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Wednesday, February 28th
The Hot Sweat
Justin Nozuka
Hana Pestle
Since his first full length, entitled “Can You Hear Me?”, was released in June, Keaton Simons has been touring the country. I had a chance to chat with Keaton when he traveled through Cleveland, Ohio and performed at the Beachwood Ballroom. Needless to say, I was impressed before I even heard him pick up his guitar…

Jami: Could you describe what kind of music you play?
Keaton: I don’t know how to explain it. It’s not that it defies explanation, I don’t know. It’s pretty diverse, I’d say kind of bluesy and rock-n-roll.

J: Where does your inspiration come from?
K: Everywhere. It’s really kind of a passion of mine to leave myself open to be inspired by everything. It’s the inspiration that seems like it has nothing to do with music that is the most inspiring.

J: What’s the hardest part about being on the road right now?
K: Um, just wanting more probably – wanting bigger audiences, more people – that’s it. Aside from that, I can’t complain about anything else. I’m traveling very simply. I’m in my own car. It’s just me, a tour manager, and for a few shows, like this one, a percussionist. I love it so much. I really love doing this so much. It’s always nice to have the luxury of a tour bus and nice hotels, but it’s not essential. All I really care about is playing music.

J: Is it hard to write while you're traveling?
K: It depends on how I'm touring. If I'm on a bus, writing is a breeze. You're not cramped in a little car or driving. A bus feels so luxurious to me. Others may feel cramped, but not to me. It's funny cause I'll sit and fantasize about being on a bus. There's things about this lifestyle that crack me up. Sometimes you just think about what a strange lifestyle this is.

J: Aside from music, what is the best part about this job?
K: Touring and traveling and experiencing the whole country. It’s accelerated my growth in a really interesting way and every day I get closer and closer to music.

J: Have you traveled to all 50 states yet?
K: Almost, but I’ve never been to Alaska. I’m dying to go to Alaska. I actually have some really good radio love going on there, so I’d definitely like to go there and thank them.

J: Do you feel that you’re able to connect well with your fans while you’re performing?
K: Very much so. I do more so than I think a lot of other artists are. I end up really closely connecting with my fans. I have wonderful, amazing fans, so genuine, warm and supportive and who love music. With me, there’s not a lot of gimmick or hype. Sometimes I think, what can my thing be? And then I realize, I think my thing is just being me.

J: Is your family as musical as yourself?
K: Yes, actually, my mom sang backup for Country Joe and the Fish and with Joe Cocker, and she plays piano. My grandpa’s a screenwriter, where music is a focus. He wrote, “The Way We Were.”

J: Wow! That rocks!
K: Yeah, he’s awesome. He’s 80 and he’s still kickin’ ass. He knows everything. I’ve got a really talented family. I’m very proud of them. My dad is a television producer. I come from an entertainment family for sure. It’s the closest we’ll ever come to a family business.

J: Is that weird for you? I mean I know you grew up around it, so I’m assuming not.
K: No, it’s not weird because it’s all I’ve ever known. It’s not so mysterious to me. It’s just people who do a really good job at what they do. If they were all architects, I would think it’d be just as cool. It would just be a little less glitzy.

J: Is there anything else you’d like to be doing right now?
K: No, I’d just like to keep touring. I don’t feel like having a home right now. I’m at home in my own brain. If I could, I’d be performing every day.

J: With your schedule, I’m assuming you don’t have a lot of time for relationships.
K: Yeah, I’m single right now. I had a serious girlfriend, but that’s ended. I don’t feel any pressure to get married. It’s so far out of my mind right now. I definitely want to have children someday, but I don’t feel I have to be married to do that.

J: That’s pretty unique.
K: Yeah, I’m pretty weird.

J: What are some of your essentials? Like, what do you have to have with you at all times?
K: My guitar and water. I’m also pretty addicted to my cell phone.

J: What helps you to stay focused?
K: Well, I've been sober now from all drugs and alcohol for the past seven years. I've done every drug you can think of in my lifetime. I started really young and I decided that before I could really focus on my music, I would need to clean up my act. It's been a lot easier than I thought it would be. Sometimes, I'm like, "Oh, I remember what that used to feel like," but I have much more meaningful experiences sober than I ever used to.

J: Tell me about your album.
K: This album is a chronicle of my lifetime. I’d say it’s about half of songs from my original album that never came out, and half new ones.

J: Why didn't your first album come out?
K: Yeah, it's weird. What came out in June was my first official debut album. A lot of fans have actually heard some of the songs because I recorded them years ago for another label, who was just going through a lot of turmoil at the time. I really appreciate my fans' understanding that these songs never got to see the light of day. This album is my first step after so long.

J: Do you have a favorite song on your album right now?
K: Ooo, it's hard to pick a favorite, but if someone made me choose just one, I would have to say it's "Without Your Skin," but my favorite changes often. I never hold back new material either. If I come out with a new song, I'm playing it for people right away.

J: Any plans for a second album?
K: Not yet, but I have plenty of material for a second. I just really want to focus on my first and let it have a full lifetime.

Jamin KintonJami Kinton is a staff writer in the Midwest region at Musiqtone.com. You can reach her at jamikinton@musiqtone.com.

(C) 2008 Musiqtone. All Rights Reserved. Any part of this interview cannot be used without written express consent from both the representatives of Keaton Simons and Musiqtone.
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