Wednesday 23 Apr

IndianGiver - Understudies

There’s a difference between being derivative and being inspired by something, a line a lot of artists can’t seem to find — or at least don’t care to.
04/22/2014 | Comments 0

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Singer/songwriter Rocky Votolato...

Singer/songwriter Rocky Votolato emerges from the dark to discover a new dawn with 'True Devotion'

Chris Parker November 4th, 2010

Success can be a killer if you're not prepared for it. Just ask Kurt Cobain, or fellow Seattle resident Rocky Votolato.

Rocky Votolato with Ha Ha Tonka and Taylor Gary
7:30 p.m. Sunday
The Conservatory
8911 N. Western

Success can be a killer if you're not prepared for it. Just ask Kurt Cobain, or fellow Seattle resident Rocky Votolato.

While he never reached the Nirvana leader's level of ubiquity, after building a solo career for eight years, Votolato broke through with his critically acclaimed 2006 album, "Makers," but things spiraled from there. A year or so later, the singer/songwriter was scanning the Internet investigating ways to commit suicide.

"I was dead serious about getting out. I was over the whole delusion of this life," said Votolato, now sober, happier and playing Sunday at The Conservatory. "Through doing that and taking time to ... just kind of let the dust settle and look at things with sober eyes as an adult, I was able to figure out a lot of what I think my mistakes were in perception, and then apply that. So far, it's worked out with really good results."

His strummy, downcast folk and airy tenor croon often earned comparisons to the melancholy music of another late Northwest Pacific peer, Elliott Smith. Angst, longing and existential ache are frequent subjects that echoed Votolato's depressive cast of mind.

This is, after all, a fellow whose 2003 record was titled "Suicide Medicine." That's exactly what alcohol and prescription pills became for him. Touring with hard-drinking rockers Lucero, Votolato began to slide toward oblivion.

"I don't think I have the tools to deal with the type of success I was having. I'm not saying that it was on some massive, world-changing scale, because it wasn't. Everything is subjective and relative to what you can handle with your delicate fragile human psyche," he said. "For me, I had to change course. I realized I was drinking to self-medicate severe depression."

After 2007's country-flavored "The Brag and Cuss," Votolato took a couple years off to decompress. He began reading books by Eckhart Tolle, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mahatma Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau, and the Tao Te Ching. He began meditating, gave up meat and embraced forgiveness. Coming through the storm, he emerged as a stronger person.

It's a spirit that energizes his new disc, "True Devotion," arguably his finest release to date. While it's still consumed with the shadows that flit about the edges of our lives, there's a hope and a resilience that run just as strongly throughout.

"I feel like a happier person in general. I still struggle to keep the career going, but I'm feeling happier about it," he said. "I'm just interested in getting back to digging and uncovering that artistic truth, because that's why I got into doing this in the first place. That's what was therapeutic to me and hopefully is what had any impact on anybody else's lives who've experienced my music."

In the meantime, it's all about looking forward. He's hoping to self-produce his next album, as he did this one, and apply all he's learned about building a song track by track. He's begun playing with a drummer on a few tunes each night, after playing solo much of his career.

For Votolato, it's as if the sun's emerged from the clouds, and is forecasting a brighter day.

"I'm trying to get to a place where I'm measuring my success by the quality of my life," he said. "And not by the material acquisitions or fame or what other people think."

photo/Christopher Nelson
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5