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INTERVIEW: Jeff Symonds Talks New Material, Album Release Plans

Jeff Symonds has been a staple on the San Francisco music scene for decades. The multi-instrumentalist has been playing a variety of instruments since age 12. He’s played guitar, bass and/or keys with more than 30 different bands. Inspiration struck and Symonds decided to release his first solo album at age 50. Since then, he hasn’t looked back.

We recently had a chance to catch up with Jeff and got some more insight into riverrun, details on the album release party, and what he’d like to say to his fans if he had the chance.

For updates be sure to follow Jeff on Instagram and Twitter.

‘I love a rock and roll band in full flight live — the pandemic created my longest break from live performance since I was 10, and I cannot wait to get back up there’.

-Jeff Symonds
  • What info would you like to share about the new album?

riverrun is an album in the old-school, big double vinyl sense– it’s got four parts / four sides, and it follows a character from childhood (mostly set in Florida) through adolescence, complicated adulthood, and finally a sense of contentment. I play all the instruments on the record, and I tried to cover all the styles and sounds that I’ve fallen in love with along the way– it’s my whole ball of wax, the kitchen sink, whatever metaphor works.

  • Tell us a little bit about how riverrun came together.

For the last decade, I’ve been playing primarily for other people. and as 2020 rolled around, none of the other projects that I work in were recording, and I was determined to make some art in 2020. So I pulled out all the songs that I’d stuck in a drawer over the years, wrote a dozen or so new ones, and chipped away from about 60 until there were 13 songs that told a story and hung together. I booked a series of sessions for myself with my friend Gawain Matthews, and riverrun is the result. It’s not really a COVID record, as I had all the songs done and had already started it before we were shut down, but the pandemic definitely gave me the sense of urgency and focus to finish it.

  • Any shows (or live streams) you have coming up?

YES! We’re doing a CD release show Thursday, September 30th at The Ivy Room in Albany CA. It’s one of the best rooms in the Bay Area, and we can’t wait– it’ll be the world debut for a bunch of tunes.

  • What do you enjoy most about being a musician?

I love that question. It’s a combination of the craft of writing and recording a song that’s worth hearing, and hopefully hearing more than once, the community of people I’ve so fortunate to play with, and the sweat and volume and energy of taking it to the stage. I love a rock and roll band in full flight live– the pandemic created my longest break from live performance since I was 10, and I cannot wait to get back up there. We are going to bring it in September– I already feel like I’m pacing in a cage in anticipation.

  • Share an interest outside of music.

Reading and travel– I’m a high school English teacher, and I’m on a futile attempt to read everything interesting that’s out there.

  • What message would you like to share with your fans?

Thank you to everyone taking the time to engage with my music– it’s super generous, and I deeply appreciate it. I hope it gives back to you as well.

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