimes three full songs a day. I would show them to my musical directors and cast mates and text them to my fiancé Matthew in NYC. They were so supportive, and their positive reinforcement fueled me to keep going. Writing some of the songs helped me forgive myself for past mistakes or heal from bad relationships, and some songs helped me discover who I am in a way that no other experience ever has. The more I learned about myself and the more comfortable I became with the imperfections in my story, the more I realized I wanted to help other people who maybe felt as lost as I once did. "The Clown Parade" refers to a society where people paint themselves a certain way and put forth a lot of effort pleasing others, but often neglect their own journey towards self-discovery/their truth; the human being behind the make-up who feels different but doesn't know that different is beautiful.
The songs are very personal and come from your heart, tell us a little about some of them and why they mean so much to you.
Every single song is 100% true and based on an experience I had, so it's been a pretty vulnerable and scary experience showing them to the world. The songs deal with everything from substance abuse, infidelity, resisting adulthood/growing up, struggling with heteronormative stereotypes and the expectation for men to be tough and less emotional, and ultimately self-discovery. One of the songs that is most precious to me, "To and Fro" was inspired by the stories of a couple of my cast members who grew up gay in an ultra-religious and unsupportive environment (even enduring religious therapy to heal them). We were in Kentucky at the time, and I read an article about yet another LGBT youth committing suicide because of bullying. I was bullied relentlessly growing up so the topic is one I feel extremely passionate about. I remember I was so angry and sad I was literally shaking when I wrote it. Another song that is especially important to me is "A Single Word." It's about the insincerity of a lot of popular music, censorship, and the unapologetic homophobia of the country music industry. There are lighter, fun songs on the album though. One of my favorites is "My Love is the Best." It's a more pop-influenced radio-friendly song about young love.
Why did you choose the country music genre?
I've always been a little bit of a pot stirrer -just ask my Dad. I spent over half of my childhood grounded, but to be fair, I usually deserved it. My acting out, I realize now, was due to the fact that I was repressing my identity. I decided to come out to my high school in Missouri and in that moment my fight for acceptance began and it is a fight I continue to fight for myself and now for others. I always loved country music and enjoyed singing it, but I knew that because of who I was I wouldn't be invited to the party. Well, now I'm crashing the party. If someone tells me I can't do something - you better believe I'm going to do it. Country music is as American as it gets, but Americans are so many different things. I'm not interested in Barbie and Ken lookalikes singing about tired redneck clichés over and over again. I'm not going to beat a bible or pretend to date women to join any club. Country music is storytelling and it can be dangerous and dark like Johnny Cash and it can be folky and ethereal like Alison Krauss. Country music should be a melting pot and represent the entire country and those who live in it. Furthermore, country music should be stories written by the person singing it. Otherwise it loses its most important quality; sincerity. There's something so beautiful about Americans telling their stories set to the music of their soul. My country music is for the people living in rural America who listen to country music but also don't feel invited to the party.
I noticed that your album is climbing the country music charts and is close to albums by Keith Urban and Tim McGraw. How does that feel knowing you are in that you are among such country music superstars?
It's crazy. Seeing my album next to musicians I respect and have spent my life listening to was my proudest moment. I was beaming and I kinda laughed thinking, "If they only knew an openly gay indie country artist was in the Country Top 100". That to me was my greatest accomplishment. There have been a lot of happy tears this week.
What are some lessons you have learned in the process of making this album?
The truth is the only path to happiness. If it isn't difficult or scary you're probably doing it wrong. Art is more important than money. If you want to do something you have to just do it - TODAY. Music can heal and change people's minds.
What do you hope people can learn from "The Clown Parade?"
You are enough. Your imperfections or mistakes make you beautiful. Don't EVER paint yourself a clown just to march in their parade. Don't ever subscribe to the damaging and regressive definitions of normalcy and beauty that are widely accepted in this world. I marched for years in circles and found myself nearly 30 staring at a stranger in the mirror. Music gave me the courage to wash off my ridiculous make-up. I made a decision to trust my heart and discovered that the truth will only set us free...if we face it head on. I just hope my journey can inspire people to simply be themselves and go for their dreams. Don't limit yourself. Men don't have to be tough and buff and strong. Women aren't catty, weak, objects of desire. I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for the toughness and strength of intelligent women like my Mom, and I wouldn't write the way I do if I didn't have father who was sensitive and supportive. An LGBT individual can be a country music artist, a Christian, a mother/father, a role-model...anything he/she wants to be. The parade is over. Let's march to the beat of our own drums.
"The Clown Parade" by Adam Ray is available on iTunes/Amazon/Google Play
Visit: www.adamraymusic.com for more information.
Article reprinted with permission from www.BroadwayWorld.com
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