Gregory Alan Isakov talks about his music and upcoming album

Gregory Alan Isakov is a singer/song writer who has had songs featured on Showtime’s hit series “Californication”. Gregory’s song “Big Black Car” was part of a popular McDonalds Christmas commercial in Canada which helped propel the song to the #1 position on the Canadian iTunes chart. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Gregory recently about his work and about his upcoming album.

Adam Lawton: What was it that interested you in playing music?
Gregory Isakov: I was always playing songs growing up. I sort of was doing it for myself for a long time. I never thought I would be playing music for other people. I got out of school and started playing out here and there and now I am doing it a lot. It was just something I got into after high school.

AL: How did your music end up in the hands of a few different television and commercial writers?
GI: We put all of our records out ourselves and we have also been touring for awhile. It has never gotten too crazy or anything as we never signed on to a major label. We had thought about doing that but we decided to go the more DIY route. A lot of people we have connected with over the years have just heard our stuff at shows or on the radio. Everything has been pretty organic.

AL: What was your first thought when you were asked for the use of the songs?
GI: I am always really excited when film or television wants to use one of our songs. However there are times where I might not think what they want to do fits in with what I am after but, when I see the finished product it has always looked pretty cool.

AL: Has anything changed for you since having one of your songs be at #1 on the Canadian ITunes chart?
GI: It seems like when we go back to towns we have played before the crowd has always gotten a little bigger. The ITunes thing came out of us doing a show in Toronto and being asked if one of our songs could be used for a commercial spot. I was a little skeptical as I didn’t know if we wanted to do something like that. We were set to pass on it but then I started to think that we could use the money for a lot of cool stuff. We ended up donating all the money from that commercial to a number of charities that work on things such as organic farming. It was such a cool thing to be able to do. I am usually worrying about how we are going to pay for gas. (Laughs) I never thought people would care about a song in a commercial.

AL: Your last album release was in 2009. Are there any plays to record some new material in the near future?
GI: Yeah! I have been working on a new album for about a year and a half. It is pretty much done and will definitely be out this year. We were going to release it in the fall but we had been working on some new stuff and the record took a turn and went somewhere else. I think it will still be out this fall at the latest.

AL: Do you normally like taking quite a bit of time in between releases?
GI: I spend a lot of time writing in general. Sometimes our records consist of songs that we have had for a long time. At times we have songs that don’t record well and take more time while others record very easily. It is
something you kind of have to follow as you go along. We have wanted to do an anthem inspired Springsteen type record but it always seems to turn out differently. It’s funny because we will start out with an idea and then we start recording and things take on a life of their own. You want the songs to feel complete. A lot of stuff I write specifically for the record and don’t play it live.

AL: What are your plans for the rest of this year?
GI: We are on the road right now and we are going to be playing a lot of festivals. In the fall we will be heading to Europe after we have some time off to finish the new record. I don’t think we ever have more than 3 weeks off at a time.