Photo Credit: David McClister
Whether it’s a song about his time in New York City or creating sounds in his own space in Nashville, Robin Eaton has always made sure to be satisfied with the result, and with his May 2023 release, ‘Memories of Misspent Youth,’ he is! We talked about the new album that’s out now, the significance of a certain long-haired neighbor, and more like building his own studio in a city constructed of music. All of that and then some with the one and only, Robin Eaton.
Kendra: You’ve made quite the name for yourself as an established songwriter and composer. What pushed you towards wanting to get back out there as a performer with ‘Memories of Misspent Youth?’
Robin Eaton: I have always loved performing, and with my production work I’ve become friends with an awesome cast of musicians. I usually do a few gigs a year in Nashville with fab players. I hope to do shows with a full band this time around but also want to do solo…or duo. It is a bit scary, but I gotta do it
Kendra: Before you recorded the album you packed up, moved to Nashville, and built a whole studio where the album was then made. What would you say a city like Nashville inspires when it comes to being a performer, and also as a songwriter?
Robin Eaton: When I moved to Nashville I had just lost a record deal with Ze/Island Records, thought I was done, and got a job landscaping. I would jam at night at my girlfriend’s house, upstairs in a creaky attic.
One evening there was a knock at the door. It was the long-haired neighbor kid. He said, “Hey, ya know, I’ve been hearing you every night and I like what yer doing so much more than what my band is doing, can I play with you?” So we started a band, King Bub, and for a minute we were a band du jour in town, the Scene made us band of the year.
I met Brad Jones who would play with us and we made King Bub’s record together and he said, “That was so much fun, why don’t we start a studio!” So we did. That was back in the ‘90s and we are still doing it!!!
I met Jill Sobule in the mid-90s at an Edgar Meyer bass concert and we started a writing relationship that is still going strong. I had a daughter, Alex Eaton, and I am now collaborating with her doing scores for her films. So, Nashville is just that sort of place where things happen. There is creativity in the air.
Kendra: Having your own studio comes with the obvious perks, but what’s been the biggest payoff in this investment in regards to your creativity?
Robin Eaton: Having space to create and help others create is enormously satisfying. We have always offered skill in songwriting, and production plus a great selection of instruments and gear, a total investment in our projects, and a chill vibe… so satisfying. Also, having interns and watching them go out and get Grammys and such. The studio biz is not a very financially sound way to make money, but I love it and regret nothing.
Kendra: Did you pen “Wishing Well” while in Nashville? Just has that Americana, southern feel to it.
Robin Eaton: I don’t think it has an Americana Southern feel at all, haha but maybe I’ve been in Nashville long enough that I don’t even hear my own Southern accent! It was a song that fell out based on the wacky riff and the lyrics just happened while I was pondering old loves and such…
Kendra: Then there’s “Tell Me Your Dreams” which to me, is such a beautiful love song. From a songwriting perspective, what do you think is the best love song ever written by someone else?
Robin Eaton: “Wichita Lineman” is pretty great, “And I need you more than want you/And I want you for all time,” Jimmy Webb really nailed it. And what a melody!!
“Tell Me Your Dream” harkens back to New York City days…I wrote it in a barn in North Carolina.
Kendra: So far we’ve gotten to hear three singles off ‘Memories of Misspent Youth,’ and they’ve proven you’re a variety pack – especially with “Drugs R 4 Kids.” This one was cinematic for me. I could see the main character in a movie standing atop a bar singing this near closing time to a few people. So if this song were picked up for a movie, what actor do you think would do it justice in a performance?
Robin Eaton: It would be great to hear Bing Crosby do it… or maybe Wallace Beery or perhaps Scarlett Johansen or Marlene Dietrich. Wow, what a great question!
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?
Robin Eaton: I went to an Episcopal boys’ school. At my graduation in the chapel my brother, Andy, brought a popper, and after we sang “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” He surprised me, popped it, and said, “Breathe this in bro,” and that was a kind of religious epiphany for the rest of my life.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘Memories of Misspent Youth’ out on May 1st, what else can fans expect as we continue towards summer?
Robin Eaton: I love all the songs on the record, I realize I am an odd man out but hope you will let me in. Hey…that’s a decent lyric…I’m gonna use that.