Georgia native Andy Velo has been garnering fans since the release of his self-titled EP in 2012 and his second, Blue Collar Cruise, in 2014. Recently, the singer-songwriter released his new song, “God Made A Back Road,” which brings back that traditional country feel in a heartfelt song about the place you find peace. Velo kindly took the time to speak about his roots, the track and more.
Growing up, when did you realize that you wanted to pursue music?
If I look back, I knew at an early age. I remember being eleven or twelve and being fascinated by music, but I decided to pursue it full-time seven years ago. I was playing side stage at a Brad Paisley concert in Florida and on that long drive home to Atlanta, I realized that I had opportunities in music in front of me - and I knew that I want this to be my life. That’s when I made the commitment to figure out whatever it was that I had to do, and do it. By no means have we arrived, but seven years in and I’m still here.
Was it always country music you were drawn to?
Oh yes, without a doubt; that’s my soul. I love all types of music from pop and rock to classical, but the root of my original love for music was country, particularly Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks and a lot of stuff from the 80’s and 90’s.
A few weeks ago, you released a brand-new song, “God Made A Back Road,” which takes a different approach to words we hear frequently in country music.
We meant for it to be different. I think the words “back road” can be taken literally, but they can also be a metaphor for any place you find peace. It was an idea I had for awhile, but what took shape when we [Pete Stewart, Lonnie Folwer & Josh Helms] completed it was so much bigger and better than what I initially started out with.
Is there a story behind the song?
My grandfather turned me onto Paul Harvey at a very young age. I’d listen to him and just be enamored by his narrations, so I based the idea for the song off of a piece he did, God Made A Farmer. I remember being at a Super Bowl party in 2014 and seeing a commercial that used the piece and when it came on, everyone in the room went silent. I made a note to myself to go back and really listen to the words again because I wanted to write an honest song that made people feel like that and connect with people.
And the coolest thing about this song for me is how people are reacting to it. I’m getting a lot of personal messages on social media where people are telling me how much they enjoy the song and how it makes them feel – and I’ve never had that with any of the music I released in the past. I’ve had people say they liked a song, but this is a different animal and I think it was the right song to put out first because it does separate me from what’s going on in country music. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with country music – it takes all kinds of kinds - but I know what I do well and I think a certain part of the demographic is looking for what I do.
This song is more traditional than your previous songs. Are you going in a new direction or was a more classic sound something you always wanted to incorporate in your music?
I’m evolving. It takes a few years to get your bearings and to find what works for you and where you fit in as an artist. I wouldn’t say I’ve gone in a completely different direction but I’ve broadened into something that I am more in tune with personally.
About a year ago, I was riding down the road, frustrated about where things were and when I went back to my recently played suggestions on Spotify, which was all traditional stuff, I asked myself why I wasn’t writing songs like this - if this is what I listen to and what makes me happy then why am I fitting into a mold that perhaps I wasn’t meant to fit into? I’m not saying the other songs I’ve written and cut weren’t honest, but this is different and I think listeners are going to be pleasantly surprised with the record. Not only is there something on there for everyone, but as a whole the sound is very cohesive. I'm very excited about it.
Will “God Made A Back Road” be a part of this upcoming project?
Yes. I will have a full record coming out next year. We have ten songs completed and are going in to cut three more including “North Georgia Pines” which is going to be the title track of the record.
Have you been touring or are there plans to tour in 2017?
We haven’t been on the road of late because I really wanted to focus on this record, but we’ve toured all over the country playing everything from opening slots on full blown tours to headlining in the Southeast and Midwest. We’re putting together a tour schedule right now that will include some time out West because that’s a market we haven’t hit very much. I feel like that’s a great place to start the year and as the record grows, we’ll come back East in late spring and summer. I feel lucky with the fan base we’ve built because they’re very loyal. I know they’re excited for us to get back on the road and give them new music.
We’re at a point right now where country music meets what I do well and I think that we have the opportunity to succeed. The goal is slow and steady and I think that’s what makes for a long-lasting career. My goal is not to be a flash in the pan. I want to do this for thirty years and that starts with making one fan at a time.
As the year comes to a close, is there one record that has been your favorite?
I’m obviously late to the party, but I recently discovered Cody Jinks whose last two records are just fantastic. I will say this too, although our sound is different, I like what FGL did with their latest album. Like I mentioned, it takes all kinds of kinds, and that record is really true to who they are.
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Purchase "God Made A Back Road" here