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Stuart Davis hasn't quit his day job. He's still a full-time performing songwriter.
Davis, aka the "punk monk" and the creator of the spiritual/satirical TV show Sex, God, Rock 'n Roll, is just a bit more hyphenated these days; he's become a Musician-Director-Comedian-Author. With 15 albums to his credit and guest appearances on NPR and syndicated radio's "Coast to Coast Live," music is still his main squeeze. His latest release, Music For Mortals, out August 7 on SDM, is proof; the melodies are catchy and instantly memorable, intelligent songwriting in the vein of Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, XTC, and - being a Minnesota native - Bob Dylan. The first single, "Beautiful Place," has thought-provoking lyrics and builds to a soaring, instantly memorable chorus you’ll have a hard time getting out of your head.
The album was funded by fans from 15 countries, who put up over $80,000, to see the project come to life, and then waited two years for it to be completed. "It was astonishing, this outpouring of support from around the world," he says. Their enthusiasm was contagious, because the new music finds Davis more on fire than ever.
Recorded at Henson Studios in Hollywood, Music for Mortals explores themes of spiritual awakening, death, and the mess of being Human. Davis wrote most of the songs over the last year of his father's life, the music served to guide him through that dark time.
"It was brutal gift, letting go of my dad," Davis says. "It pulled me closer to everything -- darkness, impermanence -- but also profound love. His death moved through us like a mysterious storm. I kept sifting through the debris, and finding songs."
But it's no album of dirges. Engineered and produced by Alex Gibson, songs like "Spit It Out" bristle with punk provocation, while others such as "Beautiful Place" and "Love" are lifted by Davis' unique take on tough subjects, one that USA Today says "...shimmers with pop savvy." The songs crackle with an intensity that owes much to his new band, including Justin Meldal-Johnsen on bass (Beck, Nine Inch Nails), Joel Shearer on guitar (Alanis Morissette, Annie Lennox), and Blair Sinta on drums (Alanis Morissette, Stevie Nicks).
With Season 3 of his TV series Sex, God, Rock 'n Roll in the works (on cable network HDNet in the US & Canada), Davis is loving the challenge of another medium, and the chance to write, direct, and perform stand- up in each episode. Says HDNet chairman Mark Cuban, "Stuart Davis is one of a kind, and we are thrilled to have him on HDNet." His biggest "star" moment to date was working with Kermit The Frog, and yes, Kermit shared some sex secrets, straight from "the swamp." "That was truly unforgettable", Davis says. "I will smile for the rest of my life, remembering that day he came on the show." He was joined in Season 2 by co-stars Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica) and Mariann Gavelo (It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Casa de mi Padre).
Having performed over 1,000 concerts in the US and Europe, Davis still enjoys the road and connecting with a live audience. Along with his songs, which have garnered him a loyal cult following, his shows contain edgy comedy and earthy spiritual insights. "The best thing about touring is the people," he says. "They still surprise me, like the way my fans made this new album possible. It reminds me to keep a beginner's mind, always."
In-studio appearances on syndicated shows such as Coast to Coast AM, NPR's Weekend Edition, and World Café have been some of the highlights of his touring career so far. With tour plans through fall 2012 in place, Davis is ready to bring Music For Mortals to a wider audience. "I feel incredibly grateful to be doing this for a living, to be an artist, and I just never want to take any of this for granted."
Davis is a Zen Buddhist and lives in Colorado with his wife and two daughters.