Q&A: Tampa songwriter Jeremy Gloff talks surprise LP and how he finally made a record that sounds like “the person I am outside”
Gloff’s 21st album, Lightrail, is out now.
-written by Ray Roa
-June 24th, 2017
-courtesy of Creative Loafing
photo by Harold Hasselback
Long-running, perennially celebrated Tampa songwriter and activist Jeremy Gloff pulled a cot damn Beyoncé on everyone by surprising releasing his 21st album, Lightrail, out of nowhere. Gloff, 42, told CL that “this has been my biggest kept secret since…well I won’t tell you those straight guys’ names.”
It’s also his happiest album to date, and Gloff says that can be credited to the positivity surrounding him in the days after the Pulse shooting in Orlando. Gloff’s friend Jeff Rodriguez was in the club, but survived.
“[He] just barely survived the Pulse incident. I was so moved by his positivity and survival. I just started writing,” Gloff said, adding that one song steamrolled into 15. “I think I’m a fun happy dude in person and my music never reflected that until now. I think I finally made an album that sounds like the person I am outside.”
Gloff also tapped Apollonia 6/Vanity 6 vocalist Brenda Bennett to sing on the intro along with Rodriguez.
“Having [Jeff] around to say he’s alive on my album was such a blessing. I cried. [We] and I became friends in the 2007 and bonded by our love of Vanity 6. Brenda is also his favorite – so him surviving and having me, him, and Brenda on a song together is historic for us.”
Read our full Q&A, listen to Lightrail and get more information on the album release show below.
You’re happy go lucky on this one. What up with that?
It was shortly after the Pulse shootings and I was driving to Orlando with my buddy Okie and he came up with the title Lightrail. Something rattled inside of me. A week later, after seeing Gwen Stefani in concert I was so inspired and moved by her lack of pretentiousness or heaviness. She just writes fun, uplifting pop songs. When I started writing the album in July, my friend Jeff just barely survived the Pulse incident. I was so moved by his positivity and survival I just started writing. One song turned into two which turned into fifteen. I think I’m a fun happy dude in person and my music never reflected that until now. I think I finally made an album that sounds like the person I am outside.
Why’d you Beyonce everyone? Normally you’re pretty open about your activities.
Everything that happened in the last week all was planned in July 2016. The summer dance party masquerading as the release party for my summer album. The surprise video/album/single drop. It was something no one in Tampa (to my knowledge) had done so I thought it would be a lot of fun and different. It was hard to not play any of these songs live since I’ve been sitting on some of them for almost a year now. This has been my biggest kept secret since…well I won’t tell you those straight guys names.
Talk about the idea behind a video series.
I felt it would be fun to release a video on the 21st of each month in the summer. June 21 is “Holla-Lujah” directed by Cole Carbone. Coming July 21 is “Slow It Down” directed by Michael Sinclair and then August 21 will be “Now and Here” also directed by Michael. After the summer more videos are coming. I will be doing “Nasty AF” with the Disco Dolls in the fall.Truthfully, I’m nearly 25 years into doing music. These different kind of releases and plans keep it interesting and fun. Music and creativity for me are 100-percent motivated by fun. This has all been a blast.
What about the guests on here, Shae, Brad etc. how’d they come into the mix and what do they bring to the songs that couldn’t bring on your own?
I did something different on this album than any before – I used the same background singers on all the songs and had very few cameos. Shae, Courtney, and Johnny really blended and were cool adding subtle textures. I love the way backup vocals were recorded in the 80s on the old Donna Summer and also on Quincy Jones-produced albums. I tried to go for that same sounds on some of the tracks. Brad couldn’t get to Tampa to record so he sent me his part video voice text!
The hardest secret to keep for me on this album was having Brenda Bennett add vocals to the intro. Brenda was in Purple Rain and one of the singers in Apollonia 6 and Vanity 6. I grew up with Brenda as one of my heroes. We became friends in the last few years. I’m singing on her next album and she sang on mine. Life doesn’t get any cooler than having the low voice in “Sex Shooter” open my new album.
The second voice you hear is my friend Jeff saying, “I’m alive.” He was one of the last people to be rescued from Pulse and what he saw and experienced was horrific. Having him around to say he’s alive on my album was such a blessing. I cried. Jeff and I became friends in the 2007 bonded by our love of Vanity 6. Brenda is also his favorite – so him surviving and having me, him, and Brenda on a song together is historic for us.
What’s next for you?
I finally got over my fear of flying to I’m ready to go out and play shows around the United States like I used to. I have friends all over and it’s time to take the Lightrail abroad. These are such fun, positive songs and I want to preach it to anyone who will listen.
Will you do one Dear Gloffy column for us before the year is over?
Yes PLEASE. Tell me when!