Valentine's Day Unplugged with Keith Semple
Semple was formerly the lead singer of 7th Heaven and now has his own solo project, appropriately called SEMPLE. On the most romantic night of the year, he'll be singing a night full of love songs, unplugged.
Along with listening to his amazing voice, he'll have free merch giveaways and will also have an exclusive preview showing of his brand new music video for "Hand On My Heart".
Opening for Semple is Valentine Bennett (from The Aviators) - how apropos. The best part, tickets start at just $10 and before the show, you can wine and dine in Viper Alley's restaurant.
I've seen Keith in 7th Heaven many times and he's a class act. He was the winner United Kingdom's Popstars: The Rivals (equivalent to the USA's American Idol) and has played in venues around the world. Chicago Rocker magazine has even named him the #1 male singer.
I got the opportunity to sit down with Keith to get to know him a little better as the solo artist. Below is our interview.
Janelle: Keith, I’ve seen you many times with the band, 7th Heaven, which you recently left. What made you decide to depart the band?
Keith Semple: It’s the same reason I decided to join them in the first place. It felt like it was the logical next step to take in my musical career. It just felt like it was the right time. I had a great 6 years with 7th heaven and had worked hard to be able to take this next step toward my career goals.
Janelle: Now that you have your solo project, SEMPLE, what are your future plans with the band?
Keith Semple: The sky is the limit essentially. My goals haven't changed since I was 13; I want the maximum number of people possible to experience the music that I write – and now the music that I write with my new band members, too.
Janelle: What’s the best part of having your solo project?
Keith Semple: It’s the satisfaction of seeing the hard work pay off. These guys in my new band are simply amazing and when I hear us play the songs that mean so much to me; it literally puts a lump in my throat (which is not good while trying to sing lol)
Janelle: Where do your song ideas come from?
Keith Semple: The ideas come from everything and anything. Sometimes it's about a personal experience, other times it's about a topical subject like war, drugs, politics, etc., and other times it's simply what I feel comes to me at the time and it can be about everything. I never write the same song twice or have any "template" for writing. I like it to be organic and when it happens it happens.
Janelle: Are there any topics or themes you won’t write/sing about?
Keith Semple: Definitely, yes. However these also include things I wouldn't talk about in an interview - lol.
Janelle: What is the best cure for writer’s block?
Keith Semple: A jam session!!! So far some of the best new material we have come up with have been in between practice times when we are just tuning up and messing about. Someone plays something and a light bulb goes off in my brain and I insist we jam to it and record a voice memo on our phones so I can work on it in any spare time I get. These guys simply ooze creativity!
Janelle: What is the most inspirational story you’ve ever heard from a fan about your music?
Keith Semple: There are so many worthy contenders here. I would say that the one that sticks in my head is when a young gentleman approached me and told me how my song "Better this way" (which I co-wrote for a 7th heaven album and it reached number one in the Chicago billboard charts) saved him from a deep depression. He had been on the verge of committing suicide and had by chance been at a festival we were playing. He heard the song and bought the album, and the lyrics seemed to touch him in a way that allowed him to see that life was indeed worth living. This makes me feel very humbled that the lyrics and melody I wrote could have had this kind of impact on a person’s life. It's one of the wonders of music.
Janelle: Tell me a little bit about your SEMPLE band members:
Keith Semple: There isn't enough time or space to say enough good things about these guys.
Drew my bass player is a refreshing, positive minded, engaged and amazingly talented musician who currently has 25 bass riffs in my inbox waiting for me to write to. He never ceases to be ahead of the game and his charisma on stage is electrifying.
Amy plays keys and a little bit of guitar here and there. She has an amazingly sharp ear for what's needed in a song and has a great look and a funny sense of humor. She doesn't mind being outnumbered 4-1 - lol
Johnny has been in my sights for many years. From the first time I ever saw him play I knew he would be my drummer some day. He oozes rock'n'roll and brings the class and coolness to the band. Plus, he’s one of the most talented musicians I have ever worked with.
Finally and by no means lastly, Charley brings the musical genius to the band. I have never played with, or have seen someone play guitar with this much emotion, skill and technicality. Many times I have had to stop during practices just because I got so caught up in something he has been playing that I have lost sense of all else around me. It's awe inspiring to me.
Janelle: You’re playing a Valentine’s Day show at Viper Alley in Lincolnshire, what’s your favorite Valentine’s Day memory?
Keith Semple: Ha! My favorite? Or my most interesting, lol? I have many special memories, but the last few Valentine's Days have been the best because they have been with my wife and very shortly, the mother of our first child. There is a connection there that cannot really be explained.
Janelle: What’s your favorite Valentine’s Day/love song?
Keith Semple: I would have to say it's "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt. I know the message is not a positive love message, but in my opinion it's the best love song ever written. Bonnie's vocals on the track are the best female vocals I have ever heard on a love song in a studio recording. It's literally perfection down to the last piece of vibrato, sustain and subtle breath.
Janelle: What is your inspiration behind your new single, “Hand On My Heart”?
Keith Semple: I would like to be able to tell some big love story about this song; however I've got to say that the real story behind this song is the music. I had had this melody and lyric idea for a long time and refused to record it until I was able to do it justice. Then it all came together and ended up exactly how I imagined it. Not a love story but a "love music" story.
Janelle: What songs are playing on your MP3 player right now?
Keith Semple: A few songs from the Keith Urban album "Defying Gravity", always some good quality John Mayer guitar tracks and Stings album "Mercury Falling." Then for the sheer musical madness, I listen to a Dream Theater album at least once a week and a few songs from my favorite rock band "Thunder" from the UK. These are the staples; however I love all styles of music.
Janelle: You announced your wife is pregnant, are you finding out if it is a boy or a girl?
Keith Semple: We have known the sex for a couple of months now. I have to keep it a secret until my wife sends out the invites for her baby shower. The reveal will be in these and then I can tell everyone. I'm quite happy to leave these kinds of decisions to her.
Janelle: What are you most looking forward to when becoming a father?
Keith Semple: Being able to give my child all the knowledge that I have learned over the years and pass on all that my dad and mum gave to me. My dad passed on the thirst for knowledge and so I hope that I can interest my child in all the things that I feel are truly the most interesting things about life: like the science behind how the universe works from the formation of heavy elements in stars right down to the way energy is released through ATP molecules in the muscle fibers of humans and other mammals. I am simply in awe of how the universe and nature works and hope that this will be a hereditary trait. lol
Janelle: Will you get your child started early on making music?
Keith Semple: I will certainly try and teach them some basics and see if they like it and like playing it. I won't force them to play if they don't like it and whatever hobby they take a shine to I am more than willing to nurture that in them (but secretly hoping it will be music, tennis and a love for good books!)
Janelle: Thank you for taking the time to speak with The Local Tourist, is there anything else you’d like to include?
Keith Semple: I would like to thank you for taking the time to chat with me and to let everyone know that they can go to www.keithsemple.net for all things "SEMPLE" including all our upcoming tour dates plus lots of live videos and other interactive media that will let them learn all there is to know about the band.
Most of all I want to invite everyone to go to the music page of the website and spend some time listening to the music. I think it speaks for itself and I hope that it touches you in some small way like it has touched me and the band to create.
And, of course, a big “thank you” for all the support from my awesome fans. I could not be living my dream without you! See you all at Viper Alley for Valentine's night!
For show information and to purchase tickets, please click HERE.