‘All the Birds Sing’ was the debut solo release from Adam Shoenfeld which was produced by his wife Katie Cook and released in 2022. Whilst some people may not have had the chance to listen to Adam’s record it is almost a certainty that anyone who has listened to country music in this millennium has heard his impact. Shoenfeld has been nominated six times by the Academy of Country Music for Guitarist of the Year for his work on over 500 albums and almost 50 number one songs having recorded with the likes of: Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Kelsea Ballerini, Dan + Shay, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, Frankie Ballard, Little Big Town and Tim McGraw.
In addition to balancing this studio work with life on the road as a member of Tim McGraw’s touring band, Shoenfeld has begun to start releasing music of his own and followed up the release of last year’s debut album with brand new track ‘Breadcrumbs of Hope’ (available HERE) in September. Adam recently spent some time in London and during his trip, he made time to hang out with us and tell us all about it.
Thanks for taking the time this afternoon, welcome back to our wonderful city. What brings you over to our rainy paradise in November? “It’s you Jamie, you bring me here.”
I know I am pretty awesome, but what else has brought you over? “We’re here to see some family. My wife’s family is here so we’re seeing aunties, uncles and cousins, then Katie’s father was a big rock star here and we’re doing a little interview festival of his old friends to get some stories as she tends to not get all the stories from him. We’re here doing that so we met a bunch of them yesterday, we hung out with Joe Brown who inspired The Beatles, Albert Hammond and super-manager Harry Barter so, we’ve been doing that and it’s been fun.”
You’ve been doing this whole music thing for a long time and the list of records you have played on is so vast but I’m not going to go into that too much unless you really need an ego boost. You’re originally from New Jersey which historically has one of the greatest music scenes on the planet that some of the biggest names in rock and punk have their roots so, how does a great guitarist from up there end up playing country music? “Well when I was up there I was not into country music when I was a kid or a teenager, in fact there wasn’t even a country station that I knew of. I was in a band and one of the guys in our band was already in Nashville a couple of years before us, he was actually in a gospel touring band where the manager for that band heard our recording and wanted to make us stars. We were more of a Billy Joel meets Toto meets soul type thing, we had a keyboard player that sat down and sang then I just played guitar behind him so definitely did not have our sights on country music at all.”
Nashville has obviously changed a lot and you will have seen these changes happening then you have play on so many records, been on the road with Tim and now you are starting to put your own music out. Well, I say starting but you have been doing things in various capacities much longer than the notion of you releasing your “debut” album last year. “Yeah, I’ve been writing my own music since I was fourteen but I ended up making a living playing guitar and when you are lucky enough to make a living playing guitar you go ok, this is pretty awesome. I’ve had a wonderful time doing that so the songwriting and being an artist goes on the backburner, then fast forward to now where I still have stuff to say and I can’t help but do it.” When you started making the record, did you have the intentional thought of now is the time that I want to make an album or that you had some songs and stars aligned to put them together and out for yourself? “The stars did align but, I kind of knew when I had the first couple of songs that I was going down a rabbit hole. I think that was between the end of 2018 and end of 2020, of course we all know what happened in 2020 but it afforded me the time to pay a little more attention to it. Katie and I had Sunkat but she fell into other things and felt really comfortable in more of a producer role with me because I was just going with these songs. It felt like it was right, a couple of songs happened and then it was on.”
Now that you are putting your own music out there, do you find that in a way there is less pressure compared to playing on someone else’s project? “Well yeah, you know, I think there is less pressure because now I believe in what I’m saying but back in the day, maybe ten years ago I wouldn’t have had the same answer. Now, I feel like I’m established, can play guitar for people and in a way almost doesn’t matter what happens and what people think about what I say.”
When you have played on other people’s tracks which there are so many of and a lot of them have gone on to do very well, do you know when you are playing the guitar part? Is there something that you can just tell that a certain song is going to go on to big things? “Occasionally you do, I mean the song writing in Nashville is on such a level that when it gets to album time it’s almost no surprise. It’s almost more of a surprise when someone puts something out and it doesn’t do well, at the level that we’re doing it at. Like how many hits had Jason (Aldean) had at this point? We’ve done every record and it seems like everything that he puts out, even the stuff that people are talking and fighting about goes to number one, it’s crazy. It’s just amazing to be part of that machine for all different artists.”
Looking ahead, ‘Breadcrumbs of Hope’ came out two months ago so is this the first taste of the next chapter that is on the horizon? “It’s building towards two different projects. I have an EP that I’m going to put out called ‘Splitting Atoms’ that has a lot of the same lyrical content but is different musically and a little more towards my hard rock side. Then I also have a whole group of songs that musically are more like ‘All the Birds Sing’ and ‘Breadcrumbs of Hope’ but I can’t not put out this other batch of songs because I feel they are important too. There are titles like ‘Pray for the World’ and ‘Just One Voice’ where the main lyric is “what if just one voice could change the world” which we all know it can. I have to put that out and then work on the next one, I’ve got the songs but just need to get on them with my producer Katie here.”
From listening to your sound and songs on the album and the new track, I would guess that Tom Petty would be someone that has been a big influence on what you do. “Absolutely, he is my hands down favourite songwriter and performer ever so I couldn’t help but absorb everything that I’ve ever heard from him. Katie and I saw him for our first date, that wasn’t his last tour but I saw him twice on the last tour, the second time I flew to Red Rocks to him again on that tour.”
Have you played Red Rocks yourself? Is it as amazing as it looks? “I have. It’s pretty amazing. It’s breath-taking figuratively and literally. You walk up and we have races of who can walk up the fastest then when you get to the top, no matter what age you are or how fit you are, you are just done but it is a beautiful and magnificent spot.”
We touched on playing with Tim (McGraw), how did end up being on the road from him? Had you played on one of the records before that? “No, the band that first tricked me into country music was Big & Rich. I was in a rock band with Big Kenny then I did their first record with them and they said come on tour with us but I thought I wasn’t quite sure about me playing country music yet but it all started to happen and they take me out. The first tour is with Tim, so we open for Tim and whilst we are on the road, John Rich and I wrote ‘Mississippi Girl’ for Faith and the relationship was born. When I got off the road, the session career took off and later I heard that Tim was looking to put a new band together and I couldn’t think of another person that I would want to go out with apart from Keith Urban maybe, who I had passed up on a couple of years prior. I called Tim, well actually I emailed him and said hey, I’ll do it! He came back and said really? Cool! It turned out that at one point he was actually talking to his band leader before that asking do you think we can get Adam. So, it just worked out perfectly.”
Appreciate the chat Adam, great to have you and Katie here, what’s on the cards for the next couple of months when you get back to the States? “I’m looking forward to family time, things with the kids and we have a new little place in Muscle Shoals. We just fell in love with that area and are kind of making a second home down there so, we are going to get into that and settled in over the Holidays before next year where the front half of the year is going to be very busy with Tim so, it will be nice to chill a little bit.” The new track ‘Breadcrumbs of Hope’ from Adam Shoenfeld is out now and available HERE, whilst you can find out more about Adam from his WEBSITE or checking him out socially on INSTAGRAMTWITTER & FACEBOOK.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks