'15 Minutes' with singer Dave Goodrich
Jan. 29, 2000




by Chris Slattery


Staff Writer

January 19, 2000

Dave Goodrich doesn't need a guitar to provoke deep thoughts and soul searching. Just chatting to the Virginia-based singer/songwriter/actor/author is an occasion to rethink some complicated issues and turn the magnifying glass of his profundity inward.

But that's not to say he doesn't rock.

"I appreciate a melody that sticks to your ribs," says Goodrich, whose "adult alternative" sound has been compared to the Goo Goo Dolls. "I want to whistle it."

The musician, who cites his influences as Mozart, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and the Police, describes "15 Minutes," his first solo album, as eclectic.

"I'm able to find something in every genre, whether it's rap, country or alternative music," he acknowledges.

"My music has two sides -- a harder edge and a softer, 'pop' side. It's a sound that's pretty unique -- which isn't easy. It's hard to bring a new idea to the public."

He keeps trying, though, and his persistence is beginning to pay off.

Take "15 Minutes." The album uses the concept of time as its overriding theme, while the single "15 Minutes" is about fame -- sort of.

"There's that concept of everybody having 15 minutes of fame," Goodrich explains. "It's kind of 'Real World' inspired -- the idea that every waking hour is spent in front of the camera. Isn't that annoying? It's flip-flopped! A private person would want anonymity, 15 minutes of being normal. But that's what we're looking at: everywhere you go there's a camera -- at the airport, the store. You don't have control."


A different drummer, an uncut Jewel

Goodrich really is a private person, ironic though that may seem since he appears onstage singing straight from the heart. He says he hid behind a drum kit for much of his career before stepping into the spotlight.

"I drummed professionally for years -- and I still love it," he says.

"But it's difficult to sing and play melody with drums. I was shy, but I developed the courage to come out front and sing my own songs. Now, guitar and voice are my focus."

Goodrich has found that by anchoring his music with social issues, he is reaching out to a mature and thinking audience. Some songs touch on sensitive issues, like "1,000 Years of Bad Highway," a treatise on the effects of abusive relationships, and "Care-ee-oh-key Girl," a rocker that hints at the ways technology can take over the simple pleasures of live music.

"It's heavy stuff," admits Goodrich. "But it's presented in a gentle way. It's just about life in general, social issues. But it's presented as a lyrical collage."

That collage will be on view when Goodrich picks up his guitar at Barnes & Noble in Rockville on Friday evening. It's a work of art that's been evolving for a long time.

"I was interested in music from a very young age," Goodrich recalls. "Motown, rock -- folk, too.

"My mother played piano -- she played Chopin and Beethoven when she was pregnant with me. She was ahead of her time in a lot of ways. Very early, my mother taught me to play piano and I went through horns, trumpet and drums. I played in bands in high school."

His childhood was slightly unconventional.

"I grew up in Arlington, but we lived in Mexico for three years -- my folks were with the State Department and we were stationed in Mexico City. It was a good experience to view the U.S. from outside. I came to appreciate Mexican music, too, particularly the rhythms. Some of my songs have a Latin flair."

The Mexican influence that flavors songs like of "Does This Happen All the Time?" also led, in a roundabout way, to an interesting musical encounter. Years after the Goodrich family moved back to the States, Dave was playing at the Escape Café in D.C., where, he notes, "They had really good Mexican food!"

They also had music there, and Goodrich was scheduled to play when a call came in. A young singer happened to be in town, a girl who had recently signed to Atlantic Records -- would Goodrich mind an opening act?

"Jewel was in the embryonic stages of her career," Goodrich recounts. "But she was enthralling. I wandered off during her warm-up -- and as soon as I came back to practice, I realized why people were in awe.

"She did her show and I did mine," he finishes, with the finesse of a seasoned storyteller. "She went on to be a superstar."


Celluloid heroes

Not the only superstar in Goodrich's life, though. The singer/songwriter who colors his album with philosophies on fame and anonymity has brushed with the stars more often than most people have -- and not just on the musical stage.

Let's call it "the movie stuff" -- Goodrich's sideline, which involves cameo appearances in films.

"This is secondary," he insists, "an aside to the music.

"I live in Locust Grove, Va., in the middle of nowhere. There was a news article about a movie called 'Hush' saying 'there's an open call at the local high school for actors.' So I went, walked in with 250 other people -- but they gave me a cameo and it went on from there.

"My roles have been small," he says, "and they haven't involved singing, although there's been interest in my music for the movies."

Working in the film industry has brought a lot of insight to Goodrich's lyrics, as he studies the dynamic of human nature that seems to run between performer and fan.

"What's the essence of 'stardom?' " he muses. "Or shyness, or gregariousness? Are these things genetic or learned? Or perhaps both?

"What does it take to be a performer -- to captivate an audience, to 'suck people in?'"

His involvement in films has meant close proximity to stars like Bruce Willis, Jodie Foster, Sidney Poitier, Sam Neill, Jonathan Schaech and other media darlings. Being Dave Goodrich, he observed the stars and their attitudes toward stardom closely, coming away with insights enough to enrich his lyrics, and perhaps form the basis of a future book.

"I hadn't anticipated enjoying the movie set so much," he concedes. "It's exciting -- hard, but exciting. But music is primary."

"If I didn't have my music, I'd be a pretty lonely guy."

Well, not really. There's his romantic and artistic partnership with Sandy Taylor, the graphic artist who designed the intriguing cover art for "15 Minutes." There are the crowds of concert-goers eager to see his performances. And there are the reporters he inspires with his riffs on everything from fame to the Internet to the concept of life as a journey to savor, no matter what your aspirations may be.

It's easy to enjoy Dave Goodrich -- all you need is a pair of ears and a soul to search.

Dave Goodrich appears at Barnes & Noble, 12089 Rockville Pike, Rockville from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday. Admission is free. Call 301-881-0237.

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