Epic recording artist, Andrew Allen has been pretty busy these days with recording a new album, writing songs for other artists, doing an acoustic tour AND preparing a summer tour starting this month.
His song, “Loving You Tonight,” topped the Canadian radio charts for more than 22 weeks!! And most recently, Andrew has been nominated for a Canadian Radio Music Award. Pretty cool for this native Vancouver boy!
On the U.S. side, he isn’t doing too badly here either!! “Loving You Tonight,” is doing very well on the top 40 stations, like my Seattle station Star 101.5. As well as being released as an EP, it can also be found on the "NOW (That’s What I Call Music!) 37 CD."
Recently, with drummer Nate Lotz, Andrew graced us with an acoustic set at The Renaissance Seattle Hotel sponsored by Star 101.5, Sony Music and the hotel.
I personally had never heard of Andrew but was invited by a good friend to see his set. SO GLAD I took her up on the offer.
The one thing I noticed about Andrew is his presence as well as a smile that lights up the room. When you meet him, he makes you feel like you've known each other for years. He is very genuine on and off stage!
Andrew was gracious enough to sit down with me afterwards to talk about his life, writing and his upcoming album “What You Wanted.”
Spin that 45: How old were you when you started getting into music?
ANDREW: I was like 5 years old. My parents put me into piano lessons. I kinda didn’t really love the practicing side of it, but I definitely enjoyed playing it. So by about the time that I was about 10 years old, I had done a few different competitions and such with Royal Conservatory and sort of the typical things your parents get you to do. But I started working with different Disney songs and that kind of thing. And then I also started writing my own stuff. And I mean, my songs at that point were 18 minutes long (laughs) and they changed every time I played them but they were my OWN songs and so that’s kinda when I started playing and getting serious into it.
SP45: Very Cool! You started pretty young. When did you start writing?
ANDREW: Legitimately writing music. . . probably when I was in grade 10, I would say, I sort of formed a band. There was 3 of us that all played guitars. So we were a “three guitar band” like Collective Soul or something. Had a bass player and a drummer. And that’s when I really started writing songs. I didn’t really know where I was going with the song writing. I really didn’t know what the structure was and I honestly didn’t have a lot of influences because I wasn’t listening to a lot of music. It was more a sort of just what I was feeling and that’s what I would write. And it ended up being pretty well crafted pop songs for not knowing what I was doing.
SP45: That kind of leads me into my next question. . . who were your influences during those teen years?
ANDREW: I didn’t honestly have that many. . . if any. I feel almost bad for saying that I wasn’t a “music listener!?” I still wouldn’t say that I am today. I’m not super cutting edge on the new stuff that’s coming out.
SP45: Having learned that I am avid MUTEMATH fan, you told me before our interview that you saw Mutemath twice in Vancouver.
So, you like Mutemath! HA!
ANDREW: (laughs)YES, I love Mutemath. But again, it’s because a friend honestly held my hand and brought me to the concert.
I love music, but I’m definitely one of the guys that say “Oh, I could be listening to other music or I could be writing my own.” And so I just kept writing my own stuff. Which is why I’m always really honored that people take the time to listen.
But some of the influences that I’ve definitely grown up with are Bob Marley & Sublime. And some of the newer guys like Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Maroon 5 & John Mayer.
The first CD I ever bought was the "Cool Runnings" Soundtrack. It was that whole Raggae Island influence that I just loved. I haven't bought another rhythmic aspect type CD since then.
SP45: Yeah, your music definitely has that Raggae Isle feel to it.
ANDREW: Thank you (smile)
SP45: So Andrew, let’s talk about the new album.
ANDREW: Okay. It’s called “What You Wanted,” and it’s 11 songs that go through every gamut of love you could think of. It’s definitely influenced by love and by life and by kind of all the fun things in it. But also all the hard times that you go through while you’re in it.
I had written basically the first five songs before I went in to record it. And then I wrote the last 6 while I was in the studio process. And that was really challenging for me because I’m not used to writing under pressure. But it was also really neat to see what came out because of the pressure.
A lot of time in my writing process, I’m kind of humming the tune getting through the songs and then once the song is completed, “it” in a way tells me what the song is about. Like one song on the album is called “Dance With Me.” It's about a friend of mine that passed away from cancer. And the saddest part about it, was she had only been married for 2 years. When she passed away, I couldn’t help but think of the husband, being I, too am one. Thinking of what that would feel like after not knowing her that long. And so one of the concepts on that song, which is the darker or sadder songs on the album, is just the idea of maybe when he plays “their song,” he’ll actually still be able to dance with her, no matter where she is.
The next song on the album is “What I Like About Us” which is just a fun, upbeat song about all these crazy adventures that maybe or maybe I haven’t gotten into. And just those fun weird quirks about our relationships, that by the end of it, you say “You know what? All these weird little quirks are what I like about us!”
So it’s definitely an album that covers all the things that matter to me.
SP45: Awesome! I’m sure your fans can’t wait to hear it. When can they expect to see its release?
ANDREW: I’m not too sure about the date, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be around mid June, which is coming up soon!
SP45: Great! I know I can’t wait to hear it myself. You’ve told some great stories behind a couple of the songs. Where else do you get your inspiration for writing?
ANDREW: Definitely from life! I also write for other artists and sometimes I find that a challenge because all of my songs come directly from my heart. They’re influence by real people and real events which is why a lot of them are very “storyteller” type songs. It’s funny, I was listening to the record in my car recently and I was like “whoa, in a lot of the songs I say ‘and she says,’ or ‘he said,’ like I’m telling a story. And so to write for other people, you really have to try to get inside their mind and write something that you hope feels real for them.
And so when you asked what my inspirations are, they’re from life, love and from real people and real things that have happened.
SP45: You know when you were introducing one of your songs here at the Renaissance, you said that you are pretty much a happy person.
What makes you sad?
ANDREW: What makes me sad. . .um. . .
SP45: I hope that’s okay for me to ask. . .
ANDREW: Oh it is, I haven’t been asked it.
The things that make me sad. . . . I think frustration is like my biggest battle with myself. Such as when you’re frustrated because you’ve done something. Like "guilt" is one of the worse. And I don’t necessarily hang on to it, but it’s like I strive to make sure that other people are happy, that I’ve treated people fairly, that I’ve done right by them and that I’ve give them the right about time.
One of the things that make me sad is when I know sometimes like even when in this career where I’ve spend a lot of time promoting and pushing myself and I’m neglecting time spent with my family and friends. And I see sometimes that that hurts the relationship that I have with them. And that kind of gets to me where I just go “Ugh!!” It’s the only pressure that I put on myself.
Another thing that makes me sad is, world type events. I’m a really strong advocate for not just human rights but sort of equality for the universe, you know like humankind and it drives me nuts to see the amount of consumerism that I know I’m part of and not to be able to see a tangible way to be able to help.
Like I think what blows my mind is when you think about Third World countries that are NOT depressed and yet, we are! And I think it’s because we have way too much crap!! You know what I mean? And so, we get super down and we have this super high suicide rate and all these depression medications. And yet, we’re all like we feel so bad for these Third World countries. But I think there’s something they could teach us!! And so, a lot of the time I get really saddened by that type of thing and then I get sad that I’m not doing anything to help it.
So, I would say those are the two things that kind of bring me down.
SP45: You have a strong faith. Would you mind talking about that?
ANDREW: I was adopted. My birth mother who is 1st generation Irish, was a very strong Irish Catholic. And one of the things she wanted to make sure about my adoption was that I would be raised by a Catholic family.
At 12, I stopped going to church, but came back to it before getting married, attending a Baptist church, cuz I liked the music aspect of it. I began to be a part of the worship teams, which I found amazing! Sometime after, I went to work on a cruise ship for a year and coming to the end of that year, I decided that I wanted to do something different. And ended up getting a job as worship director, where I worked at for 2 years, which I loved. Except for what ended up happening was I became so frustrated by the political aspects of the church. I found myself wishing that they had hired a politician instead of a musician.
But that’s what encouraged me to sell everything, jump into my van and start touring across the country, because I thought that the music that I was and AM writing, is about life and love, which is exactly what Jesus taught and it’s not coming through that way, like preachy. And so I’m not out here to try and convert the world or anything like that and I’m not carrying Jesus in a box. I’m just hanging out and hopefully people can experience love through it.
SP45: Okay so here's my last question. . .
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
ANDREW: WOW, those are huge questions.
I didn’t see myself HERE . . . 5 years ago! So I would say that in 5 years, I will be happy to be wherever I’m placed because that’s where I’m supposed to be.
And in 10 years it’ll be the exact same thing! (smile)
SP45: Hahahaha! I love it!!
Andrew, thank you so much for taking the time to sit with me and give us a look into what makes you tick. Can’t wait to hear the new album! And I can’t wait to see you live at El Corazon in Seattle on June 21st. Again, thank you!
ANDREW: No problem! Thank you! (Big smile)