What is your name?
What is your genre of music?
Americana / Folk / Country / Rock
Give us a little bio about you.
I’m a husband and a father. My favorite moments are the little ones – watching my son catch a line drive in the outfield, floating in the pool with my wife, and watching the sunset over the Leander, Texas hills from my backyard. When I play live music at a venue, which isn’t often, it’s usually myself and an acoustic guitar – although my dogs get to hear me sing and play quite a bit. In my youth, there were full bands on a stage, mainly with my brother playing next to me. I tried to write lyrics on my computer for awhile, but switched back to a pen and paper. It just seems to work better. I try to write songs that capture a little bit of our humanity, something that the current world tends to strip away from people. My family is from Oklahoma, but I was born and lived most of my childhood in Wisconsin. My Mom and Dad aren’t musicians, but music was always a big deal in our house. Late 50’s and early 60’s rock n’ roll were in constant rotation. Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran (my Mom’s cousin), Elvis, and Ricky Nelson were larger than life. My maternal grandmother was one of my favorite people I’ve ever met, and I was lucky enough to know her into my adulthood. My older sister introduced me to Wham and Duran Duran. My younger sister was my best friend. I spent the summers of my teens delivering newspapers and playing beach volleyball on the Lake Michigan shore. We skied a lot in Northern Michigan during the winters. We’d load up the family van, and head up for the weekend. I started piano lessons in 4th grade. When I was in middle school, my jazz band teacher made everyone take a 12 bar improvisational solo in the key of “b flat.” It was the first time that I realized every song I’d ever heard was just someone’s idea that they made up in their head. The first CD’s I bought were Led Zeppelin IV and Eric Clapton Journeyman, although I had a dubbed cassette of Aerosmith’s Pump that was on constant rotation in my car (which only had a tape player). I went to college in California, and my sophomore year, I lived in Germany. My Grandmother bought me a guitar so I could have an instrument to play while I was over there. I’d sit in the walk-in closet of a room that I shared with 3 other guys, and strum until my fingers bled or until I couldn’t feel them anymore. I learned to play a lot of songs with 3 chords in them, and started writing my own songs as well. In my 20s, I formed a band with my brother. We played a lot of great clubs in Los Angeles, and took an extended vacation that included playing shows around the country while staying at a number of KOA campsites. These days, I live in the Texas hill country. The end of my backyard drops into a small canyon that has a spring at the bottom of it along with a hiking trail. I go skateboarding with my son as often as I can, and he’s constantly doing tricks that I’m not even close to attempting. On weekend afternoons in the summer, my wife and I like to float in the pool, plan future adventures, and talk about life.
What made you go into music?
I’ve loved music since before I can remember. Music was always around when I was growing up. Something just clicks with me and sound. ABCs are easy to learn with the song.
Who are your influences?
This list is really long – but I’ll give you a short version that covers a few genres that I listen to a lot:
Jeffrey Foucault, Slobberbone, Billie Marten, Hayes Carll, Radiohead, Eliott Smith, Ryan Adams, Old 97s, Butch Walker, Buddy Holly, Pearl Jam, Wilco, Damien Rice and Oasis to name a few.
It’s probably obvious that I’m influenced a lot of other Americana/Folk/Country artists, but I also grew up in the 80’s and 90’s – so hair metal and Michael Jackson was huge when I was younger, and I was in middle school/high school when grunge took over.
There was a moment in time when I was 17 where rock radio was playing Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Tripping Daisy, Collective Soul and Candlebox – and I kept thinking that radio might never get that good ever again. (I might have been right).
Are you signed?
No. In my younger days, I was certainly seeking out being on a major label – but I have no desire for that these days.
You released your new single ‘Man Of Your Dreams’, tell us more about the single.
My wife often has dreams about me being a horrible person to her. The dreams are sometimes so real that she will wake up being mad at me in the real world – because the dream version of me was so cruel to her. At some point, I got the idea in my head that I don’t want to be the man in her dreams because that guy is a terrible guy. When I thought about it more, I realized that in a true relationship, there’s no such thing as the man of your dreams. It doesn’t exist. There’s no perfect. The true dream is someone who is authentic. Someone you can share your true self with. I want to be the person who can express themselves and who doesn’t hold everything in. I also know that I’m going to come up short. That’s just how it is. That being said, I know that if we put our faith in each other, we can and do continue to build something special, and we can live a life that bursts at the seams.
What is the meaning behind the single?
I think I hit that pretty well in the last answer. I also think a good song can take on different meanings for different people – and I do aim to leave the details fuzzy enough so that the listener can fill in the blanks. That being said, my aim was to point out that we get a lot of repeats of the message that there’s someone out there who is “perfect” for you. When I was younger, I failed pretty miserably at relationships because I was always trying to be that perfect person (which is impossible). It’s taken a lot of time and the right people to help me learn that a real relationship is being authentic, which means you screw up – and you have to own those moments. When I think about how I love my wife and son – I’m really not the man or father of their dreams, but I try to do the best I can, and I try to own my mistakes as much as I can with them.
What was the writing and recording process like?
I write most of my songs in my home studio on a piano or an acoustic guitar. For this song, I remember having the melody and chords pretty quickly. The verse lyrics came pretty easily, but I struggled with the chorus – mostly because I wasn’t sure what I was trying to say for awhile. I remember playing it for my wife with a version of the chorus that I knew wasn’t going to be the final version, and her first thought was that the chorus was weak. I can’t remember the exact spark that got me to “I know that I will come up short again” – but it came a couple of days after that. I’m looking at my journal, and it looks like I wrote 3-4 different versions of the chorus until I finally had something I liked. As for recording, my general process is to get a demo version down from my home studio. This usually includes some sequenced drums, an acoustic guitar, a very simple bassline, and some scratch vocals. None of these are used in the final version of the recording, but they are set at the correct tempo, and they give the other musicians a general idea of the vibe of the song.
Wes Little – Drums
Dave Francis – Bass
Jon Conley – Fiddle/Guitar
All of the musicians playing on this record are top notch, professional, session guys. In short, they are stellar. Since I live in Leander (outside of Austin, TX), and the other guys live in Nashville, we track one instrument at a time. I’ll send the song to Wes, and he will track a couple of drum takes to the scratch tracks. I’ll pick the take I like the best, and then send it over to Dave for a few different versions of the bass. I’ll pick that, and send to Jon. For this particular song, Jon really put some sweet icing on the direction of it. He’s a brilliant instrumentalist, and I really try to let these guys work their magic without too much direction. The violin lead is all Jon’s work. The demo I sent him just had an acoustic guitar strumming chords – so that little hook was pretty amazing to hear when he sent me his tracks. Once we have all the instrumentation down, I start recording the final vocals in my home studio. I like to wait for the vocals so that I can really hear all of the other things going on in the song, and let them guide my phrasing (and sometimes the notes). I usually sing the song 8-10 times through, listen back, and see if I’m really missing any parts. I think I ended up needing to track the verses of this song first, and then switched over to the chorus. Once I’ve recorded, comped and edited all the vocals, I send all of the tracks over to Chris Bethea for mixing and mastering. I might have 1-2 change requests for Chris, but most of the time, the first thing he sends me is what ends up being used. All in all, I’ve been working with this group of guys as well as Jon Graboff (Ryan Adams and the Cardinals) and Dustin Boyer (John Cale) for the last couple of years putting together a full album. We’ve all gotten pretty used to the process, so there’s a lot of trust between us in terms of what the direction is – and there’s definitely a “play what you are hearing” vibe. This whole crew is world class, so I tend to want to let them go the direction they want to go.
Describe the track in two words.
Who did you work with on the single?
Wes Little – Drums
Dave Francis – Bass
Jon Conley – Fiddle/Guitar
Chris Bethea – Mixing and Mastering
Will we see a Music video for ‘Man Of Your Dreams’ , what can we expect from the creative process?
Probably not in a traditional sense – although I put together a little 15 second advertisement type video for it that is on social media.
Will we see an EP or Album and if so, can you give us a teaser of what to expect?
Yes! This is the 2nd single from an LP entitled “Run Into the Arrows”. I’m still awaiting the final pressings of the vinyl, but besides that, the album is complete and should release later this year.
Do you have any live shows or a tour coming up and if so let us know where we can catch you at?
I don’t have any shows booked at the moment. Once COVID lightens up a bit, I might try to play somewhere in the Austin area, but I don’t plan to do any touring
What else can we expect in 2022?
This whole record has been a learning process for me. The last time I recorded an album, it was in the early 2000’s in Los Angeles, and streaming services didn’t exist. That being said, I don’t think I’ve made any hard decisions on what is going to come next. I already have a handful of songs that I’ve written and made demos of. Those might come out as singles or maybe another album – I’m really not sure yet.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
I’d like to get a pretty strong catalogue of recorded music put together and be able to pitch a bit more effectively for film and tv. I’ve had some success getting songs placed in the past, and it would be nice to be able to fund the recording habit.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on treating people like human beings. I think that social media and being in lock down has made it very easy to look at a person, and to whittle them down to one thing or a caricature of sorts. It’s easy to point a finger and think “this person is bad” or “this person is a supporter of this politician, so they are this type of person.” The reality, of course, is much more nuanced – but nuance takes time and effort that a lot of folks don’t want to put in. So, I’ve been very focused on reminding myself that the person in front of me is a human being. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with them, but most of the time, it sets the correct paradigm for me to understand and even judge their actions and words.
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
I haven’t played a gig in a long while, although I used to play them all of the time. If I were to play solo today, my guitar and harmonicas would be the most important things. It’d be pretty bad if I forgot my guitar picks, but I’ve definitely been down that road before.