I would say that growing up I was interested from childhood. I took advantage of the music lessons that you get as a child. School plays and musicals and choirs and school bands. Stuff like that. I goofed around with it for a long time with guitar and the singing but through college never took it really seriously though. I took it seriously but never really took a true shot at it until a few years ago because I really didn't have the confidence to try to do something substantial with it. Certain people I worked with helped me get over that hump, one of which was a vocal coach in Atlanta by the name of Jan Smith who had worked with guys like Rob Thomas and Edwin McCain and Usher. She's worked with some real big time people and working with her and her confidence in me, gave me a lot of confidence in myself. Just started working with better people and just got better at what I was doing.
In 2002 you did a solo project.
I've been solo since '02. Before that, for a couple of years I was in a band called Rufus Manuevers out of Buffalo. I'd played on and off before that. I didn't start taking it real seriously until about four years ago. I really gave it the shot that it deserves. I've been playing for quite a while before that but nothing that I would call a start of a career. The career really started about four years ago.
The first album you released was Them Apples back in 2002 and toured in 2003.
Yeah, and I'm down in Florida right now.
How was that album received?
I got a lot of great reviews out of it. They're on my site. I would say it was more of a rocker compared to my second record. It was a real good statement to make for me because I had just decided to leave the band and do the solo thing. That was a scary thing and I really wanted to come out with a bang and that's the vibe on that record. It was received very well.
You got the Western New York People's Choice Award for best solo acoustic artist.
Yeah, and that was really cool. It's funny because that's just one version of how I perform. Solo, I play as a duo, trio, and I have the whole band. That was definitely a cool thing because those award things are kind of silly but that was actually one that anyone could vote on. It was nonpolitical in a lot of ways. People in my home area came out supporting me like that. That was neat.
When you go out and tour, do you do some solo shows and some full band shows?
Yeah, I do solos, duos, trios, and the whole band. It really depends. Most of this tour right now is with the duo. I take the band when I can. It's hard to take the band everywhere because as a solo artist, one of the great things about it is I'm in charge of the whole thing. I can control everything. The downside is when you're in a full band, you share all the profits but you share all the expenses too. As a solo artist all my guys are hired. Regardless of what I'm making, I've got to pay them. It's a lot more cost effective a lot of times to go out as a duo or as a trio because I don't lose my shirt on the road and I can still play my music and sell my records. It might be a different version from what you hear on the CD but it's still effective.
Tell me a little about your CD, Saturday. I guess it's your second release.
Yeah, that came out in March of this year. It was definitely a different kind of approach to what we were doing on Them Apples. It was more of the vibey approach. No agenda really. Just more about really good songs with really good hooks and a really nice vibe. Probably a little bit more of the singer/songwriter approach. The songs are a little bit more interesting. Not quite as straight ahead rocking. Still definitely the pop song structure but a little more interesting kind of songs. There's a web site I have called www.celani-saturday.com and it talks about everything behind the record. The site is devoted solely to the record. All the instruments, all the influences, all the players. Everything surrounding it.
You had different people playing on the record?
Yeah, I had the same drummer and same bass player for all the electric tracks. I did all the rhythm guitar and I did all the vocals. I co-wrote the whole record with my producer, Brent Bodrug. He and I co-wrote five songs. Then there were two songs that were just completely mine. On the acoustic tracks, we had some different players on percussion and guitar and they're all awesome players. My producer actually did a lot of programming and keyboards on it as well so it was a really great lineup of musicians to be able to work with. It was wonderful.
You have a pretty close working relationship with your producer then.
Yeah, he and I are very close. We work together very closely and we're very good friends. I've learned a lot from the guy. Did two records with him. The solo and before that, with my old band, we did a record with him. Learned a ton from him, written with him, and I'm a better musician because of it. It's been a very, very I think beneficial relationship for both of us.
When you write your songs, what do you like to write about the most?
For the most part, just writing about what's going on in my own life. A lot of it's love songs. A lot of it's just personal introspection and giving myself a hard time basically about one thing or another. Taking a look at where I am at a certain point in my life or a certain relationship, whether it be a romantic one or just a different kind of one. A lot of my songwriting is about personal exploration. I've taken a new approach to some of the stuff. One of my songs on Saturday, I actually wrote about somebody else. I usually don't do that. I wrote about my cousin and her husband. It was called "Smile While You're Crying". That was a newer thing for me. Trying to write from someone else's perspective. You always try to do new things.
I thought the CD was a real gem. Sometimes I come across stuff and I'm like "wow".
Thank you so much. I appreciate that.
On Them Apples you had a song that was played on the radio quite a bit.
Yeah, there was one off that and one off of Saturday. The track off Them Apples is called "Where Did You Come From". The track off Saturday is called "Saturday". Spoke to a great radio promoter in L.A. and got a lot of adds to a lot of commercial stations around the country. Some of them were spinning one or both of those tracks up to 40 times a week. It was really good.
That is cool. I know a lot of people have a hard time getting their stuff on the radio.
Yeah, it's a very tough road. I worked with a professional radio promoter a lot and not everybody can do that. Just like publicists and every other part of business, they have to get paid to work the record to radio and so I was able to do that. It's not something every musician can do. You have to be willing to do whatever it takes to further yourself. It's funny. If you really want to do something with a music career, if you're not willing to turn your life upside down, it's not worth it. Then you shouldn't do it. That's what you have to do.
Especially if it's something you want to do full time and you want to make money off that. You've played with Our Lady Peace, Sum 41, and Good Charlotte.
Yeah, with those three bands there was a festival that I was on that they were on as well. Then last summer I opened for Sam Roberts which was great. Pretty far back in the past, I did some shows with Vertical Horizon. I actually went to the same college as they did. The Goo Goo Dolls are from Buffalo and there was this festival that Robby from The Goo Goo Dolls had last summer at his studio. The Goos played it and I was fortunate enough to play on that. Then a couple of years ago I actually did a really big show opening for Eddie Money in front of about 10,000 people so there's been some good stuff.
That is cool. Is this something you do full time then?
For the most part, yeah.
Any other thoughts or comments?
I really appreciate you taking the time. Anybody who is interested, I am always appreciative of it.