Striking Matches, the duo comprised of Sarah Zimmermann and Justin Davis, had a huge 2013. And if the start of 2014 is any indication, they are in for another amazing year. The duo recently played the C2C Festival in England and Ireland. In addition, they officially signed to I.R.S. Nashville, becoming members of the Capitol Records family. They graciously took the time to speak with us about playing overseas, their upcoming album and having their music featured on the television show Nashville.
You recently returned from a trip overseas where you played the Country 2 Country festival. Talk about that experience.
SZ: It was incredible! We did the CMA Songwriters Series with Martina [McBride], Brett James and Bob DiPiero, which was so cool. We had done songwriter's rounds before, but not with such an illustrious group of people. We sat right next to Martina which meant we had to follow her six times! She is someone I had looked up to forever, which made the experience so cool.
JD: I don't know how they decided to put it in that order 'yeah let's put the new kids on the end and have them come after Martina' (laughing), but we did our very best!
We also played two other shows at the o2 on their pop up stages, which are smaller side stages. It reminded us a bit of how CMA Fest works with the big events happening [at LP Field] and the smaller stages that are set up throughout town. We hoped the reception would be a warm one, but we were blown away by how many people were there and how into the music they were. One of the shows was in a wide open walking area, and I think security had to turn people away because so many people gathered around. It was crazy! We didn’t want to leave. Everyone was so incredible to us.
Last fall it was announced that you would be the first artists signed to the newly launched label I.R.S. Nashville. Did things recently become official?
SZ: Yes! Yesterday [March 20th] we officially signed at the Country Music Hall of Fame, a place that we love.
JD: The Capitol folks were in town and they held an event at the Country Music Hall of Fame. When it was our turn to play some songs, they decided we couldn't play until we signed the contract. So we signed it in front of everybody, which was really so cool. It was great to finally officially get to this point. It was a true ABC Nashville moment (laughingly).
Will there be an album this year?
JD: A record has been a dream of ours for a very long time. We have been working on pre-production and are counting on the record being a 2014 release. We are very, very fortunate to be working with T Bone Burnett, who is producing the record. If someone had asked us a year ago who would be our dream producer, we probably would have laughingly said him knowing that it would probably never happen.
SZ: Our manager [John Grady] and T Bone have known one another forever. Coincidentally, we had some songs on the first season of [the television show] Nashville, which T Bone was producing, so he knew of us. He heard that we would be making an album and he wanted to be the one producing it.
Being songwriters, how involved will you be in writing for the record?
JD: We have all of the songs for the record and they are all ones we have written. There are some songs that we have been playing out for a time and some people have never heard. We are songwriters so it's very important to us to have our songs on the record, as we have things to say. Of course, there is always the case of finding a song that is written by someone else that connects with and is special to us. We wouldn’t cut a song by someone else just because we didn't write it. If we think a song is important and the right song came along, then we would cut it.
Will you be playing on the album as well?
SZ: Yes! We well be doing all of the guitar and mandolin playing. We will probably have bass and drums and do everything else ourselves.
JD: However, this being a T Bone Burnett record too, there might be interesting things to come.
You continue to have many of your songs featured on the television show Nashville.
SZ: We have had a total of six songs featured on the show! We never have written for the show; they have always been our songs that found their way onto the show. There are definitely a couple of songs that have been on the show that are keepers for our record for sure.
A few weeks back you appeared in a scene on Nashville playing in a band on the show. How was that?
SZ: It was very cool!! We had two of our songs on that episode and Buddy Miller called us to ask if we would want to play guitar and mandolin. He said 'they're your songs; let's get you guys on there.' It was two days of filming music scenes, which was a really cool experience.
JD: It was kind of bizarre too when I watched the episode. Right after the commercial, you could hear the music first before they cut to shot and I thought 'why do I know that' then 'oh because it's me playing, that's why I know that!'
So, is acting in your future?
SZ: We realized that after the thirteen hour days filming that acting is not in our future (laughing).
JD: We know that our strong points are songwriting and performing.
Over the past year, you have become quite the regulars at Grand Ole Opry.
SZ: We played the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday [March 22nd]. It was our twenty third time performing there since December 2013. They have truly welcomed us and have become like a family to us.
You will be coming back to NYC with Ashley Monroe to play Joe's Pub on April 14th. Talk a little bit about your friendship with Ashley and playing NYC.
SZ: Ashley is one of our dearest, sweetest friends. She is super talented and we are extremely lucky to be able to do things with her.
JD: We were all discovered over the past year, so we are kindred spirits. She is an amazing friend, co-writer and inspiration. She and Sarah are like sisters, so it's pretty funny when we are together.
The reception when we play in New York is really great. People don’t realize that there are a lot of country music fans in New York; really, just a lot of music fans. They hear something they like and they’ll respond to it without getting caught up in the title [genre]. They will just find music they like and that’s cool.
Is there one thing you want to accomplish this year?
JD: Well, the obvious thing would be to make a record that were are very proud of and our fans are proud of; that will forever be a first record in a body of work that when we look back we can still be proud of it. Other than that....how about playing a show on Mt. Rushmore (laughing)? How do you get up there?
Striking Matches will be with Ashley Monroe at Joe's Pub in NYC for two shows on April 14th at 7pm and 930pm. For more information visit here.
For more information visit Striking Matches official website
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