Why it was only last week that we reviewed Reid Schoenfelder’s latest LP, “Here It Comes.” As it goes, next weekend (Aug. 25, to be exact), he’s going to be taking the Sky Stage … stage to perform the record in full, as well as raise awareness for mental health. Indeed, The Month Of August is the Month Of Reid. We caught up with him recently to talk about that new record, how his bipolar diagnosis impacts his songwriting, and who influenced him to pick up a guitar in the first place.
First, how did you get into music in the first place?
As a child, I sat with my grandmother at the piano and played along with her. Then, in seventh grade, there was a guitar class offered. I was immediately drawn to watching the more accomplished players and would watch what they do. Then the album “Frampton Comes Alive” came out and I learned it from start to finish. I put together a band in eighth grade and played at different school functions and parties. As the years progressed, I found myself playing with better players and continuing to write songs.
How did the band you have now come together?
My drummer – from the Baltimore-based alternative rock band “The Wanting Seed” – moved to California and recommended a drummer that lived in Frederick named Currie Powers. Currie and I met one year ago and he played drums on all the songs on the new album. We held many auditions in the past year to find the right players to play live. Our new band is “10 7 Portable.”
You’ve been playing music for quite a while now, according to your website. What inspires you after all these years to continue to create?
I aim to write music that is something I haven’t heard before. Musically, I put together chord progressions that sound cool. Lyrically, it’s a time for me to think about an experience I’ve had or am having and put into words what I’m feeling. Songwriting for me is a natural and easy outlet. I’ve always felt that I had something more to offer in breaking new ground in songwriting and hope that my songs inspire other songwriters. I hope that people can see the story in the song in their own way – not necessarily just mine.
You suffer from bipolar disorder; how has this impacted your songwriting process? Do you see it as a blessing or a curse and why?
My diagnosis of bipolar II has been a blessing for me in my songwriting. The songwriting process offers me a cathartic outlet to be able to write songs in an episodic frame of mind that so many people don’t experience. I am grateful to be able to write songs that are a musical manifestation of my thoughts and allow me to express how I’m feeling and share that with others. The gift of songwriting can connect total strangers by their own interpretation of the storyline in the song.
What’s your perception of the local music scene, both in Baltimore and Frederick, currently?
Both Frederick and Baltimore are loaded with talented musicians and bands. There is plenty of room for the local music scene to break new ground. Both cities have an amazing alternative culture that is thriving and embraces the value of true original acts.
Which artists/bands are some of your major influences and why?
Peter Frampton’s melodic songwriting and the novelty of his lead guitar work captivated me at the age of 13. Then in the alternative ’80s movement: Tommy Keene, Let’s Active, The Smiths, R.E.M, Husker Du, The Producers, The Plimsouls, The Posies and The Replacements – say no more, the ’80s alternative movement moved me. It seemed it was time for a musical shift that was sorely needed coming out of the ’70s and these artists were the pioneers of alt-rock. My songwriting then also took a shift. I connect with Pete Yorn and Ryan Adams who are two singer-songwriters that fill a gap in songwriting that I feel is needed and they continue to put out great albums.
Can you give us names of some bands we need to check out that we maybe haven’t seen yet? Who are you listening to the most these days?
The Dune Flowers is a new musical creation group out of Westminster. I’m listening to Brookville, Bob Mould, Ryan Adams, Pete Yorn, The Lemonheads and Tommy Keene.
In addition to what you have going on currently, what does the rest of the year look like? Is there any touring planned? Perhaps a video from a track on “Here It Comes”?
We are booking our fall tour and working on videos for “Here It Comes” with the new band “10 7 Portable.”
What are some of your favorite venues to play and why?
Café Nola, DC9, Jammin’ Java, 9:30 Club, The White Lion/NYC and CBGB (RIP) because music people come to music venues.
What do you think is the most perfect song ever written and why?
“Blackbird” by The Beatles. The reason: one guitar, one singer equals magic.
And, finally, what can we expect from your upcoming show at Sky Stage?
Opening will be therapist Sky Cappucci giving her “Sky Talk: Stand Up Therapy.” The night will be a celebration of mental health awareness. The show will feature a live performance of the album “Here It Comes.”