1)  Let’s talk about your current single “I’m America.” What an awesome statement of unity that song is. Though you yourself are not a writer on it, tell us a bit about what the song means to you and how ultimately you knew you wanted to cut it?

Yeah, this song was written by Phil O’Donnell and Wade Kirby. It was played for me, and I immediately fell in love with it. Every line of this song is the reason why I decided to join the military. I love it because I’m not very political and neither is this song. It just talks about how beautiful this country is, and how it’s not only the landscape that makes it beautiful, but the people as well.

Immediately, I was like, “I have to be a part of this. Whatever I have to do, I have to be a part of this.” And we cut a rocking song. Every line in this song is from my heart. Phil and Wade wrote it, but it feels like sometimes I did. Every time I play it, every time I hear it, it just makes me so much prouder to have not only served this country, but to be part of this country.

2) This past fall you debuted with the incredibly heart gripping single, “How Do You Choose?” A very personal song for you that outlines the struggle with God in the aftermath of trying to understand tragedy. How have you been able to see the song resonate with people? Any stories you’ve heard from them that kind of shook you?

That song was the hardest song I ever wrote, and it happened to be the first one that we ever put out. It’s very much my heart and soul.

The beautiful part about this song is that it’s a bridge. It gives somebody the words who can’t find how to say what they’re feeling or be able to tell the struggle they’re dealing with. It gives them the ability to just push play and they don’t have to find the words.

When a song becomes the ability for somebody to be able to speak, to find those emotions, that’s when it’s more than a song. This song has become that.

This was such a personal story of losing my best friend in Afghanistan, but I get messages from people who have lost sons or daughters, or just lost people too soon. For me, this was just my survivor’s guilt put into words, but so many people have been able to connect with this song.

3) Through these first two showings, it’s obvious that you’re bringing a transparent honesty to your music. How important is it to you to hold tightly to that honesty and not just put something out to put it out, but actually try to make a difference with your music?

That is everything! From the very beginning, even before I signed with Black River, I’ve been incredibly transparent in that if I’m going to be doing what I’m doing then I want my music to help people. I want my music to make someone find hope. To put the gun down and decide to try tomorrow…and then to try the tomorrow after that! And then five years down the road, look back at the moment when they decided not to take their life and all the things that they’ve had since.

My biggest goal is to help people and to give people hope. To do that, I have to be completely open and honest every moment of every day so that people can see it’s okay to struggle. I struggle, and still deal with crap on a daily basis. That chorus in “How Do You Choose,” that conversation and argument I’m having with God – how am I still here and other people aren’t – that’s a conversation that I struggle with daily. That’s not just something that was a one-time thing. It’s still an ongoing struggle that I deal with.

From the very beginning I wanted to be completely honest and transparent with who I am and what I struggle with because the only way that we’re going to be able to help anybody is if I am 100% open and honest all the time.

4) We do want to pause here to thank you for your service in our US military. Thank you, brother! In what ways did your military service prepare you for your path into music? 

I appreciate that so much. Thank you!

I have to say there’s been some things I’ve done since the military; I shot archery with the US Paralympic program, travelled all over the country…and I was able to find comradery in the team. The music business is very much team based as well. You have a team behind you, people who are your people.

The military has honestly set me up for just about anything. It not only helped me with being able to speak to people, but it set me up to really be team based. In the music industry, your team is the one who makes all this possible.

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?

The most important thing you can do is to never stop. Make music! Put out music! Find a clear purpose for what you want to do with your music and as a person. Every day is a grind but work your butt off and outwork everybody else.

(Interview by: Jeffrey Kurtis/Photo c/o Black River Entertainment)


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