"The impact of music on the socio-political, racial, spiritual environment is that it makes people think, and feel, and consider a different way of looking at things and feeling about things. That can lead to action which can then make an actual positive change in whatever the situation is."
David Sancious: Eyes Wide Open
World-renowned performing and recording artist David Sancious, was an original member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. He has toured and recorded with greats Peter Gabriel, Sting, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Santana, Seal and an expansive list of A-level musicians. Sancious also wrote, produced and performed ground-breaking progressive music with his band Tone, mixing rock, fusion and gospel. He explores new territory with the release of his 10th album “Eyes Wide Open” (2020). Eight energetic compositions feature dynamic performances by legendary names such as premier drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, Living Colour’s Will Calhoun (drums), and Prince alumni Michael Bland (drums). A balanced mix of four vocal and four instrumental compositions, “Eyes Wide Open” is what Sancious describes as “a movie for your ears.” Spoken word is interspersed with political commentary and newsbreaks to create a musical and “visual” landscape addressing today’s volatile racial and political issues head-on through his signature sound. Sancious describes his new album as, “The best work I’ve ever done.”
David Sancious / Photo by Craig McCord
David Sancious was born in Long Branch, New Jersey on November 30, 1953, to Jimmie and Stelma Sancious. David's father was an electronics engineer and his mother a school teacher. An early interest in music was shown when at 4 years old David was able to pick out a few notes on a small plastic guitar his parents had given him, and play along to a Calypso record his father used to play frequently. Two years later when the family relocated from Asbury Park to Belmar, N.J., a piano was included along with the purchase of the new house. After the boxes and furniture were brought in, his mother sat at the piano and began to play beautiful classical piano selections, much to his amazement. The effect was instantaneous. After teaching David herself for the first year, his mother made arrangement for piano lessons with a focus on classical piano repertoire. Being the youngest of three boys and having a father and mother with very different musical tastes, the house was filled with music of all genres. Everything from Mozart to James Brown on a daily basis. Early musical influences ranged from the piano preludes of Chopin and Beethoven to the music of John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Folk music, R&B, and Rock were equally influential. The folk music of Odetta and the blues stylings of B.B. King inspired him to take up the guitar at 9 years old. "I played acoustic guitar for a few years and made some progress. Then one day my brother came home with the first Jimi Hendrix album ("Are You Experienced") and instantly I became very serious about the guitar ".
Interview by Michael Limnios Special Thanks: Bill James/Glass Onyon & David Sancious
How has the Blues/Soul and Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?
The Blues / Soul & Rock Counterculture ... as you describe it has always been a source of energy and inspiration. I've had the experience of traveling all over the world playing music and seeing other cultures. The one thing that always happens is that everyone gets the music no matter what language they speak. Music to me transcends nationality ... religion … and language.
How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?
I don't really think that I have one particular sound. This is my 10th album (Eyes Wide Open), and if you go back and listen in chronological order, they are all different. As far as a philosophy ... I feel that music is actually unexplainable (as is all of life on a certain level). Any creative drive I have comes from the energy and beauty of life itself.
"The Blues/Soul & Rock Counterculture ... as you describe it has always been a source of energy and inspiration. I've had the experience of traveling all over the world playing music and seeing other cultures. The one thing that always happens is that everyone gets the music no matter what language they speak. Music to me transcends nationality ... religion … and language." (Photos: L - David Sancious & Bruce Springsteen, c 1970s / R - David Sancious in studio, 2018)
Which meetings have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Meeting Bruce Springsteen at 15 years old was and continues to be important in my life. Meeting my wife while I was on tour with Sting, also was and continues to be important in my life.
The best advice I ever had was from my mother, who told me "If at first you don't succeed... try, try, try again". My father told me that " Everyone isn't going to understand or like what you do ..., but you should do it anyway. It's your art "
What characterizes "Eyes Wide Open" in comparison to other previous works? How do you want it to affect people?
One of the things that characterizes this album is my vocals ... where in the past if I had vocal music, I would hire a singer. Ever since my years with Seal in the late 90's I have been developing my vocal ability. The music will affect people in different ways. My job is to bring it into this world as an expression of music and words. I'm very happy with all the songs and all the performances from the musicians. I really had fun doing this project.
What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?
I miss the variety of songs that you used to hear on stations like FM radio in the past. So much of what is heard today sounds repetitive and mono dynamic. There are of course some brilliant artist out there doing very original work. I think that will always be true. My hope for the future is that we make the best use of the time we have left on this planet. My fear is that we won't.
"One of the lessons I've learned is that it's always best to be yourself. Be honest with other people and be honest with yourself. Be willing to work harder than you ever worked before ... don't sleep until you get it right, if that's what it takes to get it done." (David Sancious, NYC 2019 / Photo by Arnie Goodman)
If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
If I could change one thing in the musical world ... it would be that musicians are paid better than the stockholders of the streaming services. Digital Audio, and the birth of the MP3 format and unauthorized file sharing, changed the game completely for artist everywhere.
What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?
One of the lessons I've learned is that it's always best to be yourself. Be honest with other people and be honest with yourself. Be willing to work harder than you ever worked before ... don't sleep until you get it right, if that's what it takes to get it done.
What is the impact of music on the racial, political, spiritual and socio-cultural implications?
The impact of music on the socio-political, racial, spiritual environment is that it makes people think, and feel, and consider a different way of looking at things and feeling about things. That can lead to action which can then make an actual positive change in whatever the situation is.
Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?
If we could take a trip with a time machine and stay for a whole day ... I would like to go back to the house I grew up in on E Street on a particular 4th of July celebration many, many years ago, and enjoy the family all together again ... for the whole day.
(Photos: David Sancious)
Comments are closed for this blog post