Artist: Ed Van Wicklen

How did you get into music? I'm from a musical family. My uncle had a songwriting contract. My dad was in a band growing up. My grandfather - up until his Parkinson's got bad - was still playing (guitar) at parties. Back when I was about 8 years old, I stared taking classical piano. At 13, I started guitar. My uncle kind of drove me towards songwriting. Back in '94, I started playing out all around towns (in) Pennsylvania and Maryland. I played regularly ... for about 10 years. In the middle of that, in '99, I put out my first release, which was "Carved in Stone." Around 2004, I got married and started having kids. I had a bunch of new songs written ... and I actually started recording them. Once the kids came, (the songs) kind of got put on the back burner. The kids are a little bit older now, and I had some time to myself. So, I decided (to) finish this thing up.

How is the new album different from your first? (On) the first one, I had some friends that all played music that I had help back me up on the CD. On (the new) one, I wanted to play all the instruments myself. At one point, I played piano and guitar (and) mandolin. My cousin, who was in one of my bands at one time, left a drum set at my house. I sat down and made myself learn drums.

And did you have to do the production? I did everything from recording every instrument in the studio to mixing it all down to bringing it to disc makers. They were the ones (who) did the final mastering and the final pressing of the CD. I also did all the artwork myself as well. I have a computer background. I took to it very easily ... because I have graphic design experience. That's what was kind of difficult because I'm nitpicking every instrument (and) all the artwork. I'm going over and over it. At some point I just had to say, "It's done."

How did you come up with the title? It was one of the tracks. It's something I did with the first one. It's really kind of whatever track that sums up the idea ... of the CD as much as it can. This new one, "Till the End"... was written many years ago when I had to put ... my favorite dog (to sleep). That was really what the song was about. This CD was really more about friends and family (and is) in memory of those I've lost along the way. The guitar on the cover of the CD is (my grandfather's). It's a beautiful electric guitar. For my 30th birthday years ago ... he mailed it to me. I really started experimenting a lot more with the electric guitar in the CD. (My grandfather) is still alive and still down in Florida. It was a neat tribute to him.

Where is the album available? I had physical copies beforehand, but the official release date was May 1 because that's when I got the song up on iTunes. I re-released my first CD on iTunes as well. It's (also) available on my website. The service I used for distribution is pretty cool. It actually gets it onto a majority of the main electronic distribution sites, and it also has it for sale for physical distribution as well.

Are you looking into playing shows this summer? I'm considering it. I've been on a long hiatus. Once the kids came, I just took a break .... to focus on my family and my day job. Right now, I'm planning a CD release party, but it's a private (event). I would like to get out potentially and do some festivals.

Describe your style: My writing spans a lot of genres. The first CD (features) rock, funk, blues and even some country. To be honest, I guess this next one may have started out feeling a little more acoustic, but (I) ended up layering in a lot of electric guitar stuff. It still kind of has the rock, blues, groove kind of feel. There are some tunes that go toward the bluegrass and country stuff.

Who are your musical influences? I was a huge Dead head. I followed the Grateful Dead for years (and) saw, like, 53 Dead shows while Jerry (Garcia) was still around. Early influences were (Eric) Clapton and Bob Dylan and Santana. It went from rock to blues to folk and everywhere in between.

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Van Wicklen talks about songs on new album

"Sweet Desiree": My wife's name is Desiree. I've never been one to put a name in a song because it can sound cheesy sometimes. But what happened was we were getting married, and I wanted to write a song for the wedding. I didn't finish the song, and it was the morning of the wedding. I literally sat down and finished the song and played it that day.

"Why": I wrote that years and years and years ago. I used to kind of play it as a blues/rock kind of song. It never really went anywhere for me. I dug the song out ... and I completely changed the melody. It (has) kind of a country type vibe to it. It's really neat how you can dig up a song like that and then change it to work.

"Free to Run": It was inspired by a guy (who) I saw playing drums (who) had no legs. I talked to him, and he explained to me ... how he played the drums and how after the accident ... he got to play drums again. It was just really inspiring to hear someone do that. The whole idea (for the song) is that we're all free to run. You should take what you have and run with it ... appreciate what you have.

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