Time brings changes to everything. Of course, daily life and the world political stage have proved to be volatile. That usually means that music and songs we hear will reflect the events surrounding us. In the 1960’s, most of the artists wrote and recorded songs protesting the Vietnam war. It was the biggest news item of the time, and the artists of the day simply provided songs that spoke on the subject. Today is no different as artists will write songs that reflect events that they see and experience. Our featured artist this week has been moved to speak about events of our day. This week Weekly Music Commentary features singer/songwriter Josh Doyle.
Even though you may not be familiar with the music of Josh Doyle, you must understand that he is not a new artist. Doyle has been active in the music industry since about 1997. He did not suddenly rise to stardom as some young artists have. No, his story is filled with some of the ups and downs that most of us experience in life.
Before Josh Doyle was even old enough to drive, the UK native was compelled to pen songs from the age of 13. He actually saved his lunch money to buy studio time. His love of music continued through his high school years and into college. While attending Chichester University, he founded rock outfit The Dum Dums.
Between 1998 and 2001, Doyle’s band Dum Dums were among a handful of successful guitar bands amongst a glut of all singing, all dancing boy-bands and female pop starlets. While touring the small clubs across the country such as “The Charlotte” in Leicester and “The Camden Monarch” in London, they were signed to Wildstar by Ian McAndrew (Arctic Monkeys, Travis) and exploded across the radiowaves. Their first single ‘Everything’ hit the Official UK Top 20 and led to four UK hit singles from the first hit album, It Goes Without Saying. While recording the follow-up album, after the big US deal, the band span off into personal breakdown. Given a “write more ‘pop’ or get ‘dropped’ ” ultimatum by the UK label, Doyle decided they had already strayed too much into ‘pop’ territory and quit the band. He watched as poppier, manufactured copies of his band sprung up such as Busted and McFly and dominated the music charts for the next couple of years, while he could not put his finger on a direction to pursue next. Depression descended and Doyle became reclusive, not leaving the house for days at a time.
As with other artists, the industry is sometimes harder to navigate following success. The big reason is that more success is expected and that might not be easily replicated. We have seen some artists who make a big splash and then become answers to trivia questions, or what we call “one hit wonders”. This can be a sad reality for an artist. However, Josh Doyle was in need of a change, and that’s what happened next though not right away.
Doyle ended up moving from England to Nashville with his wife in 2004, and they lived for a while off of the money Josh earned in the band. After a few years though, Josh was forced to get a job waiting tables. Josh admits he didn’t handle it to well. “It was really hard. My wife made me see a counselor. I think I was just being dramatic, but I was very depressed about it. I actually did an interview where they said ‘What kind of drugs are you into?’ The funny thing was even during the band days, I never got into the drink or the drugs, but it was when I was waiting tables that I started drinking. So, it was hard, but it keeps you humble,” he said.
Looking back, the experience was not all negative. “The thing about going back in and working at the lower end of the pay scale was that you suddenly get ‘it.’ You get life, and what everyone has to struggle with. I was straight out of a university to be a pampered pop star, then into the real world. You got to have credit, you’ve got to pay the bills, and you see how the world thinks. It helps you in writing songs, because you understand where people are coming from in their life. I think a lot of the pop stars just sing ‘ I love you, you love me,’ but it gave me an opportunity to delve down deep into my emotions and get real.”
In February of 2012, Josh was named Guitar Center’s “Top Undiscovered Singer-Songwriter,” helping him land a recording session with John Shanks (Grammy Producer of the Year, 45 #1 singles, 91 #1 albums). Shanks was only supposed to record 4 songs with Josh, but he was so impressed with Doyle’s talent that they recorded 10 songs together in 4 days – creating Josh’s self-titled début album Josh Doyle (CTK Records/Corporate Ogre Records). “When I heard Josh…I thought he was vulnerable, I thought there was a fragility in his artistry, and there was just something courageous in his writing that I really liked,” Shanks said. He went on “there is just something real and earnest about that experience, when you listen to him, that I responded to.”
Doyle appeared on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! on August 23, 2012 where he performed his début single “Solarstorms” on air, with a special online-exclusive performance of ‘I Figured the World Out’. His début self-titled album was released on October 23, 2012.
Earlier this year, Josh Doyle embarked on a tour of select cities in the UK. The difference was that he did so with some new songs from a new album titled Modern Times. “I can’t wait for this U.K tour and putting out the first wave of five songs from my new album, Modern Times,” said Doyle. “New songs have just been flowing out of me as all this craziness has been going on in the world. I’ve not been hearing a lot of other artists writing music about it so I wanted to step up to the mic and not get political but just sing about how life is now.”