"Never gonna fall in line for you..."
Adam Pascal never considered himself and anti-war person, and he's careful not to label his new album, "Civilian," as an anti-war record. Also laced with love songs and tracks inspired by his children, Civilian journeys through the past few years for Pascal personally and for the nation facing tragedy and violence at home and abroad.
"The record is coming from a political perspective," Pascal says. "The whole record was inspired by and influenced by 9/11, and sort of everything that happened since then."
Building from the title song, which comes from the perspective of someone who has never been in a war, the album delves into the rage, mental anguish, and frustration brought about by current events.
"I became obsessed with the news and obsessed with reading it and obsessed with watching TV and obsessed with all of it," Pascal says, "but at the same time I couldn't take it any more."
Yet Civilian matches these harsh emotions with feelings of celebration and love. Just one month after September 11, 2001, Pascal became a father. Many of Civilian's most touching tracks are songs written to, or inspired by, Pascal's two sons.
Pascal's first solo record, "Model Prisoner," was released on Sh-K-Boom Records in 2000 and greeted with critical praise and sold-out concerts. After leaving the hit Broadway musical Aida in June 2001, Pascal began to work on "Civilian."
"On Civilian, who I am as a writer, as a songwriter, is much clearer to me," Pascal says. "My creative direction of the type of music that I want to make is much clearer on this record."
Pascal co-produced Civilian with Glenn Sherman, who also collaborated on several songs, and Jim Abbott. Both appear on the record: Sherman on vocals and guitar and Abbott on keyboards. Winston Roye on bass and Gary Seligson on drums and percussion round out the album's band.
Though Pascal cites Led Zepplin, Queen, Billy Joel, and Pink Floyd as major influences, he credits newer bands such as Jet and Muse with indfluencing the energy he wants to put forth in his music. Still, Pascal's main influence on the music on this album hasn't changed.
"It's probably the Beatles and probably always will be the Beatles in one way, shape, or form," Pascal says. "Their influence shows up in a lot of different places and a lot of different ways, whether it's overt or subtle. It's just a lifetime of influence."
Pascal credits all these bands in teaching him to simplify his songwriting. "There certainly can be complex arrangements and there can be deep, complex lyrics, but ultimately there's something basic about it that affects people on a basic level," Pascal says. "That's what I'm trying to achieve as a rock song writer: that connection with people on a really basic, primal level."
Pascal's 12-track album hits many different emotions and experiences. In his own words:
1) Beautiful Song
"That was the first song that I wrote with Glenn when we first started working together and it's basically about becoming a father. I wrote the lyrics before [my first son] Lennon was born. It's sort of a love song to your unborn child, in a way."
2) Tomorrow and the Sun
"The phrase 'Tomorrow and the Sun' came to me, and I didn't really know what that meant. I started to expand on that, and that idea, and basically the song became this fable that I made up. It's about tomorrow and the sun and the struggle between one day going into the next day."
"'Wonderchild' is one of those songs that came together in pieces and was somewhat laborious. Parts of that song I had been working on for a really long time and I sort of had to take it apart and put it back together again. [It's] meant to be an inspirational song for a kid who's struggling."
4) Something of Ours
"'Something of Ours' was written about a [woman's] 35-year relationship with a married man. While she was married, while he was married, she was divorced. He would never give himself fully to her because he wouldn't leave his wife, and he wouldn't leave his family. she just [had] this fantasy that she held on to for so many years."
"'Civilian' is basically... it's my anti-Bush song. There's this immense, just monstrous divide in this country where there's so much anger and there's so much venom. I feel like we're on the bring of a civil war. If you're a Republican, Democrats hate you. And vice versa, I'm sure. Certainly in our lifetime I've never experienced anything like that, where the chasm of divide is just so huge."
6) Ordinary Men Abound
"That was a song that was sort of post-9/11 about the sort of dark mental state that 9/11 brought on for me. It wasn't just 9/11. There were a lot of child murders and child abductions and horrible things happening to children and there were several big high profile ones in a row. And it was really making me mentally ill. So that's kind of what that song is about."
7) 10,000 Miles
"That song was inspired by the movie Castaway because it was just such a heartbreaking concept to me, that someone would be stuck on an island for that long and be juts motivated to survive by the love of this person."
8) No Trace
"'No Trace' is sort of just a broken relationship kind of song. It's the type of song where you're still in love with somebody and you're trying to tell yourself you're not, but you really are. And you really can't get yourself out of it, even after all this time, all these years, all this distance."
9) Mother's Child
"'Mother's Child' is a direct response to that child murdering stuff. Those two or three or four of them in a row where I just went so insance. It's just the evil that men do and the rage that that invokes in me is really what that song is about."
10) Book of Endings
"'Book of Endings' is about crazy fans. It's about crazy fans and crazy stalkers. But the idea becomes much more broad. It's very tongue-in-cheek. There's no animosity there. There's no malice. It's tongue-in-cheek. It's meant to be somewhat of a joke."
11) The Ringing in My Ear
"That's a song that went through a lot of lyrical changes. And it's basically just a love song and there's not much more to say about it. It's an ambiguous love song about the love of another person being able to pull you out of a dark place."
12) I'm With You
"'I'm With You' is a love letter to my kids. A lot of it was written right after Lennon was born, before Monte was born, but there are certain direct references to things that he, Lennon, was obsessed with -- the sky and the moon.
Civilian was released on sh-K-Boom Records on November 2, 2001. Exploding with emotion driven by real experience, Civilian promises to affect the listener as much as the creator.
"I've never had anything in my life that drove me artistically to create the way that these situations did," Pascal says. "Nothing in my life up until that point had ever even come close to so profoundly affecting me, good, bad, indifferent, but in such intense ways. The songs evolved in many cases in wasy that I never anticipated and had gone in directions that I never anticipated. It came out better than I could have imagined."