David George is a multi-talented singer-songwriter and instrumentalist whose passion for music extends beyond the confines of his hometown Kansas City. George is perhaps best known in local circles for being the voice behind "Hey, Kansas City", the 2015-16 season touchdown song for The Kansas City Chiefs. Many may not know that he has shared stages with the likes of John Fogerty, Jacob Dylan, and The Temptations, among a slew of other luminaries. We're honored to share an interview with David George about his new music, how the Indigo Girls influenced his career, and other choice stories.
Please introduce yourself. Describe your music for new listeners.
Hi, my name is David George. I’m a Kentucky boy, but Kansas City will always be my home. I grew up in Overland Park and moved around to Seattle and Southern California and then back to KC. I played in a local KC band called Moaning Lisa that moved to LA in 2004. Moved back to KC in 2010 and then was offered a position playing guitar for the legend John Fogerty. I did that for about a year and then left to pursue my own material.
The music I am currently working on is straight forward rock ’n’ roll. Not that 50’s stuff or even the heavy stuff I was doing in the band Moaning Lisa, but stuff more like the Eagles or Tom Petty. I released an EP of acoustic stuff in April and plan on releasing two more this year. The next two albums get more complex; full band, horns, etc.
You’ve stated that your latest EP, Here I Go Again, takes its inspiration from John Denver and Elliot Smith. What was it about these two artists that moved you to write and record these songs?
When I was working on the full band stuff I came across a few Elliot Smith songs and then the powerhouse John Denver tune “Rocky Mountain High” and I got sucked into the simplicity of their stuff. Both of them could write big orchestral stuff, but it was the minimalist material that inspired me. I write on the acoustic and decided some of the songs would be better suited if I just strip them down.
Talk about this “chance meeting with the Indigo Girls” years ago that set you on your musical career.
I had just moved to Los Angeles after college to pursue a career in film/TV. My cousin had won tickets to see them, but it was a 2-hour drive…so we did it! I was blown away by the fact that they made such a huge sound out of just two guitar and voices! We managed to sneak backstage and they offered us tickets to their next show, which happened to be closer to where we lived) and met up with them a few nights later. It was then I decided I needed an acoustic guitar. I mainly just played piano, but I loved the romantic notion of just grabbing a guitar and sitting on the bluff overlooking the ocean (I think I did it once!) and proceeded to teach myself basic chords. It was still a few years down the road before I was confident enough to play in front of people, but that’s where it all started!
You’ve performed with a slew of notable musicians like John Fogerty, Robert Earl Keen and Don Felder of the Eagles – even at one point Paul McCartney. Do you have a memorable story about performing alongside any of these legends?
They say don’t ever met your idols, and for the most part that’s true! When I first met John I was put off by his bitter attitude about a shitty record deal he got when he was 16 years old. Meanwhile, we were sitting in his $40 million mansion. However, the first day of auditioning/rehearsing I met a completely different person. I saw why he was the legend that he is. Up their with Dylan, Bruce, and Paul. He is a perfectionist and works his ass off. If anyone thinks playing arenas or having a hit song is cake walk, you are sorely misguided. It takes a lot of work and some people just have it. John has it.
I blew my chance to actually have a conversation or even a handshake with Sir Paul. When I was getting into the limo to go back to my hotel he was getting out of the same vehicle and I was so stunned at the moment that I couldn’t put one word on my tongue and he walked off quickly with a little, “cheers, Mate!”
Tell us about a song you spent the longest time on to get right. How do you move through creative blocks?
I have a bit of John Lennon in me where if it’s not right the first take or so I move on. Every once in awhile you hit on something that just needs some work. I wrote a song years ago in LA and recorded it twice, but was never overly happy with the end results. Then a few years ago while recording my last full length, Radiant Man, I pulled it back out and changed the key and feel and it gelled. I think it’s one of the best songs I’ve ever put out as far as getting the message across and a solid recording. It’s called “So You”.
Creative blocks always hit at the weirdest time. Usually you don’t even know what’s happening until you step back and realize the well has dried up and time to move on to another place! I mean that metaphorically of course. Sometimes it’s just a matter of time before something kicks back in. That’s why I have my guitar hanging on the wall by my desk. I usually always pick it up. Sometimes I just set it back down. Other times… BAM!
What inspires you the most about music in Kansas City?
The diversity of the music in KC is unbelievably motivating and inspiring. I’m not much in to Hip Hip or even Punk, but sometimes I’ll catch an artist doing something and I really have to take a minute and absorb it. Also, the knowledge of Kansas City’s Jazz and Blues heritage keeps the fire burning. Knowing some of the greats that got their start here or made KC what it is.
1. Dreaming The Beatles by Rob Sheffield
2. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
3. Wonder Boy by James Robert Baker
4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
5. Conversations With Tom Petty by Paul Zollo
6. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
8. The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951 version)
11. Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien/ Books & Movie
This list is in constant fluctuation. Because it all depends on the mood I’m in or what’s fresh on my mind. One of my favorite books is Wonder Boy by James Baker. I used to give it to friends as a gift. It is all written in third person accounts of the main character. I just found a few copies and have put it back on my list! Rollingstone writer Rob Sheffield’s book Dreaming The Beatles is in my lap write now. I’ve read nearly every Beatle book to the point I never want to pick another up. However, this book is more about the myth of the Beatles then they’re over told day-to-day routine stuff.
I loved the Day The Earth Stood Still when my father made me watch it on TV when I was a kid. And Star Wars changed my life when I was a 13 year old kid watching it for the first time on the big screen. I fell in love with the impact of making movies and entertainment. It was massive! And I had to add LOTR because of it’s impact on me. Books and the movies were huge. I still watch the extended version from time to time!