⚡️💥 SINGLE PREMIERE: "Don't Forget Me When You're Gone"
Plus An Interview With Singer/Songwriter/Multi-Instrumentalist Richard Turgeon
Sometimes there’s nothing greater for a guitar pop fan than discovering an artist with an extensive back catalog.
That’s how it was for me with prolific San Francisco-based singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Richard Turgeon. I knew a few of his tracks thanks to reviewers like Dennis Pilon at Poprock Record, but I never did a proper deep dive on his music. (And there’s a lot to explore when you consider that Turgeon’s released 4 LPs, 2 EPs, a collection of ‘greatest (would-be) hits,’ and two collections of covers since 2016.)
That all changed with his recent run of impressive singles that will soon be collected for the album Life of the Party. Standout tracks include hooky, alt pop songs like “I’ve Got You Now” and “You’ve Moved On,” ‘60s garage-tinged rockers “Forward Motion” and “All Alone,” and the ‘90s Americana rock of “Without You.”
“I’ve been taking this approach for the last several years where I release singles on Bandcamp, then build up to an album or EP release on all major streaming platforms and through Kool Kat Musik on CD,” Turgeon told me for the email interview below. “I’ve found it’s a good way to release new music consistently, but then batch them all together for reviews and such when I’ve completed a full album.”
Today we’re premiering Turgeon’s latest single, “Don’t Forget Me When You’re Gone,” a beautiful Beatles-y piano ballad written for his father who has Parkinson’s Disease.
“It's very different from my other tunes, in a good way, I think. I don’t play piano technically (I piece things together by ear), so I wanted to try writing something on that instrument to start, versus guitar,” Turgeon said. “(My father’s) doing fine, but the song is just a way of me processing him getting older. It’s a deeply personal song but again I always try to expand things, so anyone can relate.”
I caught up with Turgeon by email as he put the finishing touches on Life of the Party to get it ready for a November 2023 release in digital and CD formats.
⚡️💥 SINGLE PREMIERE: “Don’t Forget Me When You’re Gone”
Richard Turgeon Interview
I've really enjoyed your recent run of singles. Is the plan to release them as an album at some point?
Richard Turgeon: Thanks very much, that means a lot from someone who knows music as well as you do—and a fellow drummer, it looks like.
Yes, all the singles currently on my Bandcamp page released after my most recent EP, Rough Around the Edges, will be included on my upcoming LP, Life of the Party. And by the way, that was the official public premier of the record’s title.
I really appreciate that you are a self-described "power pop artist" in a universe where many musicians shy away from that descriptor. In your mind, what is it about your songwriting/music that makes it power pop?
Richard Turgeon: I’ve always been into big-sounding guitar rock, since the ‘80s when I grew up on Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Night Ranger, Def Leppard and such. That grew into a love for Guns N’ Roses, Green Day, Weezer, Blink-182, and of course Nirvana through the ‘90s. I think the common denominator with these bands is drums, guitars, harmonies, and of course great songs.
I don’t know if I’d say I’m hardcore power pop in terms of sound or influences, but this upcoming record probably does sound more categorically power pop than most of my others. That’s somewhat intentional as I just wanted to do a batch of mostly heavier-sounding songs with hooks. That’s definitely my thing no matter what genre listeners want to call it, and probably always will be.
Your 2018 10 Covers collection also includes non-power pop artists like Nirvana and Big Head Todd & The Monsters. How did you decide which tracks to include on that collection?
Richard Turgeon: That’s a great question and I think the simple answer is that they are just songs I love and had to cover. Of course I also chose songs I thought I could pull off, technically and also that worked for my style, voice, and all that.
Same criteria for my second LP of covers, imaginatively titled 10 Covers - Volume 2. I just wanted to work on another batch of songs I loved and didn’t mind hearing like 500 times in the recording, production and mixing process.
I think one of the coolest things that came out of the covers records was Donnie Emerson, his brother Joe, and Donnie’s wife Nancy Sofia saying they dug my cover of Donnie’s song, “Don’t Fight,” and my accompanying blog post about the brothers. I am huge fans of their music and loved the movie about their life, Dreamin’ Wild. If you haven’t seen it, you should—it’s a beautiful and inspiring story.
I also hear a lot of Beach Boys, Matthew Sweet, Sloan and Teenage Fanclub in your music (especially on The California Collection and Rough Around The Edges). Would you consider those artists to be big influences?
Richard Turgeon: I would say the Beach Boys for sure, although I’m more often and consistently compared to those other three. I get Bob Mould a lot, too, which is beyond humbling since he is a master of his craft.
Funny thing about the Beach Boys is that I was never really a fan until I started researching them for several months to write my screenplay, Holy Man, about Dennis Wilson’s time with Charles Manson and the Family. (It was optioned a few years ago and producer/Beach Boys documentary maker Malcolm Leo and we are still trying to get it off the ground.) I honestly got obsessed with the band and Dennis Wilson’s life and music during that time, and still am. I would consider Brian Wilson in particular a big influence these past few years, both musically and how I started thinking about writing and producing.
I’ve heard plenty of music by the other three, but I wouldn’t say they’ve ever been in heavy rotation for me. That’s not to say I don’t like them, I just tend to actually listen much more to the Eagles (I know, very polarizing), The Police (probably my favorite band ever, if I had to pick one), Nirvana, and Tom Petty. I have always liked early R.E.M. and the Gin Blossoms a lot, too... that whole heartland alt-rock kind of sound, I guess.
"All Alone" is one of my favorite tracks from your recent string of singles. What's the story behind that one?
Richard Turgeon: Thanks again. I have to say I like how that one turned out as well. I think it’s just one of those “FU” songs directed at someone who is either getting in your way, not giving you enough space, or both. The theme here is really freedom and just living your best life, on your own terms. In such a way that’s not hostile and where you can sing along.
You dedicate your previous single, "You've Moved On," to anybody who has "ever been dumped unceremoniously and/or ghosted." Isn't that what most power pop songs are about?
Richard Turgeon: Definitely. That’s rock ‘n roll, right? And the blues, of course. Not getting the one you want, or getting dumped.
As a songwriter, I definitely draw from personal experience and feelings. This is one of those songs where I was thinking of a specific situation, but I try to make them universal. Songs that are more personal like this one come more easily for whatever reason. And they definitely feel very honest, so they’re typically more fun to play—and seem to be more well received for that reason. Listeners and audiences know when it’s coming from the heart.
Any plans to tour for the new album?
Richard Turgeon: I would love that, but I’m not sure. I played live and ran my band for years on both coasts, and I do love playing live in a full rock band. But, I’m a suburban dad with a day job and all that, so getting in a van again like I did in my 20s is very hard to pull off for a lot of reasons. If I had a label and did this full-time, heck yes, I would. I’ve played a few shows these past few years, but my focus has been writing, recording and putting out records.
All that said, I’ve already started slowing down on the recording front to put more into my live band, Richard Turgeon and the Afterglow, which got active again over the summer. I didn’t have any intention to start playing live more regularly, but it came together pretty organically and we’re really enjoying just playing some shows in Marin County right now. If that leads to bigger and better things farther away from home and we can do it, we are prepared with a full set and I’m all for it.
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John M. Borack on The Muffs' Legacy
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