Kevin Gullickson ( Radio Drive ) – Much More Than Music – Exclusive Interview!

Today is a big pleasure to have one true real artist at Planet Singer. Kevin Gullickson has taken the time to answer some questions about his new release with The Alternative Pop Rock band RADIO DRIVE.

As the engine behind Radio Drive, Kevin has won international awards and nominations for his songs and music videos. The music of Radio Drive is being aired on radio around the world alongside major artists and is receiving rave reviews by music critics. He has been featured on web zines and radio shows in Europe, Canada and the USA.

Kevin’s music has landed on charts on indie stations around the world, including Canada, Germany, the UK and the South Pacific. His music has been used on shows airing on Animal Planet, National Geographic, Comedy Central, Fox Channels, History Channel, Spike TV and Discovery Channel in the USA and TV programs in England, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia.

Kevin’s 2014 release of “A Taste of Heaven” was raved about by critics and received massive radio play on indie stations around the world, winning awards and nominations. The following year, in mid August 2015 Kevin finished a project with internationally recognized producer, Stuart Epps. Stuart has worked with some of the most influential artists in music, including George Harrison, Bill Wyman, Jimmy Page, Elton John, Oasis and more. Kevin now has the honor of being listed among the artists Stuart has worked with. The result is a magnificent song entitled “Humanity”. In 2017 Kevin was chosen by BEM Wireless to endorse their products. In April 2018 Kevin released his 5th full album titled “She Colors My World”, mastered by Robert L. Smith at Defy Recordings (credits include David Bowie, Aerosmith, Paul McCartney, just to name a few). Immediately songs from this new CD began receiving international attention, rave reviews and topping indie charts.

In July 2019 Kevin released a music video for his single “Sweet Thing” from the album “She Colors My World”. Later in Sept, the song “Sweet Thing” was included in Jay Goldberg’s book “Rock On Neon Radio’s Top 1000 Songs of All Time” as honorable mention. In August, Kevin released his 6th full album “In The Light”, which immediate began receiving massive indie radio play, feature artist spots, landing on indie Top 20 charts and receiving rave reviews. The album was featured on a special album broadcast release show on NetFrance Radio.

Hi Kevin, thanks a lot for being with us today. Tell us something about your latest release “In The Light”.

Thank you for arranging this interview! 

“In The Light” is my 6th full album release.  This one was different in quite a few ways for me.  I felt more relaxed and confident coming into this album project.  The previous year, I released an album “She Colors My World” and that was a big success.  I have my own home studio which I recorded “She Colors My World” and “In The Light”.  I understood my processes much better and could focus more on the music. 

Another big difference is that I came back to my heavier roots on this album.  When I was younger I listened to Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.  Recently, I’ve been into the Foo Fighters.  I wanted to bring out heavier guitars and more guitar solos.

Another huge difference is that I teamed up with a few people on an online community called “Air Gigs”.  I met up with a drummer in Italy, who did all the drum tracks. I sent him my songs, he added his drum parts and sent me the wave files.  Then, I connected with a mixing and mastering engineer in Texas.  I sent him all the files and he mixed and mastered.  That was a huge relief having someone else do the mixing on my albums.

Another huge difference is that I teamed up with a few people on an online community called “Air Gigs”.  I met up with a drummer in Italy, who did all the drum tracks. I sent him my songs, he added his drum parts and sent me the wave files.  Then, I connected with a mixing and mastering engineer in Texas.  I sent him all the files and he mixed and mastered.  That was a huge relief having someone else do the mixing on my albums.

Previously, on “She Colors My World” I did the rough mix down to stems and worked with a producer to do the final mix and mastering.  The mixing is a process I would rather leave in more capable hands, and was glad to do so on this latest album.

You are a very talented songwriter, can you reveal what’s your creative process?

Thank you!  Songs come in a variety of ways for me. Sometimes when I least expect it, I’ll get a song idea.  If I’m away from my home studio, I’ll have to capture it on my iPhone.  I do that a lot.  It’s amazing how many song ideas I get when I’m not able to capture them.  The ideas are very fleeting. If I don’t capture them at the moment, then they’re gone.  Funny how that works.

Other times I will purposefully schedule time to write songs.  I’ll either grab my guitar or sit at the piano and start messing around.  Sometimes I come up with a guitar riff and write the song around that.  Other times, it might be a chord progression on the piano. That’s how a few songs from my latest album came about, “First Time” and “Moving On” being two examples.

Then there are times I get a lyric idea or a theme.  I’ll jot down a few lines as they come, then continue to work on it.  What I’ll do is get a notepad and brainstorm, just writing down stuff without thinking too much about it.  The intention is to capture the ideas as they flow.  Then, after a page or two of ideas, I’ll start putting them together in some kind of structure.

When I have a starting point, then I’ll start recording a reference track, to capture the song idea.  Usually that reference track is either a rhythm guitar or piano and a scratch vocal.  Then I’ll start adding parts, as the song develops.

Then there are times I get a lyric idea or a theme.  I’ll jot down a few lines as they come, then continue to work on it.  What I’ll do is get a notepad and brainstorm, just writing down stuff without thinking too much about it.  The intention is to capture the ideas as they flow.  Then, after a page or two of ideas, I’ll start putting them together in some kind of structure.

When I have a starting point, then I’ll start recording a reference track, to capture the song idea.  Usually that reference track is either a rhythm guitar or piano and a scratch vocal.  Then I’ll start adding parts, as the song develops.

I personally really like your style, and in songs like “Sweet Thing” you can understand who much work you dedicate to every detail of your productions. Can you tell us more about this track?

Thank you!  “Sweet Thing” started out with the chorus riff. I had that idea with the chords first, then started singing some lines to fit, then it developed from there.  The song is about the love of my life, my wife.  The song came pretty quickly in a flash of inspiration.  I got some lyrics and put that together.  The verses came together pretty quickly too.

I felt good about this song from the beginning and through the process of developing it.  There’s that wonderful feeling you get when a song comes together and you know it’s going in the right direction.  Everything fell into place, as I found the right sounds for the keyboards and guitars, and the lyrics.

I’m pleased to say, “Sweet Thing” has done quite well.  I later released a video of the song working with a team in Venezuela that I met through Fiverr.  You can find it on Youtube.

What are your main influences?

Regarding musical influences:  I started listening to music at a very early age.  The older kids in my neighborhood were playing The Beatles and Rolling Stones records.  That was the start of my musical influences.  From there, I got into much heavier music with Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple.  Then in the 80s everything changed musically with all the New Wave music.  I listened to bands like U2, REM, The Cure, David Bowie, the list goes on.  More recently, my favorites include Foo Fighters and ColdPlay.

As for lyric influences, I’ve always been encouraged and inspired by music.  I admire bands like U2 with writers like Bono, who can convict and inspire all at the same time. I’ve always been one to look at the glass as half full and see the best in people and situations.  I like to keep that going in my lyrics, even if the submit is rather heavy or intense.

Several years have passed since your 2014 album “A Taste Of Heaven”. Do you feel like you are the same person and musician as before, or “In The Light” signs a new chapter of your career?

Good question!  So much has happened between 2014 and the following 5 years, up to today.  I feel like I am a completely different person in so many ways.  I could literally go on for hours describing the changes.  Let me try to summarize just a few.

In 2014-2015 I lacked a certain confidence in myself, which I have gained over the years.  I now have a better understanding of who I am as a person.  Sadly, I made some very bad decisions early on in 2013-14. Decisions that were made out of desperation and ignorance.  Today, I am no longer desperate and have a bit more wisdom.  I’ve learned what it means to take responsibility for my decisions and my success.

In 2014 – 2015 there was a lot going on musically for me.  My song “A Taste of Heaven” was blowing up in the Indie Music world.  It was topping the charts, winning awards and nominations, getting rave reviews, and I was getting tons of attention.  I signed with a management agency that was arranging a tour of Europe in 2015.  The band I had was doing great.  Among our many achievements, we were the top finalist of the Hard Rock Café battle of the bands.  We all had very high hopes and expectations.  Sadly, they all came crashing down.  In spring 2015, my brother died of a brain tumor, the tour dissolved and never happened, the band members went their own ways and I was left to myself to try and figure it all out and put my life back together.

For about a year and a half, I did nothing with music.  I didn’t pick up my guitar, sing or even write a song.  It was a long process of healing and redefining who I was.  Then things started to turn around in 2017 – 2018.  My wife was huge in helping me get back on my feet.  I began writing songs again and released “She Colors My World” in 2018.  Several songs on that album capture the time of healing and my determination to get back on my feet.  Songs like “A New Start”, “Time to Rise” and “Horizon” are almost written to myself to encourage myself, and certainly anyone else who has gone through fire and water and is still standing.

To bring us up to date, I am much more centered and grounded as a person and a musician.  I believe much of that comes out in my latest album, “In the Light”.

In 2014-2015 I lacked a certain confidence in myself, which I have gained over the years.  I now have a better understanding of who I am as a person.  Sadly, I made some very bad decisions early on in 2013-14. Decisions that were made out of desperation and ignorance.  Today, I am no longer desperate and have a bit more wisdom.  I’ve learned what it means to take responsibility for my decisions and my success.

You collaborate with very talented musicians and award-winning producers. How important is it for you and RADIO DRIVE to work as a team?

It’s very important to team up with the right people and let them do what they do best.  It was an amazing experience working with producer Chris Garcia, on the song “A Taste of Heaven”.  I recorded the parts at my home studio, sent the files to him, he worked his magic and brought in some amazing session players. 

It’s very important to team up with the right people and let them do what they do best.  It was an amazing experience working with producer Chris Garcia, on the song “A Taste of Heaven”.  I recorded the parts at my home studio, sent the files to him, he worked his magic and brought in some amazing session players. 

Then I flew to Los Angeles and recoded the vocal parts.  The results were fantastic.

The second time I worked with a producer was on my song “Humanity”.  I was contacted by a rock legend, Stuart Epps.  He’s worked with some of my favorites like Led Zeppelin, Oasis, Elton John and George Harrison.  Since Stuart lives in the UK, we corresponded online.  I recorded the parts, sent the wave files to him, and he put it all together.

Having said that, I do play all the instruments on most of my songs and albums.  I’ve learned to become self reliant in several ways.   Over the years I learned how to play drums, guitar, piano and vocals.  When I was still in high school, I used to squirrel away in the basement and record music.  I still do that today.  I have my home studio that I can spend hours at a time, joyfully getting lost in the music, writing, arranging and recording.

It’s been difficult keeping 3-4 guys together in a band with the same direction and focus.  That’s why I’ve keep moving forward, at times, by myself.  Other times, I’ll team up with a producer or studio musicians to record.  There have been times when I’ve played solo gigs by myself, whereas other times, with a full band.  I always love working with people, nothing compares.  I know what it means to work with a team and to work alone, when I need to.




If you could choose one song from your last album that represents you the most, which track would you choose?

That’s a hard one.  Each song seems to reflect something slightly different in myself as a songwriter.  If I had to pick one, without giving it too much thought, I would say “Moving On”.  The reason for that, I love songs with a catchy guitar riff and a catchy sing along chorus, I like a heavier sound.  So this song seems to capture all those elements.  I suppose a very close second to that would be “First Time”.

Are you on tour right now?

No, not at the moment.  As I mentioned, about 5 years ago the band went it’s own way and we’ve just come back together in the last few months.  The band has a few of the original members, Joe Maffei (keyboard and backing vocals) and Wes Hendrickson (bass guitar) and a few new ones, Peter Klemme (drums) and Isaac Gullickson (guitars).  We played our first gig in January 2020.  We’re looking to get back and play more.  Not sure if a tour is in any plans for the immediate future.  But with the music biz, you never know, anything is possible.

Planet Singer is also a site that is specialized in singing and vocal technique too. What is your relationship with your instrument?

My instrument, meaning my voice:  Years agowhen I was out of high school, I took formal singing lessons and continued when I was in college.  I’ve tried to keep up with the best techniques and care of my voice.  Sadly, there was a stretch when I was not singing properly and did not treat my voice well at all.  I knew there was more I could learn about my voice and singing.

Late last year, I took an online course to better understand my voice and it was brilliant.  There is so much I knew about my voice, but way more that I did not know, even after so many years of singing.  I now take better care of my voice and understand it far better than I ever did.

We talked before about your main influences. If you could do a collaboration which artist would you think would suit the RADIO DRIVE sound the most?

That would be a hard one for me, since there are so many amazing artists I would love to collaborate with:  Jimmy Page and U2 immediately come to mind.  At the end of the day, I would have to say Paul McCartney.  I’ve admired him and his songwriting the longest.

“I Have a Voice” is one of my favorite tracks from the album, what’s the story behind this track?

Thank you!  I also have a video for this song, which you can find on Youtube.

For years, my wife and I have had a heart for the homeless, oppressed and poor people in our community and around the world.  These people don’t have a voice.  In some of the poorer countries, these people have no one to help them.  This song is about hearing their cry for help, and joining together to become their voice to make changes.  I especially think of women, who in many countries, have no rights.  They’re no better than property and sadly, are treated as such.  That breaks my heart.  If we could all unite, I know we can make a difference and make some positive changes in their lives.

Listening to your last album I had the feeling that all the songs are linked in a certain way, just like if a story is being told, was this something you planned or is a feeling due to the depth of each track of “In The Light”?

No, I didn’t plan that.  But I’m so glad to hear you say that.  Personally, I love listening to an album in it’s entirety and how one song leads into the next, just like you said.  I didn’t really have any theme in mind for the album.  However, I did intentionally arrange the songs in that order.  I’m so glad to hear you say that the song order gave the album depth. Thank you!

“Under The Milky Way” closes this beautiful journey. Tell us more about this track.

This is a cover of the song by a band called “The Church”.  “Under the Milky Way” was one their biggest hit back in the 80s.  I’ve always loved this song and used to play it all the time with the various bands I was with, and even when I did acoustic shows in Minneapolis and New York City.  I wanted to revisit it on this album.  Of course, I added my own spin on it, including a big guitar solo.  It’s always been well received when we play the song live, I felt I needed to capture it on an album.

Can you reveal what are your plans for the future? A new album maybe?

These last few months I have been concentrating on live shows.  That’s involved lots of preparation and rehearsals with the band.  As I mentioned, in January 2020 we played our first gig in almost 5 years, so I needed to get my chops back in shape.  I’m contacting other clubs and looking at more local gigs in the immediate future.

The show we did in January was filmed by a friend of mine, who does video production. We’re working on editing and putting that together. Depending on the results, we hope to have a portion of that released as a live video. I’m also working on a few new music videos from the latest album. I’m also capturing some new song ideas.  I’m not sure that I’ll release a full album this year, but quite possibly a single or an EP. So actually, quite a bit is going on.

Kevin, it was a real pleasure to have this chat with you today, we really wish you all the best for your music!

Thank you so much for reaching out to me for this interview and introducing me and my music to your readers!  I’d like to invite your readers to check out Radio Drive online at our social sites, join the mailing list to keep up with events, and be sure to drop me an email or message, I’d love to hear from you.

Discover more about RADIO DRIVE here!

Official Website: www.radiodrive.net

Facebook: radiodrive

YouTube: RadioDriveMusic

Twitter: radiodrivemusic

Instagram: radio_drive

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