God Lives Underwater surfaces again
by David Friedman
When I saw God Lives Underwater in concert at the now-defunct Norwalk club The Globe in 1998, I had never heard the band’s music before – save for a remix of the Bloodhound Gang song “Mama Say.”
What I got was a tripped out, multi-layered, heavy rock experience that was truly amazing. The band was giving out sampler cassettes that included its No. 17 Modern Rock hit, “From Your Mouth,” from its third album, “Life In The So-Called Space Age.”
Within the last year or two, I bought copies of all three God Lives Underwater albums, including their self-titled EP and the “Empty” LP.
Since then, I wondered what had happened to God Lives Underwater, which led to some searching on the Web and ultimately to an interview with frontman David Reilly, which took place Saturday from a studio in upstate New York.
We talked about the life of Reilly – pun intended – from his brand new solo EP, “Inside,” to the long-awaited GLU album “Up Off The Floor” and the treacherous road that the singer has traveled to overcome drug addiction and personal tragedy.
Reilly talked about his experiences as we discussed “Inside,” which makes sense when you realize that the songs on the album are all about his life up to this point.
“I put out the EP now just to make some people aware that I was still making music,” said Reilly, who wrote, produced and performed the tracks himself for the most part. “It was basically some demos – a couple that were sort of older and some newer stuff that I’ve come up with over the last few months. I think it’s kind of representative of where I’m going. It was just kind of for the fans, you know.
“I guess the difference between what I do on my own and what I did with God Lives Underwater is that God Lives Underwater was a heavier rock band,” he added.
About a girl
The “Inside” EP opens with the song “Keep Dreaming,” which was the first song Reilly recorded after having not picked up an instrument for two or three years. He wrote the song on an acoustic guitar with minimal drum and keyboard programming – reminiscent of “Violator” era Depeche Mode.
“I was inspired to write that because there was a girl that lied to me about being with somebody else,” he said. “I’ve had kind of a dramatic life, so I have yet to really run out of material. I have years and years of things to write about. I haven’t yet needed to write from a different viewpoint because I have such a full life of drama that I feel writing from my point of view is refreshing enough (that) so far the fans can relate to just about everything I say.”
A good portion of the drama Reilly refers to stems from his 15 years of drug and alcohol addiction, which included a decade on heroin. Reilly, who has been clean and sober for 11 months, was once convinced that he needed heroin to write songs. His problems with substances would cause “the demise of everything,” including God Lives Underwater and, until recently, his music career.
“I’ve been dead before,” Reilly said. “I’ve had to be resuscitated a few times.
“(Since then), I quit everything and kind of buried myself back in the music,” said Reilly, who also endured the deaths of a good friend and his fiancee. “There’s kind of vague references to the way life is without being on drugs, which, to me, experiencing life and relationships and anything in general without being high is pretty insane at this point. So I kind of need to write about it.”
Is it hard to deal with everyday life without drugs?
“It is,” Reilly said. “It’s still not a full year yet that I’ve been clean. It’s strange. I went through a lot of major changes. Before I got clean, I weighed like 120 pounds. And then I got clean and I did everything. I’ve turned myself in to jail to clear up any offenses that I did (for possession and purchase). I paid off bad checks. I started cleaning everything up that I’d messed up over those years.
“I gained a bunch of weight; I was like 200 pounds,” he added. “Then I got sort of being active and healthy and now I’m at a normal weight. There were some dramatic changes that came with being clean – different friends, different places, caring about things. It’s a trip being clean entirely because it’s so foreign to me. I didn’t really have a childhood that wasn’t involved in that. It stole my youth from me pretty much. I’m 33 now, but I feel 17.”
One for the fans
The song “1 Ft. In The Grave” was the second song Reilly wrote following his years off from making music. He started out by experimenting with sounds and guitar chords in the studio before working them into a song and laying down the vocals.
Though he still isn’t totally happy about the song, he put it on “Inside” because lots of fans responded well to it when he made it available for download.
“For once, I’m not being selfish about my music,” Reilly said. “If there are people that are gonna enjoy something, I’m gonna put it out.”
So what inspired the song?
“There’s sort of two subject matters in it,” Reilly said. “Some of the lyrics are about being clean and some of the lyrics are also about (how) I was dating somebody who was a lot younger than me, who was 21. I was tired of listening to people complaining about it, so I mentioned some things.”
Reilly’s 21-year-old art school student girlfriend, Chrissy, also inspired the song “Stay,” which was based on a dream Reilly had where he was really old and she was his nurse.
“In the dream, I was sort of the way older people get when their family visits them – they never want them to leave,” he said. “That was the basis for that. It is simultaneously about being with someone who is younger and wanting her to stay, no matter what the obstacles were.”
The relationship has had its share of drama, some of which was caused by online rumors. In fact, Reilly isn’t sure whether it will work considering that he’s on the road often, touring and producing songs for other artists.
“I’d like us to stay together because it’s a great relationship,” he said. “But being a musician and a producer and having a little bit of minor celebrity stature can be trying for somebody – especially somebody that young.”
Thanks for the advice
Reilly took a moment to think about how to describe the song “Spinning” because “there are some things in a recovering addict’s life that are supposed to remain anonymous.”
“People that have been through what I’ve been through have advised me to not be in any kind of a relationship until I have been clean for a longer period of time,” he said. “When I got into this relationship with this girl that I’ve been with, everybody told me that was like a warning sign that I’m trying to fill the void that was left by substances with a relationship that was dramatic and intense from the start.
“A lot of people were worried that it would cause my demise,” he added. “But I’ve been able to handle pretty many things since I got clean. It hasn’t affected my sobriety at all.”
Old school flavor
For diehard fans of Reilly and God Lives Underwater, the last two songs on the “Inside” EP may sound familiar. That’s because “Blaming The Truth” and “Far From Home” originally appeared on “The Seven EP” by Reilly’s side project, Fluzee, in 2002. The album was dedicated to Reilly’s late fiancee, Seven, who was struck and killed by a passenger train on Nov. 30, 2000. It featured seven songs and was pressed in a limited edition of 777 copies.
Reilly produced “Far From Home” using a minimal amount of equipment. The song relates to Seven’s death.
“I had some ups and downs with accepting that,” Reilly said. “I would wish that she could be here to see how it’s possible to move on from the drugs and alcohol. But she was far from home – you know, dead.”
Meanwhile, “Blaming The Truth” was co-produced by God Lives Underwater band mate Jeff Turzo. It was recorded at the GLU studio, which is reflected in the song’s sound. It also is about Seven’s death.
“It has things in it about when I lived in Hollywood,” Reilly said. “It has things in it about when I lived down in the neighborhood too (in Philadelphia). It’s about trials and tribulations. It mentions her in it – saying that she was the love of my life, but like everything else I touch she’s gone now. It’s pretty serious subject matter on the things that have happened since ‘Life In The So-Called Space Age.’ That kind of started the real collapse of my network of people.”
God Lives Underwater 2004
“Up Off The Floor,” the long-awaited new album by God Lives Underwater, is due out later this year or early next year on Megaforce/Locomotive. It has songs about getting clean and others about giving up.
The album was recorded between 1998 and 2001. Its release was pushed back multiple times as it changed hands from A&M to Interscope to a dot.com company and then to Megaforce and Locomotive.
Reilly and Turzo could possibly tour if the album sells well enough. It would be difficult, though, since both musicians are busy with solo careers. Turzo’s current band is called Wired All Wrong. Meanwhile, Reilly is finalizing negotiations on a record deal and hopes to begin tracking his full-length solo debut in August.
“What makes me really happy right now is that I’ve sort of rebuilt my relationships with Jeff and our manager, Gary,” said Reilly, who lives in the Philadelphia area. “I’ve got a new manager named Tom – I actually call him ‘The Rooster’ – and he’s a big influence on me being productive. He believes in me and what I do a lot.
“And then the girl I’ve been (seeing), I guess you could say it’s been a tumultuous relationship that I’ve had with this girl Chrissy,” he added. “That’s helped me a lot too because it was one of those things. After I got clean, I got a driver’s license, I got a car, I wasn’t in trouble with the law anymore and then I ended up in love with this girl. The rewards of being clean paid off tenfold. Being clean, making music, having a girlfriend – it made it so I couldn’t imagine going back to that other life.”
Original Date: 2004-07-13
Original URL: http://www.newstimes180.com/story.php?id=202&category=SOUNDS