David, what is your musical background? Did you have any formal training?
My mother was a pro dancer and my father was a radio DJ for a classic rock station in Detroit when I was a kid, so I was very much familiar with great rock and roll music at a young age. As a kid, my main focus was athletics, particularly swimming, so I would just play all my favorite Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Eagles songs in my head as I was doing the endless laps in the pool. I started playing classical piano at the age of 12 and guitar at 18. Even though I was much older than most when I picked up a guitar, I became obsessed. The first year I practiced eight hours a day, and by the end of the year, I could successfully play David Gilmour (pink Floyd) guitar solos.
Why do you think music became a passion for you in your late-teens?
I have always been obsessed with self-expression, for better or worse. Music became the main source of this expression at a certain point. The lifestyle of a career in music has always intrigued me as well.
What was the name of the first band you formed? I assume you were the front man.
Hallows. I called it Hallows because I was born on Halloween. It also is a living word with spiritual connotation, much like the name Nirvana. I kind of gave up on it when Harry Potter released a book called Hallows. Front man, yes. I was the singer.
Do you remember the first song you wrote? What was your inspiration for this song?
It’s actually kind of sad, but my first song was written to honor my grandfather at his memorial service. He was a true artist and naturalist. He lived off the land and had an elaborate garden. He also fished and hunted for much of his food at the lake-home he designed and built entirely himself. He never cut down a tree without planting one. He was a great landscape painter and sketcher in the vein of Ansel Adams and never wanted any recognition for it. He just lived on the rainbow never looking for the pot of gold. He was also a highly decorated war hero in World War II and very courageous. Men follow courage.
And you have been writing songs from that point on?
When creating a new song, do you write the lyrics first, or the melody?
I generally write the music first (chords, riff, etc.), then the vocal melody, and then the lyrics. After that, the musical arrangement ... and voilà.
After listening to your demo for your first album, I noticed you focus on becoming green and saving the environment. Is this a passion for you?
I’m not sure that is the entire focus, but yes. I believe in the American Indian saying, “We belong to the earth; the earth does not belong to us.” I also believe that any questions you may have can be found in nature metaphorically. Humans get so caught up in civilization, especially now with the Internet and cable TV, that they sometimes forget to stop and smell the flowers. It takes songs, painting, or good stories to remind us. That’s where people like me come in. Good news is that my new band, Sanguindrake, will be re-recording many of these songs for our debut album.
What else do you love to write about?
I like to write about interpersonal relationships as well. Love, in all of its glory, can be the hardest challenge. I generally try to stay away from politics, though I am on the left idealistically.
Tell us more about your new band, Sanguindrake. Just how did Hallows evolve into Sanguindrake?
Well, I met the Sanguin to my Drake. I met Sarah Sanguin Carter, both an accomplished actress and musician, and we instantly connected artistically. The innocent yet haunting feel to her voice still gives me chills. She brings her own excellent writing, a strong feminine perspective, and a magical voice to what I already have. It is the making of an epic band.
With Musician David Drake of Sanguindrake By Pamela Wilson