Local San Diego Songwriter Interview: Craig Furnivall

Craig Furnivall is the type of person who says hello first. Formerly from Rochester, Indiana, this Midwest-mannered guy has already made a name for himself in only a couple years on the San Diego singer-songwriter scene.

There’s a reason for that.

“My goal is just to play, play, play, play play,” Furnivall advises. “I didn’t have a car when I first moved here, so I decided to live in PB. I figured it would have the most places to play out.”

He scoured the city for open mics, performed every night he could, introduced himself to as many people as possible and quickly got requests for several local showcases.

“I got in touch with Cathryn Beeks, from ListenLocalSD,” Furnivall says, “and she set me up with shows at Winston’s and a couple other places. Now she books even more venues, including House of Blues. She’s an awesome person to talk to.”

Still based in Pacific Beach, Furnivall is one half of Bosen & Suede, a noted local duo with other area musician, Brian Bosen.

After releasing their debut EP, last month, the pair planned and set out on an 18-show, 22-day tour of the West Coast, in April 2012. It was Furnivall’s first, and a true learning experience:

“We booked as many shows beforehand, but several times we would just show up and try to play somewhere. Venues need a face, not just a phone number and email address. The experience got us playing for fresh crowds, meeting venue owners and visiting new cities. Next time, we’re going to be able to book more shows ahead of time because we’ve put in the hours.”

Furnivall shares that he and Bosen set up shows by contacting anyone they knew living in the cities they wanted to play, and asked for venue recommendations. They also researched on ReverbNation, a site for musicians to post and share music.

Q & A

Recently, Craig was nice enough to meet at a showcase I was setting up and playing at. I arrived later than I had said I would, and my questions to him were rushed. I knew I was being rude, and felt like a jerkstore. In typical Furnivall fashion, he shrugged it off with an easy smile, and within a few minutes, he was talking with several of my friends as if they were already his.

Do you want to be a touring musician?

I love touring. It’s entirely necessary for young aspiring musicians that reach a certain point in their music if they want to continue growing and expanding. Going on the road performing for new audiences is invaluable if you approach it with an open mind for professional progress and an open heart for personal growth.

If I could make money from music, ideally it would be from shows and CD sales (both physical/digital). Pretty standard, but my hope is to not just have a show that entertains, but to provide an experience for concert-goers…to create music that is not just listened to, but resonates with the listener. I would love personal connections with everyone who can find shelter in any aspect of the music I create, because music has done that for me.

What gear do you play?

Alvarez guitars. Elixir strings. Fender Strat when I’m playing electric. But I really love Alvarez’s acoustic sound. I don’t enjoy electric nearly as much. When I first started playing, I was just messing around on an electric. It wasn’t until I started strumming on an acoustic that I thought, “oh, THIS is how it should feel and sound.” It resonated with me in a whole new way.

What’s your songwriting process?

I’m hugely lyrically-driven. If you don’t have anything to say, you shouldn’t be talking. I usually come up with melody while I’m playing guitar, and then I go back and forth between writing lyrics and writing the song. It’s different from Bosen, who starts by jamming a bit and forming the song from that. Writing with Brian is awesome; our styles are so different that it just shouldn’t work! The fact that it does is just one of the many reasons I love music & songwriting.

How long you been writing music?

I’ve been writing music for over a decade. I started playing music (guitar) in 8th Grade. Electric at first, but it always sounded like it needed something more, so when I picked up an acoustic, I thought, “This is it. This makes sense!”

Why did you come out to California?

I wanted someplace with a better music scene than Small Town, Indiana. I planned on moving here right out of high school. When I told my parents, they were supportive, but encouraged me to go to college. I did, and I’m glad they pushed me to go to school more. The second I was done, however, I came out here. I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon!

What do you do for a living outside of songwriting?

Live off credit cards! [Laughs]. I do contract work for an education company. It’s nice because I might not have to work for a couple months at a time, but my credit cards are starting to take a hit, and I’m giving myself the goal to start dealing with it by the Fall.

My main goal is to be a part of this community; someone who supports it, and inspires others to think about what they want to do with their talent & love.

Where do you get your song inspiration?

Love lost. Hope. Transitional moments in life like me moving out here. Then I seem to always build songs in a typical structure of intro, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, verse, chorus, way big bridge, and back to the chorus. I’m a big bridge guy. I love bridges.

How often do you practice?

I play guitar at least an hour a day. Typically, I’ll be going over old songs or trying new stuff and a couple hours will go by. If Bosen and I happen to have a show or a bar gig, the amount of time playing will increase a little. Though, for my style of writing, it tends to be less an amount of technical guitar work and more keeping a constantly wandering mind for lyrics and thoughts. To truly be a “songwriter,” the mind must always be on and searching, and I feel that is where I place most of my energy/attention.

What keeps you here in San Diego, as opposed to bigger “music” cities like Los Angeles or Nashville?

One, it takes awhile to become established in an area and figure out the ins and outs and who’s who, etc. To start over at this point doesn’t really make sense until I reach the level of success I want (and believe is possible) in this community. Two, I want to believe that you don’t HAVE to go to the stereotypical places to become successful. I want to believe that anybody can be greater than they believe they can be, regardless of where they’re from or the environment they’re surrounded with.

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Go see Bosen & Suede’s next big show at Lestat’s, Friday, May 25. Go here for more info. Do yourself the favor of saying hello to Craig, if he doesn’t beat you to it.

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