By Robert Wax
Yes, he championed the lead guitar duties on “Angels on The Moon,” a song that went certified gold in the U.S. selling over 500,000 copies. Now, with his solo EP “Out of Ashes,” he brings his musical musings to life in a way that is truly inspiring. I just want to get into a car and head down the interstate with it turned up. It’s excellent songwriting and perfect to listen to while watching the world pass by.
Drew and I had the opportunity to talk, and I had some questions!
You have been a part of some amazing bands, Thriving Ivory and Midnight Cinema, could you briefly explain your history to those that may not be aware of your previous experiences?
Sure, Clayton, Scott and I started Thriving Ivory at college in Santa Barbara in 2001. We had two major-label releases with Wind-up Records and toured for about 10 years, having a gold single with the song “Angels on the Moon” and being a VH1 You Oughta Know artist.
In 2012 Clayton, Paul and I formed Midnight Cinema in the wake of Thriving Ivory. We released one EP with Wind-up Records and then one album independently. Clayton, Paul and I are still super close friends and I’m planning on having a little unofficial reunion at my wedding next year!
Your new EP “Out of Ashes” was a 3-year work in the making. How was the whole journey from start to finish?
The process of finishing of these songs was really different from others that I’d done in the recent past because I’m finally singing the songs. In Midnight Cinema I did most of the writing and would sing on demos to share them with Clayton but then he would come in and sing on the final track. That was a big shift for me to say, “I’m just gonna put these out on my own and see what happens.” I didn’t know what to expect but so far the reception has been better than I could’ve imagined.
Which track is the one that you feel represents a good introduction to your sound?
If I had to pick one it would be “Echo,” that’s probably why it ended up first on the EP. It’s high energy while also being nostalgic; it’s like you’re half awake, half dreaming.
How did you begin this journey as a songwriter?
I’ve been writing songs since I learned to play guitar, which was at about 12. I made my first recordings on an old dual tape deck stereo. Those tapes are lying around somewhere but unfortunately no one has a cassette player anymore; actually maybe it’s for the best. Songwriting has been an integral part of my life since then. I’m always working on a new song or group of songs.
Who is a particular artist who inspires you?
Lately I’ve been really into The 1975. Those guys were pretty young when they started and have such an amazing understanding of songwriting and production. It’s rare to find a band that young that really gets it. I also love James Bay, his first couple albums are awesome and were big influences on me. Bon Iver is another person I look to for inspiration, he’s always seems to have one foot in the future.
Do you feel that music helps not only you, but listeners as well?
I hope so. That feeling you get when a song reaches right in and grabs you at the core is what motivates me to keep writing. That feeling is unlike anything else in the world.
Do you happen to have any advice to that 16 year old in his or her basement/garage trying to form a band?
I would probably say two things: One, listen to as much music as possible from all different styles and learn from those who really get it. A great song can be sung in any style with any instrument and still be great. A bad song has can have all the production in the world and still be bad. Two, be open to working with other songwriters and don’t take anyone for granted, everyone has something to offer. People who shelter themselves from outside influence and think that they alone have their finger on the pulse usually end up alone in the end.
What’s next for you as a band and where can readers find more information about your project?
Right now, I’m super excited about this release and will definitely be putting out more songs over the coming months. Maybe a full-length album is in the stars. I’m also collaborating with some other writers on their projects as well.
You can find more info at drewcribleymusic.com