In just a few short years, Singer/songwriter Seth Glier has gone from opening act to headliner to Grammy nominee. He took time before his upcoming Chicago show to speak with Our Town about his influences, his work for Autism Speaks and how much he like's Hot Doug’s.
Our Town How would you describe your sound?
Seth Glier I like to describe myself as a writer-song-singer. I think my style is storytelling pop music. I love big melodies that get in your head, but I also believe in lyrical content and I want to bring that content back into pop music.
OT Who are your influences?
SG I love Randy Newman, Jackson Browne, & Joni Mitchell. Right now I'm listening to Indian music.
OT You’ve shared the stage with a diverse group of musicians. Who have been some favorites?
SG I've been really lucky to see and get an upfront perspective of some of the greats in the music business. My dad always used to say to me "it's nice to be important but it's important to be nice" and I think that really rings true with my experiences. I'm a fan of the nice people out there. I don't think I have a particular favorite but Edwin McCain & Livingston Taylor certainly come to mind as a role models not just musically but as also as human beings.
OT What led you to become a spokesman for the Autism Speaks?
SG My brother is 27 years old and autistic. He's non-verbal and requires 24 hour support. I am one of his personal care attendants and I talk about him and his role in my life often on stage. I think my brother is one of reasons I write songs. Learning how to communicate with my brother, who doesn't use words, vastly changes how I communicate with words. Now Autism effects 1 in every 86 children being born. I'm lucky enough to be given a microphone each night so you can be sure I'm going to do something about it.
OT Some of your songs have a political bent, others are more personal. Does one type of song feel more comfortable/come more easily to you?
SG Not really, songs are songs, and writing is writing. It's always really hard work for me and I have no idea what a song is going to be about when I start writing it. I thought I did once, but the more I do this the less and less I feel like I have any particular hold on it. Earlier this year, Ani Difranco said to me, “Don't just write the songs that you feel like writing or the songs that others want to hear. Write the songs that need to be sung." Those words really helped navigate my writing.
OT What’s your writing process like?
SG It typically starts with some chord changes that strike up a certain mood. Then over a period of time words are inspired from that mood. But other times I have all the words written down and I'm trying to fit it to music.... that can be really hard. Every once in a while I'll get one of those "gifts" where I can get a whole song in 15 minutes. Often, it takes me months or years to actually finish a song since I'm a ruthless editor of my own work.
OT Do you find that the meanings of your songs change over time as you sing them over and over?
SG Absolutely. Good songs sometimes are just snapshots in time and it’s each listener’s individual life experience that paints in the color.
OT Do you have a favorite song off the new album. Why?
SG From a craft point of view, I'm really proud of "Plastic Soldiers". I took the Woody Guthrie approach and tried to say something social/political without preaching.
OT What are you looking forward to about playing Chicago?
SG I love the windy city. I always make sure I get the best hot dog in the country there at Hot Doug's. My Chicago fans are some of the most loyal I have. I always love my early morning run along the lake shore & friends at WGN TV. I can't wait to play two shows at SPACE and celebrate the release of my new album!
Seth Glier plays Space January 12th. For tickets go here.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and
afterellen.com Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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