Any journey, whether it be in the literary world or elsewhere, always has a beginning, something to make you want to travel into lands unknown. I started to write when I was young, around 8. Made my own books, wrote little poems. It grew into stories and poems and now I am here.
My own music blog. I’m not sure of my final destination but so far, I’m enjoying where it’s taken me. Highs and lows, everything has it’s risks but I’m willing to take them.
when I first sat down and thought of who I wanted to interview, a few names jumped out right away, one of them being Neal Engelhaupt. Although we are friends, there was so much more I wanted to sit down and ask him. You know, aside from our normal goofy speak, or how his wife Suzy says I’m from the future (They are on California time, I’m a Pennsylvania girl. You know, THE FUTURE). Recently I asked him some questions about music, life and everything in between.
Here’s a little peek into the world of Neal Engelhaupt!
ME:Introduce yourself, who are you?
Neal: My full name is Neal John Scott Engelhaupt.
ME: There are so many styles of music out there, pop, rock, country…. Do you identify with a specific genre? Or is a mesh of a few different ones?
Neal: When I started playing music, I wanted to be nu metal, a.k.a. Linkin Park. I shifted to more metalcore as I jumped from band to band but lately have focused on developing my songwriting regardless of genre. I will always be a rock/metal kid but I won’t deny a good song whether it’s country, r&b or indie pop.
ME: As kids we all have dreams, things we want to do when we get older and have certain achievements, what moment did you wake up and say “I want to make music!”?
Neal: I think it was when my dad’s girlfriend’s son got a guitar for Christmas. He was a few years older than me so I would hang out with him in his room and mess around on his dinky white Stratocaster. He introduced me to bands like Nirvana and Metallica and it was around that time I started developing an appreciation for music as a whole.
ME: I know you play guitar, which I have to say, you pretty much kick alot of ass at! Can you play any other instruments? What is your axe of choice?
Neal: I can play drums, bass, sing and can noodle around on piano a little. My current axe of choice are my Schecter Solo-II’s.
ME: Were you in any bands in high school? or did it start afterward?
Neal: I actually got a late start playing in bands. I didn’t start my first band until I was 20 years old, even though I had been playing guitar since the age of 15. No one would ever take me seriously when I asked if they wanted to start a band, but then again I didn’t hang out with any serious people at the time.
(Photo courtesy of Suzy Engelhaupt)
ME: So you are married and have a young son named Nash, your wife Suzy is totally awesome, I’ve talked to her so many times we’ve become really good friends. Do you have alot of support from your family, from them as well as other family? Do they wish you did something else?
Neal: My wife and I met at one of my shows about 10 years ago. She has always been my number one fan since day one and the reason I continue to write and play music. My family has been supportive to a point where they appreciate that music makes me happy but strive to make sure I’m not quitting my day job.
(Neal with his wife, Suzy and his son Nash, 3)
ME: Fame can change alot of people, I’ve seen it happen, when someone gets a certain amount of noterity, even the smallest amount of fame they become very jaded and selfish. How have you stayed so grounded and humble?
Neal: I take every moment as a point in time. I look back on all the things I’ve done musically as an event but something that won’t change who I am unless I allow it to. It’s not that I don’t trust people, it’s just I’ve learned to take opportunities as they come and try to allow myself, my music or the band I’m in to grow organically. Frankly, when friends or colleagues ask about what I’m doing musically I prefer to talk about other things as I feel it just makes me sound jaded. If anyone comes across things I’ve done musically I like to let them become excited rather than forcing it down someone’s throat.
ME: Staying on the subject of family for a second, how do you balance everything? How do you take every little aspect and make sure you give it the attention it deserves?
Neal: I’m what you would call a work-a-holic. I like to stay busy and have schedules. It keeps my mind from wandering and going crazy sometimes. I keep a steady work schedule, have set nights and weekends for family time and then devote one or two nights a week to band practice or writing music.
ME: You were recently in Requiem, which sadly spilt up. I’m a huge fan of Steven Juliano, ever since the beginning of the I Am Ghost days. He’s one of my major musical heroes….what was it like to work with him?
Neal: He’s a very motivated guy, that’s for sure. I admired his ability to take charge of situations and focus on things that needed more work. He has a great ear for music and if something didn’t sound right he would be sure to point it out for the sake of improvement.
ME: When you are not playing music or writing new material, what other things do you like to do?
Give your fans an inside look of what else Neal is all about……….
Neal: I’m kind of a techie nerd so I like to take things apart and put them back together. I set up and customize my own guitars with hardware and electronics. Some would say I’m OCD, I just have an insane attention to detail. I like to play video games but lately I find it hard to be excited about new games and get anxious when I’m not writing new material.
When I’m not doing any of that, I like to take Suzy and Nash on nice little family drives. We like to visit random forests and woodsy areas and go on hikes. Nash loves being in nature and it’s refreshing to get away from the hustle and bustle of my tech job and loud rock bands.
ME: I’m a writer and I adore music more than I love breathing… If you woke up tomorrow and it all went away, and you just were just a dad and a husband, what would you do? where would you be at?
Neal: If I couldn’t do music anymore I would probably go into video editing and filming or maybe photography. I’ve taken an interest to the visual side of arts and feel like it’s another outlet to express creativity with another medium. Just like you can tell a story in a song, I feel you can tell even more with pictures and videos.
ME: I can say that recently after releasing my second interview on my blog, I got some negative feedback from people who shall remain nameless, saying that I can’t do this, that this isn’t the road I should be taking in life and I’m not any good at what I do.
What do you do when someone says something like this to you? How do you handle any negative feedback you might receive on your music or following your dreams?
Neal: I subscribe to a few YouTube ‘celebrities’ that release guitar/music related videos on the regular and the amount of hatred they get on a daily basis is ridiculous. But they post a video or comment regarding it and basically raise a middle finger to each and every one of the haters that troll them without batting an eye and it makes me realize that if someone hates what you do, someone else must really love what you do as well.
The true artists who put themselves out there regardless of intention are the brave ones. You write blogs and interviews, I write music, and we put it up for the world to see and hear. If we expect everyone to like what we do then we will never progress as artists. But in the end, someone will love what you do and it’s those people who really count.
ME: As a writer I’m inspired by many aspects, some literary, some musical, it helps keep my drive going to put together the best piece of work that I can. What inspires you? Any advice?
Neal: Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places. Like if I’m listening to a song that someone else is playing from a genre I’m not a fan of, I listen to the progression of the song, the hook, the melody, maybe even break down the structure of the song and find something intriguing about how it ebbs and flows.
I listen to movie soundtracks, scores, video game soundtracks, you name it. I try to find melodies I’ve never heard before, rhythms I’m not used to or progressions that are not already used and see if the goosebumps stand up from listening to something. If it strikes some sort of intrigue then it’s worth digging into more and finding why it’s special to me.
ME: Going back to your son Nash, what do you hope he gets from you growing up? what kind of impression do you want to impose on his as he grows up?
Neal: I told myself early on that if I ever had a child that I would want him/her to be happy. Everything else would fall into place from there. I didn’t want to be the parent that told him/her what to be passionate about, so therefore I never set myself to having him play an instrument (although the drums are from his grandparents). I want him to be excited about things because HE is, not because I am, and I would only want to support him if he truly is passionate about it.
Ok a little break from the seriousness…… let me get random for a moment.
ME: Do you have any secret talents?
Neal: I tried to break dance when I was younger, but no one will ever see that. Not even Suzy.
ME: I am a giant Star Wars geek, which side are you on, dark or light?
Neal: I’m definitely a protector so I would choose to be on the light side.
ME: If you wake up tomorrow and you can no longer have pizza or coffee again, which could you live without?
Neal: Coffee. I couldn’t imagine not ever eating pizza again.
ME: What Cartoon Character do you think is most like you? and why?
Neal: That’s a tough one. I’d probably say Double D from Ed, Edd and Eddy. He’s geeky, introverted and OCD all over. That’s me for sure.
ME: I have an unhealthy collection of headphones and probably more phone cases than I will ever need. Do you collect anything?
Neal: I used to collect guitars and had about 10 at a couple points, but then I would find something wrong with my collection and sell them all off. I’m looking to build it up again soon. Suzy is an advocate for me having ‘no less than 5 guitars at any time’.
ME: Pet peeves? Like for me, I can’t stand when I can hear people chewing………
Neal: Liars. When someone is lying to me, I write them off immediately. Also, people who are lazy. And I don’t mean take a day off and lay in bed once in a while, I’m talking those who do everything in their power to not raise a finger and have someone else do everything for them.
YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!
Back to music::::
ME: The music scene right now seems to be dominated by pop music and a lot of country. What is your opinion about it? What do you think needs to be given more attention?
Neal: I think that music is cyclical. Certain eras are dominated by genres of music. That’s true for any point in time. If you look at any given period and it’s sense of fashion or attitude, you can immediately hear songs in your head that stamp themselves to that point in time. I think floods in music trends point to how society and people feel at the time. Maybe country is doing well because people relate more to it, catchy melodies, things they can sing to, but I’m probably WAY wrong. Who knows?
ME: What do you see happening for you in 2016, both personally and musically?
Neal: Right now, I’m trying to find time to demo songs at home and record them on my own. I’ve been through bands too many times to write music I feel proud of only to have that band break up and effectively kill that song for me. You could probably call this a solo project but my ultimate goal is to write and record everything myself, including vocals, then release it all either a song at a time or in a collection like an EP or something.
I have over a dozen songs that I’ve written over the past 5 years that never became anything so I will probably lay everything I have down and record it as best as possible, then pick and choose what I want to release. I’m focusing more on being a songwriter and pushing myself to be the best vocalist I can be. Once these instruments are finished, I have no one to hide behind and no excuses to give myself if I sing like crap.
ME: If there was one song you could think of, any song at all, that you wish you wrote, what would it be?
Neal: There’s so many to choose from… if you asked me 15 years ago it would be a Metallica song. I’ll just say Blackened by Metallica. Every time I hear that song, I just think of how perfect a song it is.
ME: Wrapping things up, I want to say thank you for giving me this chance to sit down and ask you a few questions. Leave us with a few parting words, this is your moment to speak your mind.
Neal: If you have something to say, whether it be music, art, written or just speaking out loud, say it. The world is a better place when more ideas are seen and heard. Just because something is not popular opinion doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be out there.
And there you have it, a day in the mind of one of my very good friends and the future of music as we know it. If you’d like to contact Neal or follow him and his musical quests, you can do so by finding him on Instagram @NealEngelhaupt or find him on Facebook by searching Neal Engelhaupt.
Trust me, you won’t regret it. Thank you again Neal for your time, it was a pleasure to interview you! And special thanks to his wife Suzy for help with some of the photos and just being all around awesome. And Nash, because let’s face it, he’s the cutest kid I’ve ever seen!
If you enjoyed this or my other blog posts, leave me a comment or you can shoot me an email at email@example.com or you can find me on Instagram @stackattacksmusic or tweet me @iamstackattack
If you know any bands or musicians who you think would be perfect for my blog and think they’d want me to interview them, have them drop me a line!
Thanks for reading! This journey has only just begun…………….