Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Derek Fawcett

Derek Fawcett.  (Courtesy Photo)
Derek Fawcett. (Courtesy Photo)

Singer/songwriter Derek Fawcett is currently on his first extensive solo tour of the United States and Canada, promoting the release of his debut solo album Feel Better, which was released on Oct. 7. He spoke to News-Press the day after performing his entire new album at an intimate set in his hometown of Chicago.

“I had some really great shows in Toronto, Minneapolis and Nashville and had a cool TV opportunity in St. Louis,” Fawcett said. “This is my first real extensive back-to-back-shows tour as a soloist, so there’s kind of an element of ‘Well, we’ll see how this goes,’ but it’s been a real thrill so far.”

For Fawcett, one of the most noticeable differences between touring as a soloist and touring as part of a band (he played djembe for Chicago’s Down the Line for 11 years) is that he’s taking charter busses to tour dates instead of the seven-passenger vans that his band used to rent for touring. He recounted his experience traveling to Minneapolis for a recent show as an example.

“It’s a little rough because some of these routes are overnight and, if you’ve ever been on a Megabus, trying to sleep can sometimes be a comedic challenge,” he said. “But, if I was in a larger, nationally-touring band where we had a large Prevost tour bus like sleeping overnight on the road, that’s how it would be. So, it’s kind of the same thing, except the bus isn’t mine and I’m riding with 50 – 60 other strangers.”

Fawcett is coming to Washington, D.C. next Thursday, Nov. 6, to perform at the Tree House Lounge. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. He said that while touring as a solo act is solitary, getting to visit and stay with friends and family in the different cities he travels to has been really cool. “That’s kind of how it was with Down the Line, too. You feel like you’re getting connected to this larger, nationwide community,” he said. “It’s one of the things I love about touring.”

Reaching out to community and old acquaintances was part of the process of the making and release of Feel Better. Fawcett, a former high school music teacher and current music professor at Columbia College in Chicago, enlisted the talents of Cody Fry and Niko Xidas, who are two of Fawcett’s former music students.

And, in order to raise funds of the pressing, release and promotion of his new album, he created a Kickstarter campaign that received over $34,000 in donations.

“The Kickstarter process was fascinating, exhilarating and terrifying and it totally did everything – if you read about what Kickstarter does for you – it totally did all that,” Fawcett said. “I’ve got these people now that are super excited about this project, in part because they invested in it.”

He said that the making of the album was hard work, but that he doesn’t think he’s worked harder on anything in the last five years than he did on the Kickstarter campaign. The product of his work is his ability to tour and promote his nine-track album, which features songs that may or may not be about him, but are certainly close to his heart.

The title track “Feel Better” is about struggling with someone who has an addiction problem, Fawcett said. “There’s a sense when you’re dealing with someone who has an addiction problem that there’s something you can do that can change that situation. There’s a tendency to believe that,” he said.

“And what ends up happening lots of times is no, you can’t do anything. It’s an illusion that you’ve created for yourself that you can actually do something about that and that tune is about someone who recognizes that and says ‘There’s nothing I can do. I sincerely wish you’d put the bottle down because it’s not doing anything for you, but now I kind of wish you’d stop being around me because there’s no scenario where you being around me is going to make me feel better’.”

He said that when people started hearing the song that they mistook it to mean that he was depressed. “I’m a relatively up guy. I’m not sad, depressed guy that’s sitting in the corner. I’m a pretty up, outgoing dude,” Fawcett said. “Well the album has a lot of pretty heavy songs on there…it ended up being this kind of exploration into sadness that isn’t mine, but the way that I would perceive it.”

For more information about Derek Fawcett, visit derekfawcett.com.

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