Sitdown with Tamara Saviano "It was the journey of a lifetime, it's something I will carry with me for the rest of my life." -
Producer, director and writing Tamara Saviano sat down with us to talk about her upcoming music documentary Without Getting Killed or Caught celebrating the life and music of Legendary singer-songwriter Guy Clark
CitUK speaks with Mr Americana, Jim Lauderdale, about his upcoming album
On June 21st, Jim Lauderdale will be celebrating the release of his latest album, From Another World - his 33rd studio album! He continues his tradition of releasing at least one record every year since 1991, we caught up with Jim to find out what keeps him going.
CITUK: Congratulations on the upcoming album, which will be out in just 10 days time on the 21st June. JL: Thank you, yep album number 33
CITUK: When you started out, did you ever think you would get to album number 33? JL: I didn’t, it took me so long to finally get an album out – I was in my thirties! I had been waiting for so long that I was extremely grateful that one came out and I felt like I had a lot of catching up to do and have just been releasing music ever since.
CITUK: When you started out, what would have been a realistic goal? JL: My original concept was to start out with bluegrass and then eventually do record that was half a Hank Williams Snr record without drums and then do a Side B which would be full electric band with rums and then go from there. It just never worked out like that, so I backtracked on the bluegrass stuff later.
CITUK: At what point did you realise there was going to be a career for you in this? JL: I’m still hoping that by the end of the week I’m going to feel confident that there is still a future in this for me.
CITUK: Is the enjoyment still there? JL: Oh yeah, definitely. Doing records and performing live gigs are still as rewarding as when I started out.
CITUK: You are known to do plenty of co-writing sessions. Recently Joshua Hedley announced he had done a few writes with you; can you tell us more? JL: Yes, I really loved that, and it was the first time we had got together. From it, about four good ideas came out and we ran with the one that finished itself the soonest in the time we had. I’m hoping to get back together really soon as I feel like we really clicked. We love so much of the same stuff musically and were able to understand each other. It was really fun to write with him.
CITUK: Is there a way you approach a co-writing session compared to when you are writing on your own? JL: Usually in a co-writing session, unless I’m writing with someone like Robert Hunter, if it’s the first time I like to spontaneously write out a melody that comes to me while I am in that person’s presence, or even from something they have said. These are triggers that can just sound great to make an opening line, chorus or title.
CITUK: You’re know to support upcoming artists and songwriters, what drives you to continue doing this? JL: Its really inspiring and fulfilling to get to work with them and hear about where they have come from. I really enjoy the process and see where they are at and might be able to go as an artist.
CITUK: You’ve just released two new music videos in the build up to the albums launch, what do you enjoy about the filming process of these? JL: The last one, called ‘Listen,’ I especially enjoyed. It’s a track that I wrote with Buddy Cannon. My manager actually directed it! I was going to Australia to play a festival and co-ordinated the trip to see my tai-chi teachers in china where I finished learning a particular section that I had been working on for some time. The concept was to do tai-chi with people in Sydney before we went to the Blue Mountains to finish it.
CITUK: How would you describe the album to a new and long-term listener? JL: It is rooted in traditionally country music with a slight twist, which is always interesting to me to try to pull off. With each album I try to do something different within the country context that still fits with what is country, but I do like all of my records to be different in some way. All I would say is listen with open ears.
CITUK: Can we now look forward to another UK tour? JL: I hope so, I didn’t get to come last year so I hope there will be interest in having me as I love playing over there. Its important and means a lot to me to play there so I hope there will be an opportunity to do it soon.
CitUK speaks with Howard Bellamy following the Country at the Castle announcement
On Friday 30th August, The Bellamy Brothers will be returning to the UK for a one-off unique concert in the grounds of Kimbolton Castle. This week, we caught up with Howard Bellamy to find out more about the show and chat about some of the memories he has from over 40 years of touring.
CITUK: Recently, you announced you’d be heading to the UK for a one-off show at Kimbolton Castle, are you excited to head back to the UK? HB: We really are, it’s been a quite a while since we’ve been there and we’ve got quite a lineup of other performers with us. So, it should be a really fun day.
CITUK: When was the last time you toured the UK? HB: You know, I should know the answer to that. But, we do about 140 shows a year for about 43 years now, so I can’t quite pinpoint when we were there but I know it’s been a while and too long I know. How’s that for an answer?
CITUK: Aside from your visit later on the year, you’ll be heading out on a US tour throughout Texas with a quick one day tour to play Trucker & Country Festival Interlaken in Switzerland. What keeps you returning to Europe and perform for its fans? HB: Well, you know we’ve always taken our foreign market very seriously and we have every year on earth 43 years we have toured various countries during the summer especially. Even 3 years ago we toured India for the first time then we returned 2 years ago and toured Sri Lanka and India which was really quite amazing after all this time to realize there was a market there and people know every word to your song and we really had no idea because the record label that we were in at that time we’ve never received royalty from any of these countries then we suddenly realize we had several hits and now we are touring. Those were the days before you can track royalties. so no knows where it is. So, thank goodness we’ve lived this long because we’ve got to go just about everywhere now that where our music is heard.
CITUK: You’ve also toured Qatar, Dubai and Saudi Arabia a while back too. HB: Yep, we sure did. we were in Sudia in 83, we played for Aramco Oil company. It was in the American compound - we went there and played it was quite an interesting trip. We flew over in an Armaco Oil 747 that was nothing but first class from front to back, there was no coach in the plane, I remember that was quite comfortable.
CITUK: Let's rewind and go back to the 1980s for a little bit where you headlined your first international European tour in Paris, France 1er Festival International De Musique Américaine sharing the bill with Emmy Lou- Lloyd Green- Johnny Gimble- Charlie McCoy and Don Everly of the Everly Brothers. How was the atmosphere like to share the stage/bill with a string of other talented musicians. HB: Oh, very well, you can never forget that tour what a lineup that was. As far as touring we had traveled internationally before that because we flown to several different places as the ‘Let your Love Flow was out in 1976 we did a lot of different countries and at this point, we played in 72 countries. That was probably not our first tour but it was with that entourage yes. There used to be this promoter in England named Mervyn Kaan., quite a colorful character, and he used to put together these great tours like that I remember that well. We did about 2 or 3 tours with him and similar cast as that one (Paris France) then again, Jerry Lee Lewis was on one of these tours, that’s the one you can never forget because he’s always up to something. We worked with him a lot throughout the years so we know him quite well but I don’t think you ever really know him I don’t claim to know him, but I’ve been around him a lot.
CITUK: Any memorable stories come to mind? HB: I remember several, the weirdest things come to your memory. I remember one point at that particular tour we ended up in Gothenburg, Sweden and it was kind of towards the end of the tour, thank goodness because Emmylou caught the flu so naturally being on the same buses, same flights, all around each other it just flew to everybody. I will never forget the flight back from Sweden of all times I would’ve loved to sit by Emmylou on a plane anytime but that particular I got to sit by her and she had her daughter Megan who was very young at that time but traveling with her Emmylou felt so bad she just nodded off I mean like. So, I ended up babysitting Megan and shortly after that I caught the flu and we all named it the Emmylou flu. you’ll forget stories like these.
CITUK: It’s been now nearly 28 years since the start of your record company “The Bellamy Brothers Record” that distributes to over 30 countries aside from running such you’re also playing 200 shows a year. What keeps you going? HB: I’m still not sure how we do that. we’ve really had a guardian angel for sure. it’s a habit with us, it’s what we’ve done for so long, it feels awkward not touring I don’t know if that’s a sad thing to say or not but it’s just been our life and its what we do and we continued to do that still this year we’re doing a 100 and something dates. Still at it, as long as we’re physically able and healthy we’ll keep at it until we drop by the roadside somewhere I’m not sure. It started in 1981 or 1982. that’s about an average of shows that we do per year but some years are more than that.
CITUK: The band is known to have written a string of hits including most notable ‘Let Your Love Flow’ ‘If I said you had a Beautiful Body (would you hold it against me)” Feeling the Feeling,’ ‘Crazy from The Heart’ with Don Schiltz among others. When you began writing as a band did you ever think they’d become the hits they are now? HB: Absolutely not, we grew up in central Florida, which is where I am today talking to you from. We grew up playing music in our home with our father and we did it for fun. It was purely for fun and we thought everyone grew up that way until we got older and realized we’ve grown a little different than some people. We lived out in the country, still do, we live in a ranch and whenever we’d have company our mother would make us sing. We sang in church, we sang whenever we played instruments with our dad and his buddies in a band he had that's what we’ve known all our lives and when we grew up it just evolved. we were fortunate writing with a song for a guy here in the states named Jim Staford a kind of tongue in cheek song called ‘ I don't like spiders and snakes And that ain't what it takes to love me, You fool, you fool” it sold about 3 million records and it shocked all of us and that enabled us to pursue our careers. To make a long short, that’s where it all began and how it happened.
CITUK: The most recent album you last had out was in 2015 that is a 40 years celebration but with a twist! Disc 1 had all the hits and Disc 2 had a string of new songs including ‘We Don’t Call 991” “Dyin Breed” “Jet Leg Journey” among others. How did this idea come together in putting a two in one celebrating 40 years while releasing new music instead of releasing new music alone? HB: Having your own record label, you can experiment a little bit where you can’t really do that on a major label. We thought people always wanted to hear your hits. So, we thought let’s put the hits, doesn’t cost any more to put the hits on so we gave them a lot of music for the money and it was 40 years and there are exactly 40 songs on there. So, there’s 40 songs for 40 years. So, that was kind of both our brainstorms. I’m not sure how smart it was but it sold a lot of records. The fans reception was great too. We now just released a brand new record called ‘Over The Moon’ only been out for a month and that is a brand new song in 1 CD.
CITUK: You’ve worked with a list of country artists including Dolly Parton, Geroge Jones among others. Do you remember any memorable stories working with any of them? HB: So many, countless stories. I mean, when you work with characters like that through the years, we’ve worked a lot with Merle Haggard, Dolly was always a joy and a treat, we ended up doing an album of our music with a lot of those people singing with us on it. Dolly did a version of ‘You Have a Beautiful Body,’ she added her touch and made a little more tongue in cheek than it is and of course we worked a whole lot with Geroge Jones through the years, even though his drinking years we worked several dates and have many stories - some I won’t tell. I’ll tell you this one, it’s a funny one and I love him to death don’t get me wrong but everyone knows Geroge had a drinking period - 2 or 3 drinking periods. So, we once did a show with him in the Carolina’s and we’re opening for Geroge and we had a nice show, we did an encore, everybody was happy and all, so then Geroge comes on. It didn’t take long to realize he was really skunked. I remember him doing the song ‘Fire in The Mountain’ 3 times. He’s yelling at the band ‘Fire in The Mountain’ because it was kind of an instrumental and he didn’t have to sing much, he was trying to get through it. So, that show ended up being quite entertaining and the funny part to that was when the promoter was pretty upset with the whole thing at the end and he didn’t pay George because he was so drunk and I can laugh now. So, therefore he didn’t pay us either and we were stone sober but he just figured he wouldn’t pay anybody. So, that’s one of the memorable things that happened. Later on, George went on the wagon again and we laughed about the whole thing again and we said ‘George you own us 5 grand alright.’ it was way back in the day. Those kinds of things happen but that’s kind of a colorful George. I won’t tell some of them, some of them were crazy. Another story about Geroge, we use to do a jam here in our ranch in Florida and our last jam we did here we had George as a guest and he did the same thing, he’d be in the wagon forever and of all times for him to come off the wagon was on our jam and it was another quite interesting show but we did pay him. But it was shortly after that where he had the wreck and hit the bridge was right after that, his health kind of wained from there and it was never the same. If you ever heard of Geroge Jones in his prime and Merle Haggard too there’s nothing like it. All these stories are in our book we have out [name of the book] they are truly endless. The book we have out we tell a lot of the old road stories, working with different people through the years and probably told a little bit more than we should have.
CITUK: Has anyone given you advice or a rule that you live by today? HB: Advice is a really hard thing to give in the business and life in general. Everyone in life kind of takes its own path and what might be right for an artist or one person it can be totally wrong for the other so we have personally avoided giving much advice because usually, it doesn’t do many things and usually people are going to do what they want to do anyway. Except for our father, of course, he gave us plenty of advice, one was to never discuss politics or religion and you don’t hear him discuss that either. Later on, everybody kind of has to make mistakes, every music group you see has made their mistakes and the done things right, they did things wrong. It’s all in the journey of getting there, we definitely had some sharp right, sharp left turns and upper and downer of every direction.
CITUK: As mention above, the group recently released an album [Over The Moon] last month, but any plans for future album releases perhaps collaborations with maybe Blake Shelton, John Anderson? since you’ve just completed a tour with them. HB: We did a show with Blake and recorded ‘Redneck Girl’ with Blake. He grew up with the song and did a version in an album where oddly enough he had a guest on there that was John Anderson and others in there too. As the album was finished the record label took him into a completely different direction, that’s the way record label does it. But, anyway, we did do a tour and we had a great time, we did 20 shows together - mainly the east coast and the midwest. Next year we are already booked to tour with him in February and March on the west coast. it’s a long term friendship we have with Blake, he’s an amazing guy, big-hearted, generous guy and crazy as a loon. As for future recordings, possibly, we’re up for a lot of different things, we’ve recorded with a lot of different people through the years and we enjoy that and that’s the true joys of recording. I mean we even recorded with Willie and that’s as good as it gets.
For more information about the show, follow the link below
CitUK speaks with Jade Jackson about her upcoming album
On the 28th June, Jade Jackson is set to release her second album - Wilderness. We caught up with Jade to find out more about the album and her as an artist.
CITUK: How are you finding London? JJ: I love it! I have really dry skin so the rain and the moisture in the air I’ve been really enjoying it.
CITUK: It’s quite miserable outside this week and I'm assuming this is a little bit of change of weather to where you live out in California of course. Have you had the chance to do any sightseeing? JJ: Well, not really, we had a pretty rainy year this year in California so I don’t feel too shocked. But it’s been quite a crazy week because we flew into Paris Sunday and then I had jetlag; then we started interviews all day; we had to get up at 3:30 to leave for Berlin and then we just got here last night at midnight! So, I’m just a little exhausted but don’t feel shocked about anything from the city just exhausted from travel and with phone interviews or in the hotel that is one after another after another, I haven’t been outside at all. It kinda sucks but it’s okay. Doing all of this will allow me to come back and hopefully, when I come back we’ll have more time to check things out.
CITUK: While you’re here! Any plans for a UK tour anytime soon? JJ: Well, there is, we’re actually working on finalizing some dates but we’re going to come back in September. Hopefully, we’ll be able to check out more stuff then.
CITUK: Now, congratulations on your recent album announcement, “Wilderness” will be out June 28th, Has the process got any easier since you embarked on this journey? JJ: No, actually. ‘Wilderness’ was a lot more difficult for me to record than ‘Gilded’. The song were much more autobiographical than ‘Gilded’ that was more make belief. Some of the songs were about real feelings and things have happened to me and I had a lot of anxiety recording them, we just had a difficult experience but I had a lot of opportunities for growth for the second one.
CITUK: Your new album ‘Wilderness’ was produced by California punk band Social Distortion's Mike Ness, how did you guys end up working together. JJ: Mike Ness’s wife went to high school with my mother so I kinda knew of him, of course as a fan of his music. Also, when I was little my mum had me at the same time Christina his wife had their son Julian. So, I got invited to birthday parties when I was 1 or 2 so I knew Julian when I was a baby and of course Mike was always touring so I never actually met him but I kinda knew him through some people. When I got the call he wanted to have me come to the studio and work with him that was really serendipitous because 10 years before that I purchased my first ticket to my first show without my folks. I’ve been to the theatre and shows before with my dad to see like old country guys but this was the first ticket that I’ve actually bought to see Social Distortion when I was 13 years old. That was really inspiring because right after i wrote my first song and started performing. So, to have Mike Ness that singer from Social Distortion being the one to contact me and gave this break was pretty cool, very full circle.
CITUK: Drawing upon real-life experience new single “Bottle it Up” is a song that foretells tackling loneliness while yet remaining true and independent in all sorts. Would you consider things have now changed? JJ: The chorus of ‘Bottle Up’ is about the way we feel right now, so it was actually trying to bottle up a moment. It’s kind of like the idea of capturing a moment and take with a moment the is fleeting that you know won’t last forever but you kind of wish you could but that was the inspiration behind that song. The way it came in was when I was out on a run when my mind was in that meditative state after having run several miles,I started paying attention to the sound of my feet hitting the ground and that became rhythm and the song kinda came into my brain and I wrote that song in the next 2 miles and then got home found the chords on the guitar. So, it wasn’t like sat down had something to say, it kind of came to me and now looking back it does embody that. That is holding into something that is fleeting. Since writing that song, a lot has changed in my life I mean I think it happens to everyone every day you learn something and you grow if you’re open for it.
CITUK: Wilderness, finds you diving back into the past while focusing in the present too. Has it been a challenge going through such a hard time and writing openly? JJ: No, actually with being so honest and vulnerable.. I mean if you would’ve asked me a couple of years ago I would’ve said ‘yeah that would be really difficult to talk about’ but discovered the more honest and vulnerable I am with people and the more I share the story of the trauma, the more empowered I become it’s almost like stepping out and not being apologetic about myself for the first time, not caring about what people think of me for the first time, it’s actually very liberating and it brought me peace and joy the more I talk about it and just get it from inside of me and share it because I also hope that people listen to the story and maybe they’re going through a hardship of their own maybe they can feel less alone. because during my trenches of my hard times, one of the worst feelings was that I was alone, I was very mean to myself and my head and I felt like a burden and a disappointment and that was all in my head. Once I started coming out of that I really felt passionate about sharing it because if someone else is going through it they should know that you can do this and you’re not alone.
CITUK: Since you mentioned an experience such as this helped liberate you and made you passionate sharing on such emotions, how important is a story in a song to you? JJ: The way that I write is very impulsive and very quick, like most songs on this album were written in under 30 minutes and they were charged by inspiration and had the time to find a quiet space and write. I do want to focus more on refining my songs once they’re written for the next record. This one is what it is, it happened the way it did. It’s not that I don’t think my songs are important because I do. But since I wrote them so quickly and I write so much I never felt attached to one more than the other. I’m always open for collaborations and I’m very pleased with the reaction that I’m getting but I didn’t have expectations.
CITUK: Now, your story is quite a traumatic experience in the past that ultimately led you to become who you are today! Is there any advice you’d give to people who are going through a tough time. JJ: I think when we are going through depression and when we are feeling so dark and bad about ourselves it’s hard to believe that people will accept us and love us. But, it’s an opportunity for growth. Life has given you something that when you defeat it whatever it is you will be stronger than if it hadn’t happened you’ll be more valuable as a person.
CITUK: Now, how can you describe your sound to a new audience? JJ: That’s based on an individual and their thoughts and preferences. I never write with an intention to fit in a certain mold. So, whenever comes back people would be like ‘She’s a country artist’ that’s for them to say.. I can only create but how it’s preserved it’s really up to them.
CITUK: If to rearrange a question and ask, if you can describe your sound in 3 words what might that be? JJ: That’s always been a question I can’t really answer. Even before I had the records out I was just playing acoustic by myself and I do radio interviews and they’d be like ‘So, what’s your genre?’ ‘What’s your sound?’ I’m like, I don’t you know you tell me. I don’t really think about that when I’m writing. So, I really can’t answer that question.
CITUK: Now, let's do little fun questions. First one, one artist you’d want to collaborate with? JJ: Bruce Springsteen.
CITUK: Top 5 country records JJ: Hmm, well ‘Nebraska’ by Bruce Springsteen. ‘The River’ by Bruce Springsteen. I like ‘Wildflowers’ by Tom Petty. ‘Car Wheels by A Gravel Road’ by Lucinda Willams and final one, Bob Dylan ‘Nashville Skylike’ that one is really important to me.
CITUK: Final question, what aspire you to keep going? JJ: Music, writing and sharing my songs with audiences fulfills me in a way that nothing else ever has and in a way nothing else will. Since I played my first song, the first show I had this burning in my stomach that propelled me forward to not matter what happens or how long it takes I’m gonna keep going. I’ve always been crazy like that, this is what I’m doing and I’m going to keep going.
CitUK speaks with Jillian Jacqueline before her debut UK headline show
Having opened for Kip Moore across the country over the past week, all eyes turned to Jillian Jacqueline last night at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen in London as she stepped onto the stage for her first headline show in the capital. Before the show we caught up with Jillian to find out a bit more about her week in the UK and her song-writing.
CITUK: Welcome to London! This is your first time coming over to headline your very own show in addition to supporting Kip Moore. How has the experience been like so far playing for the British crowd across the country? JJ: Just wonderful, everyone’s been so kind and very receptive. Opening for Kip has been a really, really great experience. His fans are all about the stories behind the songs and he’s built such a great relationship with them. I feel really fortunate that I’ve gotten to get to know a lot of the UK country fans through him. I remember, we came here for the first time about 2 years ago for Country Music Week and I already felt like UK fans have had their ears to the ground and been listening to my music already because they knew all the words. So, it’s been this really cool relationship build and now to finally be headlining is really special.
CITUK: On the subject of British fans, is there any difference to when you perform in the US to performing here in the UK? JJ: It’s different. In the US, the country music live shows world can feel like a very party based, beer, party crowd like. Which is necessarily not what I do. Here, there’s more of the desire for country music that is more about the lyrics and listening and storytelling. So, it feels like more attentive and a lot more intentional. When fans come to see an artist it feels like they are here because they’d been listening to the record back to back and have gotten to know the artist personally.
CITUK: You’ve recently released Side B, produced by Tofer Brown and songs you’ve co-written with Nashville finest including Lori Mckeena and Natalie Hemby among others. As it's the second six-track EP following Side A released in 2017, does it get less nerve-wracking since your start on this venture when recording and writing?
JJ: I think there’s always a level of pressure. As an artist, I’ve put on myself because I know that I want people to enjoy and resonate with whatever I put out. I don’t think it ever goes away. I do feel like there’s a little bit of a breath of relief because I’m no longer introducing myself to people, it’s more continuing the stories. In that way it’s a lot more relaxed.
CITUK: This leads me to ask, Keith Urban was a recent guest to appear on ‘If I Were You’. When you were writing this song did you envision him being your duet partner or was their someone else? JJ: Definitely not! I didn’t even know that song can be a duet. I had written it just for me to sing by myself and I didn’t even think about it being a duet until someone at my record label had sort of proposed the idea and I was like ‘Yeah, totally, lets get a guy to sing on it with me’. I was thinking it would be someone more my level like artist that is new and up and coming and then turns out they’ve already sent the song to Keith and he loved it so he agreed to be on it. It was one of those crazy, wild dreams come true moments.
CITUK: You mentioned, someone in a similar position like you, anyone in particular? JJ: I’ve toured with a few up and coming artists like Jordan Davis and Devin Dawson, so I thought someone along that line. I have a song that Devon and I wrote on his record. So, we kind of had already done something that is duet but I just love collaborating with artists. I’m always thinking about who would be a great fit.
CITUK: In March you were among the headline acts for CMC Rock Australia aside from taking the stage you were part of Songwriters round alongside Cam- Brandy Clark and Jim Lauderdale. Was there a highlight throughout the whole 3-day event? And any potential future collabs with other musicians? JJ: It’s funny you’ve mentioned that round because that was probably the highlight for me. I love all those artists and it was so much fun just to sit there and hear them play their songs, tell their stories, so I loved that the most probably. Besides just being in Australia for the very first time and seeing how passionate those country music fans are, that was really fun. I don’t have anything particularly planned that I can talk about yet but I will say I’m about to start recording my full-length album and I’m definitely hoping to have a couple of collaborations on there.
CITUK:CMA fest is right around the corner, where you’ll be doing a couple of solo shows and with Little Big Town, what are you most looking forward to in the festival? JJ: Well, CMA fest is always great because there are people that come from so far away just to experience it and it’s really unlike any other festival. All of Nashville is taken over by country artists and we all get to see each other. Everyone is usually busy and touring, out on their own so it’s kinda like a fun reunion to get to see a lot of artist friends that you don’t get to see. I’m just really excited for the shows, that we’ve got a couple lined up and I think it’s going to be one of those really great experiences to get to meet fans and play some new songs hopefully.
CITUK: What is your approach to songwriting? JJ: It depends, in the past it's kind of been usually with co-writers. It starts with an idea or a particular melody. I’m not married to one approach, I’d say it just kind of depends if I’m traveling or if I’m at home. Usually on the road, when an idea comes to me it tends to be melodic, something I can just put down on my phone, like a verse, or a sentence or something, usually it’s the start of it. It’s either then I expand on that by my own or bring it in to a co-writer session. It all depends really.
CITUK: You’ve been in this industry for quite some time now, what advice can you give young artists who are starting out? JJ: My advice would be to not do anything that doesn’t feel authentic or honest to who you are as a person. I think a lot of the times up and coming artists are trying to do whatever they can to get noticed or to get the attention of a label in the industry. I think it can sometimes cause people to do things that are not necessarily true to who they are as a person and I think the ones who end up sticking out are those who do their own thing and stay as unique as possible. So, I would encourage anyone that is wanting to do this to just find out what makes them original and unique and do that as much as they can.
CitUK speaks with Danielle Bradbery to find out more about The Introducing Nashville Tour
Danielle Bradbery is set to return to the UK later this year for a tour with a difference. As no stranger to these shores having performed at both C2C and Long Road In 2018, Danielle will be returning as part of the Introducing Nashville Tour which will also feature Travis Denning, Chris Lane and Rachel Wammack performing in a songwriters round. We caught up with Danielle to find out more about the tour and any hints on other upcoming projects CITUK: With your next trip to the UK just a few months away, what are your fondest memories of your two visits last year? DB: Oh wow, I’ve had so much fun over there, whether it was the performance or exploring the UK and just really doing everything, eating and all the little things. I love it and I enjoy being over there so much and I just love what ya’ll have and I love it so much that I keep coming back. Ya’llshowed me so much love. So, we’re coming back with CMA called ‘Introducing Nashville’ at the end of this year and I’m really, really excited to come back and to explore and perform once again.
CITUK: How important is a tour like introducing Nashville for artists looking to continue to build a fanbase overseas? DB: It gives the people and the fans over there kind of a deep dive of what we do over here in a songwriter round and it gives a taste of Nashville, Tennessee. We are telling our stories through our music and telling our struggles; our highest moments ;just really sitting down with the fans and getting closer than usual and really having fun with the song stage all at once or however, we do it. It’s going to be a really cool experience for everyone and I’m really pumped about it and I how everyone else is just as excited. We can’t wait.
CITUK: What is your favorite part about performing in the round and any new stories you’ll be sharing? DB: I feel like since the time I was there till the next time, I will definitely have a few stories, not crazy ones but I’ve written new songs and I’ve just had a new creative mind of what record 3 is going to be. So, I’m really excited to share that with everybody this time and keep them updated with what’s been going on with me. It’s going to be really fun, telling the stories, making them feel part of everything because they are, they are a huge part of this journey so they deserve it. It’s fun to hear more about what goes behind the scenes here in Nashville because a lot of fans don’t really have access to that. So, those are the moments to really share with the fans really what’s going on behind the music and behind the artistry. It’ll be a really fun storytime.
CITUK: Have you ever been inspired by stories from other artists during a round? DB: Yeah, it definitely can be for sure, I’m not sure I personally have had a specific story that turned into a song or anything. But it definitely does inspire the creative process going back and working on music, in those moments you see fan reactions. Just being in that mindset of performing, telling the satires you’d definitely come back with a little bit of a new mindset and going into new music. I feel like I’m always consciously inspiring by something so I decently believe that happened and hopefully, I can actually get a real song or something out of this trip. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open.
CITUK: On your first audition for The Voice, could you ever imagine the road it would take you on? DB: No! I never expected it! Having the dream and the huge, huge mindset of being a singer one day was definitely there. I was a shy girl, I had these big, big dreams that I was very scared of them at the time, you never know what might happen or where it might take you. Coming off The Voice, that was a huge experience and winning the whole thing. To be honest with you, I still have moments where I pinch myself and I’m like ‘I did that show, I did that TV show’ and made it all the way through at such a young age, it all just seems unreal and coming off these things and having the opportunity that I have. Going to the UK is a huge part of that, it’s crazy to think about, I’m very blessed and thankful that I got to do what I got to do. I can’t wait to see where these paths take me, it’s all really, really amazing and it’s been so fun and the fans have been unbelievable so it’s all been a really fun ride and I can’t wait to see what else I get to do.
CITUK: You recently covered ‘Shallow’ When you first performed it, did you ever intend to release it as a single and do a video? DB: A little bit. We kinda went into it with a bigger mindset and plan. When I first heard this song it had such a country music, country song take on it and I loved it and it won a lot of people’s hearts and there are so many covers being made of it and I was one of them. At one point I asked a good friend of mine Parker McCollum, who’s an amazing country artist, to sing on it with me and it all fell into place real natural and I was so happy about that. When I first performed it, it was really cool to have my own take on it and have fans get so excited about it and sing at the top of their lungs. It’s been really fun. Properly one of my favourite covers I’ve done and then doing the video and promoting it as my own it’s been pretty fun to see reactions from everybody.
We sought out the help of your fans throughout social media to send us questions they’d like to ask you and the first question comes from CITUK very own member, Bella asked.
What do you enjoy most about being a singer?
DB: Oh man, there are so many moments that very could be my all-time favorite. Every day is different, you get to do so many things just out of this world amazing but I have to say it’s a tie between 2. One, being able to write music and being in a room with other writers or for other artists who write songs by themselves. I’m still trying to learn how to do that. When I write a song, it’s me and I want to pull out the honest truth of what goes on in my world and a lot is ‘what is a relationship?’ life whether being anxiety or love or just anything that my fans can relate to more. Music is healing, why not sing about something that actually happened. I mean that is one of my favorite moments in this thing I get to do as an artist and then the other is having fans sing along to your music and your imagination when it comes to a song, that is just a real feeling singing when they are singing it right back at you. Being an artist, there are so many moments that are just unbelievable and I’m really thankful for them.
@debburton855 & @BobK4878 from Twitter asks
When do you think your new Album will be out? Do You have ideas for the cover?? And Will You sing 1 your new songs at a concert/CMA Fest soon?
DB: I definitely have a lot of ideas for the new record. Not exactly right now, but I definitely jotted down a lot of things and made a list on what I think it’s going to sound like, the whole layout of it. It’s really cool to think that I’m already thinking about these things. As for an album cover, I had a few ideas that I talked with my management with on what that would look like, there’s definitely a lot of ideas there. But, what I can tell ya’ll is that’s it's been talked about, it’s being planned, a lot of things have been written down. So, I definitely have a vision already which is very, very exciting and when it’s coming out? I don’t know an exact date yet but it’s defiantly being planned. So, I’m really excited to let people know.
@jess_stephans from Twitter asks
Are u excited for CMA fest?
DB: Yes! I’m super excited. Hopefully, I’ll try to squeeze a new song in there, not promising anything but I’ll work it out with my band and try to pick a song that everyone wants to hear. That week of CMA fest is definitely the time to do that and hang out with the fans and see everybody and familiar faces. It’s one big party, I’m really excited about it and I hope everyone has the best time and stays cool. It gets hot! I’m warning everybody.
@ShanniJ9 from Twitter asks,
What is your favorite song you have written lately that hasn't been released? Or one that you can't wait for your fans to hear?
DB: There have been two versions of the song that I become to love. I have written a lot, there are some outside songs that got pitched to me that have won me over as if I’ve written them myself. So, there’s a bunch of mixtures there, there’s a song called “Runways” that was an outside song that I’m very excited about and hopefully I can continue with my project. There are a mixture and there’s a group of songs that I’m pretty excited about. I’m trying to nail the theme of the album and trying to organize that and “Runway” is one I’m really excited about. Hopefully, I’ll get a few ideas and stuff out there for the fans to hear.
@AndyWat37649387 from Twitter asks,
Hi Danielle. I have a question for you. Out of all your songs you have sung, which one starts and ends with the same words?
DB: Oh man, probably I might be wrong I don’t have lyrics or anything in front of me right now.. I might be wrong but it might be one of my songs called ‘Potential’ or ‘Human Diaries’ I’m not entirely sure but those 2 seem to kind of start in the same way and end the same way. That’s a good question, I’ve never had that asked before so that’s cool.
Final question from Twitter is from @huntington1998 asks
Any hints you can give us about the Sabrina Carpenter collaboration?
DB: I don’t know, I’m not sure. This is a tricky question, I’m not sure.
One final one from Instagram before we finish our interview is from Brifirdrl8 asking..
Danielle, what recent single would you have wished country radio should’ve taken more notice of?
DB: I definitely wish that “Worth it” would’ve been a little bit more serious. It was definitely a song that meant a lot to me and it was one of the songs were you’re putting out honesty, realness, and feelings that are very true and then not knowing exactly what will happen to it. So, I definitely wish that was taken a little bit more serious and hopefully something else will be a little bit more serious along the way. That’s probably one of my favorite songs that were able to be a Single.
CITUK: Thank you Danielle and we look forward to seeing you later this year
CitUK meets Jamie Freeman
Singer/songwriter Jamie Freeman has recently released his 3rd album “Dreams About Falling” (17th May) Produced by Nashville based producer Nelison Hubbard and Freeman ‘Dreams About Falling’ captures the thoughts, longing and musing of an individual in a beautifully illustrated 12 track LP. Prior to the release Jamie sat down with us and talked about recent album, upcoming shows and future projects.
CITUK: First off, congratulations on your recent album announcement. This is your 3rd album. has the process been easier since the beginning of your venture?
JF: Well, I know more about how to make a record these days, it’s no less effort in some ways its more effort, but with that comes greater ambition. I guess when I made my first record [Just You- 2011] I thought, I’ve got some songs and recording equipment and I just plotted around and kind of made it on my own time. Then, the next one you do you want to be better. So, you work harder you’ve learned more along the way but still put more in. This time was the first time I had someone else produce my music for me or at least in terms of a full record. So, on the one hand, there’s a lot taken off your shoulders because you haven’t got all that responsibility but you take on or I did anyway. I felt the pressure of needing to be good enough for all the other people that are involved, where previously I would’ve recorded myself and played a lot of the instruments as well, this time I had a full band put together by my producer [Neilson Hubbard] and engineer and a studio. So, I had all of that but I felt the pressure on me to be good enough to justify all of these incredible people that were on my record. It’s the most pleasurable thing to do. CITUK: “Dreams About Falling” explores life in its entirety whether that is to do with love, coping with grief (Rum and Smoke) or even facing the hardship after suffering unthinkable aftermath (The Fire) has it been easy diving back and writing about them openly. JF: You have to have the appetite to address those kind of issues to start with. This song in particular was co-written with Ben Glover you have to have someone who you can trust to talk about things like that. The theme of the album is around co-writing aside from two songs I wrote on my own and that’s very important to me, you have to have enough trust with people in the room to address these kinds of issues with, because there's nothing in the record that is light and airy, it’s fairly heavy. It’s like you said, whether it’s about love or the trials and tribulations of love to me that is phenomenally important because it’s what keeps most of us awake at night. It’s what everyone wants pretty much. but there are other subject on there about The Grenfell Tour, there’s only one song which isn’t particularly deep and it’s about the life of an artist which is “Standing on A Star.”
CITUK: This makes me wonder, would you consider “The Man I Wanted To Be” a light-hearted yet ironic song in a way? JF: Well, funnily enough, I wouldn’t. I know it could, If you take it as face value you could see it as light-hearted and actually there is a similar song by Billy Bragg can’t remember the title from the top of my head he has a line in his song that goes “I’m a poet not a plumber” and I think his song is purposely is light hearted. This song [The Man I Wanted to Be] is actually deadly serious and I remember it’s one of those songs that I find incredibly hard to sing, because again it’s about the trails being in a relationship and not being as good as you should be and that's quite a hard thing to face up to. You can read it as fairly light to me it’s deadly serious. It’s about a petty, mundane, day to day sort of problems that might face a relationship but they can be the things that are symptomatic of bigger problems so that's why the song face level it’s about not putting a shelf up, forgetting to change a lightbulb but the reality is you need to take those things seriously in a relationship because if you don’t, then what else aren’t you taking seriously. I guess that’s what it means to me. But, having said that what a song means to the listener is just as important as what means to the singer. I wrote it with Amy Speace and as you often do in a co-writing situation you both be looking at your notes that you’ve made, we’d be looking through these things and this line “The Man I Wanted to be” that was something I noted down and I had this vague idea about these petty trivial things that you don't do you’re not got enough at them, you don’t put much effort or whatever and she liked that idea and so we set to work trying to write it. it was interesting, Men and women we often have different roles associated with us by default almost, I was opening up to her about my feelings about that and she was reflecting how she’s perceived it from her side of the fence as a woman in relationships. She’s someone I knew well. You have to be really honest with people when you’re songwriting. If you want to write something more a light-hearted pop song then you need to get serious with whoever you write with. it doesn't mean it’s not fun but it can be challenging as well.
CITUK: The album sees a few guests including Angaleena Presley dueting in “Down Range”. Can you tell us a little more about the story behind the track? JF: I’d written this song with my friend Amy Tudor we’ve written a lot of songs together, but, because she lives in Kentucky and I live in the UK we don’t often get time to sit down and write together as it’s mostly long distance and this was one we were lucky enough to actually write it while she was staying with us and we spent some time in my studio writing. This came from an idea of her’s from a particular person she knew who was really going off the rails as a returning war veteran. he was essentially suffering from PTSD, he was making terrible choices, he was drinking, he was speeding around in cars, he’d drive with a pistol on his lap, he was ruining his relationships and so it was the idea of who he was when he left for war and who he was when he returned and so it sets as a conversation between him and his partner when he comes back. I’m really into the craft of writing as well as that sort of content of it. As, we got halfway through writing it and I suddenly thought ‘This should be a duet’ and as soon as I said it Amy’s face lit up as well. We were both really excited. We had most of the songs done or at least knew how they were going and then we had this wonderful challenge to rewriting what we have done, so that it wasn’t just from the voice of the singer the singular person, instead of from the two people each telling their side of the stories. So, we had a great fun wrangling the words into something to come from two voices instead of one. When it came to recording, I needed a great female singer to do a duet with and Angaleena was the one. Angaleena also co-wrote another song with me on the record that is “I Miss Those Bar’s.”
CITUK: This is a little bit of a nosy question, when you rewrote the song from a second person perspective was there a particular person in your head? JF: It’s a few years old this song, I might have known Angaleena but I certainly wasn’t thinking that we would write or perform together. I met Angelina when my band [The Jamie Freeman Agreement] was her backing band during her first gigs here in the UK and my band became her backing band, that’s how we got to know each other and I guess it was over the next couple of years, we continued backing her and that's how we became friends and having to trust one another when it comes to co-writing. having written with her, I thought now is the time to ask her to do a duet with and I did and I'm really thrilled that she said she would do it. And actually we’ve got a video and a single coming out around the 10th of May as a second single of the album.
CITUK: In a track like “The Fire” you had co-written with Ben Glover an openly political song that pays a powerful homage to Grenfell Tower citing to the horror that took place. How important do you think for you as a songwriter to voice your opinion and concern and share it with the world? JF: The story behind it [The Fire] we actually wrote it about two weeks after the Grenfell Tower fire. I had already arranged a writing week trip in Nashville to write with the people who are now on the record and Ben was the first person I was going to write with. After the Grenfell tower I felt strongly that I wanted to write something about it, but I didn’t want to address it directly. Within hours or days it was a disaster, it was already turning into a political story because of ‘Who’s fault was it?’ ‘Where people making profit at the expense of endangering people’s lives?’ and all of that and I didn’t want to talk about that but I also didn’t feel it was my place really to talk about what it was like to be in the fire and to talk about the victims directly. But, it was something that affected everyone who saw it happening and I did want to write something about it, I also knew I wanted to write with someone who was a Brit so it would feel close to home. Ben Glover is from Northern Ireland, he’s technically one of us, a Brit, even though he lives in Nashville now. I didn’t know him too well, I met during a couple of events in Nashville and maybe here but I knew I could trust him. He’s one of the only people who gets to write with Gretchen Peters and she’s one of my favorites, favorite songwriters and I knew she wouldn’t suffer with someone who wasn’t great to be around. I thought Ben was the only one who can help me with the song.
CITUK: When you first began the process of recording what was the first priority you wanted to achieve? JF: First priority was actually to make sure my voice was in good condition. Because, I’m not really a singer. I’ve got these songs no one else will sing them, I’ve got to sing them. I’d be someone who would go on The Voice and never win a talent show. I know it’s not my strong point, I sing in order to sing my songs. Neilson Hubbard [producer] only priority was to present the song in a way it has the most emotional impact. I didn't want to be in the studio coughing or worrying I’d blow my throat out on the first day or something like that, I literally trained my voice, I did a lot of singing out in my studio, alot of warmups and I made sure that everyday I was properly hydrate it. I wasn’t going out in the evenings. It’s a practical thing in which it was my first priority that is I can sing, because if I couldn’t do that there would not have been a record! Prior to the work, all the songs were written aside from one. Neilson and I went through and he helped me pick songs choices. We’d be discussing via email, our preferences and how we felt they can fit together. We actually recorded 12 songs but 2 of them did not make the cut because it would’ve made the record to long for vinyl. So, we cut 2 in order to fit on vinyl and I didn't want the vinyl and CD to be different. I just wanted to be the same thing for both regardless of the platform you’re listening on. But, we are actually giving away one of those extra tracks as a free download for the people who preordered the album. When we’re packing the album I’d probably be slipping a download card with the extra track so people will get to hear them but they’re not part of this record.
CITUK: This album was produced by Nelison Hubbard, what is about collaborative force in production that motivates you to working with others? JF: I produced a lot of records for other people and I know from that experience as a producer you can make the record better, if you’re not going to make the record better then you shouldn’t be there. You make the record better by advising the best approach to perform a song for example it might be you say ‘You know what, let's do this one again’ or ‘You know that one was great lets move on.’ But when I produced myself I don’t know when I’ve done the best take. You go back to listening to your own vocals and think “Was that emotional?’ ‘Will that get the story across?’ and it’s really hard to judge. So, having been on both sides of it, I’m very aware that the producer improves you and Nelison came with such great recommendations. I met him through Ben Glover, he worked with Ben a lot. He’s worked with people that I really admire like Mary Gauthier and I heard a lot of his records with my great friends The Wild Ponies who are some of my favorite people in Nashville.
CITUK: Let's go back a little, when did you meet Nelison Hubbard? and did you know from the beginning he was the one to produce the album? JF: About 2 years ago when my wife Stevie and I went to Nashville to meet with producers we sat down to meet Nelison and especially to ask about producing my record and as soon as he sat down we knew he was the right person for it. He was so lovely and so in tune with what it was I was trying to do and so focused on the songs, the songwriting and he seemed to have a very organic way of producing. I know people he had produced and all of the tales of him made it sound that he’s just there for you. The most striking thing that he said to me when we were talking about the band that he’d put together was ‘No one brings any ego into the studio’ they are just there for the song, that’s all they care about. They’re not fighting with each other trying to get a guitar solo, maybe we should put a drum fill in here, they just do what feels right for the song at that time. I work with other people because I know they make me better and it just allows me to do my one job. My job in the studio is as a songwriter is to bring the song in and I sing it and along the way I play guitar to keep rhythm on this record and everyone else did everything else. So, I’m not thinking about what the drum pattern is going to be or how’s the bass line going to fit in or should we have keyboards, instead I’m not thinking about anything that’s Nelison and the band’s job. I didn’t know what some of these songs would sound like until we started playing them and that’s no exaggeration, because I would’ve played the song on my acoustic guitar in the studio, they noted it down and then everyone goes off into little areas and then we all start feeling our way into it, getting in tune, getting sound on guitar, drummers trying one to things, so by the time you hit record that's the first time you know what the song would sound like. So sum up, you get to that position by preparing so all of these great musicians they prepare their craft. I prepare by writing the song and getting myself in that situation and that’s the magic part as soon as you hit record its magic and on the record they are actually 3 first takes so. All the vocals were recorded live with the band which was pretty unusual these days. What it means is for me, some of these songs I’ve never played until I was in the studio, I played them obviously on my own on an acoustic guitar but never performed them, I had no idea what they’d be like until 3, 4 minutes that we were recording then Neilson presses stop and says that is the one. It was really magical, it was very exciting you didn’t really know what was going to happen at anytime. There’s also a risk involved. If you put the ground work and prepared properly the payback is an incredible one time feel and you better have recorded it because it’s not going to be like that again. So, one song we recorded 3 times but we all knew that take 1 was the one to use so we recorded and everyone loved it and we tried it again and again but it never got better. These sort of things helps improve by playing and suggesting a note here is a bit more cleanly or you might not fumble your way into the chorus. What you lose along the way is the spontaneity and Nelison is one who really, really wants to capture spontaneity.
CITUK: Would you consider working with him again? JF: Well, he’s working with me at the moment making a video for “Down Range” him and his partner Josh are very talented video makers. They’ve made videos for John Prine and Gretchen Peters and other people. So, we continue working together. We spent 5 days in the studio and what came out of the build up to that and the experience is that he permanently changed my life in terms of how I think about singing and raised my confidence as a singer, which means when I step out on stage I’m not utterly terrified and thinking that ‘I’m crap!’ I’m thinking ‘Neilson said I was good, so I’m going to be good.’ Even if we don’t work together again he’s always going to be part of my music but I hope we’ll work together again but I’ve got to get this album out of the way first. It’s probably a bit early to plan the next one. But yes, definitely would want to work with him again.
CITUK: As a man with many titles under his belt, a full-time musician, AMAUK member and often playing with US during their tours, What keeps you going? JF: It’s probably the same with all musicians, you love playing music. I’m always looking for opportunities to do it. But, these days I haven’t been doing much playing with other people per say like a session musician, it’s not really my thing, I’ve done it with Angleena and I played drums with Sam Outlaw, I’ve done a few bits and pieces like that. But if someone says ‘Hey do you want to come and play drums’ or ‘Do you want to sing a song’ that’s what I love to do! At the moment I’m very happy in all my career. I’ve got so many music opportunities coming up which is on my own music and I’ve got loads of gigs coming up too. I’ve just been given a tour support with Wade Bowen, the Texas singer/songwriter that’s just been confirmed earlier today. Things like that are coming up, I’ve got a gig with Elles Bailey coming up, album launch show on the 16th, I’ve got lots and lots of things planned. I’m going to Arkensa to do a songwriting camp. There’s all sorts going on and I’m really, really thrilled being able to spend so much time pursuing my own music. It’s a real joy.
CITUK: Often referred to as an Americana artist, how can you define such term? JF: A sort of technical way talking about it would be that it takes elements of american roots music styles for example country, folk, bluegrass, rock n roll and jazz. It takes bits and pieces from here and there but it turns into something distinctly different. Someone like Jason Isbell, he’s not a country artist per say, He rarely plays a straighthead country song but you can hear country and folk music influences in his music, that’s why someone like him for me in many ways he’d be an Americana artist but what he’s making is essentially rock music. However, you can also say someone like Mary Gauthier is an Americana artist, because she’ll take elements of folk and country and turns it into singer/songwriter thing, but she’s very different from Jason Isbell. The thing that unites them and that is a common theme in Americana I think is the focus on songwriting. It tends to be roots music as well, music that is played by people, real instruments, if you bang it it’ll make a sound. There are many common threads to what is Americana but the actual music that comes out is very diverse. It can be something that sounds old timey or it could be something that sounds like modern like ‘Bear’s Den’ or ‘Mumford and Sons’, there’s a lot of output but the thing that underpins it is songwriting and instrumentation and styles that comes from american roots music. Now, I’m a Brit as you may have noticed and people might wonder why I would make music that is called Americana, the reason why is because, I think we have a claim to it. Half of it came from here. You’ve got European folk styles which of course counts for huge number of things! If you sit in a bluegrass session as an Irish fiddle player or a Scottish fiddle player you’ll know half of the tunes. So, there’s a lot of European influx styles of music and of course you’ve got African music and African music is fundamentally important to American roots music, because without the banjo and the influence from Africa we would not have so many musical styles. We wouldn’t have jazz, blues and appalachian music would’ve been completely different. An instrument like a banjo that is been taken over by a white person instrument because of bluegrass and appalachian style where in fact its an African instruments. So, these things go around and around and around. Folk music traveled across the Atlantic and comes back with little bit different tunes that are a little bit adapted and then it goes back again but you can’t go into a cafe in Nashville and not hear ‘The Beatles’, ‘The Rolling Stones’, ‘The Who..’ All sorts of British music, because British music has always influenced American music and vice versa. I just think from this side of the Atlantic America is our cool older cousin we kind of look at them and say ‘Oh man, they are great’ we think they did everything but actually they spent half of their time emulating us. So, I feel like we have a claim to it because half of it came from here.
CITUK: If you were to pick a favorite song from your upcoming album which might you choose? JF: Well, of course I wouldn’t! because I love all my children. But, when you put an album together you don’t necessarily think about which is your favourite but you think about which one you feel most likely to succeed and that’s why I put ‘All in The Name’ as the start. I think, if I was in a desert island and I had to take only one song with me, it’ll probably would be ‘All in The Name’ but that's not to say I don’t love the other songs on the album. It’s an impossible one to answer. I'd probably fall in love with something else after a while. It’s just I’ve been promoting this one as a single for the last couple of weeks so it’s really stuck in my head.
CITUK: Final question, top 3 artists who inspired to be where you are today? JF: I think I’ll probably will have to start with ‘Crosby, Stilles, Nash & Young.’ I know that’s kind of 4 artists in one, I grew up listening to their album ‘Deja Vu’ as a kid when I was 4 and rediscovered them when I was in my mid-late 20’s. So, that got me examining artists like ‘Neil Young’ and 20 years down the line it got me into country music, because as mentioned earlier there’s a line between all of these different types of music and as a young punk in the 80s I wouldn't have thought I would be listening to country music. in terms of influential, it kind of depends how far you’d go back, I was a punk I would have never picked up the guitar if it wasn’t for probably ‘The Clash,’ I was very influenced by them because they were so political and stylized in the way they thought about their presentations, the clothes they wore, the slogans they would write that was very influential on me. But probably as an older person, I’d say ‘Paul Wheeler,’ who would be appalled to think that he’d influence someone to become a country music singer because he claims not to be a fan but I don’t believe him for a minute and here’s why, it was seeing ‘Paul Wheeler’ doing a ‘Crosby, Stills, Nash &Young’ song live that made me say to my brother ‘Who’s this?’ and Martin said ‘Oh, that’s ‘Crosby,Stills, Nash & Young’ and I suddenly remember ‘Deja Vu’ and started digging back into my musical past as a kid my mum had the record. So, ‘Paul Wheeler,’ whether he knew it or not he was sowing the seeds for my interest in country music and years and years later ended up opening up a folk/Americana music shop [Union Music Shop]. ‘Paul Wheeler’ has always been someone who very much does his own thing, he can’t be tied down to any sort of a genre but having said that he genuinely makes roots music, he makes music that you can play on a guitar, he can sit down on my porch and play any ‘Paul Wheeler’ song from ‘The Jam’ to ‘The Star Council’ to his solo and dance and Jazz stuff, it’s all roots music, he’s very rootsy and he’s obviously very much into american soul music and that sort of thing, and him of course he’s been around for so long, I was probably 11 or 12 when I first heard ‘The Jam,’ he’s a massive influence on me up until my adulthood. These are all past influence, if the question was ‘Who do you most admire as a songwriter right now?’ it’ll probably be ‘Jason Isbell,’ he makes me jealous of how incredible he is, not only as a songwriter but he and his band are probably one of the best bands I’ve seen in the last few years.
CitUK speaks with The Devil Makes Three's Pete Bernhard before their UK tour supporting The Dropkick Murphys
This week, The Devil Makes Three return to the UK as the support act for Boston punk legend Dropkick Murphys. With the UK leg of the tour starting in Birmingham tonight (Sunday 21st April) and concluding at a sold out O2 Academy in Brixton on Friday night, we caught up with Pete Bernhard to find out more about the bands influences and their unlikely links to the punk music.
You’ve recently announced you’ll be playing shows around the country, are guys excited to head back to the UK? Oh yeah, very much so. We love playing over there. Last time we were over, we did our own headline tour and this time we will be supporting the Dropkick Murphys which will be really fun to perform for their audience.
Are their any sites you are looking to explore this time round? There’re tones of sites I’d like to explore, sadly when we tour we have very little time. We usually don’t get to explore that much out of the city we are playing in. When we are on tour, especially with another band, it’s a lot of playing and moving on then play again and move on again. We just play for the most part.
You mentioned you are opening for the Dropkick Murphys, how did the tour come around? Their producer, Ted Hut, is an English guy from London and we ended up working with him after our manager recommended him to us. That was the first connection, although we are originally from the same area that they are from in the States. We are from Vermont in New Hampshire and they are from Boston, Massachusetts. We would go and see them play when we were kids in Boston. When we were 16 or 17 years old, we would go and see various punk shows in Boston. That Boston Punk/ Rock vibe introduced us to them. There’re not too many bands from that era still around but they’ve stuck it out. Some bands stick it out, unfortunately a lot of the bands from that era didn’t.
Last year saw your first album release in nearly two years. How has the reception been so far? It can be hard to tell. The way I judge it is at our shows, if people start singing along to the new material it shows they like it – which is great. The music industry has changed so much and now people don’t necessarily go out and buy an album anymore in the way that they used to – its mostly via streaming services now. So far though, the reception to the music when played live has been really good – especially in Europe.
Can I ask about Street Team, which allows fans to promote your shows in exchange for tickets. How does it work? We haven’t started it in UK yet as we don’t tour too often there, here in the states though if someone is willing to help promote the show online and get involved we will usually give them free tickets to the show. Sometimes we have them come in and watch soundcheck or play a few songs for them before the show. We see it as a way to give back to our fans. Nothing helps promote a show better than having fans tell their friends to come. How did the idea come about? We always had friends in certain towns that would help s us out. Overtime we had fans who had seen us many times and followed us for over ten years. They love the band and would do anything to help support the band. It was a way to reach out to those people and say thanks for introducing people to our music that otherwise would not have heard it. Its now become a thing that we do every time we go on the road.
With the new album including many intimate stories, how has been sharing these and singing them to fans every night? Its been really good so far, we have so much material now that we don’t do every single song. The ones that we are doing during our live shows have gone down well. It’s a much more personal album than some of the other ones we’ve made, so sometimes it can be strange to share those kinds of songs live. Its been an opportunity for us to branch out with different styles of music
How was recording this album different to your previous experiences? Its been totally different as it’s the first album with a trained drummer in the studio, which made a big difference. It was a record that we approached with a more rock and roll stand point. We’ve always been influenced by old rock and roll as well as the early blues music. We took a lot of the music that we grew up loving and leaned in further on the rock and roll side, usually we would have taken a more traditional approach. With each record, we try to make it so aren’t always feeling really comfortable, so we won’t do exactly what we did last time. We are trying to remain as creative as possible.
Which song stands out to you from the album? The one I like playing the most live is Deep Down, which is just a really fun song to play. I really like playing Chains Are Broken as well. As far as sitting down and listening to the album I really like Native Son. We don’t play it as much live as its much slower and quieter but was still fun to make.
What keeps the band going? In order to keep being creative you have to have the life experiences that are worth talking about! As long as things happen in your life and you are going on some adventures and not just spending all your time on the tour bus you can keep coming up with stories and songs that people want to hear. You’ve got to make sure that your life is interesting and you are doing stuff that us going to motivate you to keep writing.
Who or what would you consider to be the inspirations behind the making of the album? A big source of inspiration for this last album was thinking about the life that you lead as an artist and writer and the pitfalls that come as part of making that life choice. It’s a crazy time to be alive on planet earth, so there was some political stuff in there as well because I can’t help myself! I always through in a song or two about those issues as it helps to have some social commentary.
When you perform a cover song at your shows how do you choose which ones to do? We always try to do a cover, so we can share the music that we love with people. We usually throw in songs by older blues musicians instead of modern covers. We may do a Robert Johnson song, a Willie Dixon song – blues and jazz has had such a big influence on me. Occasionally we will throw in a country artist too, maybe a Townes Van Zandt song and we even play songs by our friends that they wrote, and we think are great. I’d say our set is bout 90% original material and then there’s that 10% that we change up.
Will we hear a punk cover in London? Not right now. It would be really cool to do a cover of a punk song. Punk music has such a big influence on our band, even though we don’t sound like that it was such an influence during our adolescence.
If you were to introduce your music to a new audience, what three words would you pick to describe yourself? If I had to pick three words, I would say SEE US LIVE!!!
We would like to thank Pete for taken the time to speak with us and hope that you can get out to see them on tour this week. We have included their ful tour dates below.
By now, everyone who went to Country to Country at London’s O2 Arena this weekend is probably very familiar with the name James Barker Band. Across the three days, the band took to various festival stages four times. Following their Country Music Week Hub show on the Sunday the love for the band had reached fever point and the crowd were demanding an encore, which they got. Following this set, Country in the UK waited patiently to sit down with the Ontario natives as the crowd queued for a picture with them.
Prior to the festival we caught up with frontman James for a Quick Fire Five interview, this time we got to sit down with James, Connor (drums), Taylor (lead guitar and backing vocals) and Bobby (bass guitar).
Has it been a long weekend for you all? James: Yes and no, it’s just been so much and so cool as we’ve never been here before which makes it a lot easier.
Is this your first time in England? James: Yes, first time in Europe actually.
Before we get started, Connor I’ve got a quick one for you. Is your mum Wanda Stephens by any chance? Connor: Yes, she is We find that most times we mention you on social media, she will retweet or like everything! Connor: She’s super supportive!
Can we talk about the band name - Taylor, Bobby and Connor, did you get a say in this? Bobby: At the start people wanted us to be James Barker, but we started together, and we were all like I don’t care man whatever you want to do. James though was like we started as a band, so we will keep it as a band. James: We all started playing together in bar gigs as a band called Highway 12 with a couple of other guys. We parted ways and only played a couple of shows before people started to say Band as we had a band dynamic. People labelled it and it made a lot of sense. At first, we had our reservations as we thought it sounds weird and didn’t want to be a Chucky Cheese band. Zac Brown Band was huge at that time and it seems to have worked.
How’s the experience been so far? All: unbelievable. James: We’ve been in Berlin, Munich and Cologne before coming here. London is one of the places I always thought I would love but I didn’t think I would love it as much as I do! Its such a cool city. Even last night, we went to get Indian food in Shoreditch. We’ve got a couple of flats that are only a couple of tube stops away from here Taylor: Check you using all the words, flats, tube stops!!!
What were you expecting from the fans when you came over, I can’t imagine you expected the standing ovation and encore demand from that last crowd? Taylor: It is mind-blowing. We are very in tune and pay attention to the metrics of Spotify and Apple music and see where everyone is. We knew we had listeners out here, but the reaction both two nights ago, yesterday for sure and today! I don’t think we ever expected, it makes us feel like we’ve been over here for a decent amount of time where as those were our first three shows. Bobby: We’re relatively known in Canada but we still show up to some places and smaller towns and they don’t know us. There’s more patinate people here about our music than places in Canada and one thing I’ve always known is the rich history in music here when it comes to the Stones, the Beetles but everyone is so passionate. People will be like we didn’t really know you guys at first, but we searched the entire line-up, listened to the music and would schedule our day to see who we want to see. I thought that was pretty cool. James: They just dive right into it. Did it surprise you the amount of people who knew the lyrics and sang along? James: That might be one of the most surprising things, actually, from the first show this weekend and it’s carried on into every single one of them. Everyone knew the words to pretty much every single one of our songs that’s online. Connor: someone yelled out Throwback which we don’t even normally play, it wasn’t even a single! It’s crazy as people here are just so hardcore. How has your set-list varied over the last few days? James: We did have a pretty consistent idea of songs to play but it’s changed. Even the first day we had someone come up and request “Its Working” which wasn’t originally in the set. Coming into this, especially a new market for us we thought we should play some covers as if we play all our original stuff over the course of an hour or half hour people are going to get bored, so we were going to sprinkle them in. Both times though, we cut that and did all original songs and sprinkled in one cover because it was obvious the people knew our stuff Having previously performed at CMA Fest, what are you doing to break Nashville? How are Canadian acts seen by the market? James: It’s hard. You can 100% be the biggest thing in Canada and no-one in America has heard of you. We’ve spent the last year and half doing it and have done a full radio tour of America going to every single major market city which is insane. The one thing that’s crazy is just have to play live and people want to see it live. We played a load of shows and got in front of people, which is the main thing but that’s our bread and butter anyway. Having supported artists like Tim Hicks and Dierks Bentley what’s been the best advice any artist has given you? Connor: Don’t get married in August! James: Oh yeah, Aaron Pritchett who is a Canadian artist spoke with us when we were just starting out. I told him I was getting married the following August in about a year and a half and he said “yeah, that isn’t going to happen!” I was like what do you mean and he said, “You won’t have time!” He was 100% right, we had three shows that weekend – so don’t get married in August. Dierks Bentley was a big one. It’s not him or something he said, just more or less the way he carries himself and composes himself. Taylor: The way he and Keith treat their crew and entire team resonated with us and I’m sure everyone they play with. That’s the way you should treat everyone no matter where you go. James: They’re both just courteous and nice people. We’ve played with and had conversations with them and are two of the nicest people we’ve ever met in our lives. Just be good, be nice people and good things will happen. Taylor: We played as Dierk’s band for a show in a dive bar and he showed up literally only five minutes late, none of us were thinking oh my god he’s late, we were just so excited! He came in and was so apologetic and the first thing he said was “Guys I’m so sorry I’m late.” Connor: That was our first time seeing him and he apologised to us Taylor: And we’re the Canadian ones!! Song-writing wise, you wrote nearly all the songs on the album, how satisfying is it to hear those songs on the radio and climbing up the charts? James: That one thing that I think is always shocking. We just released a new single called Keep It Simple and as it’s pretty fresh we haven’t had a chance to play it much so I’m looking forward to the summer to come along. Every time you release a single you’ve practiced it so many times and usually played it in a few shows you know it can click with people and all of a sudden everyone is singing it. Theirs a weird passing of sings in popularity that happens were one song is the big song and then all of a sudden you play a show and Chills would get a better reaction than Good Together and you realise that these songs as they get more popular is the coolest part. It usually catches you off guard too and you can never anticipate that With so many feel good anthem track, what would be your reaction if James came to you with a slower break up song and you had to drop the tempo? James: It’s funny as we’re planning on releasing an album within the next couple of months and there are a couple of songs on there that are more vulnerable, slow, a little more balladry. Our big thing as four guys is keeping our sound. We’re not writing a Disney song Taylor: Disney is cool for the record! James: Yes, Disney is cool, but we want to keep that vibe that makes sense with the band and makes sense with country music and is true to the country music format
Going back to 2015 when you first started out, what would you have set yourself as your aims in these first four or five years? What would you have wanted to achieved? James: It’s crazy as we’ve been playing in the band now for five years but separately before that. I would say our goal was to never stop until we conquer the world. Don’t stop playing until you are as big as you can get. One thing that would be cool to us now would be having a writer. We would show up, especially in Canada, we would have all the beer we can drink, whiskey we can drink, humous and vegetables. There’s something cool about turning up and having a celery stick and some humous!! Bobby: Salsa, Chick peas When you won the Juno for the Game On album, did you go there expecting to win with an acceptance speech ready? Bobby: Have you seen the acceptance speech? We were up for two awards that night and the won that we thought we had the best chance for we ended up not winning so after that we were just half in the bag and started drinking wine. They called our name and we were anticipating High Valley to win, and we were shocked. We got up there, probably said some stupid things. James: We definitely weren’t prepared.
Looking ahead to the next few years, other than coming back to London were would you like to be in five years? James: Hopefully the difference between now and five years time is as great as today and five years ago. That’s the thing. We want to be touring the entire world. While on stage Taylor I noticed you wearing a hat I wouldn’t expect someone from Ontario to wear! James: Tell the class what you’re wearing Taylor: I’m wearing Louis Vuitton, St Louis Vuitton James: He’s wearing a St Louis Blues hat Taylor: Yeah, and it’s dirty and it defiantly stinks a lot James: Are you a Blues fan: Taylor: No, I got it in an airport and it black which goes with everything, so I wear it almost 24/7 James: So, he’s a phoney! Taylor: Yes! James: People do bring it up often though as it’s such a random team Taylor: The worst is when someones excited and theyre like oh you support the Blues too and I have to be like no Connor: That’s like when I wear the Raiders hat, I don’t even watch football and have no idea
What is country music to you? James: Country music to me is a community and its honesty. You shouldn’t have to sugar-coat stuff. Every guy and girl should be able to relate to it and be able to say that is how I’ve felt before. Taylor: It should be about life. All the things you are going through, the past, the present moment. It should and does cover all aspects of life and its what there when you need it for any moment James: When we write we look back at it and ask is this conversational enough, does this sound like something people do. Even coming from a country farming background, is that something my buddies would say, or something you would say to your significant other. We are always checking it to make sure it’s honest as you can get carried away and feel like your Shakespeare. Country music is about being relatable. Bobby: It changes with your age. I know when you are young and at High School and College it’s a case of how many beers can you drink at this venue before the headliner gets on stage and you don’t even remember the concert. Then you get a little bit older and you start paying a little more attention and then you hit like us and you start paying your bills.
If you were to tell your fans a song that make country music, what would you pick? Connor: Take A Back Road James: I would say Dust On The Bottle. It’s got clever title, it’s got clever lyrical content, it brings in the country thing plus the romantic thing and sounds 100% country. Taylor: I’ve got two Brooks and Dunn. Red Dirt Road because for me personally I had never seen a red dirt my entire life until this year and I’ve listened to that song like a trillion times. The other would be I Believe as that song the story is absolutely unbelievable. Bobby: Touring a lot, I always relate to Free and Easy Down The Road I Go. I think that is the ultimate touring song.
At Country in the UK, we would like to thank all the guys from James Barker Band for sitting down with. It was certainly one of our more memorable interviews, with four guys you genuinely love what they are doing and appreciate their fans. We are looking forward to more new music in the coming months and can’t wait to see them return to this side of the Atlantic, remember it’s not that much further than going from Toronto to Vancouver!
CitUK spoke with Noah Schnacky before his C2C debut
The Country 2 Country long weekend in London is quickly becoming known as an opportunity for UK country music fans to get a glimpse of some new up and coming artists they may not have heard of yet. This year is no different. For one of those artists, he's never even left the United States before. Just before he stepped onto a stage overseas for the first time, we caught up with Noah Schnacky.
How are you finding London? Gosh, its so cool. It’s like five or six different US cities rolled up into one. That’s the only way I can describe it, I’ve never been overseas before. I saw Aladin the first night I was here, you guys have such a cool theatre programme and it’s a huge thing in my family.
What were you thinking of London before you came here? I was thinking it would be a little like this but I was expecting it to be a little like a park in Orlando that’s supposed to be modelled after downtown London. Their version as it’s so condensed is pretty gothic so this city is a little more modern than I saw coming.
Have you found a tourist hot spot yet? There’s a taco place I found in Piccadilly, on an off street and you'd never even know it was there. They have the best Chicken Tacos i've ever tasted in the world. There's a little ice cream parlor in China Town where they have Hong Kong Waffles with ice cream inside.
When we thought about what questions to ask for this interview we thought we would reach out to some of your followers. You have half a million followers on Instagram alone. First off, how have you got to half a million followers? Yesterday, we hoped on a subway train to a main train line and took that to Reading. We then jumped on a bus for about 18 stops (I don’t know I convinced my sister and dad to do this), we got off and went to a random address that we had ninja found of a fan and walked up to the door. She wasn’t in the first time, so we took a bus to Starbucks and came back a second time. We met her and have invited her family to the show today. They wanted to make us Mac and Cheese, I don’t know if they wanted to make us feel at home but we couldn’t say no to that.
For the fans to get a real feel for Noah’s answers we have filmed his responses for you. Thank you so much to all the Anchor Army who have sent us your questions over the last few days. We could only pick so a special thanks to kayla_noah_love, Olivaa195, tulip_amber, emerald isle edits and htz.ang for submitting your questions and we hope you like Noah’s answers.
You’ve spoken about the Anchor Army, how did the name and building the fan base come about? What it stood for was something much bigger than myself. A lot of things shift in my life having been alone of the time chasing this dream. Some of the things that have been an anchor for me is my family, my faith and my fans. I think what was cool to me in the very beginning is that the symbol itself doesn’t really mean anything, its about leading by actions and gave us something to all anchor to each other so I started posting it by my name as a reminder of what is really important to me. I started to see my fans do it and it created this online community by accident where people would be like hey you have anchors by your name and before you knew it people were going to crazy lengths to create these relationships and I saw people go from Indiana and fly to Wisconsin because they didn’t have a family and anyone who cared about them and they would move in with a family they only knew because of the anchors by their name. It kind of became something that was much bigger than music. It became what my fan base stands for and is so much bigger than me.
We would like to thank Noah for taking the time to sit down with Country in the UK and look forward to watching what the future holds for him and hope to see him in England again soon.
CitUK talks with JP Harris before he takes to the Omeara stage
CiTUK: Hi JP How’s it going lately? JP Harris: I’m good, a little road weary but in a good way. This is our 13th/14th show or something like that. We are about 3 weeks in.
CiTUK: How’s your sleeping schedule been then? JP Harris: Pretty backwards, not a lot of it. It’s not really schedule it’s more of an afterthought we do every couple of days. Last night we all slept the first full night since we got here 3 weeks ago. The schedule of traveling itself and then also the enthusiasm of doing something everywhere we go takes ahold of our sleep.
CiTUK: I believe this isn’t your first time here. What keeps you coming back? JP Harris: We like to go to new places where people want to hear us play music. It’s kind of the whole reason I started playing music in the first place, I mean I love the act of playing music itself but years ago if someone would ask me what was my endgame playing music was like ‘What’s your goal, what are you trying to do? Are trying to be famous? What are you trying change what you do for a living?’ it was really an excuse to travel without being a tourist basically. It gets you a lot more acceptance and more welcome I think in places when you show up in places and tell people that you’re a traveling band as opposed to ‘I’m a hiker I came here on my college vacation’ it gets a pass like ‘Oh, you’re a traveling musician ok’ a little more accepting utterance in that regard.
CiTUK: Before we go anywhere, we have to establish one thing! Last night a friend of mine bought my to attention to you doing a cover of Terry Allen’s Amarillo Highway, not to mention performing with him live during Newport Fest in 2016. I MEAN… JP Harris: So, I’d heard Terry Allen’s name for years and then I didn't really get turned on to him until maybe 4 or 5 years ago. I started hearing his music and It’s funny because there’s such a wide and deep catalog of country music and a lot of people dive really specifically into one genre of it or the other, like either get really into the classics like the 50’s and 60’s stuff or people get into the more folk influence country or whatever. So this whole Texas Songwriter scene of the 70’s was it’s whole own whole thing. I never really delved into it much then I realized it was Terry Allen and he was like the prophet I’ve been waiting to find in my whole career. I mean just phenomenal songwriter and player but also one of the quirky, sarcastic, poignant artists that I’ve ever heard and created full bodies of work. The songs stand alone but the fact that all of his records have been these overarching tales from one end to the other. The titles and the characters he’d created is just phenomenal. How I met him is actually a funny story. I think that was my 3rd year playing at Newport Fest in a row and I really got involved with that festival. We actually just turned down a really incredible offer for a festival in France 2 days ago because it fell in the same weekend as Newport. I was like I don’t care how much money they’re offering I can’t do it because it’s Newport weekend! But that year we were the first act of the whole festival on Friday morning. The festival producers are friends of mine and one of the producers of the festival Jay Sweet got up and introduced us, it was sort of a big ceremony that kicked off the festival and the only covers we did in our set was ‘Armerilio Highway’ so when I got off the stage and my other pal from the festival staff was sitting there kinda laughing at me. I got down and he was like, “Man, I can’t believe you played ‘Amerallio Highway’ that Terry Allen tune” and I was like “Yeah man it’s great, I’m stocked I love playing that song” and he was like “Yeah it was bold man!” I was like “What do you mean” he finally then picked up that I had no idea what he was talking about and he was like “Terry is here man, he’s playing this afternoon as a secret surprise guest” So about an hour later I walked around to one of the backstages and sitting in chairs quietly was Terry Allen, Joe Ely, and Kris Kristofferson. They were brought up as the 3 surprise guests and there were not announced at all! So, I got to go over and hang out and sit down for a while and shoot the shit. So, in Newport fest they have one indoor stage with a very limited capacity so I got to watch all 3 of them do solo acoustic sets which was mind-blowing. Then found out the next day that they were playing a real set on stage with some friends of mine as a backing band. So one of the guys that were involved was like “Hey man, you ought to get up with Terry and do ‘Amarillo Highway’ since you did it yesterday on your stage” I was really nervous about it, I went into Terry’s dressing room and was like “Hey man, I’m JP” and told him the funny story about playing his song and not knowing he was going to be there and he got a kick out of it and was like “Yeah, yeah come up on stage with me, lets do it” So, I got to sit backstage and kinda play through the chords a couple of times. It’s been a highlight of my career just to get up there. He’s just an incredible guy, really mellow, soft-spoken, funny anything you’d hoped him to be and expect Terry Allen to be and he is and more so pretty cool. And I don’t want to spoil the surprise but you’re going to hear it again tonight.
CiTUK: Wow! what a story! Now, congrats on your recent release, ‘Sometimes Dogs at Nothing’ how does it feel coming back after a 4 hiatus? JP Harris: It feels pretty good actually because I’ve been sort of laying low back in the states in the last 3 years, we still been fairly active just by the nature that I have an established music career but compared to a bunch of the previous years where I’d been touring a 100, 150 shows a year we were paired down to do 20 to 30 US shows the most. So I put out my last record [Home is Where the Hurt is] and did not know what my expectations were exactly but I know there were not met. I kinda crashed down back to earth a little bit after that record, came out feeling like I should’ve gotten further ahead with it or something. I don’t know, it was well received but I think I was a little naive in believing that is was sort of like that was my next big break the next album I was doing. Then, I realized very soon after it came out, what I needed to do was take a step back from this sort of what I think of it a constant forward stumbling motion in my music career, always kind of bumbling from next thing to the next thing, not having any direction or anything. So, we come to a time to focus on touring Europe more, so we’re actually playing more European dates then we were US dates in the last 3 years. And the record itself [Sometimes Dogs Bark Nothing] coalesced really nicely, everything kinda came together this whole tour had been booked before the record was done but we didn’t know how it was coming out and release date or anything like that. So, the fact it synced up to come out right before we came over here was sort of like cosmically made, it was meant to be and some patience and letting some time elapse too. Just let things play themselves in their natural order. I think it was all paid off. So, it’s nice to come back properly. Our last record has been out 6 months [Hurst is Where the Home is] before we came over here but we really didn’t have much of a team of any sorts, we had some minor distribution over here. But it was much smaller operation trying launch the whole thing. So, we were playing a word of mouth crowd and I feel like ever since we landed here we were seeing a massive piece of press. One of the big Dutch national newspaper, some of the German radio stations and media outlets have been given us huge coverage. So, it was all synced up a lot more clearly. it feels good and it’s our first time back since my last record was pretty new to the UK. So, it feels like, Ok I went home, regrouped a little and now I’m coming back to kick your ass! It’ll be a friendly ass kicking though.
CiTUK: Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing deals with many themes and emotions as you mentioned, from heartache, pain and dark paths. At its release, you shared a statement over on Instagram about your experience and being vulnerable. And in Songs, like I only Drink Alone- When I Quit Drinking among others- were personal but one that caught my attention most was Lady in the Spotlight can you tell us more about the song? JP Harris: That one is especially pointed. I feel like I have to do a lot of explaining for that song and I have a personal desire to do so. I think at first listening to the song can be misconstrued sort of to the similar fashion out there. There’s a whole slew of country songs that are very written from the standpoint of a heartless, male drifter who uses women and moves on and I wanted to make sure and so I’ve been vocal about the meaning of this song that no one took the impression of the story to be that which it is, in fact, the opposite. Really, I’ve never written songs that I think of being political beyond the basic human condition but this one was very much. There’s a situation ongoing obviously with gender and inequality in the world and as a country musician I feel like my music serves as a middle ground for people from across the political and social spectrum, and this is something I like about country music and at the same time finding the balance between expressing my political viewpoints and not alienating people. It’s a very tricky balance, I think, the one that should be agreed upon by anyone from across the borders affected that there is a stark contrast in the advantage of men having over a woman. In the entertainment business in the art world, I would’ve expected when I got started that there would be more progressive mindset and we wouldn’t have as many as these issues that deal with day to day that society does. So, as I got more involved in it I started to see, even though luckily in the independent business somewhat less relevant it seems still a little bit twisted, with patriarchal infrastructure in place at the top level of the music industry even all the way down the independent music world. A whole load of shitty dudes who run the industry the way they want to. To the advantage they want to and that women who don’t fit into the conventional bullshit molds of beauty standards or what their bodies should look like, the subject they should sing or talk about. They, by no means given a fair chance in advancing no matter how talented they are! and I’ve seen at the same time women who maybe do fit in that cover girl format a little better allowed into a certain point and then faced with this decision of how they advance their career and without going into too much gory details.. It’s just sad story that plays out over and over still today and has for years from acting to modeling to music to everything and for me painting a little bit of vitriol picture, maybe like it will at least in some regard open a dialogue in peoples own mind about maybe what part they are playing. Its bullshit, it's like its still 1955 it's unbelievable especially in the art world. Even from a sonic standpoint, it’s probably one of my favorite song of the record because it’s the most unconventional. The arrangement, the instrumentals. I had no idea how it was going to sound like when we went into the studio and then there was a really cool meshing of ideas, there’s no drums, there’s no bass, there’s no pedal steel it's 4 acoustic guitars and a weird 70’s synthesizer. It’s a pretty cool weird song.
CiTUK: When coming in the studio, you had a rather interesting approach when recording the album you said “Take five days to think about these songs. Please write notes of whatever ideas come to mind. Please don’t talk to each other about it. Let’s all just get in the studio on day one and compare notes as we go.” why is that? JP Harris: That was basically it! I mean, I had been very hands on with my previous 2 records. I technically produced them both. Though the engineers on both records had a big hand in it, I always try to credit them with that. But, I was kind of controlling and obsessive over all these little details and I would go into the studio with the bones of the song pretty much mapped out in a very rigid structure in my mind and I didn’t want to vary from those ideas, what the songs needed to sound like and I kind of strong armed everyone to fit into that musically and everyone was happy to do so, and it made cool songs and cool recordings. Kind of keeping my ideas of being a little more laid back with my career in general and sort of letting things take their natural course, I just wanted to try something different and I knew i had a killer bunch of musicians and a great producer and engineer and I knew that the songs were good and of course at any moment something was going of course in any direction I was not at happy with, I still have the right to step in and say “Guys you better put the brakes this is bullshit, this isn't working out, it sounds dumb” but I never had to do that it was great and it helped us avoid anyone coming in with a production efficiency, economic mindset. We came in we had plenty of time to work, we had a huge super comfortable really well equipped studio to work in, close to home, everyone gets to wake up in their own bed, go home to eat dinner with their wifes, buddy or whatever and I think it resulted in a much more spontaneous, creative studio experience for all of us.
CiTUK: Let’s talk childhood a bit, what lead into country music what was it about it that attracted you? JP Harris: Well, that is a funny one that was a long and winding road! because I heard a lot of country music when I was a kid, both of my grandparents listen to it. My folks did not listen to country music so much. For instance my mum listened to a lot of folk music from her day and my dad listened to a lot of southern rock and the classic rock of his day but then when I was 11 or 12 I started listening to punk rock and skateboarding and doing all that shit and for years I only listened to heavy metal. then when I left home and started living in a really rural places, living a completely different life than my upbringing had been, so A by necessity I didn’t have any electricity anywhere I lived so there wasn’t an ability to plug in stacks of guitar amps and shred heavy metal and B, I was hanging around a lot more of salt of the earth travelers type, being around a campfire somewhere and seeing people passing acoustic guitars around and playing folk music or old country. The themes of the stories started making more sense to me and when I eventually settled for a good long stretch in the North East corner of the US I was really far from any major city and living like a pretty old-fashioned, pretty simple lifestyle and it all just made sense to me and then I really didn’t start writing country music until I was properly 23, 24 years old or something like that, I never really thought of myself as a writer of music, I wrote some punk songs when I was a kid, if there are out there I hope I can find them again because they really should resurface, it’s like The Lost Punk Tapes of JP Harris. It’s funny because I just in the last handful of years i reconnected with all the different guys from that old punk band that I haven’t seen in ages, so that would be badass. But anyways, I worked my way into it and I just started writing songs out of frustration with fact-finding current country music for me, I didn’t have internet or anything back then, I didn’t have a cell phone I had a power running water for good sake! I just listened to old recordings obsessively. Piles of tapes in the back of my trunk.. I was just bumped out not able to see country bands then I was like fuck it, I’ll try and write some songs and the rest is kind of history.
CiTUK: With your life on the road, seeking ventures from a young age plus having many titles associated with your name from a carpenter to a sheepherder not to mention an artist too. What has life taught so far? JP Harris: Oh Lord! That’s a pretty long laundry list. Well, there’s a few basics, it’s something from a young age my mama installed in me was real basic. We didn’t really grow up in a particularly religious household, both of my folks did grow up church going folks but sort of the basic of the golden rule of doing into to others as you have done to yourself. This served as a building block in my life that sort of stuck with me. I know I had to relearn that lesson many times in life. I think that is something I have to wake up and remind myself of everyday. You really don’t know and have no idea what anybody else is going through in the street that you might pass, somebody bumps you in the subway station and you’d be like ‘Fucking asshole watch out!’ that guy’s mum might have just died or his dog might have been run over, he might have been just fired or who knows what. Trying to maintain some sense of human dignity and compassion especially in today’s world is the most important thing that we can walk through life holding onto tightly, and living in a rural place taught me alot about understanding the difference in people, socially and politically. The other most important thing that I’ve learned is that if there’s anything that you want in life, this might sound cliche but you have to work your ass off for it. That doesn’t mean trying really hard for 6 months, doesn’t mean trying hard for a year it means your whole life needs to be committed to getting down the road that you want to get down to and being attached to the outcome is usually useless. Things never work out the way we imagine them to work out at all. I don’t know what I pictured myself doing! Spring of next year will be 10 years since I started my band and started touring with it and I have no idea what I expected 10 years down the road, probably not this. I don’t know if I expected more or less or different what it was. But I got experience a lot of things that I’ve never, never would have had past through my life had I never started playing music. I still work my ass off to be a musician! I mean I just carried all of my gear in here, there’s no guy who does that for me, there’s no one who soundchecks my guitar for me, but there’s never a moment even waking up at some confusing airport somewhere with your bags lost, a day late to go to where you need to go even in the worst of moments. Because, there’s alot, a lot of downsides of being a touring musician I never take it for granted. It’s still worth working very hard and never giving up in what I do because it got me here so..
CiTUK: I was about to ask what piece of advice can you give to our readers but you already answered it above! JP Harris: Well! Life ain’t fair! You just gotta say fuck it and keep on going.
CitUK talks with Old Dominion's Matthew Ramsey
In the space of a few years, Old Dominion have gone from performing in front of a small intimate crowd on a support stage for Country to Country to selling out a UK tour. It has been a busy year for the band and with a third album on its way we caught up with the bands front man, Matthew Ramsey, the morning after their sell out concert at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire.
CiTUK: First thing, Congratulations on your first UK headline tour. How is going it so far? MR: It’s going really great actually all the shows are sold out. The crowd are incredible. We’re loving it.
CiTUK: Now that you’re here did you do any touring destinations so far? MR: Actually today we’re in Bristol. My tour manager and I have been walking around the city hunting down Banksy pieces which is really fun. Bristol is just covered with Graffiti which is amazing. I went to Art school so I’m an art fan and the other guys are playing golf too at where we are.
CiTUK: I heard many great things about London last night, fan were up on their feet singing to every word. How does it feel like coming back as a headline show and were there any highlights so far? MR: It’s very gratifying. To be able to come back and do our own thing. I said it at the show last night. We built our career in the States, little by little, gig after gig building a crowd. It feels like we’re doing the same thing here in London! It goes to show that it’s working. The first time we played in London there were fifty people here and now we sold out a large room. So, it’s working and it feels great that we keep coming back and doing it.
CiTUK: Last night you announced album number three is in the works while debuting a new song ‘Smooth Sailing’ after ‘Make it Sweet’ What was the inspiration behind the new tracks and what can fans expect from the upcoming release? MR: There’s a lot on this album directly from our lives. It’s a little bit heavier album subject wise. There is still the light-hearted side of us on there too and with all of this success comes a quite a bit of upheaval on your life. So, it’s hard to keep your family balance, it’s hard to keep your mental balance. While there is a lot of great things, there is a lot of struggle too, and you can hear that on this album. ‘Smooth Sailing’ is one of them that people will able to identify with, feeling like every time you turn a corner you get hit with something. It’s all about staying optimistic and positive, if when you can’t win.
CiTUK: Any hints to when it’ll come out yet? MR: I think it’ll probably be in the Spring.
CiTUK: Now, here’s a burning question everyone wants to know- How do you guys come about in writing a setlist? MR: It takes quite a bit of time. We started at the beginning of the year planning out the show a little bit. Spreading out our hits and trying to create the right flow and then as the year goes on, the crowd tell us what’s working and what is not. Then we start to move and shift things around. Then sometimes we just take requests, people yell things out we play them. So, every night is a little different.
CiTUK: You opened up for Thomas Rhett last year here in the UK. How much this has had on you as a band to hold your first overseas headline tour? And has it surprised you that so many of the dates have now sold out? MR: A big impact [Thomas Rhett] The response we got of those shows were well overwhelming. A lot of people were saying ‘ you guys should headline’ it was very encouraging. And Anytime we sell out, it’s kind of a surprise for me still! I mean, it’s becoming more and more common I guess without sounding too cocky. But, those are the two words we love to hear.
CiTUK: Any other you love to hear besides the two [Sold out] MR: [Laughs] I mean there are a lot of words we love to hear but ‘Sold out’ is definitely one of our favorites. We love Number One, we love Platinum, we love Gold. We love them all!
CiTUK: How can you describe your music to people who’ve never heard it before? MR: It’s lyrics based, it’s storytelling. We’re not particularly a country, rock or a pop band. We’re all of those things. It’s the lyrics that are important to us and that’s really what we’re about.
CiTUK: This leads me to ask, how much is genre important when it comes to describing your work. MR: I don’t think it is important to us. When we sit down and write a song we don’t go ‘That’s not country, we can’t write that.’ we just sit down and write a great song. We’re lucky that the country genre embraced us. For that, we are grateful to fit in.
CiTUK: Do you have a bucket list of artists you would like to collaborate or write with? MR: It’ll be fun to do something with John Mayer or something with Maroon 5 a band we all like. I’m a huge Springsteen fan. I don’t know if that will ever happen or would I know that I’d want to write with him because I’d be so terrified [laughs]
CiTUK: One final and last question, what do you guys have planned so far when heading back to the US? MR: We still have to finish up the album, I think we have to turn in January First. Put final touches on that and then we have The CMA awards and we have probably about 10 more shows left of the year then its family time.
CitUK meets Aaron Lee Tasjan
Americana Troubadour and all around outstanding guitar player, Aaron Lee Tasjan is one of the purist storytellers out of 21st-century today. The Ohio born artist proves that genre is nothing but a word, instead it's all about making music from the heart and leaving the rest for the audience to decide. The young songster reached a wider acclaim with his 2016 Silver Tears album while in the summer of 2018, Tasjan released his third album Karma For Cheap. We caught up with Aaron before his show at The Omeara in London and talked about recent release [Karama For Cheap], touring and more.
**** CiTUK: This is your third time in the UKin the last three years, how’s the tour going so far? ALT: Oh, wonderful, people over here are great. I’m a big fan of a lot of the music that came from here. So, it’s always fun as a music fan to get to visit the places that you love and where the music came from. I pretty much like everything Alan McGee [Founder of underground pop label, Creation records] ever signed from My Bloody Valentine, Teenage Fan Club, certainly The Gallagher Brothers [Oasis] - a lot of the nineties stuff. More recently, I love Jamie Hince [The Kills] he’s one of my favourite guitar players. Johnny Marr [The Smiths] is a big favourite of mine. It’s like American rock-n-roll music. British rock-n-roll music has such a wide spectrum of colours. I enjoy all of them.
CiTUK: What keeps you coming back? ALT: What keeps me coming back is the album cycle. No, [laughs] I think at a certain point you learn to go where you are wanted and not to go where you are not.
CiTUK: This leads me to ask, have you visited any of the musical sites yet? ALT: Not so far this time. Last time I went to Abbey Road which was really cool. This is isn't really touristy but I got to have dinner with one of your countrymen - Sir Patrick Stewart [X-Men- Professor X] which was really fun. Such a brilliant, funny lovey man.
CiTUK: Your last release Silver Tears was released 2 years ago (2016) and Karma For Cheap marks your third full-length album. Does it get easier by time, when working on an album? ALT: I think if you're thinking about it in the right way. I think it does because you start to learn that a lot of the things you get hung up on as a younger artist aren't really the things that matter. You start finding your way into what is that you do that connects with people. Once you have that recipe down, it becomes really exciting. You can frame it in all of these different ways and I think Karma For Cheap is a great example of that. It’s certainly a different sound to In The Blazers or Silver Tears. Which both have their sounds as well. But that’s an ongoing goal of mine as an artist to just always be creating something that always feels fresh and honest and something that I won’t get tired of singing. Because what I don’t want to do is go up there and fake it. If I can find a way in songs where it feels real and relevant to me every time. Then I don’t have to pretend.
CiTUK: As a songwriter how important is to share your voice and story? ALT: I think Nashville is a prime example of the place where you see what happens when that's not valued [storytelling] all the time. You look at Music Row. Its dominated by twenty- thirty-something-year-old perfectly groomed men with nothing to say. And they are thrilled to death to have nothing to say. They just want to be in front of the camera and comb their hair the way they do. That's all well in good, but the most interesting and poignant records of country music are all made by women right now. The fact they can’t get radio airplay in that town is absolutely absurd. So in country music, there is really a staleness around it right now. Mainly for that reason. If people can find a way to value what they valued when the current singers were people like Willie Nelson or Loretta Lynn and all of those great luminaries of country music, then I think it’ll come back. But if they are going to do it, then they’ll have to open the door for the artists who are really making those records. But it's not a lot of the people who are currently getting the push.
CiTUK: Karma For Cheap widely explores multiple sounds from psychedelia to alternative rock while openly speaking about the current state of the world today. What inspired you to make this album? ALT: I tend to address things in my life with a sense of humour. I’m not saying that I’ve lived some terrible life, but I think we’ve all been through things we rather haven’t. So, I feel like I’ve cried enough and at this point in my life with all of the information that you’re inundated with on a daily basis. Having a message of positivity was really important to me. Not just because it’s something I want to share with people but also because this is what I go out to in the world and do every day. I have to listen to it. Anything that I can do to have a little empathy for myself and others. I think the two things you can’t hear enough off in the world are ‘I love you’ and ‘your a good person’. Having songs touch on things like that just felt really relevant to myself and I hope that it’s relevant to other people as well.
CiTUK: Not to mention the new album you introduced a chain of different harmony approaches including track ‘Heart Slows Down’ saluting hero Tom Petty. ALT: It’s interesting I think a lot of times when the music is being made the influences are not being considered. Its something pinpointed afterward. Because I think every artist is an amalgamation of their own record collection. Now, somebody might have a more eclectic collection than somebody else. But at the end of the day, whatever it is you loved about music is going to ring through in what it is you’re doing, and I certainly have listened to tons of Tom Petty! Aside from artistically, the person he was became important to me over time, as a guy who is continuing to make his way in music. It just felt he was doing it for the same kind of reason I’m doing it for that is doing something really honest coming from your heart. It’s still valuable in a society where often times we tend to dismiss those kinds of ideas as being too ‘hippy dippy’ or not interesting enough because there’s no tragedy associated with it. Those are really ideals to be valued and things that aren't often touched on. So there is a lot to say about it.
CiTUK: Let's talk Petty! It goes without saying your love for Tom is undeniable and your newest release proves it so. Any future covers perhaps? ALT: Oh gosh, I don’t know. That's a tough one. Because in America it will kinda be doing like a Beatles tribute album like it would be here. I often think if you were to cover a song you should have something of your own to say with it or through it. So, I think if I found myself in a position where an album worth of his songs and I can translate something of my own and have it not feel like some sort of poly and get people to listen to it, then absolutely. I love those songs I know them all like the back of my hand.
CiTUK: How can you describe your style of music to your audience? ALT: I think my music is not what people would typically consider it to be Americana. But it is roots music. It all stems from a tradition. The tradition for me just happens to be rock n roll and I think there's always been a bit of a fine line between country and rock n roll. Now Tom Petty is from the south. If you take a song like ‘Louisiana Rain’ of ‘Damn the Torpedoes’ you could throw in a pedal steel on that and get George Jones to sing it and you're in business. I think there's a beautiful crossover that happens there. I live in that world. I leave it up to people to decide what genre they want to call it. Because genres are something I don’t really believe in.
CiTUK: Finally, what can fans expect from your set tonight, perhaps Petty too? ALT: You never know! I do play him at shows sometimes. Well, we play stuff from all the records. We’re not one of those bands that just go out and play their new album and that's it. I try really hard to only put songs on records that I want to sing for a really long time. I tell a lot of stories about where the songs came from and those stories tend to change over time. So, if you think you know come again. You might be surprised.
CitUK sits down with rising Canadian artist Tenille Townes
This week, Canadian country artist Tenille Townes has been performing across the UK for the very first time as part of Country Music Week with the CMA Songwriters Series. It has been a busy year for the Grand Prairie, Alberta native and we met up with her after her London show.
RT: How are you and how have you been doing so far on tour? TT: So good, I’m so glad to be here. This is my first time in the UK so I love it over here. RT: How are you finding it so far? TT: it’s amazing, I love all the architecture, I love how historic everything feels and I mean everybody been so sweet and friendly and kind I love it. We met all of those people after the shows that have been excited about country music and it’s just cool to think this far from home that people really thrilled! It’s awesome. RT: Charlie Worsham once said in an interview the applauses here are like a long warm hug from UK fans! TT: Awww, that’s a great way to say that. I love Charlie, he’s so cool! And it’s true people are such enthusiastic listers. They are just on the edge of their seat and they are listening to every word, it’s like they are very, very kind. I love that it makes me feel like we are all hanging out like in a living room and everybody is like in the palm of our hands you know. RT: So, does it feel like back home in Nashville? TT: Musically? RT: Yes, TT: I think the listening is pretty deeper here. People are really paying attention at a very cool level. I love that. I mean I think it's the same anchor of the love for country music but I think it's very attentive here. RT: What an eventful week so far! Aside from C2C announcement last night. During CMA celebrating women in country music, Karen Fairchild at her acceptance gave a shout out to women in country music how exciting!? TT: It was pretty incredible to be on her list. she is so sweet, it was so kind of them to make a shout out to new female artists out there it was an honor to be part of it. They are such incredible people, I love the way they lift other people up, it’s pretty amazing. RT: Not to mention you also did a took over CMA Instagram! Busy exciting week. TT: Yeah, I did, that was pretty cool! RT: Would you consider doing it for us next time you are around please? TT: Sure, let’s set up! Let’s do it. RT:You’ve mentioned, during your travel so far that you were fascinated by the architecture, have you had the time to see any tourist attraction so far while you’re here? TT: It’s been like very miniature little walks around all these different little cites. So, we had a little bit of time before the show in Liverpool and we walked around the square outside of the venue and it was gorgeous, there were these cool status, old buildings. We landed in Glasgow and we had some time the first day we arrived and walked around Glasgow a bit which is fun and we got to take the train the next day to Edinburgh that was beautiful I loved it. And then we’ve been driving between these places. So, it’s been cool to look out the window as we are driving and seeing all of those rolling hills and all of those sheep, it's so cool! It’s like ‘I love it here’. And then London, I loved pulling up here and seeing just the hustle and the bustle that’s happening. it’s a different level of energy in here and I love the fire of feeling of that. RT: Last night was the last night of CMA songwriter series what has been the highlight of the CMA songwriter series so far? TT: You know these shows are really special in a way you get to know the story behind the song and it’s been a really cool this trip because I didn’t know the other writers apart of this round before coming here. We’re all in the Nashville community but we crossed paths at different times and ours happened to cross on this trip, and it been very cool to know everybody and make new friends and just hearing songs in that format is really exciting and I loved to be able to tell the long version of the stories before we get to play the songs. All the shows have been very unique. The highlight for me is definitely meeting people after the shows, they come and there are very excited to say hi and we get to have a hug and a conversation. People have told me stories about how some of these songs meant something to them or been a part of their story, and it’s like that is the biggest gift and it's so cool that people are listening to the music all the way over here. It means the world, pretty awesome. RT: Now, you’ve mentioned how people came up and spoke about how your music affected them. As a songwriter, how important is a story in a song when writing or when listening to music? TT: I think stories are a big part of the identity of country music that’s the huge part where I fell in love with as a listener, it was just being able to go ‘oh my goodness’ hearing how the lyrics weave together its like you have this movie that goes on in your head as you’re listening. That’s one of my favorite things to imagine as I’m playing a song or at a show listening to a song, it’s like thinking about the fact everybody kinda got their own movie in their head that they are imagining about what that song or what that story means to them but somehow it unifies everybody and it’s like we are all connected at that moment and that's what I love about story, it kinda open up doors to think back into memories or in your own personal life as to what that can mean. RT: For your new release ‘Somebody’s Daughter’ you’ve illustrated what you exactly mentioned, is there someone or something you look back into that inspired your storytelling today? TT: So, that song was inspired by a drive with my mom, we were furniture shopping and she came to visit me in Nashville we took this exit to the interstate and we saw this young girl standing there holding on to a cardboard sign and it kinda pulled that something in us, it's like hard to look the other way. We had this conversation, wondering what happened to her or what her story might have been before that moment, who she belonged to, and I was really grateful to be able to have that conversation in the car with my mom and just think about it for a second in a different way. That conversation stuck with me and that young girl face stuck with me. I got to walk in a writing room a few weeks later and just had this thing pulling at my heart about. It was really cool to sit down with Luke Laird and Barry Dean and just talk about it for a second and let the song find us that day. It was really, really cool, I will never forget writing that with them and I’m really grateful that the song gets to be the introduction to this new music and leading the way. This message is really important to me. RT: You mentioned co-writers on your new album, any feature guests joining you doing for the upcoming release? TT: Let’s see, so the collection of songs I’ve been writing over the past few years and had the pleasure of writing with very dear friends and heroes. There is a guest actually on the record with my friend Keelan Donovan, so we done a bunch of writing together, we’re both at Big Yellow Dog Music and he’s singing on one of the tracks on the record. RT: Last year, with the release of ‘Living Room Worktapes’, received a wide acclaim from many music critics including Rolling Stones where they mentioned ‘“…a stripped-down introduction to an artist with a whole lot to say,” what has been the experience since then? TT: It was really exciting to me to begin sharing this new music, going back to the way these songs were written. Picking up a guitar and singing a melody and stripping it back to the really to the anchor of the story element of what these songs are about and to me I love a living room, it’s one of my favorite places in the house. It’s where you’d be comfortable, talk about everything and be who you are and I wanted the beginning of sharing this music to be that kind of invitation to people listening it would be an opportunity to feel very personal and getting back to what these songs are about. I’m really excited to build from there to. The rest of the record that we produced was anchored in the same way, where i’d pick a guitar and play the song and we’d built instrumentation around it. So, I’m excited for that too. RT: Some say lyrically your words often mirror in the likes Lori McKenna while a soul of Chris Stapleton. TT: That’s craziness, I look up to them both so very much. Huge fan! RT: Do you have someone you look up to or inspired by when writing music or recording? TT: Let’s see, I’m definitely inspired by writing wise about what's going on around me or things that I’m seeing or stories that I’ve heard, things I’ve heard people talk about that’s definitely where I draw my inspiration from as far as writing. But, as far as influence and people I look up to I was a big Shania Twain fan when growing up, listened to a lot of different female voices of country music driving around with my mom with my dad I was a little more rocknroll some Fleetwood Mac and U2 and my grandparents all the classics lots of Dolly Parton, lots of Patsy Cline and Elvis and so. It was a big mixture of those things. Them moving to Nashville, I started discovering more of the singer/songwriter people. There is something about them that gravited something in me and Lori McKenna was a big voice for that I got to watch her play the Bluebird when I first moved to town, I’ll never forget sitting there watching her I was like ‘oh my goodness’ just the style of how she says what she says and the place she writes from is so honest and raw I look up to her alot. Patty Griffin is another one as well, I got to go and see her play The Ryman she’s remarkable, I’m a big fan. RT: Speaking of which, is there a certain artists you’d love to write or to work with in the future? TT: I love Ed Sheeran, I feel like that would be a dream one day I also love Ben Rector that would be cool. RT: Moving to Music City was a goal of yours to expand musically and professionally as a singer/songwriter would you say you’ve fulfilled or still fulfilling such goals? TT: Moving to Nashville was always a big dream of mine I loved making trips there! I made my first trip there when i was 14 and I kept going back as much as my parents will let me skip school and always hoped to move there and be part of that creative community someday. So, it's really a dream to wake up there! This year being on the road has been incredible getting to see all these new places I’ve never seen, meeting so many people from all of these different places and realizing that music is this common thread that connects us all. It's really beautiful for me I’m having a time of my life. I love it so much, this is what I’ve always dreamt of getting to do and it means the world to have the opportunity to wake up and do this. RT: you’ve issued a charity called Big Hearts For Big Kids supporting young people from where you grew up in Grande Prairie, Alberta where quite recently the charity raised up 1.5 Million in 9 years since it started! Can you tell us a little bit more about the charity? TT: This event started 9 years ago. My mum and I drove around with a sponsor letter inviting people to be part of it because I’d heard about this youth shelter and these kids who were the same age as I was in my own hometown who needed a safe place to turn to and some love and guidance to pick them up and put them back on their feet. Hearing about the Sunrise house struck something in me because it was such a close to home feeling and that’s what I love about music, it's the way it bring us together and gives us the power to change things. The energy that happens every year when we do this event in my community and in the room that night is the most incredible things I’ve ever witnessed. Its powerful, its blown me away year after year. The way people show up and are so generous and watching the way the shelter has been able to grow because of this event, thinking about the past of those kids that walked through those doors and their paths get to be completely altered because of that generosity and community spirit. It’s been an honor to watch that. That’s my favorite part about music. I’m excited to keep watching that continue to grow as well! That's very important to me. Also, to me that is important about Big Hearts is that it's our community rally and I think what my hope would be people become engaged in their community and know what's going on and thinking about the way they can have a hands-on approach where ever they at. RT: In future will you be planning any collaborations with other charities to grow Big Heart For Big Kids? TT: The show we do always host a guest of a music artist so we have a writers round that we do as part of the event so there's always 3 guests that come up, we also have the headline band that comes and plays in the evening as well. So, yes I’m looking forward to getting to invite all sort of friends up there through the years. RT: Finally, a little fun question to end our talk. Aside from a musician what another profession you were most likely to get into? TT: Oh.. I think I’ll still be involved with music in some capacity.. Maybe planning more events like Big Hearts or doing things with music that way! Bonus question: RT: Any plans coming back to the UK soon? TT: Yes, I can't wait to come back here already, I’m dying to get back here again I just love it. I look forward to making a return hopefully next year.
Ryan Kinder is no stranger to the UK, he is currently over for the third time in 2018 and each time he is over new fans are being introduced to his music. He is currently in the UK as part of Country Music Week and has been impressing the crowds once again, this time while supporting Drake White. Country in the UK caught up with Ryan before his set at London’s iconic Koko.
Good afternoon Ryan, this is now the third time you have visited us this year, why can’t you stay away? I don’t want to. It’s ridiculous how much country has grown here, the fans are so respectful when they listen to a show, they really are zealous music lovers. That just doesn’t happen everywhere.
Can you ever get tired of fans singing every word back to you? It doesn’t happen as much in America. It’s incredible here as they know all the unreleased stuff too, they search through your whole catalogue. As soon as people heard I was supporting Drake, they would go online and play the music. I would then have people come up to me after the show and say they had no idea who I was, but they wanted to check it out before I saw you.
What response have you got to the sets? It’s incredible how people know all the songs so well. I end the set each night with Still Believe in Crazy Love each night and I don’t even need to sing the last chorus as everyone just sings it back to me. It’s the biggest head nod and form of appreciation an artist can get.
Do you remember the first song you wrote? I still have the piece of paper that I wrote on a legal pad when I was 15 or 16 years old. I keep it just to remind myself how god awful I was. It’s never getting released then? No. Defiantly not, it brings me back down to earth when I look at it every once in a while. It’s in my parents’ house in Birmingham and I can read it and be like, wow you have progressed. You need that point to realise where you came from.
What lyric that you’ve written stands out for you? When I first started playing and was using aeroplanes, I’d be looking down trying to find my house – everyone tries to do that! “Kiss me when I’m down. If I look hard enough through these clouds, maybe I can find you now.” That was written from all those times of being on a plane and leaving my home town, it has a deeper meaning in the song but it steamed literally from just looking out the plane window. That always sticks with me, what I was thinking and how I felt when I was that young.
Is there one song you wish you had written? The House That Built Me. I’ve gotten to write with Tom Douglas a couple of times and he’s one of the best song writers ever. He wrote that with Allen Shamblin, who actually wrote one of my other favourite songs, I Can’t Make You Love Me. That duo knows what they’re doing.
Is there anything you always take with you on tour? My guitar! A good backpack. I can always have snacks; my computer goes in there. Everything I ever need can go in the backpack. It needs to be a proper backpack with plenty of storage.
What’s the first snack you will be buying when you get home? I’ve been here enough to know thing I like here that I can’t even remember what I miss back home!! Ok, what do you have to get each time you come to England? The cider here is so much better, you actually get small batch cider that tastes so much better rather than the super sweet stuff back home. I went to a place in Birmingham the other day and it had Gladiator, which I had b=never had before. I was just going to get a pizza and it was a small batch cider place as well, this is fantastic! It was awesome.
When touring around what is the best spot on the tour bus and how do you decide who gets what spot? There’s a hierarchy, if it were this tour, Drake picks whatever he wants. Then his manager gets dibs as they’re the ones paying for it and working the hardest. Then me being the opener I get last pick, which is fine as that’s how it works. When it’s my bus I get first dibs! On my bus I go for closer to the front and on the bottom bunk. Closer to the front there is less sway when driving, and closest to the bottom you don’t have to climb to get in. It’s a lot easier to access than top bunk.
Moving away from music. As a huge baseball fan, who is going to win the World Series? I’m a Philadelphia fan growing up because of my cousin. He was fifteen years older than me and he was a Philadelphia fan, I looked up to him a lot. I think Boston will win because they look incredible, but my manager is a Dodgers fan so I’m going to pull for L.A just for him.
Let’s talk tattoos. Which one!! What are the meanings of your tattoos? Every single one has its own meaning and every single one has some kind of tie to my family. On my left arm I have the Alaskan state flag as my little sister lived there for a while and I got to stay with her for a while, which had a big impact on me. Next is my brothers favourite guitar, we used to gig together and still do every once in a while, there’s colossians 1:10 for my dad and proverbs 22:6 for my mother. On my wrist I have determination, which I can see all the time when I’m playing. On my right arm is a sleeve with about thirty different things on, but they all have a tie to family or sense of self. Is there any more you want to add? There’s a guitar brand called Olson. My best friend and I got this tattoo done about the same time. I would fill that with something by Amanda Wachob. She is a fantastic artist in New York and can do pretty much whatever she wants at this point – she’s that good. She has specific sessions for mostly famous people, so if I ever got the chance to have a tattoo from her, I’d say do whatever you want, just fill this stuff. Other than that, I’m done forever.
As its now your third time in England this year, do you have a go to tourist hot spot? It usually has to do food. I found a little bakery in London called Beyond Bread that’s only in London that I absolutely love, in fact I went there this morning. If I had the chance to go back to Oxford, I’d go back to see the eagle and child, walk around and enjoy Oxford more. I just love that city, its gorgeous. It is quintessential United Kingdom for me, it’s exactly what I pictures England would be like the first time I came over.
Finally, any clues to share with us for 2019? Full album. We will be back here, I love it over here. We will definitely be back here at least 2 times, hopefully, 3-4 for sure, especially for the cider and Beyond Bread – I need my fix as you need it fresh.
Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us today and enjoy your set.
As part of our interview with Ryan, we also tested his London knowledge with our first ever Country in the UK London Quiz. Head over to our quiz page now to find out how Ryan got on as we tested him on tube lines, concert venues, football teams and more.
CitUK talks with Tyler Childers
Born and raised- in Eastern Kentucky, Tyler Childers is the new voice of Appalachia. Releasing ‘Purgatory’ in the Fall of 2017, Childers debut album depicts stories from the songwriters familiar grounds he roams, in a manner of southern gothic, stories about growing up, getting by and finding the one. Ahead of his show at Dingwall's in London, we caught up with Childers and talked about recent ventures, music alter ego ‘Timmy Chiggers, plus many more.
-How are you this evening? TC: Doing good, got this gig tonight at DingWall then go home tomorrow morning after about little over two weeks in Europe.
-How does it feel, coming to the UK solo? TC: No, I’ve came over twice solo this is my first time with a band!- It takes a lot of time planning and money to bring a whole entire band over. So, we’ve came over twice solo and kinda felt the waters out and kinda got the hang of it and got an idea what it’ll take to bring all the boys over and i was lucky this time and got to bring the guys.
-In that case will there be a full UK tour with the band sometime in near future? TC: Yeah! I’ll go anywhere.
-Can you describe your music in a form of 4 words? TC: Hillbilly, HonkyTonk, Bluegrass, Country.
- Americana perhaps? TC: I don’t think so. I mean anything can be Americana. You can start a rock band and call it Americana you know. Start a Bluegrass band and call it Americana, you can start a Country band and call it Americana. Americana is pretty much all inclusive. I just feel like what I’m doing is Country and I don’t really understand what Amerciana means. It’s all in the end it's just a word to try to explain to put someone in a mind set of what exactly you’re explaining and talking about. It outways of making quality whatever. -If you were to pick a song to describe your life today what might it be? TC: I’d say it would be ‘Six Days On Road’. -By? TC: Whichever version you’d want to listen to. I like the Jim and Jesse version. Jimmy Brown got a really good version. Like everybody done done a version- expect us, we haven’t done a version.
-What’s been the highlight of this journey so far? TC: We’ve in a lot of festivals, we got to do a lot of festivals at a lot of cool places. I don’t really think i can pinpoint one in particular like Tønder Fest in Denmark was extremely just like above and beyond hospitalital to us and took care of us really well it was a lot of fun and it was a really cool festival. We played in- I’m not going to say it right Goteborg, Sweden.., we played in Groningen, Noorderzon festival and we got to play in a spiegeltent which I really liked, that was just a cool setting. We played in Goteborg, Sweden, it was fun time, they had like this circle ping pong tournament going on, where you just like had ping pong battles and you ran around in circle and kept on playing until you lost. Then you just got out of the circle then just it kept on going till it ran down to two people playing ping pong together. That was pretty cool!.. We played in Amsterdam and we just got to be in Amsterdam that was fun. It’s all about going out and experience new things and see new places, share my music also I’ve been extremely blessed I’ve been able to afford the ability to get out and share my music all in while see the places that may never have seen if it hadn’t been for my music.
-Is there any difference when it comes to playing festivals in the US then it is in Europe? TC: Every place has its own vibe, culture, music and going to shows. I’m not saying it’s everywhere in the states but there had been places in the states as much as there been places that we played here. Some places are loud and rowdy and ready to party and they come mostly for that as well as sing along to the songs they know and just drinking and talking over the rest of it I have noticed more often than not here club scenes, music scenes they come and you can hear a pin drop, they’re extremely respectful of the artist playing. That's a much appreciated dynamic to get to play and because if it’s quiet you’re happened to layer over top of a crowd, it gives you the opportunity to play with dynamics and so, learn how to gets off and bring it down then bring it back up and really get into the song for what is called for as supposed to sweaty bars, screaming you know..
-If you were to collaborate with dream team who might they be and why? TC: If i had to collaborate with a dream team.. If I could get with Laid Back Country Picker and whoever he wants to work with and we’d just do a side project and call it ‘Timmy Chiggers.
-Where did the name come from? TC: Chiggers, I don’t know what you call them here but they are like noseeums, they are like little bugs that go through Queen’s Lace and they’re on it and then all of a sudden you’re itching all over and bugs bite you all over. We call them Chiggers and it’s kinda close to my last name Childers and my first name is Timothy so its like my alter ego ‘Timmy Chiggers’.
-What has changed since the 13 year old you wrote the first song to today? TC: Well, I got more Facebook likes. -Fair enough, anything more?.... TC: and I got a Facebook since then too.. Well no, it’s just been live.. I was 13 now I’m 27 been lucky enough to do a lot of different things between now and then you know more and more I’m getting to do what I want. Back then, I had to go to school, now i don’t have to go to school anymore. And at one point in time got to play but had to go to work! Now, i don’t have to go to work anymore, I get to play music that’s my job. I’m really lucky. For as long as it’ll happening this is where I’m at right now.
-You’ve sang candidly about your hometown by introducing audience to the everyday life in the likes ‘Whitehouse Road’, ‘Universal Sound’ How has the reception of such topics been from people? TC: Well, a lot of those songs, primarily starting out I was writing songs for me for my own self clarity just getting this out on the paper and secondly I was writing them for me and my buddies. For me and my buddies when we’re just hanging out and partying around a campfire or something and we’re playing songs and we’d be like ‘Hey man this is one I wrote’ it’ it was just for our enjoyment. A lot of those songs I had written early on or had shared with friends, I mean the reception it seems to me to be received pretty well, I hope. In the end I’m writing it about where I’m from and I’m writing for where I’m from. I’ve just been lucky that people outside where i’m from have made it relatable to some sense or have enjoyed something about it or sort of a universal cruise they can relate to. I mean it’s alright.. People find pretty relatable, it’s more like current affairs, songs for the people.. Hell back in the day it was ‘Knoxville Girl’ and they’re always murdering and drinking songs and now its updated, there’s also not just that happening but there’s an opioid epidemic, there’s people out of work, can’t find work, people in desperate situation, they’re people who are having a good time, people falling in love. It’s trying to paint the whole picture you know… -Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? TC: In 10 years i’ll be 37 so, I hope to be writing songs, playing wherever i can and when i can’t hope to be home. I’ve got until 37 to figure it out..
CitUK talks with Joshua Hedley
For the last couple of months, Joshua Hedley has been making headlines for his debut album - ‘Mr Jukebox’ - an album that many deem to be an awakening to Country Music today. Born and raised in Florida to the sounds of countless country songs, where at the age 9, influenced Hedley to pick up the fiddle. An instrument that would later take him on unforgettable ride. With the release of ‘Mr Jukebox’ we caught up with Hedley to talk about his album, suit plus many more.
Joshua Hedley is set to make his first appearance in the UK with a string of shows around the country the next coming month- see link to find out more.
RT: Hi Josh, How are you today? JH: I am pretty good, just relaxing.
RT: You’ve had a lot going on recently you just flew back to Australia and now about to visit the UK soon too! Very busy.. JH: Yeah, I’m staying busy for sure but it beats the alternative so I’m not complaining.
RT: First off congratulation on the recent hit release Mr Jukebox, but before we go anywhere we have to talk about your surprise appearance in Oregon alongside Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss! How did that come about?
JH: That was crazy. That is my bass player, Misa Arriaga is friends with Willie and we had just landed from Australia in Portland that day and we actually we went to the legal marijuana distributor and we are hanging out there and started talking about how Willie has his own weed called Willie’s reserve and I was asking if they had any in and they said no but they said “Willie is here tonight” so I was like ‘oh really’ and I looked back and Miso was already on the phone to Willie’s wife. We got tickets, he was texting Willie’s wife and she said ‘why don’t you get up and sing with them on Gospel Medley, you and Josh get up there and sing’ so we did, that was insane! When I got on the plane in Brisbane, Australia I didn’t know that day was going to end on stage with Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss! Pretty wild.
RT: Aside from Oregon and Australia. I must ask about your Opry debut and the panther suit! Who was it made by?
JH: The suit was made by a guy named Jerry Atwood, he’s got a company called ‘Union Western’ also Texas Joe’s Barbecue in London, he’s also part of union western clothing and they got me outfited. I told them I wanted a Florida themed suit and he did it perfect and yeah I decided if I was going to make my Ryman debut or my Opry debut then I needed to wear the rhinestone for it. It was pretty cool, the whole Opry debut was sort of a its a little blurry because it was just overwhelming but all I could talk about is the second time, because I feel like that you know they say you never forget your first Opry debut and its true, it was really cool but it’s one of those things were its like ‘that was great’ and that was a dream come true and I may never get to do it again. And it's when they call you the second time and want you to come back! For me that was more special thing. I was like ‘ok, they like me and they want me to play there’ I got to do it 4 times now and every time is incredible.
RT: For your first performance, was it everything as you expected it to be?
JH: I had no idea what to expect. I had played once before with Justin Townes Earle as a fiddle player but that was just so fast- in and out- this was there was so much preparation leading up to it by the time the actual two song thing happened it was just like on stage off stage. I was sort of like woo! I hope I did a good job. Looking back at the video, it went pretty well andIi can’t believe it happened because its a thing i planned for.
RT: Now I know you’ve been touring extensively promoting your album- are you excited to come back as a solo artist and main headliner to the UK?
JH: I came earlier this year in May just to do press and stuff but we were just in London, I didn’t get off the area and didn’t see more of the UK. So, I’m excited to do a full thing and to go out there and see most of Europe, Scandinavia and more of the UK this time.
RT: Let’s talk a little bit about your recent release Mr Jukebox, an album which is prephas considered in a way revolutionary for retaining authentic country sound- were you expecting such huge receive from audience upon releasing your single?
JH: No, I didn’t really know what to expect. I kinda went into some territory that people have been staying away from a long time with that 60’s sounds, countrypolitan Nashville sound and it wasn’t really well received when it came out by country puris,t they didn’t care for that, all the strings and vocal harmonies and stuff. So, when I put mine out 40/50 years later I wasn’t sure what was going to happen but it seems to be going pretty well and people are pretty receptive to it. So I like that.
RT: I understand that all songs were original material written by yourself with exception to ‘Let Them Talk’ and ‘Lets Take a Vacation’ that were co-written. But I can’t help but notice the cover you’ve did ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ a disney classic! Why did you choose such song on your debut album?
JH: I wanted to include a cover on the record and I want to put a cover on all my records, just because, i think it’s fun to learn them and stuff. I couldn’t really figure out what I wanted to do. I grew up in Florida and I spent a lot time with family in Disney World, we use to go there around christmas time every year. It was like one of my dad’s favourite thing and my dad passed 4 years ago and he never got to see any of this stuff that kinda happened for me so I figured that I’d put a Disney song on there to just kind of as a tribute to him and it ended up being one of the more popular song on the record. I’m excited about that, I’m happy it worked out that way.
RT: Before heading to the studio what was the one aim you had in mind desired (wanted) to achieve?
JH: I don’t know, we just went in there and cut. Like, We didn’t do like a whole pre-production for it. I kinda explained my vision a little bit to Jordan and Skyler and they put it together perfectly and it’s exactly what I envisioned when we went in there. I had sort of a goal, I never wrote a song then recorded it then saw it take place, take shape from beginning to end but I always had these ideas of what I wanted them to sound like. I had a hard time sort of articulating that so Jordan and Skyler really helped me in that regard and then we got to make the record and it came out perfectly the way I want to and It’s really all them.
RT: Now, if you were to choose a word that’ll represent your abum what might it be?
RT: Simple, I like that!
RT: Before we move over, Third Man Records is a renowned independent record label that is hailed for its musical services- and you happened to be the second country artists to be signed to the label! So, how does it feel and how it happened?
JH: It’s pretty cool! I kinda count Lillie Mae in there just because I’ve known her for so long but certainly she’s not putting out like country, country music per say but I’ve known her forever so, I’ve seen her play all kinds of George Jones songs so she’s a country singer in my book. but it’s cool being part of a small label there’s me, Lillie Mae, Jack, Margo, Greg Brown and SHIRT those are the only people that are signed to Third Man Records. It’s a unique situation, because you go to Warner Brothers or something they have hundreds of people signed to that label but there’s only like only 6 or 7 on Third Man, so you really get taken care off, all my needs are met pretty fast. It’s nice to be part of a small label where they can really get in and help you.
RT: I heard you have 2 goals, 1 of which is to record with a full symphony. This leads me to to ask are you in way bringing Nashville’s 1960 Chet Atkins, Faron Young era back?
JH: I don’t know what I’m trying to do, I guess ultimately I’m just trying to make records that I would want to listen to if it wasn’t me singing them. I just love so many different variation of country music and right now I’m just pretty stuck in that 60’s sound, I mean maybe down the road I’d like to do some crazy Ronnie Milsap 80’s synthesizer country, I don’t know..
RT: When asked in your Rolling Stones interview about being an outlaw you didn’t seem to be convinced.. With your your performances in Lower broadway for countless of years by performing country classic and keeping the sound alive and thriving in a none stop evolving city- so would you know consider yourself an ‘outlaw’ in 21st century Nashville today? In sense of brining or in a way reinforcing Nashville to remember its musical past than its Market mass produced product?
JH: I guess yeah! I never really thought about it because I don’t think of myself as an outlaw in a sense in thats become today, like I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, I don’t wear Denim vests and I don’t have any hair let along long hair but I guess in a sense that i’m kinda of breaking out of that mold of current Nashville I guess you can link it to that. I don’t know I’m just trying to make country music and that’s the way it comes out. If it’s breaking any barriers than I’m an outlaw. I think, the definition of country music is -it should be up to who buys the records and i think Florida and Georgia Line and Jason Aldean and people like that people who are buying these records are country people, It’s rural America it’s people shopping in Walmart it’s the same people that were buying Hank Williams records in the 40’s and 50’s, it’s the same people who are buying Florida and Georgia Line records today. So I don’t think it’s up to me to really decide what is and what isn’t country music but I’ll say this when you listen to my record there’s no other way to describe it I think than Country and Western music and I think if there’s room for me there’s room for Jason Aldean, there’s room for Luke Bryan there’s room for everybody to be out there and do their thing. I can’t really hate on any of those guys because they are just trying to feed their families like everybody else. But I will say this I think there’s been a lack of artistry in country music for a long time and I think people are starting to realize it and starting to want more. And that’s where people like myself and Margo Price, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson people like that, I think that’s where our popularity growing and becoming a thing is people are looking for artistry in music.
RT: You’ve been a sideman for many musicians including touring with the likes of Justin Townes Earle and friend Jonny Fritz- would you think there were lessons that you’ve be taught by these people as a solo artist today perhaps in terms of being a songwriter?
JH: Absolutely, yeah I learned alot from touring with both of them, Justin sort of taught me the formula and how to write and just like little bits and tricks like one thing he use to say. He said if you’re describing a woman in song and you say ‘her lips are red’ you don’t have to tell people that her eyes are blue and her hair is blonde. It’s about simplicity because if you tell somebody ‘her lips were red’ maybe that guy’s girlfriend that he just lost use to wear red lipstick or maybe she had green eyes or maybe she had brown eyes, brown hair you know.. And Jonny sort of taught me how to see other sides of things, Jonny draws inspiration from the mundane and from the everyday parts of life and he sort taught me how to look at things differently. So, I definitely did learnt a lot from both of them as far as writing goes. The two of them really exposed to alot of music I wasn’t aware off like Guy Clark and then Jonny was digging into Mickey Newberry, they exposed to sort of that side of country music that I didn’t really listen much of before, sort of like you said the Texas Poets’ kinda deal. So yeah they broadened my horizon both of them.
RT: finally, If there is one artists/band you’d want to work with in the future who might that be? JH: It’s hard, they’re all dead!
RT: Living artists instead? JH: Actually my bass player and I were just talking about deut albums. They use to do duet album man, man duets like George and Paycheck they did a record together, Waylon and Willie, Merle and George. I’d love to do something like that with somebody because it’s not a thing that happens anymore. I’d love to do a duet album with Margo or Nikki Lane or something just to have that. Nobody has that Waylon and Willie thing, nobody has that Conway and Loretta thing anymore. There are no duet partners, there’s duo’s, very rarely you get two artists coming together to make a record and I would love to do that.
RT: Right, Thank you Josh for your time! JH: Thank you!
Raghad chats with Ray Wyley Hubbard
RT: First off, congratulations on your induction to Texas Heritage Hall of Fame! RWH: Thank you, it was quite a deal, we did a thing on Saturday Texas Heritage Hall of fame and I was inducted with Buddy Holly- Mickey Newbury and Liz rose. That was quite a time and Last night, I won the Austin chronological music award Music writer of the year. so it was quite a week.
RT: Talk about a busy week! RWH: Yep, Yep it has been a busy, for an old cattle I’m still making rock!
RT: Don’t they usually hold Austin Music Awards the same week as SXSW? RWH: yeah usually by SXSW but they decided I guess to do it the week before. It was quite a deal.
RT: During your induction performance, Ronnie Dunn (Brooks and Dunn) Eric Church came up on stage to join in for “Snake Farm”, how does it feel to have a young generation connect to your music. RWH: well, really it’s gratifying, of course. Because, I’m not a mainstream guy at all. I’m kinda on more on the fringe of Americana, I’ve never had like been on the country charts or hit records. I’ve been kinda underground, Texas songwriter. So for these guys to find me, and acknowledge me is enough. But then for them to come to Austin and be willing to get up and perform with me. It was quite a thrill. It kinda validates what your doing you know, for a long time you’ve been writing songs just kinda like I say I’m very underground definitely not mainstream for these guys to find me and acknowledge me is very gratifying.
RT: Quite recently, you released a brand new album tilted “Tell the Devil I’ll be there As Fast as I Can” I must say what a title! RWH: Well hopefully the tittle is to be taken metaphorically rather than a prophecy.
RT: you also had guest vocals on your new album Patty Griffin, Eric Church, and Lucinda Williams. I must say, I really loved your comment about Lucinda where you mentioned you wanting a “Female Keith Richards” RWH: Haha, yeah that was for Lucinda she was on the record, Lucinda kinda have that you know female Keith Richards vibe about her she was perfect for the song devil. I had Eric church and Lucinda and patty griffin, I needed an angel so I got Patty for the last song (In Times Of Cold)
RT: The album concept is as you mentioned earlier holds metaphorical references based on characters from everyday life. For instance, in “Lucifer and the Fallen Angles,” the song speaks of songwriters or artists in general keeping true to their sound. Throughout the years, battles have been fought between publishers and record companies confiscating an artist’s creativity in order to feed their big companies. RWH: I have to agree with that. Well, it is, you know, I feel very fortunate, I’m not on a major label I’m not singed to a big mainstream publishing company my wife Judy, runs a record label (Bordello Records) so she says, you write the songs you want to write and you make the album you want to make and then she says I’ll try to sell the damn things, so for a writer like me which, I’ve never been a mainstream writer that’s a really good place to be. Because I’m writing and I’m not thinking about the future of what I’m writing, I’m able to write whatever I want to write about so, I really enjoy having freedom. Like I said I don’t have a record producer, record company, telling me what to sing.
RT: I know you studied English at collage, would you consider this aspect to have provoked your style of novelty songwriting? RWH: Yeah, like I have so said, my father was an English teacher, so early on, instead of reading 3 little pigs, I was reading “The Raven”, or the “Tale of Two Cities”, “Oliver Twist”, that got into literature and so that has a great influence when I write. So, when I’m trying to write, even it a goofy song like snake farm that was well written so yeah. It means a great deal to have that foundation in folk music and literature and later on laid on a low down dirty groove that I often run it.
RT: Let me get this right, you first met Michael Martin Murphy at College and then you went on to form a band together? RHW: Actually, I went to high school with Michael Murphy, and we weren’t in a band together but we knew each other in high school and he was an instrumentalist and getting me into folk music. But no we never were in band together but we played the same clubs and same folk circles at that time.
RT: Oh, I see, I need to update my info in this case. I do apologies about that! RWH: That’s all right, it happens a lot!
RT: One summer, however, yourself and a group of friends went to Red River -New Mexico, which resulted in what then became a hit “Up Against The Wall You Redneck Mother” RWH: Yes *sigh*
RT: oh, that came with sigh! RWH: Well, you know, in America that time it was a very turbulent time as it is now. There was the Vietnam War, there was civil right movement, there was women’s movement going on so it very a turbulent time in America. And Merle Haggard had out songs like “Fighting side of me” “Okie from Muskego” and so Redneck Mother was kinda the answer to that if you were a longhaired hippie musician. It was meant to be taken ironically in a way and so we wrote that and it just kinda came out. Then, Jerry Jeff Walker recorded it and then the actual rednecks that I was making fun of started singing it, haha, and that’s why the sigh.
RT: After its success, this led to you being signed by Warner records, which resulted in your first official album “Ray Wylie Hubbard and the Cowboy Twinkies”. With your first release, you often warn fans not to hear that record. why? RHW: yeah, what happened after we made the album, it was a folk rock record. My influences where the likes to Buffalo Springfield, of course you know Stone Country and at that time, Gram Parsons, so we made what I thought was a folk rock record and the record label said well, country radio ain’t gonna play this, so they put steel guitars on it, girl singers on every track, so it wasn’t the record we had intended. So we were heartbroken when it came out, it wasn’t us.
RT: Can I just ask, who came up with the name? RHW: We were getting ready to play a gig in Fort Worth and they said we needed band name. You need to have a name, so the bass player said I always wanted to be a band called the Twinkies. So I said, well since we are playing Fort Worth we outta be the Cowboy Twinkies. What we lacked talent we made up for an attitude, we had kinda of punk rock sensibility, when we preform we were very irreverent, I don’t know how to explain it but that’s how the name came about!
RT: Once I saw the name I thought it was funny yet very interesting. RWH: yeah, we had kinda of cow-punk attitude, we were pretty young and rambunctious, we would do Merle Haggard song then we would do a Led Zeppelin song. We had a lot of energy.
RT: After “Up against the Wall” release in 76 by Jerry Jeff you moved down to Nashville? And started hanging around with the likes of Guy Clark and Towns Van Zandt.. RWH: I never moved to Nashville. After we did the record in Nashville, I just never went back with the business, I never could. The record company came out and laid there we couldn’t tour behind it but then I was always a working musician. I could play the folk festivals and do little coffee houses with Towns and Guy and Jerry Jeff Walker, Michael Martin Murphy and so. I was always able to make somewhat of a living just playing live since I had any income as far as songwriting or artists royalties.
RT: There was a period between 76 to 84 where you released a few albums, but suddenly laid low for while until 94.. Was there ever a time you thought about quitting? RWH: No, I never really.. The music was good, I was having fun playing nightclubs and Honky Tonks, but the business part of it I was never part of that as far begin on radio or charts or anything. But you can make a good living just as I said being bar band. So I really thought about quitting, because there was nothing else I can really do, *chuckles* so to answer your question there was a struggle and it was hard times but I was always ok.
RT: Moving over, I believe you moved to Texas from Oklahoma when you were about 8-9 years old, were you exposed to music at that time? RWH: we were very rural, the music I got was as a kid going to church and then there was a little country radio station, so it was pretty much Lefty Frizzell, Hank Williams on the radio, but then there was all of these whooping and hollering gospel songs on the church, so that was kinda my first introduction to music. And then when we moved to Dallas, of course there was radio and you can get Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly and rock and roll. But my first music was of course church and straight ahead hillbilly country.
RT: Previously in the past you mentioned when moving to Texas you went to see the likes of Ernest Tubb and Lighting Hopkins. What was that like for a kid who’s background in church music to suddenly be exposed to what was called then “sinful music”? RWH: it was in high school, the folk scene was going on so there was all these folk clubs, so I guess 16-17-18 I would go to these folk clubs and there would be these big guys like Mance Lipscome, Lighting Hopkins and I got to introduced to them so I feel very fortunate to have seen those wonderful blues guys. Then later on when I got in a band we were able to seek out other music. We go to see Ernest Tubb, Gary Stewart. So it was a whole spectrum of music. It was just fascinating for me and I loved it all.
RT: I always liked to picture Mance Lipscome and Lighting Hopkins performance would be a in a gloomy dark, smoke filled room.. RWH: Yeah! There is a place here called Mother Blues, which was a funky old nightclub, we go there and play. The opening band was like a 9 piece soul band. They were called Big Bow and the Arrows I believe. They had horns and a Hammond B3 the place was rowdy and jumping and people were dancing and drinking and yelling, and then they cleared that out and then lighting Hopkins came out and his got his old fender amp and Gibson guitar with a DeArmond pickup and plug in and bought the place down, it was just mesmerizing, he had that just had this power. It was some funky times back then.
RT: Travis D Stemnling the author of Cowboys and New Hicks and Countercultural of Austin progressive Country scene” once quoted in a documentary when speaking about Texas Songwriters he said, “ We’d like to think of Nashville as the Craftsmen and Texas as Poets” what is it about Texas that defies it songwriting qualities than any other form of songwriting? RWH: well, Texas always had its independent spirit. And the thing about Texas songwriters, all the these guys were writing their own songs from Blind Lemon Jefferson up to through Lighting Hopkins and Mance Lipsomce and then of course the Folk scene came in and Guy and Towns and Billy Joe Shaver and all of these guys, there was just that thing you wrote your own songs while in Nashville you’d sing other peoples songs and be on the radio and so there was this whole, its almost like a foundation in Texas that you have to be songwriter you have to write your own songs, the audience here is not gonna understand a cover band in ways. it was that big difference. It was a great environment to grow up in to because you had all these incredible songwriters that where just writing songs like nowhere else. They weren’t like any else, with Guy Clark –“Desperado Waiting on a Train”- or anything by Towns “Marie” or Billy Joe Shaver and so.. There is something about the Texas thing that you know have this great independent spirit where you can write and not have someone look over your shoulder. You writing and nothing about the future of what you’re writing when you start off. When you’re young and you’re writing, I don’t think trying to a get a record deal or a publishing deal your just writing because you have this need within to express yourself through music and I think that was thing here in Texas all of these guys were songwriters rather than just country singers.
RT: Referring back to what you mentioned about not thinking of the future when it comes to songwriting- at the end of the day, don’t want one to make both ends meet? RWH: well, I think its kinda the difference between Nashville and Texas I think. In Nashville songwriting is livelihood you’re writing your songs in order to somebody to record them to make money over it but in Austin and kinda Texas it’s more like lifestyle of a songwriter. I’m mean here in Austin you got guys like Hayes Carll and James McMurty, John D Graham they’re great songwriters and they are writing songs because its their live style. So I think the big difference here is there’s that depth and weight to it. As far as the Texas songwriting is.
RT: It’s the Texas Spirit! RWH: Yeah, You know I’m not really dissing the new country music, but I haven’t heard a song like “Bojangles” or “On The Road Again” or “Geronimo’s Cadillac”, or “Georgia on a Fast Train”. I haven’t heard that from the songwriters of Nashville. I couldn’t really tell you what they do. But those songs they are significant and I think that’s what is great about as you said The Texas Spirit. I just haven’t heard anything like that lately.
RT: I agree! RWH: Well, it becomes the record labels they are like creating the product then creating the demand for it in a way. Back in the 60’s 70’s 80’s I’m an old guy talking like that but these guys artists were expressing themselves so now its becoming a very big business and controlled they have actually I guess broad rooms where they sit and do demographics and all that stuff you know and you just have guitar go out there and lied down and talk about whatever is going on in this life that day.
RT: But, If one of Texas lifestyle is songwriting. Wouldn’t that inflect challenge? RWH: well, its not so much challenge as it is but all of sudden its like I write a song and I say “man this is a great song” and then I go to Austin to a little club and there’s McMurty he goes I wrote this new song or Patty Griffin or Jimmy Vaughan, so you go aha ok. Its not competition in a way but all of a sudden it sets the bar high where you really want to write really great cool songs. Because you’re running around with people who are juts incredible songwriters, so you have to step up your game! Last night at the Austin Music Awards, there were all these incredible songwriters. So I have to take my songwriting seriously and care about it. But like I said I don’t think there is a completion but I think its good to have that bar-level to aspire to.
RT: Earlier you brushed on the subject of the Americana genre; with underground genres vastly becoming popular today, do you think the genre is facing threat of becoming a mainstream genre? RWH: Well, you know I really like the Americana thing, a lot of my friends and some people put more Americana than country and a lot of my friends that I admire them are in that genre. But Americana is becoming very very mainstream right now. I mean 10 years ago Americana was Lucinda Williams, Joe Ely and Sam Bush and The Jayhawks. it was a pretty small circle. And now you have there, rock guys that are talented that are kinda going into the Americana field. John Mellencamp got a new record out, the classic rock stations aren’t gonna play him, because they are playing old stuff and then the new rock stations they are not gonna play him, because they are playing Third Eyed Blind and Stone Temple Pilot and all of that. But Americana will play him because he fits that type of music. So it’s becoming very more mainstream.
RT: My only concern for Americana is that one-day Florida and Georgina Line could on its charts. RWH: I’m glad you said that rather than me, it is, like I said its becoming very mainstream and hopefully something like that will sneak its way in.
RT: As an independent artist leading an independent record label with your wife what are challenges as label might face? RWH: Like I said, she says you make the record you want to make, I don’t have anyone telling me how to sing or how to produce it or who plays on it or any of that stuff. I just have this incredible freedom to make a low down cool records that I think I like and my friends would like. So with my wife Judy she handles everything, the publishing, the mechanicals and all that stuff and as I writer I can just write. Damn there’s a “Snake farm” I can write about, I can rhyme say John the Revelator with 13th Floor Elevators. You know I can write about an old club in Dallas. So having that like I said I don’t have to comprise my writing at all and that’s a great place to be. So I’m very fortunate to have this incredible women allow me to do that.
RT: In terms of independent labels do you think will someday they might be head to head with big labels? RWH: I really don’t know how to answer that… Because the music thing is changing so much, I mean you got a guy who can make a record in his bedroom and put it out in through social media and YouTube and do extremely well without the record labels. So I don’t really know, but I know the future is going be interesting and so its so strange now because of downloads and streaming and wife just got a new car that doesn’t have a CD player so I don’t know its an interesting time for music. I don’t know what’s going to happen I’m just gonna keep writing gnarly old songs.
RT:For upcoming artists who are going into the field what advice would you give them? RWH: Well, I always say, don’t just listen to Bruce Springsteen’s “Ghost of Tom Joad read the Grapes of Wrath, read the book that aspired Bruce Springsteen to write that. When all of these young cats come up to me and ask I say read. Read the great classic, that’s what I usually say. By that when I say, don’t just listen to the Ghost of Tom Joad read The Grapes of Wrath, get into literature whether it is novels or poetry. So that’s what I usually say if a young cat asks me about that.
RT: In the light of World Book day, what’s you recent favorite book? RWH: Transformations of Myth Through Time by Joseph Campbell. Joseph Campbell taught Mythology at Sarah Lawrence Collage and he also wrote “Thousands Faces” which is incredible. “The Transformation Through Time” is probably- well, it is my favorite book of all time and he’s one of my favorite authors but I have so many but yeah but that’s the book I love and recommend.
RT: Well thank you so much for joining me Ray! RWH: Thank you!
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks