Liam Davis Igniting Listeners’ Ears with Latest Single, “Gasoline”
ALBANY – Releasing “Gasoline” today on March 3rd, Liam Davis has added yet another explosively dynamic tune to his repertoire. Digging in the vaults for this one, Davis has harnessed a great ability at a young age to arrange a song, build it up massively, and end so far from where the listeners began. It’s a hell of a journey ranging from simplicity to complexity as we migrate from the soft, dulcet tones akin to George Harrison’s early solo work to facing melting guitar solos that harken back to some alternative rock work of the early 1990s.
I had a chance to sit down with the artist and discuss the new single, as well as the songwriting process and more. What follows is our conversation.
Lucas Garrett: Liam, thanks for taking the time this morning to discuss your new song. How are you?
Liam Davis: I’m doing well. How’re you?
LG: Doing well, thank you. Tell us about your new song, “Gasoline.”
LD: I wrote this song when I was seventeen – looking at eight years ago, which is pretty hard to believe. I recorded it as part of my senior project at the college of St. Rose. That was five years ago when I recorded it.
This song has been alive for eight years. Once I recorded it, I waited and waited to put it out – I didn’t know if I’d ever put it out, to be honest.
LG: What made you put it out now?
LD: I showed it to some people, and something just reignited my love for this song, and I decided, “Why not?”
LG: There’s a lot going on in this song, arrangement-wise and playing-wise. It reminded me a lot of George Harrison’s work on All Things Must Pass. Elaborate more, if you don’t mind, but I really liked the guitar part on the song. That part you’re playing is such a deliberate motif, but if you listen when the vocals come in, you’re not playing the same thing. You drop out some parts of it once in a while. You layer it around your vocals. Was that an intentional arrangement, or was it improvised in the moment?
LD: It’s funny. I think it started as improvised. You know how this goes: when you’re writing something, so much of it is coming out of you in the moment. Once you go to record, you have to be much more deliberate with what’s going on – especially with a part that’s so repetitive. That triplet thing just stuck after a while. I don’t know, and I feel it just gives it a little more flavor.
LG: I love that classic tone you have on it.
LG: Also, I was not expecting that song to end the way it did!
LG: Was that in the studio, or was that always planned to end that way?
LD: It was always like that. When I wrote it back in high school, I was sitting in my mom’s basement. I had my electric (guitar) plugged in and started playing that motif over and over. After I’d gotten through the first half of the song, I started playing the same chords as power chords, rather than major, diminished, and major sevenths. I played them really heavy with a lot of distortion.
LG: The thing about power chords, as evidenced in this song, is that depending on how the power chord is played in relation to what comes before and after it, it’ll imply different things, musically. When you did the power chords, the diminished flavors were gone, and it made it sounds entirely different, tonality and feeling-wise.
LD: It kind of went from a jazz sound to a rock sound. It’s funny; the people that I showed the song to say they get a jazz vibe from the beginning of the song. There are two guitar solos. You could call the first one jazz, but it’s almost a mock. Once you get to the end, it’s supposed to feel like the whole beginning was this dark undertone, and then you escape to what the song actually is, which is this dark, hard-rock song.
LG: I don’t know if I’d necessarily call it jazz in the beginning. To me, it felt more like an unusual singer-songwriter type of song. Do you know what I mean?
LG: It’s always nice to hear those types of chordal extensions.
LD: Yeah, those colored tones sort of make this chord progression.
LG: Without them, the song wouldn’t really do anything.
LD: No, because it’s basically a loop. It doesn’t feel, to me at least, boring or monotonous. It’s because those chords are interesting and it doesn’t really quite resolve.
LG: That major seventh makes it sound like you’re at home, but not quite.
LD: Exactly. The first chord being a major nine … when you put the ninth on top, the ninth always wants to resolve up or down. When you don’t resolve it, it keeps it in this nice middle ground where it’s like, “Where is this going?”
LG: You don’t hear that a lot in pop music, and I think “Gasoline” dances with that genre. The only producer that currently uses that type of chord progression is Phineas.
LG: What you’d normally hear on the radio, Phineas doesn’t do that. He uses colorful chord voicings just like you do. I really enjoyed your new tune.
LD: Thanks so much. I really appreciate it. I have a question in regard to the last single compared to this one. Do you feel this song is in any way too different than the last one, or do you feel it is congruent in me as an artist in that there’s some consistency?
LG: I feel there’s consistency, but I also feel it shows you’re capable of incorporating different styles while still making it sound like yourself.
LD: That’s really great to hear.
LG: Guitar is my instrument, so even though it felt completely different, it still sounded and felt like something you’d play. It didn’t sound too out there at all. It was definitely not in the same vein by any means…
LG: … but it was close enough to where I wasn’t like, “Oh, what’s this?”
LD: As long as it’s coming from a place that’s true to me, I think that’s all that matters. I’ve put out multiple singles that were written so much later. There’s something cool about going back in time and pulling something from earlier, tracing my own trajectory, and seeing how I’ve evolved since then.
That song is speaking to me now more than it ever has, which is funny. A message for artists out there is that if you got a song that’s great and that you love, and you’re not sure about putting it out or think it aligns with who you are as a person now, it doesn’t necessarily matter. Especially because the listener is hearing it for the first time. Just because you’ve heard it for ten years doesn’t mean the listener has. It’s almost like you’ve got to take your own ears out and trust other people. Trust your fans.
A big reason that I’m putting this song out is because I showed it to a bunch of people that absolutely love it, and they really wanted me to put it out. It’s almost a song for the fans more than a song for me at this point.
LG: Do you have an album that’ll be coming up, or will you keep putting out singles?
LD: I’m thinking of an album at some point, but right now, I’m enjoying just putting out singles. What’s cool about putting out singles is you get to put so much effort into each track, especially in terms of promotion. There’ll be a music video for “Gasoline.” It’s not coming out the same day as the song, as I’ve done in the past.
LG: Where can people see you perform next?
LD: The next time you can see me is on March 25th at Downtown Social in Glens Falls!
LG: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about that I may have missed?
LD: I’m really excited to put this song out. It’s been a journey.
LG: Thanks again for taking the time. I hope to see you out and about at a show soon!
LD: Absolutely, that’d be great. Thanks so much, Lucas.