Since J.R. Richards has not been with Dishwalla, he’s finding collaborations are artistically stimulating. He’s now producing a record for another artist, he’s writing songs for movies and television shows, and he started two new side projects all with different members of his touring band.
Life is fresh....good....busy. The days of sitting at home in front of a piano by himself writing songs have been replaced by the tapping into the creative input of others. The result is and will be a new batch of Richards’ songs that have his signature on them, but with a different feel.
“I’ve been writing with a lot of people these days, many more than I ever have,” Richards tells Alternative Addiction. “Most of the time I would sit at home by myself with a piano and guitar and write everything. Now I’ve been trying to kind of branch out and work with different people.”
Richards’ latest release is under the name “The Glorious Love,” a three-member project that consists of Jason Koiter (keyboards) and Trace Ritter (guitar), two members of Richards’ touring band. The project came together for the purpose of writing a song for an episode for the TV show Criminal Minds. The result was the mood driven, “A Dark Safe Place,” a song that seems so fitting that you could be left wondering if the TV show was inspired from the song.
“Lyrically I got the inspiration from the actual screenplay for the show itself. They let us take a look at it. We were going to do a specific episode, and then it ended up getting put on hold,” Richards said. “We enjoyed writing it together; we may continue writing and put a whole record together. We’re working on some more right now. They’re all sort of in the writing stage.”
Also due out in June will be three songs from another collaboration. This time Richards teamed up with Michael Carey and David Walsh from the band Exies for the TV movie “LBS”. The song “Monday Came,” is the theme song. They also wrote two other songs together (Sunlight and Sugarville). Those songs are scheduled to be released on June 22.
And not to be forgotten is his project with another one of his touring band members. Richards and guitarist Ryan Rossi formed Califas. They released “A Beautiful Game,” an anthem song that will celebrate the arrival of the World Cup and is already getting run on Fox Sports Soccer channel. Richards is also producing Rossi’s debut record that is in the final stages.
“I’ve been trying to take advantage of taking the opportunity with the free time I have to try different genre,” Richards said. “The Califas thing that I worked on has reggae tones. It’s a crazy club chant music which is completely different than anything I’ve ever done. And ‘A Dark Safe Place’ is much more electronica.”
In case that’s not enough, Richards still believes there is plenty of life left in his first solo CD titled, “A Beautiful End” that was released in May of last year.
“I’m still working with that record. I’ll continue to do a bunch of shows in August. I might do some military tours in the fall, but things are so different these days the way you push a record. You’ve got six months to make it happen and then it’s over. I’ll probably continue to work that throughout the year,” Richards said. “The struggle for me, and I think for so many artists, is to get the music heard. If you can get it heard people will want it. It’s just trying to get it to them. That’s definitely the tough part.”
Times have changed for Richards, who says he still talks to members of Dishwalla, but they have no immediate plans to take to the stage or the studio.
“I talk to the guys every once in a while. I guess it’s like being in a relationship you see every single day. Even though we didn’t break up like that, you break up and then you don’t really see them anymore it’s kind of strange. Some of the guys aren’t really playing music, they’re doing something completely different. It’s interesting to see where everybody’s kind of gone because we started just out of high school and college.”
Dishwalla fans can still hear some of the classic Dishwalla songs live at one of Richards’ shows. He still does songs like Counting Blue Cars, Until I Wake Up and Opaline. It’s a perfect balance of old with new and while he still manages to keep his trademark live sound that seems like it’s been polished in the studio for months. Whether he’s in the studio sharing the writing duties with different musicians or producing a record for one of the members of his band, it’s all good for Richards. It’s a beautiful thing. Sounds like the makings of another song.