THE amazing Brian Falduto…
has been telling me about his new album, Stage Two, and its origins; what inspired the songs and what sort of music he is inspired by – Falduto talks about his work as an L.G.B.T.Q. Advocate and a Life Coach.
I ask the American artist about his acting work in School of Rock and which albums are important to him; if there are any gigs coming up and which musician he’d support if he had a choice – he ends the interview by selecting a cool track.
Hi, Brian. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! My week has been fine. Thank you for asking. We released my album on Friday so it’s been a fun first few days having the project out there.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
My name is Brian Falduto. I’m an artist; I seek connection and tell stories through songwriting and acting. I also share in the stories of other people through my work as both an L.G.B.T.Q. Advocate and a Life Coach.
I am interested in your single, Rainy Day. Is there a story behind it?
There’s definitely a story behind it, though, not one I’m very proud of. Without getting too specific, it’s about someone I was in involved with during my time in L.A. The song calls him out on a lot of what he was putting me through at the time: emotional abuse, infidelity and just a general degradation of my self-worth.
But, the song is less about him and more about what I allowed myself to get involved in. It’s me taking ownership of my role in creating that toxic situation. I had many chances to walk away but I chose to keep putting it off for a ‘Rainy Day’ – and, as we all know, it doesn’t rain often in L.A. It’s kind of like the gay version of Stay by Sugarland.
I believe your new album, Stage Two, has psychological derivations. Can you explain the concepts behind the record?
Situations like the story behind Rainy Day and other tracks on this album are very reflective of a time in the development of a gay man’s life that has been termed by psychologist Alan Downs as ‘Stage Two’ in his book, The Velvet Rage. I’ve named the record after his research in the hopes of directing people to his book as I feel it contains some essential findings on the self-esteem issues that gay men face following a life in the closet and how those issues manifest themselves in relationship decisions made after coming out.
What was it like putting the album together? Did you learn a lot about yourself making it?
The album is something I’m proud of for the very simple fact that, by creating it, I’ve counteracted every habitual mentality that’s been forming inside my mind for my entire life. I double-majored in college because I was too afraid of failure - and being a Performance major was too risky a venture for me without a back-up plan. I convinced myself that I enjoyed a full-time job working in radio promotions (even though I was miserable) because I was afraid I wouldn’t be successful otherwise. I got really bad at ‘acting’ for a while because I put too much pressure on myself to be ‘good’ and I lost the enjoyment of working on my craft.
This project took a lot of time, effort and money. Once I started, I never looked back. I had to make a lot of creative decisions on the spot and I had to trust my gut. I had to believe in myself and know that I am good enough. I didn’t leave myself a back-up plan or a way out. I proved a lot to myself by completing this project and I can happily say I broke some habits and overcame some obstacles along the way. It was a growing experience for me.
Did you grow up in a musical family? Which artists did you discover at a young age?
No one in my family is musical. Much like many young gay boys, I quickly fell in love with an array of female artists: Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion; Faith Hill, Michelle Branch; Hilary Duff...and eventually Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. My mom instilled a young love of Barry Manilow in me and my dad dropped some Goo Goo Dolls, James Taylor and Aerosmith into my life. My brother was a big fan of Alternative-Rock: Secondhand Serenade, All-American Rejects; The Last Goodnight.
I’ve been obsessed with musical theatre since seeing Wicked in 2003 and, in high-school; I discovered a love for Country music after hearing the song Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band (which is still my ring-back tone, by the way). I’ve always been a bit all over the place and still am.
How does your acting work, and your role in School of Rock, link with your music?
Well, as far as School of Rock goes, I’m honored to be circumstantially a part of a film that has not only inspired thousands of kids to pick up instruments and try their hand at musicianship but it’s also inspired a worldwide movement in the form of television shows, movies and even educational institutions dedicated to continually keeping the message of the movie alive: Stick it to the man. You are cool enough. Music’s not about being perfect: it’s about thinking outside the box. Follow your dreams.
I guess you could say that, with my album, I’ve finally caught a little bit of the inspirational impact I had a hand in creating fifteen years ago.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
I’m currently trying to mobilize myself back to L.A. for the winter so that I can do Pilot Season out there again. I’ll probably play a few more shows on the East Coast before I head out and, of course, finish up the album promotion.
Do you already have plans for 2019?
Acting is a big goal for 2019. I truly feel like I’m at an incomparable point in my work and I want to bring myself to some roles in the New Year and tell stories that way again.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
The story that seems to come to mind involves my grandma. She’s always been my biggest fan and my best friend. She’d never missed a performance of mine for my entire life but, unfortunately, in her old age, dementia overtook her and she was forced to go into assisted living. Understandably, she couldn’t make it out to support me anymore and this was very sad for her. So, we brought the show to her! A few members of the band and I loaded our equipment and instruments out to New Jersey and performed for her entire facility.
Seeing her face that day was my favorite memory of my time in music so far. Getting to give back like that to the only person who I can honestly say has never stopped believing in me is something I will treasure forever. She passed about a year ago and I perform at nursing homes as often as I can in her memory.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Stronger - Kelly Clarkson
You can laugh if you’d like but I really feel like she does a brilliant job at capturing a wide range of potential heartbreak scenarios and delivering them with a power and a punch that lets you know you’re going to be just fine. Every single track on this album has been an anthem for me through one break-up or another and I’m very grateful for it.
Live at The Troubadour - Carole King, James Taylor (live)
Carole King is the songwriting QUEEN, as far as I am concerned. She blends such universal truths into her melodies. I love this live album because it’s just her and James Taylor trading hits and sharing stories and just being so candid and honest. It’s a beautiful, relaxing listen.
Pioneer – The Band Perry
I think this album is a great example of the type of work I hope to be known for. It’s a collection of Pop-Country tracks with catchy melodies and crafty lyrics that all dramatize very relatable experiences. There’s a large variety of sounds and instrumentation on the record; I think it’s a great mix of strong musicality and strategic hit making.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Matt Alber. If you don’t know him, he’s amazing. He’s one of my favorite artists to just put on shuffle and never press pause or skip. And his work in the L.G.B.T.Q. community is very inspiring to me. I think I could learn a lot from him.
I always have a little bit of whiskey before I perform, so that would definitely be on my rider. Also; lots of water. I love water…but whiskey first. I don’t always eat a lot before I go on stage because I hate feeling bloated and tired up there, so maybe some French fries waiting for me when I get back to my dressing room?
I guess, if I ever got big enough to make diva requests, I’d request that all the weird, little things I carry in my bag every day be provided for me: a lint roller, a notepad; hand sanitizer, ChapStick; a highlighter, a pencil; Advil, gum; my phone charger and whatever book I’m reading.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
The filmmaker Roger Corman once said “Just be a craftsman”. Meaning: Just do the work. Just keep showing up and doing what you gotta do to improve and learn and grow. He continued: “...And every now and then, you might do something that is actually art”.
You’re not an artist because you make something and then culture deems that thing artistic. Actually, what makes something artistic is when you’re able to see the world unlike how most of culture sees it. I often remind myself that Vincent Van Gogh never had a single buyer in his entire life; yet he created masterpiece after masterpiece. We can’t look to others to validate what we are doing. Find something that fulfills you and do it.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
Currently planning some shows! Follow me on Instagram (@brianfalduto) for the deets!
IN THIS PHOTO: Elizabeth Wyld/PHOTO CREDIT: Rosie Cohe Photography
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Elizabeth Wyld. She’s fantastic and I had the pleasure of collaborating with her recently. I dare you to not love her song Strange Love on Spotify.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I do! I’m a Life Coach and one of my primary goals is to encourage my clients to develop a healthy relationship with themselves. For me, chill time is essential for that - especially as an artist in New York City. Ninety-percent of your energy here goes into surviving and keeping any sense of mindfulness about you. We live in the busiest city in the world.
I treasure any down time that I am able to carve out for myself and be present with myself and my thoughts; the end goal being to set aside enough time to eventually get connected with my feelings enough to write some music.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Currently, I’m listening to Miss Me More by Kelsea Ballerini a lot. I kinda wish I wrote it!
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