Jeffrey Gaines is curious how the other half lives, the other half that has hit records.
He may get his wish with his radiant cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” It’s included on his debut Artemis album, “Always Be” (released April 17). In fact, it helped land the singer-songwriter-guitarist a deal with Danny Goldberg’s label.
Gaines, who cut two albums for Chrysalis in the early 1990s, recorded a live version of “In Your Eyes” during a show several years ago for Philadelphia station WXPN. The listener response was so overwhelming, WXPN added it to its playlist. Eventually, WPLJ in New York put it into rotation and it became the station’s most-requested song. Others followed suit.
“The Artemis deal came to me, I wasn’t looking for it,” Gaines said recently. “I had no demos. The deal was based solely on ‘In Your Eyes.’ I knew that song was going on the new album, and then I would shape the rest of it around that.
“It’s a ‘Hey, you remember me?’ song, but there’s other songs on the album that could be singles, too. I love doing ‘In Your Eyes,’ especially since it was written by somebody I admire very much, but I have my own material, too.”
Artemis was well aware of that and quickly fashioned a deal to Gaines’ satisfaction. “It happened so fast,” he said. “I was signed on Jan. 15 and was in the studio and done by Valentine’s Day. The paperwork got done and I mailed it back. A release date was set.
“The relationship is unfolding as it gets out in stores, but I have nothing but positivity. This is great, and Danny’s a wonderful, shoot-from-the-hips straight talker. His personality and presence put me at ease. There was a total lack of bullshit. When we had dinner to hash things out, I felt like, ‘I get this guy.’ Danny was talking about the music, not the business of selling music. He’s genuine.”
So far, Artemis has delivered, to Gaines’ delight.
“This is the first record for me to visit Top 40 stations,” he said. “Usually, I’m on AAA, non-commercial stations. Today, I got interviewed by a station right after they played Destiny’s Child. It’s wild.”
If radio stations are going to jump on the “In Your Eyes” bandwagon, Gaines is happy it’s with a cover version, rather than one of his own.
“Songs of mine say something very personal,” he said. “I’d prefer it be someone else’s song for them to play to death on the radio. And, live, the song totally works for me. I have this romance going on with the audience. I can see it in their eyes when they’re looking at me; they can feel the vibe, the message behind the song. That keeps it pure. It’s not one individual I’m thinking about when I sing it.”
THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: ” ‘Kiss Alive II.’ You open it up and all this stuff comes with it, like seeing the sleeves with fans and their hands in the air. You can feel the frenzy. I love that record. ‘All American Man,’ that’s the slamminest thing ever.”
THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “I lived in small-town central Pennsylvania, but believe it or not, I got to see a lot of shows living between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Scorpions, Foreigner, Rush … they all blur together. My friends would be driving around and they’d stop and say, ‘Hey, get in.’ ‘Where we going?’ ‘A concert.’ That’s how it would work.
“The first concert that slapped me in the face was Elvis Costello’s ‘Armed Forces’ tour. He was playing in a town that certainly didn’t understand him. He was a bad ass, telling people to stand up. He gets a pitcher of water and throws it on the audience. He was pissed. I thought it was great.”
ON LIFE IN RURAL PENNSYLVANIA: “The thing about people living in big cities, they’re never at home. They’re always out. ‘Give me your number, I’ll call you.’ (laughing) So far, everything I’ve created and have been proud of, it’s between me and the guitar walking around the house. I need space, the sky, Mother Nature. The grid factor clamps down on that in the big city. You’re rushing here and there. That’s time I could use to create stuff. I don’t want it clamored with cars and trucks and loud construction noises.”
GAINES ON THE WEB: www.jeffreygaines.com.
BWF (before we forget): The Jeffrey Gaines album discography – “Jeffrey Gaines” (Chrysalis, 1992); “Somewhat Slightly Dazed” (1994); “Galore” (Rykodisc, 1998); “Always Be” (Artemis, 2001); “Toward the Sun” (2003).
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