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Robert Bannon - Rewind Interview

Renowned singer and songwriter, Robert Bannon, is releasing his highly anticipated live album, 'Rewind'. Recorded at the prestigious Green Room 42 in New York, this captivating album showcases Bannon's extraordinary talent and heartfelt storytelling.

The album releases on October 27th, 2023, 'Rewind' takes listeners on a nostalgic journey through Bannon's Italian/Irish heritage, his parent's unwavering love and support, his unique queer flare, and his beloved home state of New Jersey.

Featuring a collection of 10 mesmerizing songs, 'Rewind' is a testament to Bannon's exceptional artistry and ability to connect with audiences on a deeply personal level. From his experiences growing up in Ridgefield Park, NJ, to his passion for music and the challenges he has overcome, each track on the album is a poignant reflection of his journey. 

We caught up with Robert to discuss the album.

Congratulations on the new album, where did the idea for this album come from?
Thank you! It came about after we did "Rewind" at Greenroom 42 in October of 2022. We had finished doing the promo and concerts for my album "Unfinished Business" and I said to my co-writer, director, and co-producer Robbie Rozelle that sometimes we need to look back to go forward! That was how the idea of Rewind was born. I think turning 40 this Halloween has me feeling nostalgic. This album is truly my look back at growing up in Ridgefield Park, NJ and the music that shaped me. You will know every song and hopefully see a piece of yourself in the story. 

You’ve recorded this live at Greenroom 42, why did you choose to do it as a live album?
I love live albums. I love live arrangements. I love the energy of a live band and the excitement of the performer. I have always wanted to do one. People have told me they are hard to make., will people listen, how will we get it done? But then I had Robbie and my MD, Co-Producer, and Engineer of the album Yasuhiko Fukuoka with me, and they are always game. 

What is rare for this is we did this one night. This is not the "Best Of..." from multiple nights. What you hear is what we did. I love living on the artistic edge like that. I know that everyone else was like what if it does not work? That is the stuff I thrive off of. Call it a blessing and a curse, but I just jumped at it! I am proud of this band, this team, these songs, the story, and how it came out. If I can listen to me sing live and not cringe, we did a good job! Ha!

What is your writing process like for a show?
Well, I wish I was a songwriter. I wish I had that skill. The Great Folk Singer Dar Williams has tried to convince me I could write. I find the writing process so amazing and daunting. I am always on the move and onto the next thing, so for me, sitting down and editing and rewriting is honestly hard for me. Even in acting school at Esper Studios in NY, I thrived on improv and thinking off the top of my head. I know that terrifies some performers. So the script is loosely written. I sit down and make a list of songs that I want to sing. I try to arrange them and organize the story I want to tell. 

Then. Robbie Rozelle comes in and helps make sense of it all. He trims the fat, helps add some laughs, and then we are off to the races. Musically, Yaz never says no. He will sit with me and find keys, arrange medlies (Like the Eight Song Manilow Medley on the album) and make it work. I will say, "We can scrap it," but he lives for the challenge. We rehearse way less than most, we have an outline, and then we do the show. 

How do you go about deciding which songs to do covers of?
I recently had Jeff Herner on my talk show called "The Roundtable '' that is on YouTube and The Broadway Podcast Network and we talked about this. It is a delicate dance for sure. I tend to look for the songs that fit the story, but also songs I love. What is this song saying? How does it tell the story? I want a tight 75-minute show. I do not want a song that is a throwaway moment. Every minute on stage is a gift. 

So I listen to a lot of music naturally. I listen to new music, old music, on the treadmill, in the car, literally I am the Green Eggs and Ham of music listening. I keep a running list or lists more accurately of songs I want to sing. I have songs for projects that will not see the light of day for years ready to go. If the song makes me feel something, if it tells the story, and I love it, I sing it. On this album I cover Whitney, Manilow, Dolly, Liza- they are big shoes to fill, but I do not try to be as amazing as they are, I just try to let the story lead the way. 

You blend your own heritage into the songs, how do you approach doing so?
I am a good ole Irish/Italian boy from Jersey. I think that all three of those things come with pride, jokes, and a lot of emotions. We talk loud, with our hands, we fight hard and love deep. I do not know another way to be. Telling stories about my parents, my brother, my grandmother, renting videos, finding Barry Manilow, going on a first date, they are just a part of me. It has taken me many years, a lot of counseling, and a giant process of self growth to own who I am . It is what I hope to do best. I want to sing well. I want to make you laugh, but I hope more than anything I can just be and accept me. My grandfather came here at 18 years old from Italy. He did not have any money, he did not speak English, he was an illegal immigrant. That is hard. Being you in front of an audience and singing some songs should be joy! That is at the center of all I do - gratitude & joy!

What keeps you inspired as an artist and creative?
Great question. My mother says I am a real Scorpio. We are intense. I do everything at 100% all the time. If it is the music, the online show, my Christmas Show coming to Chelsea Table & Stage this December, teaching my 5th grade students, my partner, my family, etc. I just go hard. I have no idea why I am so driven. It must be in the blood. What inspires me is this world. WE are faced with some tough times. War, fighting, hate, anger- we need to get back to just listening, sharing, and accepting. I think that telling my story heals me and hopefully someone else. That is very moving to me. I also see my Musical Theatre Students at NJPAC in Newark, NJ, they inspire me. 

There are so many people who make amazing art that inspires me. Composer Matt Gould who wrote "I Think He Knew" which is an original on "Unfinished Business" and now on "Rewind" mashed up with "Cats In The Cradle" inspires me. He writes from a personal, real place that is inspiring. I spent 15 years scared to sing and act, those lost days inspire me, and now love inspires me. I am so happy FINALLY with my partner that I feel ready to sing about love next! 

How would you sum the album up in 3 words?
Nostalgic, Joyful, Jersey!

You can stream Rewind from wherever you get your albums on Friday 27th October. You can find out more about Robert and his podcast and other projects from his website

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