Originally published at Rock Your Lyrics
SEPTEMBER 7, 2018
Born with a desire for the finer things in life, a passion for rock-n-roll, and a rich background in the entertainment industry, The High Plains Drifters are the new band that is merging various genres of infectious music that speaks to the rebel in all of us. Gearing up for the fall release of their self-titled album, this veteran band of wanderlust musicians delivers a unique rhythmic backdrop that showcases an array of melodies, hooks and tongue-in-cheek lyrics that make it impossible not to sing along.
The LP, produced by Greg Cohen (Christina Aguilera, Blondie, Celine Dion, Lil Yachty, Justin Timberlake and more) and Charles Czarnecki (asst. musical director for the Broadway musical Jersey Boys), conceptualizes a listening experience of a sonic road trip across the country, where your radio station of choice automatically tunes into different musical genres as you travel. As they propel the listener through various genres (pop-punk, Americana, mainstream rock, ballads and more), one thing is certain: The High Plain Drifters offer a cohesive body of “feel good” rock-n-roll.
Front man Larry Studnicky (lyricist, lead & backup vocals) is often called a younger and healthier-looking version of John Goodman. In actuality, Studnicky is the lawyer who, at the turn of the millennium, structured and closed the landmark label and publisher deals that ushered in the world of digital interactive radio (enjoyed today by listeners of Pandora, Spotifiy, etc.). The band also features Charles Czarnecki (producer, songwriter, keyboards, percussion, lead &backup vocals), John Macom (rhythm & electric guitars, lead & backup vocals) and Mike DoCampo (rhythm & electric guitars, backup vocals), all of whom are lifetime friends that created the group purely to bring happiness to listeners’ ears.
Before coming together as the The High Plains Drifters, the group’s members and producers worked alongside an such legendary artists as Michael Jackson, Pete Townsend, Mary J. Blige, Brian May & Roger Taylor of Queen, John Legend, Suge Knight of Death Row Records, Fred Schneider of the B-52’s, and Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees. John Macom’s music has been showcased in indie movies and TV shows, including Dawson’s Creek, Party of Five, and Felicity.
For more info on The High Plain Drifters, visit http://
Now let’s find out more about the band from the interview we did with them:
How do you usually write the lyrics of your songs?
There is one principal way my lyrics materialize: Something that I randomly I see or hear or think triggers the initial lyrical phrase. When that happens, and I’m lucky, the lyrics then just instantly write themselves in my head and pour out all at once. Other times, I just get a snippet of lyrics and have to work to find all the rest.
Good examples would be my songs REAR VIEW MIRROR and FIRST AMENDMENT BLUES.
The chorus to RVM was triggered as I was driving West out of the Lincoln Tunnel one day, and I looked up into my rear view mirror and there was the Manhattan skyline. And these lines came at once: “I’m heading out of New York, heading out tonight, heading out of New York with the headlights burning bright. I won’t be back tomorrow, but maybe in a year. And I’ll remember New York in my Rear View Mirror here.”
And then it was about 20 more years before I wrote the damn choruses.
First Amendment Blues was triggered back in the mid-90’s when I was a music industry lawyer at a firm with a big urban music practice. I was constantly meeting with young rappers back then — as well as legendary figures like LL Cool J and Suge Knight (our firm represented them both). You may recall that the Vice President’s wife, Tipper Gore, was on a campaign against rap lyrics. Heck, rap lyrics back then were just about the ONLY interesting lyrics around. But, just as rock scared the older generation of the mid-1950’s, so did rap scare the older generation of the mid-1990’s. I couldn’t believe what was going on, as I am a huge believer in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (You don’t like the music? Turn the eff-ing channel you asshole; don’t censor the kids.) I decided to write about this recurring generational rift. And the lyrics came quickly once I did.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing in songwriting?
- For me, the most important thing is avoiding clichés, except in a love song. I try to find something original to say. But, when doing so, yousometimes walk a fine line between being “smart” and “too smart for your own good.” But love songs are different. For most love songs to be “great”, you probably have to use or borrow from one or more clichés. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to see the genius in a love song that for years I dismissed as trite and sappy: Paul McCartney’s SILLY LOVE SONGS. If you’re going to write a love song, you might as well do like Paul and just say it: I love you. Don’t be cute or clever about it.
Are you ever scared of revealing aspects of your personal life/experience to strangers through your music?
- It took me too long to learn the lesson that, if you’re creating art of any kind, you can’t be scared of revealing it — if you don’t reveal your art, what’s the point? You must take to heart Abe Lincoln’s famous advice: “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” So, you accept that some people will like or even love your work; and some just won’t. As one of my best friends used to say, “That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.” Besides, I write very few songs that are truly autobiographical. On the debut HPD album, probably the only autobiographical song is the one I wrote for my wife, called MARRY ME AGAIN. And even THAT one came about because of another song. We had released a single of JENNIFER ANISTON to radio, and I kept telling myself, “If you’re going to sing about wanting to meet some famous beauty, and if you want to be alive to finish this damn album, you’d better also write a song for your wife.” And so I did.
What is the best lyric that you ever wrote (the most meaningful for you)?
- I’d like to think, of course, that I have yet to write my “best lyric”. That said, I’ve always loved that, when I wrote REAR VIEW MIRROR, which is my love song to New York City, I managed in Verse 3 to use the word “schlepp”. Every true New Yorker (native and adopted) works that word into his or her lexicon, in time. Hmm . . . but my best lyric to date? I am very partial to the first three lines of that same song, RVM, as I think the lines perfectly set the tone: “My mother’s now a junky, My girl’s a slacker flunky, And some prick just charged me ten bucks for a beer.” I hate paying $10 for beer.
What inspired “Virginia”, part of your upcoming self-titled album?
- I didn’t write VIRGINIA about any specific girl. As I have had to repeatedly reassure my wife, I have never dated nor had a fling with any woman named Virginia. I wrote the song instead about the feeling of having loved someone special, having left her while suspecting that she might have been “the one”, and then trying unsuccessfully to find your way back to her as your life careens in other directions. I suppose it’s another version of novelist Thomas Wolfe’s saying (and book) “You Can’t Go Home Again.”
Is there a link between all the songs of the new album?
- If there’s a link it’s probably the great musicianship of my bandmates and having three lead singers (me on 7 tracks, John Macom on 2, and Charles Czarnecki on 2) who don’t sing like whiny little girls, like not just so many girls do but also countless allegedly male lead singers these days.
What are your plans for 2018?
- Ugh. I want to live out the year, which at my age can never be assured! Seriously, besides doing what’s needed to help promote the High Plains Drifters debut album, I want to get back to recording new material and to taking more vocal lessons. When we started this album, I wasn’t singing any of my tunes. I had never been trained to sing, and had been told for decades that I couldn’t sing. A wholly random encounter with a former professional opera singer (turned voice coach) proved all those nay-sayers wrong. But I am still learning how to use my voice and what it can do. I have a long way to go.
- Define in one word your upcoming EP: Earworm.
- The best show you ever played: It hasn’t happened yet. We are still gelling as a band.
- The one thing that you must have in your backstage: 18 year old Macallan.
- The soundtrack of your childhood: In the order I first hear them on radio: The Beatles and Rolling Stones, of course, and then The Eagles, and then The Ramones.
- Your favorite song lyrically speaking but not written by you: Warren Zevon’s WEREWOLVES OF LONDON. It’s perfect. Totally original. Not a single cliché. A chorus with which the audience can not just sing along but HOWL along!!!! And probably the greatest original line in any song: “I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic’s, and his hair was perfect” God I miss that guy.
- Last question is “unusual”, we want to know your best relationship advice: I actually put all my best relationship advice in the song CLIFF NOTES OF LOVE. But this above all (if you love someone): “Tell only white lies.”