It’s not often that two titans of the music industry sit down and have a deep conference of epic importance – examining the most trivial details of the music industry in excruciating detail. And… uh, that didn’t happen here, either, but I DID sit down with singer/songwriter Vincent Leeds – a steady performer on the California music scene for the past 25 years – aboard my overwhelming phallic symbol of a yacht on the Finnish Coast the other day, with the purpose of figuring out just what makes a songwriter tick. And I got that – but I got a lot more. Read on, Jefferson!
GOM: Hey, buddy! Ready to be interviewed? Ronald Reagen’s head – which I keep in my closet – said you were, but I was suspicious.
Vincent: Hi Dave, what’s up? Sunny and breezy here in Granada Hills.
GOM: It’s inexplicably cold in Lansing, as it always is. The good lord has forsaken us for pinball, I think. So tell me, Vince, what’s been going on with you lately?
Vincent: Pretty boring really, rainin’ & clouldy. I’ve been listening to some new music… has the interview begun?
GOM: Of course! I’m ALWAYS on, man! What kind of stuff are you listening to? I hear a whole lot of 70’s singer/songwriter vibe in your songs, but with some punk influence, too.
Vincent: I’m listening to new stuff on MP3 Ampcast…some of it is really good – I like things that are moving or fascinating. I like the singer/songwriter thing, I like to play guitar & sing about what’s going on in my head. Where can we see your photo, Dave?
GOM: I’ve got one on Godsofmusic of me in drag, if you dig that sort of thing… I put new ones up everyonce in awhile on my websites. Why – is my sexiness THAT overwhelming? Do you find that it’s getting harder to find good new music these days? Personally, I’ve just about had it… all my bands keep breaking up!
Vincent: Aha, I’ve never seen ya – in drag really?! There’s lots of good, good music out there, a whole universe of songs, thanks to sites like Mp3 and Ampcast that give the songwriter a stage like never before – people can bipass the whole record contract thing altogether…I play most of my own instruments on my cd’s… I do call in drummers, and others on keybords, too.
GOM: What was the first record you ever loved?
Vincent: I was in a band in high school – we went to Rendondo Beach, CA and laid down songs, one I made up. It was cool.
GOM: Have you always been a songwriter, or did you sort of fall into it? Do you think there’s been a steady progression in your songwriting over the years?
Vincent: Ive been recording for 25 years …
GOM: Wheeeeew! That’s older than me, chief!
Vincent: I was was very young when I started playing guitar – I started making up my own songs ‘cause it was easier than having to learn the ones on the radio… but I did have to learn some Top 40 shit. My writing is…I like to call ‘em tone poems – I don’t really write the music. I write a song from a feeling or emotion, than I play music that goes with it. But the lyrics are the most important to me, unless its an instrumental.
GOM: Wow! That’s almost the exact reverse of what I do… you seem to approach it kind of like Elton John/Bernie Taupin. My lyrics are always an afterthought… I only do ’em ’cause I have to.
Vincent: The music comes almost at the same time [for me]. Sometimes I guess I have a riff in mind… I try to write a-b-c-a songs, but not always. I like songs that are all the same chord thats a trip as well…
GOM: I’ve done that a couple times. Paul McCartney’s “Helen Wheels” is one chord, and you don’t even notice! Those are the best ones, if you ask me. Do you generally need something to inspire you to write a song, or do you just sit down and write whenever you feel like it?
Vincent: I really have to be inspired, although I can come up with shit on demand! It’s hard for me to write lyrics when I don’t feel that way -you know, if you’re really happy and content its hard to write a sad song, but when your wife leaves ya & takes the check book, then it’s much easier to write a sad song people can relate to.
GOM: What sorts of things inspire you the most?
Vincent: Sex, drugs, depression, pain, woe… or lack of the above. I’m cryin’ now, thanks.
GOM: I’m crying too, but because a midget bit my testicles… but enough about me. Several of your songs are about dealing with drugs – when did you decide that your own drug situation had gone too far?
Vincent: 1994, right before the Northridge quake.
GOM: Any particular reason, or just the quake?
Vincent: Well, I knew If I kept going on the path I was on I’d lose [it] all, maybe even my life. I kind of woke up, and quit cold turkey.
GOM: Ouch! And ouch again! What’s your favorite album of all time, Vincey – by ANYONE?
Vincent: Fav abum… that’s a hard one. Let’s say top 5 okay?
GOM: Top 5 works for me!
Vincent: Okay, there’s so many… Beatles “White Album”, Led Zep 4, maybe Neil Young “After the Gold Rush” or “Decade”, Stones’ “Let It Bleed”, Bowie “Ziggy Stardust”, Adam Ant “Who’s the Slave & Who’s the Master”.
GOM: Ah! “White Album”, Zep 4, Let It Bleed… I hear that! What do you think is the most interesting band/genre going on today?
Vincent: I dig Nirvana, U2… today, in my opinion the most interesting would be alt rock or some electronica.
GOM: What did you think of the whole U2 Zooropa/Achtung/Pop thing? Fans diverge on that a bit…
Vincent: I don’t know… I think U2 has about 6 really super bitchin’ songs – I think they’re all on Joshua Tree, the 1st side. I don’t care that much for the rest. I mean they’re okay and listenable, but those 6 stand out. Don’t ask me to name ‘em.
GOM: I’m with U2 up until Achtung Baby… I don’t think they’ve ever put out a BAD album, but there’s some DAMN mediocre stuff they’ve done in the nineties. Have you heard Pavement?
Vincent: No, sorry, I haven’t. I like Radiohead and Pink Floyd much.
GOM: Definitely check them out. I’m a Radiohead/Floydie guy too – there’s definitely some crossover on those two bands. Okay… pick three words to describe yourself, one of which contains some alteration of the word “peen”.
Vincent: Give me an example…
GOM: Peentastic! Peenophenic! That sort of crap!
Vincent: (laughs) I don’t think I can right now…
GOM: We all do what we can, Vince.
Vincent: I understand you reviewed my song “Little Princess”.
GOM: Yeah, I did… I was impressed. It wasn’t what I expected at all. I was expecting some kind of dreary Kansas shitballad… Thank god your song was good, or else I might have had to drive into a schoolbus.
Vincent: I like that song, but I didn’t really think anyone else would… it’s a little on the softer side – sentimental about this Chinese chick I knew. Did I tell ya I’m from SHITSBERG CRAPINGTON?
GOM: The best of us are!
Vincent: Yes, I guess we are.
GOM: Alright, last question – if you go there will be trouble, if you stay there will be double… should you stay or should you go?
GOM: It seems obvious when I ask you in this context, doesn’t it?
GOM: Is there anything else you’d like to express to the teaming fans of Gods Of Music?
Vincent: Listen to some of my songs, will ya! If I get a couple more hits I can get a Taco.
Words of wisdom, Vince, words of wisdom.
– Dr. Dave B Wagner, esq. 2/21/01
Hear Vincent’s songs at mp3.com/vleeds