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Eddie Van Halen Does It Again
Lanky
Music never hurt anyone. It seemed like no matter how fucked someone's life would be, music would bring them joy. - Lanky
by Josh Davidson
 [Chorus and Verse] April 2003 Feature: Lanky
Lanky

One look at Lanky makes you think of Beck; yet looks can be deceiving. The artist’s style is more pop-based, while still retaining Beck’s inventiveness.

“I think we've made a CD that can stand up to the current modern acoustic pop music of the moment,” he said of his solo debut release, inner onwriter. “The guy with the acoustic guitar, I guess, has become a hot commodity, which is both good and bad. This is what I do and what I've been doing. I write songs and I sing them. If people connect to them then I guess I've succeeded.”

Lanky sifts clever melodies underneath an effect-driven guitar sound. His lyrics, vocalizations and instrumentations provide an uplifting escape to the listener, lead by relatable lyrics which are true to his emotions.

His compositions are carefully built in rock formats. His music is well spaced, but does not leave too much to the imagination.

Lanky’s first instrument was guitar. He picked it up after being inspired by Eddie Van Halen and Kiss’s Ace Frehley.

“I think the high-profile, wild, carefree lifestyles that that kind of success exuded is what sucked me in,” he said. “Doesn't everyone at some point want to be a rock star?”

Early on, his music collection consisted of hair metal bands and classic rock. He has since moved on to other styles.

Lanky

“I've moved from focusing just on the guitar solo to wanting to hear a good song,” he said. “More and more I'm fascinated with production. So, I go back to 50's stuff like Chet Baker and early Johnny Cash and say, 'Holy shit, they did that with one mic.'

“I soak in a lot of current records, like Nelly and Missy Elliot to Coldplay and Beck. It's hard to stick to the less-is-more ideal when we have so many options nowadays. I'm a sucker for over-the-top slick pop like Avril Lavigne, but the space in the Norah Jones record knocks me out also.”

Early on, music was about fun and attention, he said.

“I can remember relatives that didn't get along but they all knew and loved the same Elvis song,” he said.

As a teen, music was about escapism, he said.

“Music never hurt anyone,” Lanky said. “It seemed like no matter how fucked someone’s life would be, music would bring them joy.”

Chorus and Verse asked Lanky about his methods for songwriting and, of course, how he got his name.

Lanky

Do you have a specific way of developing the melodies in your music?

No tried and true method. Lately, I get this sense when a song is coming, so I just try to find some space where I won't be distracted, turn on the recorder and let it flow.

Just today, I wrote one where I started with the melody I was humming in my head and found chords around it, but that's probably a first. The ones I feel most proud of just come with the chord changes as I fumble around.

Counter-melody and harmony take some work for me. It’s mostly trial and error. I have written some melodies by singing over an existing chord change or riff. But with all the songs on inner onwriter, the changes and melodies came together in a moment of inspiration.

How important to melody to songwriting?

Probably the most important element to me. There are some great lyricists, but if the melody is flat then you're better off as a poet.

What other aspects make a song worthwhile?

Arrangement. The changes under the melody, the instrumentation, the tempo. I think there's an overall vibe of a song that needs to match the lyric.

There's so many ways to fuck it up. Many times we miss the mark. Either there's too many drum fills or guitars noodling.

Performance is one thing and production is another. They need to carry each other.

Is there a certain message you convey in your music or do the lyrical themes tend to appear spontaneously?

I usually have a specific thought I'm pondering or an issue I'm dealing with. I work it out on paper. I sing about it to feel better.

How did you get the name Lanky?

One of the first bands I was in, the singer called me Lanky. He was a way over-the-top guy, which I guess you had to be to be the “front man.” I later learned that such personalities are a pain in the ass and decided the only singer I could deal with was me.

Aside from the fact that I thought it was a bit cooler of a moniker then using my real name, I'm now thinking it can be a reason to let myself become a pain in the ass!

Color Lanky photos credit Tom Cummings.
Black and white "Tickets" photo credit Patrick Glennon.

Josh Davidson
Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.
©2003, Chorus and Verse
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