Furay Is Proud of His Multigenerational Family Band!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 18:30

An Interview with Richie Furay

by: Casey Pukl

It’s tough not to like Richie Furay. He’s super easy to talk to, upbeat, and has had a pretty interesting journey in music. While he found success with Buffalo Springfield and Poco early in his career, he later took a hiatus from his music to focus on his family and himself. Wondering whether or not he’d ever find his way back to music, he eventually returned with a new passion for his family, religion, and the guitar. Furay is now fresh off of a Buffalo Springfield reunion tour, and he’s gearing up for another set of dates with his latest project, The Richie Furay Band. Not only is the band fun for the great music they play, but the band also includes Furay’s daughter, Jesse, as well as his partner Scott Sellen’s son. Furay is extremely proud of his latest venture, and I hope you enjoy hearing about is as much as I did.

CP: I’ve been listening to your latest record, Alive, and I’ve got to say, it’s a super fun album.

RF: Thank you! It covers almost forty years of music! (Laughs)

CP: That’s so awesome. I can’t wait to dig into all of that, but I’d love to start off with what you’ve been up to recently. I know you just wrapped up a Buffalo Springfield reunion tour. What was that like for you?

RF: Well, it was really fun. It was so far out of the realm of me even thinking it would ever happen. When I did get the call, I was pretty excited that we would give it a try again after 42 or 43 years I think it was. I think Stephen and Neil and Rick and I all had a great time doing it. It was great to hear how all the music has stood up over the years and how much everyone still appreciates it. It was a lot of fun. I can’t deny that!

CP: For sure. Is it nice to just get to play now that you guys are older and the drama has passed?

RF: You hit the nail right on the head. There was no drama, no agendas, everyone was just there for once purpose and that was just to get together and play the music that we made 42 years ago and just be friends! It was nice to just be friends and not have to worry about thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to go off and be a star and do my own thing now,’ and this and that. We were just there because we are friends and because now we can make that music together.

CP: It’s so great to hear that. Going back, everyone knows about your time with Buffalo Springfield, and then you formed Poco, but then you really took a big hiatus following that.

RF: Yeah, I did. There was a lot that was going on in my life at that time, and I actually wrote a song on an album called “I’ve Got A Reason” that said, ‘Music was my life, and finally took everything. Ain’t it funny how you’ve got it all and not a thing.’ And that was my whole life back then, Casey. It was just music; everything was wrapped up in music. It just took me to grow up a little bit and become a little bit more mature in my life to really reassess and evaluate the things that were really important to me. The bottom line for me was just that my family was the most important thing to me. My wife and I were having a little bit of a difficulty during that time that I took that time off. We had been married for seven years and separated for seven months. Then we came back together, and I really didn’t know if music was going to continue to be a part of my life or not.

But after we got back together, things started to unfold, and music is still just a great part of my life.

CP: In that time when you were growing and questioning, was it more so just professionally that you took a break from music, or really personally as well?

RF: Basically during that time, I wasn’t really writing that much. I was finishing up a record with Chris Hillman and JD Souther, our second Souther Hillman Furay record, and after that, my mind just wasn’t there at all. My mind was focused on getting my family back together and what it was going to take to do that. It was a pretty critical time in my life. It was also the time that I became a Christian, and so there were a lot of changes that were going on in my life. It was a time of reevaluation for sure.

CP: Getting into that a little bit, you’re really now into two completely different genres of music at this point.

RF: (Laughs) Yes, definitely.

CP: What has that been like?

RF: Sometimes it’s kind of crazy. Even when we come out to California this time to play at Anthology, we were coming out originally to do a marriage retreat up at Twin Peaks. So that had us focused in on the church aspects of my life, and then we’re going to come down out of the mountains and play several clubs in Southern California. So it kind of is, and there’s a lot of balancing that takes place in just trying to reconcile everything. I’ll say this, the Lord has been very gracious, and he helps me to get through it. Sometimes it really is two different worlds. But you know, it’s my life, and that’s the main thing. This is what my life consists of. It’s not just being a musician, but I’m also a Pastor back here in Colorado as well. There’s a lot to my life. It’s intricate and it’s complicated, but it all runs smoothly somehow.

CP: As long as it’s running smoothly! (Laughs)

RF: (Laughs) Sure is.

CP: Going into the business side for a second, you do both secular and non-secular music at this point. Has your experience in promoting yourself and your music changed between the genres?

RF: I think it’s been more of a problem for people on the outside more so than it has been for me. Like I said, it’s just this is my life. This is who I am. I know when I go into a secular venue, I’m not there to proselytize. I’m not there to send a church message, but I am there to share my life. Of course I’ll sing a song or two from my Christian background as well as I will from Buffalo Springfield, Poco, and Souther Hillman and Furay. But I think some people, and it’s been kind of interesting on different occasions, it causes them to be concerned if they’re coming to a secular club, what are they going to get? Are they just going to get worship songs, or are they going to get a balance of my life? That’s the part that I have to really communicate, and that I trust you to do as well. I trust you and people like you to get that message out there. Yes, I am there, when I go out to a secular venue to just share my whole history. It’s really a fun thing to do. As you’ve heard from the Alive record, I just share my music from the time that I was with Buffalo Springfield right on through to today.

CP: I think that’s what’s so cool about the record. It’s the songs that you’ve heard, know, and love, but it’s still you. It all sounds like you!

RF: Cool!

CP: Let’s dig in a little bit, I’m curious about your writing process. What is that like for you?

RF:  Years ago, I did every song that I had ever written had been written on this Martin D-28 that I bought when I was growing up in Ohio and took to New York with me. Then it got stolen during the Souther Hillman Furay time when I was writing with Chris and JD, and I got the guitar back, but that was a traumatic experience. It had so much sentimental value to me that it couldn’t be replaced. Not only was it a really special guitar, but the fact that I had written every song that I had ever written on that guitar. SO when I got it back, that was neat too.

But my songwriting process varies a lot. Sometimes I’ll be in my car and a melody will come to me, and then sometimes with that melody there will be a lyrical line. And then I have to stop and go back to evaluate what was I thinking when that line came to me, and is this a song that has to develop or do I have to start over. Do I like the melody, but the lyrics or whatever I was saying didn’t mean that much? So I go back and reevaluate.

I know that over the years, my music has really not been of a social commentary or a political commentary; most of my songs have been love songs. That’s just who I am, and that’s how I write.

CP: Jumping to now, what has it been like playing with your new band? I know your daughter is in the band now, right?

RF: Yes, my band is so special. I think the fact that Jesse is in the band, and my partner, Scott Sellen, his son is also in the band. I think it makes it really special for me. Truthfully, I don’t know if it would be as much fun going out today to perform if our kids weren’t in the band with us. What’s really neat is that they are so talented, and they keep me young! It makes it exciting to actually hear the music that I created many years ago with a fresh sound, and to have your daughter and your best friend’s son in the band at the same time.  I like to think of our band as not only a family band, but more as a multi-generational band. It’s pretty cool. I’m just so blessed with all of these people around me. Scott’s son is a songwriter as well, and he’s written a song that Jesse sings, and also our drummer, Alan Lemke, has also written a song that Jesse sings. They’re not on the Alive album, but we will be playing them when we’re out there. It’s just neat to see these kids come along with so much talent, and they bring so much energy to the stage with us. It’s just a lot of fun.

CP: What can we expect to see from the Richie Furay Band in the future— more touring, writing, recording, all of the above?

RF: All of the above. I am writing at this particular time. Scott and I are writing together; I’m also writing some on my own. We’re just preparing for the possibility of making another record. You don’t need necessarily the record companies like you did years ago. In fact, my record The Heartbeat of Love, actually CD! Gosh, I still call ‘em records! (Laughs)

CP: I do too! They’ll always be records.

RF: All of the music that I’ve made in the last ten years, I’ve just put it together in the studio by myself and just put them out on my label, which isn’t really a label, but I just have a record company. The music business has changed so much since I was making music back with Buffalo Springfield and Poco, and it just makes it easier to do recordings now.

CP: Sure. Is there any new technology that has really changed the way you record or write?

RF: Honestly, I still like to go into the studio and record tracks with real instruments. I’m not into techno drums or anything like that. I’ve recorded most of my studio recordings in the last few years in Nashville. I’ve used the same band, and they understand me, my music, and what kind of feel I’m going for. I like to cut those things in a studio. I’m just so used to that, I can’t get away from it. That’s just the way it is.

What makes it easier now, I made reference to a record I made earlier called The Heartbeat of Love, which after I got home and listened to the tracks, I started thinking about things. I thought wouldn’t it be fun to have Timothy B. Schmit on this song, or Stephen Stills on this one, or Neil Young or Rusty Young, Paul Cotton, or whoever on this. Because of all of the digital recording technology now, I could just send them a track and they can just add to it, which I did. I had all of these guys on the record, but we didn’t have to be in the studio together to do it! That aspect of recording is really kind of unique.

CP: What are you most looking forward to about coming to Anthology?

RF: I’m really looking forward to playing San Diego. My sister lives there and I’ve got a lot of friends there. I know this is a very special venue you’ve got there too, so I’m looking forward to bringing the band out there. I just hope that a lot of people come out to see it, because I’m really very proud of this band. I’m looking forward to bringing the songs out there!

As always, special thanks to Richie for his time! Be sure to check out our Spotify playlist as always, as it contains some old and new tunes! See you on the 31st!

The Richie Furay Band

WHAT: The Richie Furay Band
WHEN: Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 7:30pm
TICKETS: $12-$49 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile