By KARA POUND
At just 26, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Seth Glier is making a name for himself. USA Today compared him to a young Billy Joel, and he already has one Grammy nomination under his belt. A New England native, Glier makes his way to The Original Café Eleven next Sunday night with opening act Nathanial Good. Compass caught up with Glier to chat about life on the road, recording records in his parent’s basement and dropping out of college to pursue music. Here’s part of that conversation.
Compass: You’re on the road a lot. Have you gotten used to it?
Seth Glier: Honestly, if anything, I get stir crazy if I’m home too long. I love getting out. It’s a great way to see the country and learn about yourself and meet people. I love where I live in Western Massachusetts and it’s a good recharge every time I’m home, but I can pretty much make my home wherever I am.
Compass: What kind of music did you grow up listening to?
S.G.: I grew up listening to pretty eclectic music – everything from James Brown to Joni Mitchell. There was always music being played in my house pretty constantly, so there were a lot of different styles. I was sort of the first musician in my family. I think the first kind of music that I really gravitated toward was people like Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman – the ‘70s songwriter kind of thing. And then, of course, all of the music I was listening to as a fifth and sixth grader. I love hip hop music. I love Eminem. But I love pop music and consider myself writing pop music except storytelling is really, really important to me. It was the storytelling in a Randy Newman record and a Joni Mitchell record that I’m sort of harkening back to in a sense.
Compass: You went to Berklee College of Music for a year and then left to pursue your music career. Do you ever regret that?
S.G.: I don’t regret leaving Berklee. I wish I’d taken it a little bit more seriously then — that’s the only hindsight. Because now at 26, there’s not a week that goes by where I don’t see somebody that I was in class with. These are like sound guys at shows or interns at agencies and management companies — they’re all over the music business now. And I was kind of a loner when I went to college. I would basically just write songs, and writing songs is a pretty solitary thing. I didn’t go to parties. I didn’t sort of participate in the social infrastructure that school has to offer and I think that that’s a real value that Berklee offers. I look back at that and think, “Wow. I could have had a little better relationships over there.” I started learning more about songwriting sitting in Starbucks and watching people go by the window than I did in class. And also, the kind of career that I was looking for was one where you just had to start.
Compass: You recorded an album in your parent’s basement that was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2011. Tell me a bit about that.
S.G.: I kind of hoarded a bunch of equipment. Sometimes, I would play shows with some friends of mine and rather than playing for 50 bucks or 100 bucks, I’d play for gear like microphones and cables and stuff like that. I build this makeshift recording studio and put it in my parent’s basement. You drop out of college and you move back in with your parents like my generation tends to do. But I learned a lot in that process. I made this record called “The Trouble With People,” which was essentially a bunch of songs that I wrote while I was at college. That process of recording in my parent’s basement hasn’t changed up until the past few years.
Seth Glier will perform with Nathanial Good on Feb. 8 at The Original Café Eleven. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.