1) Late last year it was announced that you had signed with Big Machine. How awesome and congratulations on that! Take us into that signing…what made them the right label home for you and your brand of music?

I’ve been in Nashville for almost 9 years now and have just about in every way had my butt kicked by Music City. I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out who I am, what I want to say, and I pretty much have all of that figured out by this point.

I went in to make my EP last year; 6 songs that I really believe in. I made it with my friend, hit songwriter Paul Sikes. That project truly represented who I really was, and that’s what got the attention of Allison Jones and Scott Borchetta at Big Machine.

I went in for a meeting with them and we just naturally hit it off. They connected with what I do authentically, and that’s the only way I know how to do it. I don’t know how to fake it or to have a filter; never have. They really supported that and encouraged it almost.

I played some deeper songs; just coming at them with my acoustic guitar and sharing what I’ve been doing. There’s a song called “Good Ol’ Boys” that you’ll hear soon. But that specifically is a heavy and hard story about something that happened in my life. It’s taken me about 15 years to figure out how to tell that story, but that’s the first song where Scott said, “Wow! That’s really important! We’d love to support that and get behind it.”

That specifically is what let me know that they weren’t scared to go there with me. I love to cover the uncomfortable content, the ugly. It was very clear that they supported me being me and weren’t scared of the bravery that I come with.

2) Upon signing you released “Thinkin’ Bout Cheatin’ (Recycled),” sort of a raw, reintroduction/introduction to you and your music. Why was that an important first step for you and what’s next new music wise that you can share with us?

I had this project that we all believed in very much and they luckily gave me the opportunity to re-release it through the label. That gave it such a major push that it didn’t have before. Any exposure that I had was just from me posting on social media. I’ve never had any money to pay for ads. I’ve barely gotten out of Nashville to tour because again, that’s something that’s so expensive. So, I had a lot more resources and those songs deserved another push, in my opinion and the label’s opinion.

We got to go do some acoustic versions too, to spice it up. I brought in two of my best friends, Dustin Benson and Josh Matheny on guitar and dobro and to sing harmony with me. That’s how I prefer to make music anyway, in an organic kind of bluegrassy setting.

3) You’re currently on the road with Jackson Dean. We were able to catch that tour stop here in Nashville two weeks ago. Talk to us about that tour for you as the opener. How have the crowd’s reaction been to you? What have you taken away from watching Jackson perform every night? Etc. The Band’s “The Weight”…every night or Only In Nashville moment?

We have four more shows and those are up the East coast in April. We played 16 shows this year, which is crazy for me. I’ve never had that many shows on my calendar at one time.

We have some shows coming up with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. We’ve got some Gary Allan dates. Eli Young Band in Texas this week. And I’ve got some Dierks Bentley dates.

I respect Jackson Dean so much. His talent is undeniable. Anyone that’s ever seen Jackson Dean play… it is an experience. I’m so grateful that he gave me the opportunity to come out on these shows. This is my first time at most of these venues and he gave me that shot. I won’t ever forget that.

His crowd is singing back every word to him every night. There’s nothing like standing side stage and taking that all in and waiting for the day that I get to be there. It really sets me on fire. Just seeing how passionate he is about his craft…and he’s a super nice guy. He’s been so nice to me.

“The Weight” - That was our first time doing that. We have done it one other time since then, but I wish it was a every night thing. That night we had Luke Dick, Mac McAnally, myself, Dee White, and Jackson. I think I still have a bruise on leg from where I hit my tambourine so hard, but that is one of my favorite memories for sure.

4) On the subject of touring….you mentioned some dates with Dierks Bentley lined up later this year. What are you most looking forward to with those dates?

This is the biggest opportunity I’ve gotten. I respect him as a businessman also. He really takes care of his crew and his people. You don’t ever hear bad things about Dierks in the industry. I’m really excited to get to learn from him on how I want to make my people feel; what kind of business I want to run. Fans are first, and I always want to do that…but you can’t do any of this by yourself. The artist is one really small piece of this puzzle. It’s really important to me to take care of my people and that’s something Dierks is known for.

But also, getting to play at some of the biggest venues I’ve ever gotten to play and winning over some new fans who have never heard of me before. We get to do full band for that, so also getting to share the experience with my friends, who are great musicians. It’s gonna be epic!

5) We have so many aspiring songwriters and artists that read our website, so we always like to end by asking this…what is the best piece of advice you can offer?

I heard this from Brandy Clark on a Podcast. I listen to Podcast’s every morning when I’m awake because I’m angry about being awake and I don’t want to be putting makeup on, so I turn on a podcast to take my brain off being mad cause I have to be awake.

But I was listening to Brandy Clark, and she was saying some advice that someone had given to her, “If you can do anything else, then quit this and go do it.”

That sounds a little negative, and I think if someone would have told me that on the right day I would have quit and gone home, so you’ve got to give yourself a little grace and time with that. Ultimately, I knew when I moved to Nashville that I was gonna be here for as long as it took to get to where I wanted to be. It definitely sucked at some points. I sacrificed 9 years of my life and have spent many a lonely night in this city feeling like it didn’t love me back and that it didn’t even want me here. Those are some really hard spots to be in.

I have never had a backup plan. I had a blind faith that I’m on the path God wants me to be on. So, if you truly believe that there’s anything that can make you change the path that you’re on, then you don’t have the purpose and the drive you have to have. It’s still hard as hell, even when you have it and know you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. You’re still gonna take hits every day, all day long.

Also, something I’ve always taken with me is that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. I do think I have talent, otherwise I wouldn’t be here, but when my talent doesn’t seem to open doors for me then my hard work always has.

(Interview by: Jeffrey Kurtis/Photo By: Marisa Taylor Photography)


Copyright © 2024 Today's Country Magazine. All Rights Reserved.
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU General Public License.