Fear is a weird word in performing – because on some level, all performers are afraid. “Fear,” in a certain sense, is synonymous with “fuel.” Fear drives performers into taking on a risk in order to feel complete, to do what they have to do to get where they think they want to be. Musician Chad Neidt, who just released his album “Am I Doing This Right,” seems to have an above-average dose of “fuel” running through him as evidenced by his lyrics. And he’s right to be nervous. Fame is a bitter, tough game and Neidt knows it. But he also knows how to use his fear to his advantage as it constitutes the backing theme off his latest album. I guess you could say Neidt bathes in his vulnerability the way some other men – journalists for new media magazines in particular – bathe in the blood of orphans.
NMR has covered Neidt’s work a couple times before because he’s got talent and skill and drive – all necessary components for battling the fear of not making it. Now he needs a little luck and a little exposure. Time is not on his side – several of the most prolific musicians were dead at his ripe old age of 27 – Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin and Cobain, to name a few. But time is increasingly becoming irrelevant in the age of YouTube. Especially when you’ve got a badass (and successful) Kickstarter presentation to fund your album.
I figure he’s on his own for luck, but “Am I Doing This Right” is a good album and I figure NMR can provide at least a little exposure (he at least made a fan out of me, so that’s one …). Now if he can convert the rest of you into fans through this interview, then maybe you’ll buy his album. And if you buy his album, then maybe you’ll do like NMR is doing, and tell some of your friends about it. That’s all a guy can ask for – oh also if those friends you tell are billionaire record label owners, that’s probably pretty helpful as well.
Be honest: you raised the money for this album off a successful Kickstarter — how much of it was attributable to your awesome and funny music video soliciting fundage and how much of it was your gram-gram?
Chad Neidt: Great question. You’re right — lots of Kickstarter projects are veiled “fundraisers” for parents and relatives to give artists in the family an early, sometimes sizeable Christmas gift. I think most projects have a good amount of family behind them, and if I’m to put an estimate on how much came from family versus my small fan following (I had about 8 or 9,000 YouTube subscribers and maybe a 1,000 Twitter followers), I’d say it was an even split of 50 percent family and 50 percent fans. Of course, my friend gave me some GREAT advice on family donations, which is to wait until you reach your goal before having them donate — that way Kickstarter doesn’t take a cut of that cash — it’s all yours.
Your album is called “Am I Doing This Right?” and the image is you attempting to shave with a chainsaw. Considering “Am I Doing This Right?” isn’t the name of a track on the album, how did the name and concept come about?
The title comes from that insecure side of me as an artist. It’s so easy to second-guess whatever you’re creating — you start to ask yourself dangerous questions like “Is this funny? Will people like it? What if this is dated and unmarketable? AM I ANY GOOD AT ALL?!” I think that’s a huge hurdle with many creators and sometimes it’s hard to shut off the inner critic and feel your way through it. You know, just 100 percent commit to your instincts and learn as you go. Since this is my first full-length album, I was constantly asking myself if this was the right way to do it, which is totally insane because there is no right way. I was drafting album titles for a while, and that one just felt like it summed up the inner anxiety I was experiencing throughout the production of it.
Why the hell should people buy this album?
So I can retire. But really, aren’t most people just listening to everything on Spotify for free anyways? I know that’s ALL I use. I would just love it if people listened to the album from start to finish. The first half of “Am I Doing This Right?” is comedic, acoustic rock with some dark truths sprinkled in (think Bo Burnham meets Blink-182), while the second half is more raw, honest music that deals with issues I don’t have a comedic take on — they just sort of came out of me in a frustrating moment (think Say Anything meets Ben Folds). Those songs were co-written by me and my good friend Jonathan Schwartz who plays mandolin and beatboxes on many of those tracks. We’ve been close friends for a while; we’re both in our 20s, both trying to figure out how the world really works. Writing songs helps us deal with our quarter-life crises. In short, I’d love it if people purchased the album, because it will support my efforts to continue making more music, touring, getting merch, etc. But if not, that’s fine — I think online streaming is the future of the music business anyways.
A lot of the tracks are about succeeding and fear of failure — how big a theme is that now with where you are in life?
Haha, those tracks? What do you mean? I’m not worried about my future [through his teeth] AT ALL. I’m 27. I would like to make a living doing this. It’s very easy at this stage to compare myself to other people’s success and go down the rabbit hole of depression and regret. In the entertainment industry it can be very daunting because you have to make your own success, and then repeat it a thousand times while still staying fresh and not getting completely consumed by distractions. Right now I’m trying to make an effort to trust the process and look forward to things instead of fear them. That’s the difference between being a kid and an adult. Growing up you’re just always high on life, and then you get all this responsibility and opportunity, suddenly it feels like it could slip away at any moment so you become afraid. It’s a struggle, but I’m working on trying to stay positive and be thankful for what I have, both in a career and in life.
What song is your favorite, and which song should people who aren’t familiar with your style listen to first?
My favorite is probably “Breakthrough.” I wrote it after having a terrible day, then discovered all these flaws and strengths within myself while writing it. It was a cool feeling. Plus the piano, Jon’s beatboxing and mandolin-shredding — it’s just got a laid-back happy vibe to it. As for people who aren’t familiar with my style, I think “First Song on The Album” will do the trick. It’s got both playful goofiness as well as my typical, anxiety-driven themes. I kinda wrote that one as an intro to what I do, a way to grease people up before diving down the slip n’ slide.
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