JBB Exclusive: Interview With Jersey Boys National Tour Cast Member Barry Anderson & His Debut Songbook Recording ‘You Are Home: The Songs of Anderson & Petty’January 15th, 2014
Earlier this week, we were excited to post a video preview of JERSEY BOYS national tour cast member Barry Anderson’s (Bob Crewe) debut songbook recording, “You Are Home: The Songs of Anderson & Petty”! Tonight, we’re featuring a recent interview we had with Barry about the recording, how it came together with his songwriting partner Mark Petty, his beginnings in theater and music, and what inspires him to write songs, along with a fun photo slide show!
Jersey Boys Blog: Congratulations on your debut songbook recording, “You Are Home: The Songs of Anderson & Petty”! How did you & your transatlantic partner team up and what inspired you to create this album?
Barry Anderson: Thanks very much! We’re really thrilled to have the album completed and available to those who want to check it out. It’s been an exciting way to begin 2014! This project has been a definite labor of love, and we are proud of the end result as well as the amazing roster of talent that’s featured on it. Mark and I have been writing together since late 2010, after being introduced through a mutual friend. Over the past 3 years, we’ve really focused on finding and developing our voice as a songwriting duo. About a year ago, we found ourselves with quite a collection of stand-alone tunes spanning a few different genres and subjects that we wanted to feature together on a songbook album. And even though it’s been a ton of work, the process of recording and producing ‘You Are Home’ has been a total blast.
JBB: What about your beginnings? What came first, songwriting or musical theater?
BA: I’ve been acting since I was a kid. And happily, being on stage and doing a show every night still gives me the same rush as it did back then. For me, there’s nothing like it. There’s a certain ‘tightrope-walking’ aspect to doing live theatre… I think that’s what helps keep it an interesting, addictive challenge. But, music’s also always been a big part of my life. I grew up playing piano and eventually began writing things in high school. It’s been interesting for me to approach songwriting from an actor’s perspective. Mark and I really love having actors sing our songs. They are so innately good at digging into a story, illustrating things vocally, and putting emotion at the forefront. There’s also a willingness to try things in different ways and explore. To us, those are the aspects of creating new music that are most important.
JBB: As a musician and songwriter, who have been your influences? Who are some of your favorite songwriters?
BA: I am most drawn to the music and sounds of the 60s and 70s. (And I feel pretty lucky that I get to re-visit the era on stage in JERSEY BOYS every night!) There was such a HUGE amount of really great writing and arranging and producing that came out of those years. And even with each musical shift in style and sound, there seemed to be a continued emphasis on musicianship. Melodies, harmonies. Carole King, Jimmy Webb, Paul Simon, Burt Bacharach, Neil Young, John Phillips, Laura Nyro…these are a few of my favorites.
JBB: As a songwriter, what inspires you? Are relationships generally the best inspiration for your lyrics or is it life experiences, or something else?
BA: I think I’ve started to become more interested in ‘out-of-the-box’ subject material. EVERY single person has a myriad of stories to tell. And sometimes the oddest stories are the ones that affect us the most as listeners. So lyrically, and from a story standpoint, Mark and I have really begun to ask ourselves and each other, “Has this already been sung about?” Once in a while, it’s fun to write a tune that doesn’t contain the word “love,” you know? We’ve recently been working on a few songs about actual news-making people, and so the research aspect of that has been very cool.
JBB: Tell us about the recording process. How did you and your partner go about choosing the songs? What about putting your band together? As co-producer, what were your responsibilities? Where did you record the CD? Being on the road so much with the JERSEY BOYS tour, what kinds of challenges did that present to you?
BA: When we first considered putting the album together, the first call I made was to my producer friend, Dennis Michael Keefe. He’d worked with us before and knew our material. And I knew that he’d understand the sound we were going for and create a cohesive-sounding product. So, we’ve released the album under his label, Great White Wax – it’s been a really great fit for us. Mark and I knew from the beginning that ‘You Are Home’ would be a transatlantic album that would feature voices from both Broadway and the West End. And what a ‘dream team’ it ended up being! Seriously, everyone we approached about the project was completely on-board and excited and willing. Having matched the right artists to the right songs is something we’re really proud of. I’ve been on tour for this entire process, so as you might guess, the ‘where’ and the ‘when’ and the ‘how’ of it all were the most challenging aspects. In the end, the album was recorded in six different studios, with sessions in London, New York City, Seattle, Chicago, and even Grand Rapid, Michigan. And most of the band was tracked separately. I was able to do a bunch of recording in Seattle when we were playing there last spring, and that’s where several of our musicians from the show did sessions. And they are SO GOOD – wait till you hear these guys…
JBB: Considering you play “Bob Crewe” in JERSEY BOYA, one of the most amazing songwriters and record producers in pop music history, tell us about your life imitating art experience! Did playing the Crewe role give you inspiration while you were in the recording studio recording “You Are Home”?
BA: It’s very funny….Yes, I DID actually start to think about it a bit when I was doing sessions during the day and then coming to do the show at night, only to find myself back in a recording studio again! If anything, the process of writing and arranging and producing a bunch of this new material has helped me GREATLY appreciate and understand (to at least some degree) the genius of the ‘Bob’s: Crewe and Gaudio. What a lasting and continuing legacy they created. Talk about artistic role models… Having the chance to pass on a bit of Bob Crewe’s story on stage every night is so much fun. And a huge honor. I’m lucky!