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Interview: Ed Hale – BORN TO LOSE

Ed Hale

How would you describe your current sound?
We get asked that question a lot. Because we tend to jump around stylistically a lot. But in general, we lean towards a Power Pop or Indie Rock vibe that sounds more British than it probably should. (laughs) Definitely more of an old school or classic vibe…. Especially in how we approach the writing and recording process.

Let’s talk a bit about your songwriting process. How does a song usually develop – do you first start with the lyrics, melody, chord progression, or something else?
All of the above. I try not to have a process. I just let songs come to me in any way they want to. It’s a constant 24/7 way of being… Always open to new songs coming through. No matter how that may happen. New songs are constantly flowing. The biggest challenge is staying committed to doing all the work necessary to get them all the way out, like a midwife. It’s a lot of work. It’s one thing to hear songs in your head all the time. It’s another thing to have the discipline to actually take a minute, no matter what you might be doing in that moment, to record the melody and any lyrics that might be coming through and then sit down to figure out the chord progression and flesh it out and write it all down. It has to be your life’s number one priority above anything else.

How long does it usually take you to write a song?
There’s no real answer to this question. It depends on the song. I’ve written songs in a few minutes, lots of them. Sometimes they just flow out and bam they’re done. Other times I’ve taken years to get one fully completed. I do whatever the song needs or wants to fully blossom. This might be a total mindfuck, I get that…. like consciousness playing with mirrors in its own mind. But it works for me. That way of looking at it. However it happens, the song just has to stay true to what it already is and ultimately wants to be. That’s how I look at it. If I get a little something out of it along the way then even better.

With your latest album So For Real being so fresh, why release a new single? One that isn’t even on the new album?
Yeah… I know. It’s might seem random. But bear in mind that we started recording the follow up to Ballad On Third Avenue like three years ago. And Born To Lose was the starting off point for that. That song and a whole album that was going to be based on it. The songs were written and all we had to do was record them. It was the logical sequel to that last album. We just got side-tracked with a bunch of other songs along the way. So by the time we finished and had over 40 new songs recorded, the So For Real album seemed the better choice to release first. And we’re loving what’s happening with that album and the reception it’s getting. So we’re very keen to let it run as long as it can. But we’re also really eager to get the Born To Lose album out too… Or for now at least that song. As soon as I heard the finished mix I just felt like we had to get it out there as soon as humanly possible. It’s less of a single and more of a vibration.

Born To Lose is a dark track. It’s nothing like the songs on So For Real which was so positive and upbeat. Why the switch?
Well, again, there really wasn’t a switch per se. It was more like we just ended up with three batches of very different songs once we finished recording. Born To Lose and the other songs that go along with it all lean in a much darker more emotionally intense direction. I’m not saying they’re any more real than the other songs, because they’re all real, you know? They’re all honest reflections of the moment from where they came. But Born To Lose just happened to come from that place where you’re up late and can’t sleep because there’s something inside that’s bothering you.

You’re quoting the song?
Yeah. (laughs). But that’s the thing. That’s where Born To Lose is coming from.

So you weren’t kidding when you announced earlier that you were releasing three new albums this year?
Nope. And they’re all quite different from one another. It’s weird. Something I assume probably won’t happen again.

This is the title track to one of those new albums. Can listeners expect an entire album of songs this depressing?
Well I don’t want to turn people off before it even comes out, but yeah. Born To Lose isn’t exactly a party. It’s a celebration maybe… If you can try to see it that way. Life happens, and sometimes it sucks. And that’s real. You can either let it get you down, or you can just say fuck it and celebrate how God awful it can be sometimes.

This new song also has a much more sparse sound to it compared to So For Real. Was the band lineup the same? Or did you use less musicians?
Well we always go in with the same line-up of guys. Since 2002 or 3 we’ve all been working together and recording albums together. And we didn’t do anything different with this one. All the usual suspects played on all the tracks. We just didn’t feel like we needed as many instruments on these tracks as the So For Real songs. The songs on Born To Lose are more like epic poems of heartache and pain and loneliness. They didn’t require as much instrumentation. They needed and wanted to be more sparse and raw to get the feelings across.

What’s the message you’re trying to send with such a dark track?
Well at first it was just the logical direction for where we were at the time and what we felt like. Tyler [Tyler Bejoian is a poet and lyricist Hale frequently collaborates with] and I were working on a lot of songs with that theme, of feeling like fuck all when it comes to how things play out in life. It often feels like no matter what you do, you’re screwed, like we were just born to lose. Born to fucking lose no matter what. That song was a companion to the song Beautiful Losers [which eventually was retitled Ballad On Third Avenue on Hale’s titular last album]. We wrote them together as a pair. And honestly, when I listen to the song and the lyrics and I think about things like Prince or Chris Cornell or Tom Petty dying so suddenly, or about the state of affairs in America right now, it just hits the mark. It fits. Part of me feels like writing about it so openly helps me own it more, or feel more in control of it. As much as we can be at least. Like yeah we may have been born to lose and not have any say in that, but that doesn’t mean we’re going down without a fight.

What excites you the most about the future?
Right now, just getting all the songs we recorded out, and also making sure we record as many of the songs we’ve written before it’s too late That’s my biggest fear honestly, the thing that haunts me the most at night. This fear that we’ll never get the chance to record all the songs we’ve written. That thought terrifies me more than anything else. So I’ve been much more focused the last few years on recording and creating albums, again, like movies, making sure these works get out there into the world where they belong, as opposed to just staying little dreams or fantasies in my own private world. And as much as we’ve done, you’d think it would be exciting, but honestly we’re so far behind compared to all the songs we’ve written over the last 30 years, I find myself much more motivated by the fear of not achieving this before I die than being excited by what we have achieved. Maybe that ties into the bigger picture of Born To lose and what it says and what it means to me… Not sure. But it does keep me motivated and working hard. In the end that’s what counts.

All Ed Hale songs and albums are available for download on iTunes, Amazon & wherever music is sold, along with Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and other online radio stations…

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