Singer / songwriter / recording artist Ed Hale‘s latest single “Scene in San Francisco” from his current solo album, Ballad On Third Avenue, quickly climbed atop Billboard’s Top 40 in the Adult Contemporary format reaching #25, making Hale the #1 Most Active Independent Artist eight weeks straight. The song also reached #13 on FMQB’s Adult Contemporary Chart. His alter-ego, the Britpop/Indie-rock outfit Ed Hale and the Transcendence just released their fifth album, the epic rock-opera styled All Your Heroes Become Villains to widespread critical acclaim. It debuted at #16 on the CMJ Most Added Chart and continues to garner new fans on college radio as well as commercial Modern Rock stations.
Hale took some time out of his busy schedule to sit down and answer 20 questions.
The latest book or movie that made you cry? A Separation, the Iranian film that came out last year and won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. What a magnificent piece of work that was. As was his acceptance speech.
Name a fictional character most like you? Uhhh, just one? Impossible. But off the top of my head… Catcher Block in Down With Love, Cary Grant in Philadelphia Story, Sherlock Holmes as revamped by Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey Jr., Oskar Schindler as played by Liam Neeson in the Spielberg movie. Captain von Trapp in Sound of Music… Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady… It all depends on the mood I’m in I guess.
The greatest album ever? We get this one a lot. And I repeatedly say that it’s an impossible question to answer. But if I had to choose, it would come down to attempting to choose between The Beatles (White Album), Springsteen’s Born to Run, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs, Lou Reed’s Transformer, Roxy Music’s first album, Radiohead’s O.K. Computer or Kid A, Jeff Buckley’s Grace, U2?s Achtung Baby… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg really, as anyone will tell you. But how’s that for a start?
Star Trek or Star Wars? Neither. But if forced into it, Star Wars for sure. Preferably the first three and definitely not any of the last three.
Your ideal brain food? Seriously? Well if you really want the secret, go to your local health food store and grab a bottle of Advanced Gingko Smart by Irwin Naturals and skip trying to get smart with food ’cause it aint going to happen. Not as fast as it can with a good smart supplement. But prepare to fly. You need to have something to DO if you take things like that. Your brain starts working at hyper-speed! But from a different angle, Sunday morning news shows turn my brain on, as do seventies Woody Allen films, or Californication. That show, for as vulgar as it is, still has some of the best writing on television. Or anywhere for that matter.
You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why? Depends on what we’re talking about. Career wise? Entering the Billboard Top 40 as an independent artist with no help from a major record label. Or the last Transcendence albums Nothing Is Cohesive or Rise and Shine. I also have a non-fiction book I’ve been working on for the last seven years with a small group of kickass pop-culture geeks that is just about to be released. Major proud of that. But we’re leaving out the big stuff. I think getting to go to Iran as a Civilian Diplomat to discuss peace with their government was a major highlight. Something I will never forget. But more than anything, meeting my wife, discovering that true love really does exist… that it wasn’t just in my imagination, or something I fantasized about, but that it was real. But the catch is that you have to commit. Through that commitment, the other in turn commits and then it really kicks in, in a way that we never really understand until we experience it firsthand. That was something I wanted my whole life but was never sure really existed until I experienced it myself.
You want to be remembered for…? The fact that I never gave up on art, that I stayed committed to the very end no matter how bad it got. And that I loved madly passionately deeply unconditionally uncontrollably and gave it all I had.
Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are? Lao Tsu, Siddhartha The Buddha, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Einstein, Picasso, Jesus of Nazareth, Martin Luther King, Mohandas Gandhi, Nikolai Tesla, Malcolm X, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Ram Dass… These are all people with a courage and inner strength that I am still waiting to develop or be gifted with, you know. And then of course there’s Prince and Bowie, Marc Bolan and Donovan and Lou Reed, Roger Waters, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Ray Davies, John Lennon and Paul McCartney and George Harrison… musical inspirations. Hundreds of them.
The creative masterpiece you most wish bore your signature? When I was a kid I would have said The Wall by Pink Floyd. Or The White Album by the Beatles. Or maybe even The Plastic Ono Band album by John Lennon. Now I don’t know. I mean, there are so many. Have you ever seen The Statue of David up close and in person? It’s quite the site. It’s mind boggling really. How someone can become that good at something. Almost anything by the man known as William Shakespeare… forget about it. Or perhaps Apocalypse Now by Coppola… a real masterpiece.
Any hidden talents? None. Absolutely none. I have no rhythm, extremely uncoordinated, not double jointed. Not very good at sports. Just nothing. If I’ve got it, I try not to hide it ’cause I haven’t got much. (laughs)
The best piece of advice you actually followed? My old man gave me a coffee mug when I was sixteen years old that read on one side “Do What You Love” and on the other side it said “Love What You Do”. I used to stare at that thing every day for years and contemplate what it meant and how deeply profound those simple words were… I’m actually quite good at following advice. For being so rebellious. I’m kind of a split personality when it comes to that.
The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed? Who me? Steal? C’mon. My personality! It’s all stolen!
You feel best in Armani, Levis or what? Neither. Jeans suck unless they’re big and baggy and even then… For me, a skirt and a t-shirt. If no skirts allowed, then leather pants. Just something about them. And frankly I don’t care who makes them.
Your dream dinner guest at The Ritz would be? When are we going to The Ritz? (laughs) Oh I don’t know man. Too many to choose just one. And too many to fit in the ballroom there that’s for sure.
Time travel: where, when, and why? Time travel, definitely. Without question. And soon. Within our lifetimes I would wager. Not much of the past in terms of going back to check it out interests me. Because we’ve already been there and done that. Unless we’re talking way back, as in back to the Jurassic Period to be able to see what the earth looked like and to get a real feel for dinosaurs. Or even thirty-thousand years ago to get a tangible feel for what prehistoric humanity looked and acted like. That would be cool. But for me it’s all about our future. I’d love to go forward in time enough to see what other life forms other than humans are like. To be able to communicate with them, and share data with them. To see what kind of technology we come up with. That’s the ultimate trip. Way hipper than going back to like ancient Egypt or “the old West” and all that other shit people fantasize about.
Stress Management: hit-man, a spa vacation, or Prozac? Again, that all depends on what we’re talking about. All of the above! They’re all essential elements of surviving this business.
Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or…? Coffee for sure. Though I prefer espresso even more. Vodka, hardly. Not much of an alcohol person. There are other things that do the job much better, as Rufus Wainwright once so elegantly put it, “…and then those things that we don’t mention…” Cigarettes, I quit smoking when I was 25 because I knew that was one of those things you don’t get a second chance with. Smoking fucks your whole life up. IN every way. But God did I love to smoke. Cigars even more. When I’m older and no longer need to run around big stages singing my butt off I’ll return to my love affair with cigars. And chocolate, you know, compared to love and sex… I can take it or leave it. I never crave it. Though Fran’s Grey Sea Salt Caramels in Dark Chocolate… I can eat a whole box of them! Easily.But essential to life stuff is more like, a good connection with the Divine Force in the universe, true love, regular sex and passion in your life, music, loyal friends and family, making the world a better place and the thrill of victory celebrations after winning those small battles when fighting the good fight, things like that. You’re speaking more exogenous and I think we transcend that kind of thing after a while here.
Environ of choice: city or country? And where on the map? Definitely BOTH. Can’t have one without the other. For me personally I mean. In the States, New York is where it’s at. The City. And on the weekends you’re only an hour from upstate where it’s totally secluded and woodsy. Anywhere in the Hudson River Valley area like Woodstock… That’s paradise up there. It’s the best of both worlds. Or even further up like rural Vermont. The Colorado mountains. It’s beautiful out there too. But again, there’s no city like New York City. Just nothing close in the US. Where on the map if not in the United States, that’s easy. Italy. Hands down. Rome, Florence, or Venice. Live in the center of Florence as your primary home. The art and culture that surrounds you there is unparalleled on earth. And then you take the train into Rome when necessary for business and spend your weekends in Venice or on the beach just outside of Venice, or even down in Gaeta or Bari. That’s the life.
What do you want to say to the leader of your country if you could? Without fear of being arrested or worse? Stop threatening, invading, attacking and bombing other countries. Or else stop talking and acting like you’re different than any of the other evil bastards who have ruled nations before you. Talk is cheap. And so is charm. Ever heard of actors? (laughs) So if you’re really “the change guy”, then show us some change. Stop perpetrating the reputation of the United States as being the big bad bullies of the world and start leading through example. God knows we need it now more than ever.
Last but certainly not least, what are you working on now? HAHA! Where do you want to start? Promo’ing the latest single “Scene in San Francisco” is a full time job. The music video for that song is complete and looks amazing! I’ve got a few photo shoots coming up with a new stylist that are very cool and cutting edge. There are three different albums by either me solo or Ed Hale and the Transcendence that have already been recorded but still not released that we are working on getting out to the fans sometime soon along with the new Ex Norwegian album called House Music. That’s all very exciting. In the background of all that of course I am still in the studio almost daily recording three new albums, all very different from each other… that’s the most challenging aspect of the career, fitting everything in. Mixing the creative with the business. Wearing all the different hats. And you know, more than anything perhaps, I’m most excited about doing the tour this year and playing live with the guys. Can’t wait to get up on stage again.
Liquid Hip Magazine interviewed Ed Hale in it’s April 25th edition in a piece entitled Ed Hale On Your Heroes And Villains.
“These bands that get in the studio for two years and are forced to record 50 to 70 songs in order to come out with 10 tracks and the record companies are still not happy … they’re looking for ‘hit singles’ rather than a great fucking album. Well, we haven’t been working that way. — Ed Hale And The Transcendence
Nothing Ed Hale does is by the numbers. Even his band, Ed Hale And The Transcendence, isn’t structured like others. It includes five core members, five guest members on every record, and another five musicians who sit in with the band for live productions. That doesn’t count Karen Feldner, who has provided vocals for the band since their first album, Rise And Shine.
Yet, despite its sheer size and scope, the band has managed to maintain a distinct sound, even if it is one that can be hard to pin down. Their fourth studio album, All Your Heroes Become Villains, has been described as everything from a concept album of Brit-pop and world music to seventies glam rock and progressive alternative, but it is really something else all together. Continue reading…
“It wasn’t supposed to be a concept album, but we were trying to make sure the songs were connected in some way because critics had said our albums ‘weren’t cohesive enough.’ We didn’t know that was one of the rules to making albums,” Hale laughs. “It was only later, with a lot of it coming from DJ Kamran Green, that we started hearing how the songs could be tied together. This guy smoked more pot than anyone I had ever seen in my life. He’s got this medical marijuana card, right? So he smokes out 24-7!”
It was also Green, Hale says, who would stay up after everyone else had called it a night between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. When the band would return in the late morning, Green would still be working — creating brilliant little snippets of music that would be incorporated in all the songs, tying them together, and giving it a “rock opera” like quality.
All Your Heroes Become Villains is a collection of personal insights.
One of the most powerful songs on the album, “Blind Eye”, carries a potent message. Hale has always been regarded as an outspoken social and political activist, but this song throws its hands up in the face of everything, moving from protests that feed the system and toward passive apathy, just to survive.
“Sometimes I want to feel that way. I did when I wrote it. I mean, regarding how evil all the governments of the world are, yes, I feel that way,” Hale said. “You and I know that I can’t get into that here, in a public domain. But that’s what the song is really about … the fact that we are forced to turn a blind eye to all of it.”
Instead, Hale points to a host of entertainers that mostly stay away from politics and take matters into their own hands. People like Bono for his work in Africa, Sting and his wife Trudy saving rainforests in Brazil, and Matt Damon attacking water shortages, he said. Instead of trying to change legislation, he points out, they go out and get it done.
“Blind Eye” isn’t the only politically charged song on the album. “We Are Columbine” is equally poignant, laying the ownership of what Hale considers injustices on the societies that make them possible. Musically, it’s one of the best rockers on the album. Lyrically, it is among several songs Hale says he didn’t write as much as they wrote themselves.
“It’s a hard song to stomach if you don’t agree with the position it takes,” says Hale. “It didn’t take anything to write, but I had to ask myself if I had the courage to write it. To say those things.”
To read the complete article head to Liquid Hip online by clicking here.
Longtime Ed Hale and The Transcendence guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Fernando Perdomo talks about the recording process of the band’s latest album, All Your Heroes Become Villains, available at music stores everywhere, amazon.com or the iTunes music store.
“The All Your Heroes Become Villains album was recorded in a very interesting time of my life… a thrilling two week love affair I had with a talented singer had just ended and I was down in the dumps. I had an awful haircut ordered by a Latin artist I was touring with and I was totally ready to make an amazing record with Transcendence. (We ended up making two but that’s another story!)’ [Editor’s note: Perdomo is referring to the band’s often leaked and lauded but as of yet unreleased The Great Mistake album.]
“Upon arriving to the studio, I knew instantly this was gonna be an interesting project. Ed now lived in New York City but he had flown down to stay indefinitely to finish the album with the band. He was so amped up. Everyone was. He had this artist, Gina Rowland, who he had met online, there working on her art for the album cover in the studio with us while the songs were being recorded. She sat quietly and listened to get influenced and inspired by the music. We fell in love instantly…
“Recording my guitars was hard on the record because Ed had strict rules for what he wanted … No Santana, No Blues, No Allman Brothers, No Clapton, No Springsteen… He had all these annoying signs hanging up on the walls. He was constantly making signs with big magic markers and hanging them all over the studio walls. “There’s no such thing as over produced” and “There’s no such thing as not enough production”. Contradictions everywhere. All the time. The process was confusing. He was searching for something…. He was being very fluid. Also, the songs had some heavy metal influences and electronica elements to it that did not make sense to me at the time… but again he was searching for something else, something we hadn’t done before.
“Halfway through the making of the record I went off to LA to join the band PRICE. That’s when Zach Ziskin took over… He had already tracked guitar on the album. He’s like the fifth Beatle of Transcendence. My LA and PRICE days ended with my mom getting diagnosed with Cancer. I came back and added my guitars to the album. We panned Zach’s guitar part towards the left, mine towards the right, and Ed’s rhythm guitars dead center. The crazier I played the more it fit the album! That’s Transcendence.
“Years later… I almost cried listening to the finished record in my car… The album is a masterpiece… and a real testament to Ed Hale’s writing and vision and the whole band’s genius… and EVERYTHING MAKES SENSE. And so is life… you never know what will make sense in the end…”
3. What bands are you influenced by?
I think each guy in the band has a different set of influences. So I can only speak for myself. But one thing I will say is that almost all of us are pretty much into anything. We’re IN the music business, you know. So there’s no real style or genre that we don’t come into contact with. I mean, right now, while we’re doing all this promotion for my latest single “Scene in San Francisco” which has jumped into the Billboard Top 30, our keyboard player Jon Rose is out on tour with Julia Iglesias in South America. Crazy. But you know, that’s the biz. All our work right now is centered around promotion, meet and greets, record signings, interviews, photo shoots, so the guys in the band have time to do other things. And this is a great gig for Jon. No way he could take it, sincerely do a great job, or even get the job, unless he was into a wide variety of styles of music. Dig?
Me, I’m into anything and everything. I really NEED music. For my health and sanity. To make me feel good. Like it’s part of my soul or something. I did this photo shoot yesterday that was very elaborate. A lot of makeup and styling and people on deck. And in order to get into it, we had to have music going in the background. They asked me what I wanted to put on. They were using Pandora, which is an incredible tool. One of the coolest things to come out of this new age. And we’re in this photography studio filled with people of all different ages and backgrounds and at one point someone put on contemporary rap. But I just wasn’t feeling it. It totally ruined the vibe of the shoot for me. Plastic, put on, contrived, commercial for the sake of being commercial, all posing and bragging and nothing substantial underneath. This is what it felt like at least. In the room.
But I had to be “on”, right, totally ON… for the camera. So I went for the pure shit, the stuff that created me and who I am. Lou Reed, David Bowie, T Rex, Donovan, Hendrix, The Beatles, Zeppelin, Lennon, Wings, The Stones, Bob Dylan. Even the Dandy Warhols or The Pixies, The Replacements, Radiohead, U2, Muse. At its heart, this is where my music is coming from at i’s core. Plus a few thousand others I suppose.
4. If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?
The Rolling Stones in the 70s. For obvious reasons. Never has been and never will be another “world’s greatest rock band” quite like the Stones in the 70s. Way before all the bullshit started in the music business. Crafting songs like pottery to fit a specific genre using computers. Narrow-casting to please niche-niche markets based on polls and statistics. This kind of thing has ruined music as we know it today. We’ve got people like Adele or Katy Perry at the top of the charts who use three to ten people to help write a freaking song. And another five to produce it. That’s become the norm now. Everyone pandering to everyone else in an attempt to please a very small imaginary group of music listeners who are scrambling away from regular radio in hordes for that exact reason. They’re out there looking for something REAL and SINCERE and AUTHENTIC and the radio and record exec guys just don’t see it. Albums like DARK SIDE OF THE MOON were made with a small band of four guys and a producer and a few engineers. And that’s it. Real artists who could write great songs, looks be damned. Yeah, I’d love to tour with Pink Floyd if they ever got back together with Roger. For sure. I’d do anything with Paul (McCartney) just because he is still alive and, like many, I feel like I owe him a great deal for who I am today.
5. Best food to eat on tour?
I live on Sprite, coffee and protein shakes man. Among other things. I may not be the best role model for that kind of question.
To read the full interview Click Here
A concept album of sorts, Ed Hale and the Transcendence‘s All your heroes become villains is a collection of songs tackling different genres. Not too diverse to be disparate but still different enough to be dissimilar, it harks to some brit pop, some prog rock and, of course, some blues based rock.
After a strange, chaotic and almost cacophony-laden intro (‘All your heroes become villains – Main Theme’), the band goes for a more straight up approach. ‘Blind eye’ has a foot clearly planted in 70s arena rock with some good ol’ riffing (rocking moments there). It’s a wild song and it’s a safehaven after the more experimental nature of the opening track.
Read full review: http://sloucher.org/2012/01/10/ed-hale-and-the-transcendence-all-your-heroes-become-villains/
1. What are you currently up to?
a. Currently up to our necks is what we’re up to! Total madness. But a very cool kind. Semi-controlled madness. Just a lot of incredible things happening right now all at the same time. It’s a thrill and a rush for sure. But it also requires extreme focus and attention, which isn’t usually the stuff of artists if you know what I mean… More than anything else I’d say we’re all very excited about the upcoming release of the new Transcendence album All Your Heroes Become Villains. It’s hitting retail and digital stores all over the world as we speak and people are loving it. The concept of the album is resonating with people at this time. One critic called it “The perfect soundtrack to a beautiful apocalypse.” That pretty much sums it up I’d say. So that’s a good thing. Right now t’s making a big splash on College Radio here in the States.
b. Oddly enough, at the same time we’ve got this other thing happening with my last solo album Ballad On Third Avenue which was totally unexpected. The second single “New Orleans Dreams” has been climbing up the Adult Contemporary charts here in the US and spinning in 21 other countries. Including the UK of course. Right now the song is currently #10 in the US. Because of this, there’s a whole new interest in this solo album. We didn’t see this coming. So we’re literally working PR and promo on two totally different albums at once by the same artist. AND trying to book two separate tours to support these two very different albums. It’s insane.
c. We’re doing a ton of press, which is always fun, and at the same time we’re working on the music videos for the “Villains” album. Of course we are also planning the US tour, deciding which cities to hit and which other countries to books some shows in. That’s a daunting task. But obviously well worth it once we’re on that stage. We love performing live. It’s THE rush of all rushes. If that doesn’t sound like enough, we’re also in the studio and just about halfway through recording two new “Ed Hale solo albums”. We’re still attempting to get our minds around what these new albums ARE… what their all about… We recorded about 20 songs so far and we’ve found that about a third of them sound like Adult Contemporary, a third of them sound like a more mellow singer/songwriter vibe, and another third sound more like they belong on a Transcendence album. They’re more alt-rock. It’s weird how we work like that. It confuses some people… but not us. We’re used to it.
d. And of course there’s the mysterious The Great Mistake album that we still haven’t officially released, but it’s been sneaking around the internet for a few years. We just found the master tapes and gave them a listen and they sound incredible. Just over the top raw garage rock but catchy as hell. So now we are all involved in this heated debate as to “when should we release this new-new album?” It obviously doesn’t make sense for us to release it now. And yet it sounds so damn good we want to! Take French band Phoenix and mix it with some Strokes and Vampire Weekend… add some early seventies Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground or Wolf Mother and you get a pretty good idea of what the sound of this new new album sounds like. It’s done. Just needs to be mastered. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. I just love it.
We’re super excited to offer these beautiful Ed Hale print tees for sale, and just in time for the holidays!
Also available, are these stylish American Apparel black shirts with “All Your Heroes Become Villains” across the front and Ed Hale and The Transcendence on the back.
Newcomer to the Adult Contemporary radio format Ed Hale, who also happens to have a second new album up for release in 2011 as the singer of the eccentric indie-rock group Transcendence (now renamed “Ed Hale and The Transcendence), looks to be headed for the Top 10 next week. This marks one of the few occasions a non-major label “indie” artist has been able to achieve such a feat. This week’s chart available here.
Breaking into the Top 40 is accomplishment enough. The Top 20 even more so. Once one crosses the Top 10 barrier the competition becomes fierce. But in the newly transformed music business, the old record company models are shifting faster than the labels seem able to keep up with. The best example of this was the recent shock when the break up and sell off of long time stalwart EMI was announced. All of this shifting about makes it appear that the playing field has been leveled, allowing more room for independent artists to reach the same fanbase that major label artists are able to. But Hale, who has been signed to both major and smaller independent labels over his fifteen year career, claims that the terrain is still wrought with challenges for independent musicians attempting to make a living at the art of music making.
“It’s cynical as hell but I think it’s how a lot of us feel right now in the US; and all over the world,” says singer Ed Hale. “You [politicians, elected officials] can do whatever the fuck you want to. I’m sick of your lies. I’m sick of your endless wars. So here’s the deal: do whatever you want to. I’m sick of fighting you. So I’m going to turn a blind eye to you and your wicked bs because I’ve got a life to live. But just don’t mess with me or my family. Don’t come near my home. Don’t come near my work or my family. And don’t ask me to help you in your quest to destroy the world.”
Hale’s haunting lyrics, “Everything I hear/And everything I see/I won’t be afraid/You won’t bother me/All your evil ways/With everything you do/I will turn away/You won’t bother me,” are delivered with such steady resolve that you can almost picture the sneer on his face while he sings. The refrain, “Murder Greed Destruction Exploitation Rape Sex and Violence/Take your money Take your money Take your money” whispered quickly and venomously, came from a list Hale wrote of all the things he was protesting at the request of Producer Fred Freeman. About halfway through, “Blind Eye” begins to spin out of control into a giant convulsive climax: vocals, guitar, drums, bass and effects all coming together in a climactic representation of the chaos and evil present in the world today. This is about as heavy as Transcendence has ever gotten in song. And it’s very, very good.
Download the mp3 from Green Light Go or stream it below from SoundCloud.