Photo Credit: Amber S Clark
Whether it’s graduating high school or becoming a parent, every chapter of our lives brings about a new quest to get through and for Gary Levitt of Setting Sun, he’s been ready for them all. Well, mostly. We discussed the white lies that come with parenting, the things that push one forward during the rough patches of life, and more like ‘The Feelings Cure,’ Setting Sun’s new album that drops on May 19th.
Kendra: It’s been some time between the last release and 2023’s ‘The Feelings Cure.’ Being that the industry changes so much all of the time, did you have any initial nerves getting back into the swing of things?
Setting Sun: I didn’t really have any hesitation. I just really believed in the songs I recorded and wanted people to hear them!
Kendra: You mentioned that becoming a dad definitely shifted your creative process. Was this something you had anticipated before parenting became a part of your reality?
Setting Sun: Good question. This was definitely not something I anticipated. One thing about being a parent is that nobody told the truth. It’s like every parent I spoke to had amnesia and forgot how hard it can be at times. All I ever heard was how rewarding it is, how overwhelming the love I’ll feel for my kids will be. Those are both totally true, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Being a creative person and a dad is hard. It’s rare to find a good role model who’s a working artist and an attentive parent. They rarely go hand in hand. Sometimes I look at tour schedules of rocker dad’s and I’m like, oh, so you just won’t see your kids for months, cool.
As for the creative process, yep, it’s very different. Before kids, I would just record through the night, and whenever I felt inspiration. Now it’s on-demand, I have to turn on the creativity and turn it off at will. There’s something about the time limitation and scheduling that made me more creative and productive. Knowing my daughter is going to be home in two hours made me more productive minute for minute than in the past. Not all the time, but usually.
Kendra: I’d assume so, but I also would assume you were ready for the change based on a line in “Feelings Cure,” “We’ll fly like birds and learn to soar. With broken wings, we’ll use our claws.” Everything from the imagery to the meaning of this lyric; powerful. Musically, what’s been the one thing that’s always sort of pushed you to fight through the rough times?
Setting Sun: Good observation! I wouldn’t say music has pushed me through the rough times, I would say it pulled me. Depression and responsibility for me can be a weight pushing down, and when I’ve pushed myself towards a guitar or piano, I’d say the music has pulled me back to a happy productive place.
Kendra: It’s kind of like that when life gives you lemons sayings, which you made wonderful lemonade with “Cool.” It was originally this song you entered to be in a Coke commercial but that fell through, but you still pushed forward. What was it about this song that you couldn’t let go of?
Setting Sun: Yep. I wrote “Cool” based on a 60-second commercial Coke made with descriptions of how they wanted the music to convey a feeling. It was a fun challenge having all the dynamics hit at certain points in the video. The song has a real rise in the chorus, an almost glorious feeling to me. It wasn’t a full song, it was just a verse and chorus.
It stuck with me because it’s so damn catchy! The muse was definitely visiting when I wrote and recorded that song. Now that I’ve recorded 6 records I can usually tell when the inspiration is from somewhere bigger and outside of myself. “Cool’ is definitely a byproduct of that. It’s almost like I can’t take credit for it.
Kendra: ‘The Feelings Cure’ drops on May 19th but the night before there’s a record release show in Woodstock, NY at The Colony. Are fans going to get to hear a majority of the new record that night?
Setting Sun: Yep. We’re playing the new record in its entirety along with some other tunes. It’s interesting because these songs have already taken on a new life now that they’re flushed out with the band.
Kendra: Now it’s time for a side note – with it being May, I always think of the end of the school year and all those memories of field trips, parties, and yearbooks. With that, I’d love to know what your fondest end-of-the-school-year memory was?
Setting Sun: I’d have to say it was graduating high school. I was very much ready for the next adventure. I remember that feeling well. It was the summer after I graduated and I felt like maybe a horse feels in the stable during the countdown to a race. I was leaning heavily on the gate and ready to run!
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘The Feelings Cure’ out on May 19th, what else can fans expect as we continue towards summer?
Setting Sun: We’ve got some shows lined up and a live album recorded of the complete new record as the band does it. I just need to mix it. I thought it’d be fun to release ‘The Feelings Cure (Live).’ The band doing these songs gives a different energy to them, and when you record something live there’s an intangible urgency that magically gets transmitted through the sound.