I still remember the first time I interviewed Lady Antebellum. It was back in 2010 at City Winery and I spent the entire weekend before my interview watching all of their Webisode Wednesdays, in hopes to find a question or two to ask that they had never been asked before. Though I had only 10 minutes with Lady Antebellum, I managed to succeed. During the height of the popularity of “Need You Now” it was a lofty goal to have, being as they’d done hundreds of interviews before. But I’ll never forget that pause in the interview when I knew I got them thinking.
Nearly four years later to the day, I sat down with the country trio once again to talk about their new album 747. During our chat, Charles Kelley admitted that new single “Freestyle” is the one song he is obsessed with, perhaps as much if not more than “Need You Now.”
He said he was initially hesitant during the writing process (he and his bandmates wrote the track with Shane McAnally) because it was “such a departure” from their previous material. Today, though, it’s one of his favorite tracks to play live.
“The one thing we learned was not to be afraid,” Kelley says. “‘Downtown’ was a good example of a song where at the time when we cut it Hillary was like, ‘I don’t know. This is so different.’ We’ve always found that our biggest and best songs always push us in a different direction. ‘Freestyle’ has this infectious energy to it. [You have to] keep it lighthearted sometimes.”
Watch the video of my chat above and read more of my interview with Lady Antebellum about their new album 747 at Radio.com.
I had the pleasure of talking with country singer-songwriter Angaleena Presley, known for her role in country girl band the Pistol Annies alongside Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe, over the summer while she was in New York promoting her debut solo album, American Middle Class, which was released today. While preparing for our interview, I had her album on repeat and was struck by her honesty in every song. She sang things many of us would never openly admit and in her bio she stated that she has trouble not being honest. I had a pretty good feeling she’d be open to sharing the stories behind her songs as she’s said they are her autobiography, but I never fathomed she would completely let her guard down.
Throughout our interview, Angaleena opened up about her previous marriage, her hometown which is dealing with a serious pain medication epidemic and described the most honest songs on her record in so much depth. I was struck by her honesty and walked away wanting to re-listen to all her songs since I now knew the stories behind so many of them. Below is an excerpt from my interview with Angaleena. For the complete article, visit Radio.com.
“I got introduced to the world as Holler Annie with these two blondes beside me,” she told me. “I feel like I had to get in a band, make history and kick down a door so I could walk through it as a solo artist…I’m an older artist and I could sit there and be like, ‘Oh this should have happened.’ No. If it didn’t happen like this, you wouldn’t have had this story to write or this song that so many people connect with. I feel like everything happened the way it was supposed to happen for me.”
One song that strikes a chord on American Middle Class is “Pain Pills,” which Presley says is a protest song about the struggle coal mining communities face with prescription medication, specifically Oxycontin. It’s something that hits close to home for the singer.
“I started [that song] as I was on my way home from a funeral,” she says. “A friend of mine from high school OD’d [and] at the funeral the mom was walking in going, ‘Oh they had a heart problem. It was a heart issue.’ We knew what was going on. This is when I realized, this is starting to become a problem.”
Presley gets emotional when she talks of the song and the “hush-hush culture” that surrounds prescription drug addiction in her small hometown of Beauty, K.Y., where she says the problem is worse than most other places in the country. It took her four years to finish writing “Pain Pills” and once she did she learned of a family member who was suffering with the same pills she’s singing about.
“Addiction has really changed the face of my personal life and a lot of things in my family. That song just haunts me,” she says. “If there’s anything I would get up on a soapbox for, it’s prescription medication. I just think it’s a travesty how careless doctors are with that stuff. It still happens. You don’t hand a 16-year-old a bottle of heroin and say, ‘Here you go. Just quit taking these after 12.’ Let’s start talking about it, let’s get some resources, let’s get some help.”
Watch Angaleena Presley make her debut on the Late Show with David Letterman below playing the title track of her album, “American Middle Class.”
I can’t remember the first time I heard a song by Kip Moore but then again I can’t remember not being a fan of the country singer-songwriter. Maybe it was on the radio or perhaps it popped up at work while streaming country music videos on VEVO. I do know though, that last year his 2012 debut album Up All Night was my most listened to album of the year.
In a world where singles trump album purchases, Up All Night is one of those albums you have to listen to all the way through. From the more upbeat party songs like “Beer Money” and “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” to the poignant “Hey Pretty Girl” and “Faith When I Fall,” the album has it all. As does his live show.
On Thursday (Sept. 25), Kip kicked off his first major headlining tour at New York’s Best Buy Theater which also included openers Sam Hunt and Charlie Worsham. Kip’s nearly two-hour performance during the first date of the CMT Up In Smoke Tour left a lasting impression as fans sang along for the hits as well as his deeper cuts. And, when it was time for his new material everyone paid attention.
“How many of you have been waiting for the record to come out?” Kip asked halfway through his set. “I want to give y’all the most amazing record I can possibly give. A new single is dropping the first of the year and a record to follow.”
In the meantime, he told the crowd he decided to release a new EP called Soundcheck. The five-track EP includes his No. 1 hit “Beer Money” as well as four other previously unreleased songs that were all recorded in Nashville. Prefacing “Heart’s Desire” off the EP, he said the song was the loneliest he has ever felt.
Singing of how he “let love slip through my fingertips,” he vividly got his point across with his slowed, raspy yearning vocals and stripped down instrumentals. Listen to the track, along with four others on his new EP below.
Additional highlights throughout the night included the acoustic “Hey Pretty Girl” and a lively performance of “Fly Again,” in which he walked the audience through the three stages of heartbreak before assuring us all that everything will be okay.
“It’s a damn good life hanging out with y’all. Thanks for giving us a life,” he said before segueing into gritty new track “Lipstick.”
Before he closed the night with an energetic performance of “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” and then an encore of “Faith When I Fall” and “Free Fallin’” he once again thanked his fans for sticking with him over the years.
“We were traveling for many, many years before you heard us on the radio. It’s all about you guys. I don’t give a shit except making music for you guys.”
On a regular Tuesday night in New York City earlier this month, country music fans were seen two-stepping along to the Josh Abbott Band. It was almost as if the packed Bowery Ballroom in Lower Manhattan somehow became a honky-tonk in Texas. “I didn’t expect to see a ton of people dancing in New York,” Josh Abbott told me over the phone.
But, according to the frontman, no matter where they go they often see their fans busting a move. “When you come to a Josh Abbott concert you come to enjoy the music, drink a couple beers and do some two-stepping,” he says. “That’s part of what we do and we embrace that.”
Their major label debut is five-song release, the Tuesday Night EP, (out Sept. 23) and is just a taste of what’s to come on the band’s full length debut due out next year. But Abbott hopes their current single “Hangin’ Around,” which he wrote with country hit makers, Shane McAnally (“American Kids,” “Mama’s Broken Heart,” “Better Dig Two,”) and Josh Osborne (“Chainsaw,” “We Are Tonight,” “Merry Go Round”), will be their breakout song.
The EP, Abbott says, is all about having fun. “It’s a reflection back on my college years,” Abbott says. “I wanted it to be something that’s more nostalgic for me and people that have already graduated from college, that they can listen to this and remember that time. Maybe when their life related to some of these songs.”
For more from my interview with Josh Abbott, visit Radio.com.
Sometimes a song hits you at the right moment. That’s exactly what happened last July when I heard Brett Eldredge perform “Mean to Me” at the CMA Songwriters Series at Joe’s Pub. It was a week or so before his excellent debut album Bring You Back was released and I remember sitting there, tearing up as he played the beautiful song on an acoustic guitar.
“‘Mean To Me’ is very much a one-on-one love, romantic song that’s telling somebody else how much they mean to you,” he told me last year during his album release week. “I wanted to write a song telling someone, ‘If I could mean half as much as these things, half as much as you mean to me, then that would be amazing.’”
Brett wrote the song with Nashville songwriter Scooter Carusoe and said “Mean to Me” came about pretty naturally.
“I was just fiddling around on the guitar and we just started pouring them out [the lyrics] in these real descriptive ways. It’s a real special song that hopefully I can sing to my future soulmate one day.”
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Darius Rucker several times over the past few years and he’s always one of the friendliest and easiest artists to talk to. This time, he was in New York for a CMA Songwriters Series showcase so he stopped by the studio to give some insight on what we can expect from his next country album, Homegrown Honey, due out next year.
In addition to talking about the single “Homegrown Honey,” which he wrote with Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelly, Rucker revealed that he’d be releasing a Christmas album on October 27. I don’t know about you, but hearing holiday songs from Darius is already starting to put me in the holiday spirit. Watch my video interview with him above and to read the complete article visit Radio.com. The track listing for his holiday album is below.
Home For The Holidays Track Listing:
01. I’ll Be Home For Christmas
02. White Christmas
03. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
04. Winter Wonderland
05. Please Come Home For Christmas
06. What God Wants For Christmas written by Darius Rucker, Frank Rogers and Monty Criswell
07. Baby, It’s Cold Outside (featuring Sheryl Crow)
08. O Come, All Ye Faithful
09. You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch
10. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
11. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
12. Candy Cane Christmas written by Darius Rucker, Frank Rogers and Steve Leslie
Earlier this week, I caught Josh Abbott Band‘s debut headlining set at Bowery Ballroom in New York. It was as if I was transported to the South watching the band play and it makes sense why: they’re from Texas.
The room was packed with hardcore fans singing and dancing — might I add two-stepping — along throughout the entire show. I haven’t seen a crowd that energetic in a while. Throughout their raucous set they played some of their older classics including “She’s Like Texas” and “Taste,” as well as performed some songs off their upcoming EP Tuesday Night due out on Sept. 23.
While their set was lively, complete with electric, acoustic and bass guitar alongside banjo, fiddle and drums, Josh Abbott Band segued effortlessly from the more upbeat numbers to the softer ballads. Current single “Hangin’ Around” had the crowd singing along. And, long after their performance ended it was implanted in my head. An ear worm of a song, “Hangin’ Around” catches your ear from the very start of the track. The fiddle accompanied by Abbott’s memorable lyrics make it nearly impossible not to dance and sing along.
Listen to “Hangin’ Around” below. Josh Abbott Band’s EP Tuesday Night will be available on Sept. 23.
For their debut duo album, Nick & Knight, both agreed they didn’t want to make a big, pop-produced album. Instead, they regard the record as more of an indie release.
“We just let ourselves be free. It’s more of a broken down, rhythmic sexy vibe,” Jordan told me.
The guys also filled me in on that infamous term “boy band.” While they never grew fond of the description, they now accept it.
“When I came out with a solo album in 1999 I would always get asked, ‘How does it feel to be from a boy band?’ I would always get defensive and upset,” Jordan said. “Boy band, the term wasn’t used until around that time. I was a little defensive back then. Now, it’s just like whatever. That’s who we are, that’s what we are it’s all good. Yes we are now in man bands, which is a little better. We’re men.”
Watch the complete interview below.
If that’s not enough for you, you’re in luck. I also chatted with Nick about his reality show, I Heart Nick Carter, which airs on VH1 tonight at 10/9C. He and Jordan were very open with the difficulties that not only they face, but how their wives deal with being married to celebrities. Watch it below.
Last November, I visited Nashville for my 29th birthday. The way I saw it — as a country music journalist and country music fan — there was no better place to spend the last year of my 20s than Music City.
While there, I attended a Spotify event that showcased Jennifer Nettles and her upcoming solo material. It was like a scene out of Nashville – country artists and actors from the show Nashville mingled with each other while the liquor flowed.
At the end of the night, I met Dustin Lynch. When the “Where It’s At” singer learned I was from New York he quickly told me that his favorite spot in the City was Serendipity. A self-proclaimed chocoholic and frequent patron of the quaint dessert establishment myself, he told me I should move to Nashville and open Serendipity Nashville. Not a half bad idea for this country music loving chocolate addict. So, when I learned he’d be coming to New York for press on his upcoming sophomore album I knew Serendipity was the perfect spot to catch-up.
A self-professed sweets fanatic, Lynch said he first stumbled upon Serendipity years ago when he was on the hunt for cheesecake in New York. His publicist had recommended Serendipity.
“We got here and it was like, ‘Wow!’ Every dessert that came out was bigger than life,” he told me.
So what did he think of his Frozen Hot Chocolate?
“Good grief,” Lynch said, after taking his first sip. “The gym has to happen tonight,” he said grinning, before going in for another sip. “We can run to dinner.”
The conversation eventually turned from frozen treats to music—specifically, Lynch’s new album Where It’s At. It’s his sophomore release, and thanks to the popularity of the title track, the momentum is already building fast.
Read my complete interview with Dustin Lynch on Radio.com.
This week was truly a bucket list moment for me as I sat down and interviewed a Backstreet Boy in person. My 12-year-old self was definitely freaking out on the inside. And, I’d be lying if I said my 29-year-old self wasn’t just as excited. You see, I grew up a hardcore Backstreet Boys fan. I attended all the concerts, knew all the words to every song, tried to learn the dance moves, and my childhood bedroom in Jersey was covered from floor to ceiling in posters of the guys. Yes, I even thought one day I’d marry one. (Brian Littrell was my favorite in case you were wondering.)
A few months ago I learned that BSB’s Nick Carter and New Kids On the Block’s Jordan Knight were teaming up to release an album. Fittingly, they named themselves Nick & Knight. Flash forward to this past Wednesday when they came into my office and I sat down with them for an interview. I can’t deny the nerves I had right before they walked into the studio at CBS. But, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I’m a professional.
As the guys were putting on their mics, I just sat there watching them joke with each other, saying they were releasing their first reggae album in questionable accents, asking what kind of animal fur our boom mic was made out of and clearing their throats extremely loud as they were testing the mics. They even took time to compliment me on my dress, saying how much they loved it. (Yes, I was secretly dying on the inside, but surprisingly didn’t blush at all!)
Once I asked my first question the nerves thankfully vanished and I was impressed with how passionate Nick and Jordan still are about creating music and touring. They told me that they approached their debut album with more of an indie outlook than a big, pop boy band record. They also admitted how they hate the term boy band, but it’s something they’ve had to live with for decades now.
You can get a feel of their musical direction in their single “One More Night” below. Stay tuned for my complete interview which will be posted next week which includes both of the guys talking about their debut duo release, the self-titled Nick & Knight, as well as Nick opening up about his reality show I Heart Nick Carter which premieres on Wednesday, Sept. 10 on VH1.
And for my cousins who are anxiously wondering if I asked Nick to teach me the “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” dance, I didn’t. But that’s not to say that he didn’t do some moves from the video during the interview! Stay tuned for a few fun features I asked the band about too. All in all, sometimes things are well worth the wait and finally sitting down with a Backstreet Boy after all these years really is a dream come true.