LOS ANGELES, CA – Andy Waddell is an artist with deep wells. He’s an artist who blends a singer-songwriter vibe with alt-rock vocals and a classical jazz guitar style into a sound that is reminiscent of the legendary band They Might Be Giants. But while that legendary band often delivers whimsical and even playful lyrics, Waddell is a musician whose metaphors illustrate a life journey with many dark and difficult twists and turns.
This new album, “The Road to Nowhere,” is his most personal work to date. Its 12 songs take listeners not only on a musical journey that begs you to keep listening to one song after another, but also on a historical journey through Waddell’s life. And along the way, most listeners realize that the metaphors within his songs ring true for themselves in various ways, as well.
One of the standouts from the album is the song “Roscoe.” Waddell said it’s the second song he ever wrote as a singer-songwriter, after having spent most of his life dedicated to his development as a jazz guitarist. The song is about a good friend from college with whom Waddell lost touch over the years. And the tragic ending of that relationship was one that in some ways still haunts Waddell to this day.
“He was also a guitar player and a talented musician,” Waddell said. “He was a crazy guy, but hilarious. He would leave me some crazy messages on voicemail – in fact, I still have them from 10 years ago. He really looked up to me in college because I was already heavily into jazz at the time and he was trying to learn it. I also had a lot of respect for him because he was a great rock guitar player and had good chops. I thought he was awesome. And we hung out a lot in college and drank together and partied. Fast forward a few years down the road and we lost touch. He called me after so many years to see how I was doing. Like me, he had been a hard-core alcoholic, but he said he was sober and doing great and working the program and that I should come with him to a meeting and check it out. At the time I was so deep into it that I couldn’t even recognize that had problems and I just kind of blew him off. He called a handful of times after that and I never answered the phone or returned his calls. About a year later I thought I should see what he was doing. I tried calling him, but his phone didn’t work. Eventually I went on his Facebook page and I saw ‘RIP.’ He had died six months earlier and I had no idea. He had gone back off the deep end and broke into his drug dealer’s house and got shot. He really meant a lot to me and was a really good friend and I remember when I found that out I felt terrible. I could have had some time with him, but because I was an idiot I took it for granted. And I never got to say goodbye to him or hang out anymore. So that’s what this song is about – my perception of that story.”
Waddell said Roscoe is a perfect example of how “The Road to Nowhere” dives into the heavy story behind his life’s journey. And more often than not those stories are told through the eyes of characters inspired by real-life people along Waddell’s own journey through drug abuse, rehabilitation and reconciliation with friends and relatives. Some songs on the album deal with his struggles with depression, while others reflect on his perception of the people who walked through life with him at various times. One such song is called “TJ,” and is about a woman who became a dear friend during a very dark time of his life.
“She’s the one who basically was taking care of me through my six-to- seven-month period of being on the deep end and not playing music,” Waddell said. “I was pretty far gone, and she was a person who I met through a friend. I don’t know what it was, but she really helped me out. She would buy me groceries. I had no money at the time – I was virtually homeless – but she would bring me Christmas presents or fill up my fridge or hang around the house and cook for me. She was a part-time massage therapist, and she would bring her massage table over and give me a massage. But it was never a romantic thing. She was much older than me and we just developed a great friendship. When I think back on it, it really blows my mind. Most people who are addicts are people you want to stay away from because they’re always looking to rob you any chance you get, or looking to screw you over and see what they can take from you. She was not like that with me. She was the complete opposite of anyone I’d ever met. She was all about giving. I had nothing to give, and she showered me with friendship and love.”
While “TJ” is a song that details that back-story, it’s more-so a song about her and Waddell’s perception of what her life could have been during that time. He doesn’t actually know her background or how she grew up, but this song is his speculation of the kind of life she must have led and the journey that could have brought her to his door.
“Who knows if that’s what it really is,” Waddell said. “It’s just what my imagination thought it was about how she got to where she is today and what I think might have brought her there and what she goes through on a daily basis.”
Yet another single from the album is “Pops,” the third track on the record. True to its title, it’s a song about Waddell’s father who was a career police officer who would often go under cover. As Waddell found himself falling deeper and deeper into drug use, his shame toward his dad was overwhelming and the depression that ensued nearly led him to take his own life. But even during his darkest days, he knew he had a father who would love and support him.
“This song is about what I was going through at the time – a person hiding out in his apartment, staying away from life,” Waddell said. “I remember being broken hearted and not wanting to disappoint my dad, and knowing where my life was going at that time made me think about my dad a lot. And somehow I knew he’d be there on the other side. And he was. Now whenever I’m near – even if it’s a couple of hours away – he never misses one of my gigs. He’s always there.”
Waddell said he hopes the songs on the album will be songs that people can listen to and enjoy. And while the inspiration for the songs has a close personal meaning for him, he’s glad that the stories can be interpreted in many ways through the use of multiple metaphors. He created the album to be intentionally abstract as a way to make it interesting for people and so that they can take what they want from it – and ultimately so that they will be inspired and entertained.
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