“History does not remember the conformists. The well-behaved. We put rebels and scoundrels in museums. If you have a passion – a way to bring joy or peace to your own life, and to the lives of others – follow it with abandon. Life is far too short – and far too precious – to be spent in any other fashion.”
Kurt Riley has a great outlook on life, comparing his new work to past endeavours, using himself as his own benchmark.
“Every so often, I’ll listen to old demos of mine – things I’ve kept in the vault from years back,” says Riley. “That’s really the best benchmark, the best way to check one’s progress. And if I’m impressed by the advancement, I know I’m on the right path.”
Riley’s music has crossed many genres and is incredibly unique. Something he says will “make a handsome boxed set one day.”
“My first record was pure glam-pop,” says Riley. “The second, a sci-fi opera. My third, a songwriter’s reflection on the zeitgeist and the three singles since then have touched upon the Great American Songbook, Weezer-esque defiance, and the beauty of idiosyncrasy. Not bad for the first third of my career.”
Riley, as eccentric as his music is, has dealt with his own self-confidence issues starting out.
“One of the biggest obstacles I’ve ever dealt with is my own psyche,” he says. “If I’d begun this career with self-confidence – even feigned self-confidence – I would have covered a great deal of ground in less time. But that was a lesson the universe wanted me to learn, I suppose.”
He acknowledges that he’s also been quite fortunate along his long journey, thanking the press and fans for being kind.
“There have been many Kurt Rileys. The blues punk, the glam popstar, the alien king. Most often I’ve been a mirror,” he says. “A reflection of my obsessions – or the zeitgeist. I’ve been a solo artist for a decade, but things really started taking off when I quit music and went back to school.”
After going to college, he met his bandmates who have added to his songwriting with “a breadth and a power” that Riley enjoys. Riley is joined by Rick Kline, Charlie Jones and Sesu Coleman.
“Also, they’re fine fellows,” he adds.
Riley draws inspiration from many sources, including comics and science fiction.
“My lyrics draw from disparate sources, but I make a concerted effort to be as literate – and as innovative – as I can be. But my inner Beatle always puts the melody first – no one’s gonna look if there isn’t a hook – so the lyrics play second fiddle to a catchy tune,” he says. “But that’s part of the thrill, the game. Writing clever lyrics that fit within a pre-established melodic framework is akin to assembling a puzzle. And what a picture you get!”
Riley doesn’t shy away from the spotlight or how people may perceive his work. In fact, he embraces the differences that people may see in him.
“Don’t concern yourself with the opinions of others. History does not remember the conformists. The well-behaved. We put rebels and scoundrels in museums,” he added. “If you have a passion – a way to bring joy or peace to your own life, and to the lives of others – follow it with abandon. Life is far too short – and far too precious – to be spent in any other fashion.”
For Kurt Riley, 2019 is the beginning of a new direction and the start of a new chapter, which has been dubbed “Chrome Empire.”
“It will be 21st Century rock and roll – an antediluvian, classical American art from retrofitted and repurposed for this dystopian new age,” he said. “Songs about everything from the rise of A.I. to climate change, from sprawling megacities to augmented reality. It will be unlike anything heretofore released.”
You can watch Riley and his band’s video for “Be Cool” below.