Richie Kotzen has never been an artist known for playing by the rules. And for this ever-adventurous triple-threat songwriter/guitarist/vocalist, that meant putting on the brakes after a nonstop flurry of band-related activity in order to refuel the creative process for the ten heartfelt and hard-hitting songs that comprise his vibrant new solo album, Salting Earth, out April 14 via his own custom label, Headroom-Inc. In other words, Kotzen tossed convention on its ear by actually taking one step back in order to move two steps forward. “It’s something I really needed to do in order to reset myself,” Kotzen explains.
Kotzen’s “charge to recharge” was officially put into play following the mega-success of the 2015–16 tour behind his band The Winery Dogs’ sophomore effort, the oh-so-appropriately named Hot Streak. And the man’s reset manifesto wound up hitting all the right buttons too. The proof is on display deep within the grooves of Salting Earth, which veers from the balls-out, heads-up declaration of the opening track “End of Earth” to the burning-sky harmonic thrust of “Thunder” to the Prince-like funk-jazz swing of “This Is Life” to the acoustified take-me-as-I-am self-reflection of the album’s final song, “Grammy.”
Once Kotzen caught his creative breath, the ideas for Salting Earth just kept on a-coming. “I have a theory about writer’s block,” he offers. “Basically, I don’t believe in it. In my experience, when I don’t feel inspired or I don’t have any ideas, it equates to not having any output. In order to have output, you need input. So it really comes down to the balance between your artistic side and your life side. You need balance between the two, and that’s why it’s so important for me to take long breaks from music.” Kotzen’s reaffirming commitment to that life/work balance soon begat vibrant, new music. “It’s in that time when I’m away from it where ideas begin to take shape,” he continues. “Then, when I find myself coming back to music, I end up in a situation with a wealth of ideas and creative energy. When I’m in that zone, the music literally writes itself. Lyrics, music, production, performance — it all happens simultaneously on its own.”
Kotzen is clearly eager to hit the road. “I know this is going to be a long album cycle of touring, and already we are talking about going to places I’ve never been before — like Australia, for example,” Kotzen notes. “With the new record being done and knowing dates are being booked around the world, I can feel my creative energy surging once again.” Said energy surge has been seeded quite liberally all throughout Salting Earth, an album that shows Kotzen as the pillar for how to harness newfound creativity in the best light imaginable. Come and dig his Earth.