By JESSICA A. BOTELHO
With two Top 10 hits and more than a million albums sold, singer-songwriter Howie Day will be performing at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass., on Sept. 20th as part of a northeast tour. Rebecca Correia, a singer-songwriter from Rochester, Mass., opens the show.
Along with a keyboardist, cellist and percussionist, Day plans to treat fans to an unplugged gig of new material yet to be released, plus his platinum single “Collide” and “She Says.”
“We call it ‘living room acoustic,’” said Day. “The four of us got together and were like, ‘if we can’t rehearse this in my living room then it’s going to be too much.’ It’s pretty laid back.”
Between shows, he’s been visiting Boston to record what will be his fourth studio release, an album that will likely be available in late 2013 or early 2014. While it’s yet to be titled, he’s laid down a few tracks and said having the opportunity to perform a majority of the songs before recording them has been a unique experience, as getting the chance to test the music on the road allows him to make adjustments in the studio.
“It’s the reverse of the way most people do it and makes it a lot more fun to play live,” Day said. “In the past, I’ve made albums and then I have to try to figure out how to play it live, whereas this one will be ready because we’re already playing it live. And it reflects a live show, which is great.”
He decided to record the album in Boston partly due to his longtime friendship with producer, Mike Denneen, who is based in Bean Town and produced most of Day’s music. Day trusts Denneen and often seeks his advice.
“He’s like my oracle,” said Day.
The writing process, he said, has been different to past albums. He’s done a great deal of collaborative writing, but he’s doing most of this one solo.
“With this album, I’m trying to write on my own a bit more, which is more difficult because you have to be disciplined about it,” he said, noting that singer-songwriter Sam Bisbee has encouraged and inspired him via “off the cuff” social meetings. “It’s like having a trainer at the gym: you have to show up. And you want to record and do things as best you can and not look back. It’s tough to not look back, but you have to just let each recording have it’s own moment. You have to keep evolving and move forward.”
During one of his trips to Boston, he performed with the Boston Pops at the Esplanade on the Fourth of July. He was flattered – and excited – when they reached out to him and asked him to join them for the show.
“It was one of the greatest days of my life and that’s not an exaggeration,” Day said. “It was amazing and fun.”
When he’s not writing, recording or performing, Day is taking pictures. He loves photography, and “is a sucker” for snapping shots of landscapes. Having a creative outlet he is able to explore is important for him as an artist.
“I’m really not good at it, but it’s soothing,” he said. “When you have a camera, you see everything differently because you’re looking for something to take a picture of. It makes you more aware of the world around you. Somehow that augments the whole writing process because you see things a bit more objectively than you would in your own bubble or routine.”
He often takes photos while on tour, noting that he enjoyed capturing special moments during a few visits to Iceland last year. These experiences creep their way into his music.
“I love it because when I play songs I think about, ‘this is when I was on that beach and it was snowing,’” he said. “It comes through to the audience.”
And while some audiences have enjoyed his cover of the “Game of Thrones” theme song at solo shows, it’s not played every night.
“We do that because we think it’s funny,” said Day. “It’s an icebreaker. If it seems a little tense, we’ll play that and it changes the whole direction. I like to make people laugh.”
But fans at the Narrows are sure to experience his charming and witty banter, as well as his use of effects pedals and loop-sampling techniques, a style he typically turns to at solo gigs. The band is working on injecting it into performances, along with a cover of Elton John’s “Come Down in Time.”
“It’s a very underrated Elton John song,” Day said. “We’ve been having a lot of fun with that one, too.”
Meanwhile, Correia, a guitarist and piano player who spends half her time in Nashville and the rest in her hometown of Rochester, said she can’t wait to open for Day.
“I’m super psyched,” said Correia, who has also opened for an array of notable musicians such as Natasha Bedingfield, Shawn Colvin, and Livingston Taylor. “I got to see him play in Nashville about a year and a half ago and I’m thrilled to be playing with someone who makes music similar to mine.”
The Narrows Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River. Tickets can be purchased online at www.narrowscenter.org, by calling 508-324-1926, or in person at the box office from Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m. Tickets will also be available at the door on the day of show.