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.