Together for eighteen years, Reckless Kelly have never been a band to try to fit into a mold. They remain true to themselves and consistently produce complete albums that contain songs that are honest, thoughtful and connect with the fans. They have been on the road supporting their latest record, Long Night Moon, which was released in September and won a Grammy this past February. During their trip to the east coast last week, Willy Braun kindly took some time to talk about Long Night Moon, the changing music scene, and what's on their bucket list.
On May 11th, you guys hosted the Reckless Kelly Celebrity Softball Jam, which is now in its sixth year. It definitely seems like a good time for a great cause.
It’s hard to believe it has been six years already. The idea for the Jam started out when we were watching a game at Round Rock. We really just wanted to play some ball with our friends and the idea sort of snowballed from there; before we knew it we had a charity element involved. It turned out really well the first year, so we decided to make it an annual event. This year’s proceeds went to renovate Mabson Field in Austin. It's a really nice field in central Texas that will serve girls’ and boys’ little league so kids can get outside and play ball. We are extremely proud to have been involved with the renovation and with how great the field turned out.
It’s only a few days after the Jam and you guys are out on a six date run of the Northeast. Are you fully recuperated?
The Jam is the busiest day of the year, for sure, and a really good time. We get to see all of our buddies and play ball for a good cause, but I don’t play a whole lot, and definitely not enough to wear myself out. I coach, but it’s more of a logistical thing. You can’t really manage a team when there are so many shenanigans going on the field. I just have to make sure I have nine guys on the field, try to get people to stay heads up and get someone on deck. It's more of a mental exhaustion more than anything (laughing).
So if all musicians want to be athletes, who has the secret talent to make it happen?
None of us, we're all pretty lousy! (laughing) My little brother’s guitar player, Sunshine, he’s pretty good on the field; he hit a home run. The Whiskey Myers guys on Cody’s team were pretty good, but his team really didn’t show up this year. My team, the One Hit Wonders, won 19-7.
Switching gears from baseball to music. Congratulations on winning the Grammy for Best Recording Package for Long Night Moon in February. The packaging really is phenomenal, with so many details. How did the concept for it originate?
I came up with the glow in the dark idea and the overall concept, and they [the Dodd sisters from Backstage Design Studio] put it to paper. It’s terrific because you can give them an idea and they’re really good about coming up with even more details, transferring an idea to the actual product and making it something more than you ever thought it could be.
There is so much information on the packaging that sometimes I look at it and am like ‘wow, I forgot that was in there.’ We wanted to let people figure out the code for themselves [using the clues and the LED light], but if people wanted to find out more they could dig pretty deep because we put everything online for the fans.
NB. For an in depth article with the Dodd sisters on the creative process behind Long Night Moon, visit here.
In this digital age, what spurred you to put so much time, effort and creativity into album packaging?
Really, it doesn’t make as much sense as it used to because it is so expensive, but we still enjoy doing it. We have always considered album covers and their packaging as a part of the artistic process. For us, it is important to have a complete album with a cool cover and a concept around it. We hope it encourages people to buy the actual product instead of stealing it or burning it.
The album has been described as a concept record, and a traveling album, but is it also an homage to Idaho?
Yea, for sure. I wrote most of the songs up there in Idaho at my place. It’s all about travelling and most of it is about getting back to Idaho. It’s pretty autobiographical, but there is enough in there that I think people can make it their own story. I don’t really want to tell anyone what it’s all about, but there’s definitely a lot of stuff in there that I took from spending time and writing in Idaho.
Since you guys are adopted Austinites, did you get any slack for it being so Idaho-centric?
Nah, and I don’t really care if I get slack or not. I’ve been in Austin for half of my life. I love Austin and I love Idaho and I spend a lot of time in both places so you know, if anybody gets offended then, tough.
If you compare Long Night Moon to other Reckless Kelly records, it’s also pretty quiet.
It’s one of the most mellow things we’ve ever done. It’s a little different than a normal Reckless Kelly album, but you can’t really go out and make the same record ten times. You have to try to mix it up a little bit. Of course there are a couple rockers on there to keep the rockers happy, but the whole concept worked its way into those songs that ended up fitting really well together. We didn’t intentionally tweak or shape the record into something that wasn’t working naturally.
You also wrote everything yourself. Do you prefer to write independently?
I have co-written with Micky [my brother] and a couple other people here and there, but due to scheduling it's hard to nail people down and actually get together and write. Most of the people I would like to write with are on the road a lot, like we are, so I don’t do it a lot or make a huge effort to get it done. I guess it’s really not my thing, but I don’t mind doing it every once in awhile.
A song on the album, "Irish Goodbye," seems to pick up where "Seven Nights in Eire" left off.
Yeah, it kinda does. It's sort of a part two. Really though, it’s more that I just like that phrase “Irish Goodbye,” which means leaving the bar without telling anybody. You just sneak out without anybody seeing you, so it’s kind of like a comedy to me, even though the melody isn’t.
“Any Direction but Her," which is a bonus track, seems to fit the theme of the record. Why wasn’t it included as part of the album?
I had the album sequenced and ready to go before we even finished recording. I knew that it didn’t really fit in the sequence and pretty much knew it was destined to be a bonus track. Long Night Moon was actually going to be a ten song record. “Be My Friend” wasn’t going to be on there either, but it turned out really cool, so we figured out a way to slide it in there.
“Be My Friend” is said to been inspired by you looking into the crowds and seeing people constantly on their phones, which is sadly pretty commonplace these days.
Being on your phone has become sort of the "thing" that everybody does. I'm guilty of looking at it too, but if you're out somewhere or talking to someone, then it becomes rude and you should put it down.
At shows, I don’t really mind people taking a few pictures at all, it’s more about the people that are just standing in the front row tweeting, texting or checking their Instagram; that kind of stuff. Then there’s some people that will stand there and film the whole show or take a thousand pictures. You know the people who, when you go to the front of the stage they get their camera out, and by the time they get it out, you’re gone. To me, they’re too busy trying to get a photo rather than enjoying the moment. It bothers me, but I also feel sorry for people who can't live in the moment; it’s really their loss.
The band recently passed 200,000 “likes” on Facebook. How important is a social media presence to Reckless Kelly?
We don’t do a ton of it, but you have to because it helps the band. It’s important because it’s one of the only ways to get your product out there. No one reads newspapers or hard copies of anything anymore, it’s all apps and the internet and blogs.
Jazz [Jay Nazz, RK drummer] and Neil [RK office manager] really do the social media. I post the set lists and go on Twitter every so often. We used to do some YouTube videos, but not lately because of the time it takes. We film a ton of stuff, but when it comes to getting it done, well, we slack on that part because of the editing, which none of us are really good at. Every once in awhile we’ll get on a kick, but we have so many irons in the fire that it’s tough to stay on top of that kind of stuff. I need to get back into that on a more regular basis.
Since you guys started out, a lot has changed in the business. Specifically, how has touring changed for you guys in the past few years?
Well, getting a bus changed everything as did gaining a full time crew. It gives us a lot of time to work on the show or get a little bit of sleep. We also try to be smarter about how we tour. We play a little less because we have control over where we play and where we want to go. There are definite places that we are going to play, but as our fan base continues to grow we will branch out and play new places or return to the same town and move up to the bigger clubs. There is always going to be room for growth.
The music coming out of Nashville has also changed quite a bit. Has the Texas music scene changed as well?
There is still a lot of great new stuff coming out, but a lot of the music is getting watered down. It’s not as bad as Nashville, but there are so many new bands coming up that are just trying to emulate what’s popular. That’s just like any music scene though, whether its rock, country, or grunge; when something’s popular there will always be a bunch of bands trying to jump on the bandwagon and do the same things. There are also Texas artists who have the whole "Nashville sucks attitude," but then they go out and do the same thing [they complain about], use the same producers and write the same songs.
We just want to continue to make music and records that we’re proud of and put on shows that we would want go see. We would rather put ten good songs on an album instead of one song for download and nine songs for filler. Lyrics, too, are really important to us. We don’t put in the time and effort into making it commercial really because it comes back to same the problem where if you try to do what’s popular now nobody is going to like it in two years. We want build our fan base, and part of doing that is keeping your fans knowing you’ll be consistent and make quality music.
After eighteen years, are you where you expected to be and where you want to be?
I don’t know; it’s hard to say. We always want to keep getting better, play bigger rooms and sell more records, but we’re really happy with where we're at. When you start out you always think you’re going to be the Beatles, but as it goes along you realize there is never going to be another Beatles. We really always just wanted to make a living doing this, so as long as we can do that we’re happy, you know. It’s always icing on the cake if anything beyond making a living happens. The love of the music keeps us going. We have a lot of fun on the road, and we all enjoy what we do. There’s a lot of easier ways to make a living. If we didn’t like it, we wouldn’t be doing it.
A goal of ours was to have a bus and a crew, which we have now and they are things we don’t take for granted. We have gotten to play some really cool rooms, as well as play with our heroes and record songs with people we look up to. Those are the things that are important to us more than making money and getting recognized at the airport, although bartenders tend to recognize me (laughing).
Reckless Kelly will celebrate twenty years together in 2016. Have you thought about what you might do or is it too far out to think about?
We are starting to talk about doing something; maybe an anniversary anthology type album with a bunch of live songs, demos, B-sides and stuff we never released. We have a lot of ideas, but we need to sit down and start throwing out the bad ones and moving forward with the good ones.
In addition to everything else you have going on, you also produced your brother Micky’s [Micky & The Motorcars] new record.
We just finished up with that. It was sent out to mastering and should be released in late July. They funded the record with Kickstarter, which was really the only way they could have gotten it made. It worked out really well for them; they had a lot of support and surpassed their goal. I don’t know where that stuff was years ago when we were broke trying to scrape up ten grand to make an album!
Being that you, as a band, are independent and have your own label, would you ever consider taking on other artists?
We have talked about that. There are a couple acts we’re looking at working with, but we are not really sure how much work we’re able to take on as far as expanding the label. We wouldn’t do it for anything that we weren’t absolutely in love with because it would be a lot of work. Something might end up happening in a year or two but there is nothing too concrete right now.
You guys have had some pretty cool experiences over the years. Do you have any bucket list items?
I do have a bucket list. You know, it’s funny because a lot of stuff ends up happening where you’re like ‘that was pretty cool, I never even thought to put that on my bucket list’ so I put it on there after the fact and cross it off. (laughing). One thing we want to do is perform the National Anthem at every ball park in the country. There are thirty parks and we have sang at eleven of them. Nineteen more to go; so we’re working towards that one.
Can you recommend any up and coming artists you think are worth a listen?
Sure, there are quite a few. The Peterson Brothers are really young guys, teenagers, who play blues and are just good beyond their years. Also our friend Dani Flowers from Nashville, who is a great songwriter with a great voice. And of course, Sons of Bill from Virginia who are really good guys who we have done some shows with.
Besides Jay’s infamous streaking incident, do you have a memorable road story?
I always point to that story because it’s a good one. Most of the stuff that happens on the road happens at 5am. It’s hard to pinpoint because there are always shenanigans going on, it’s like a circus every day and a never ending story that keeps building.
But, it's funny because everyone always asks that question, so I think I should definitely have a few answers ready in my back pocket.
Reckless Kelly plays the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn on June 1st. Get your tickets here.
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Listen to "The Last Goodbye" below.
Originally from Chattanooga, TN, Mitch Rossell made the move to Nashville in 2009, when he graduated from college. Since arriving in Nashville, Mitch has been able to play with John Driskell Hopkins of the Zac Brown Band as well as team up with Eric Church for the 2011 ACM's "Duets" series. Mitch believes it is possible to make it the old fashioned way—with talent, strong song writing, selling records independently, and playing shows. In 2014, Mitch released his album I Got Dressed Up For This which debuted at #27 on the iTunes Top 100 Country Albums. Mitch recently took some time to chat with us about the new record, being an independent artist and more.
At the conclusion of your album, you have a monologue in which you tell people your very personal story. What prompted you to put that on the album?
Honestly, that idea was my business partner and manager Josh’s brainchild. He heard something similar on an old Kanye West record and thought maybe we should try doing something like it. I feel that as an industry, we don’t brand artists anymore, we brand singles. I think there is a lot of value in letting people know that you’re a guy or girl just like they are; that you do the same things, and feel the same ways. I thought the monologue was a nice way to reach people.
Backtracking a little bit, was country the genre you always gravitated towards?
I grew up on country; it was all I listened to growing up and I loved it. Of course, I went through a rebellious stage where I listened to alternative rock and rap. I had to go through that process to find out country music was all I wanted to know.
Do you have any particular influences on your playing and/or song writing?
Garth Brooks. He is a great performer, a good writer and plays well. As for writers, I love anyone who has something to say, even outside of country music, such as Jackson Browne, James Taylor, and the Eagles. Bob McDill, Wayland Holyfield, and Mark Nesler are guys who write songs that really grab me.
You waited until after college to move to Nashville. Since moving, do you think things have progressed quickly for you?
I moved to Nashville probably fifteen days after I graduated from college and have been here for about four years now. Finishing school was important to me; I started it and wanted to see it through. My grandparents paid for a semester and I didn’t want them to do that in vain.
I have had some incredible experiences, and I know there are people who have been doing it longer and have not had those opportunities, but there is a daily grind and daily struggles that come with this business; it’s just a fact. It takes a lot of work and sacrifice. I have invested many hours into bettering my craft and I literally pulled every dollar out of my savings to finish this album. Nobody sees that type of stuff.
You put out the album independently and wrote/co-wrote all of the songs on the record. Is writing your own material important to you?
I have to thank Derek Wells because he was gracious enough to help cover the costs of the record. He really believed in me and was very, very helpful.
For me, it was important to write all of the songs. I am a songwriter first and I think the truest form of artistic expression is to write. That’s not to say I wouldn’t cut an outside song, but writing is really important to me.
The album covers diverse topics and includes humorous songs and as well as songs that talk about religion.
I try to write a variety of songs. I don’t necessarily write the same way every time because I feel like it makes me better in long run.
I am not ashamed to say I am a Christian and that Christ died for our sins. I stand on that. I will not beat it over somebody’s head, but music is my expression and religion is something that is important to me.
“Up to Somethin’” is one of my favorite tracks. Is there a story behind that song?
I took that idea to really good buddy of mine that I write with. We had just wrapped up a song and I told him my idea for this song. There was not one particular experience that put the song in my head; every day God blesses me.
What are your plans to support the album?
We are trying to get booking more established. We have been getting booked, totally unsolicited, for two to three years, but you know, doors are hard to kick open sometimes and we’re trying to get to a place where we are able to get in front of more people.
You are very active on social media. Do you think that is important to an artist today?
Yes and no. Social media provides the ability to reach people in an effective way, but, for me, there is something about basic human interaction that social media will never be able to meet, no matter what comes along. There is nothing like talking to someone, looking someone in the eye and shaking their hand.
Is there one recent album that you cannot stop listening to?
I usually listen to a lot of older stuff, but “Cop Car” by Keith Urban is brilliant. I really like that one.
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Hitting the pavement non-stop, M Callahan has been performing at venues from the Houston Rodeo to Nashville’s Country Music Hall Of
Fame. He is currently working with producer Michael Hunter Ochs (Dove Award, Eric Heatherly, and Josh Groban) on a new record that will further develop his own distinct brand of country music. M Callahan took some time to chat with us about his newest EP, his influences and more.
Tell us a little bit about how and when you decided to pursue music professionally.
Well, I first picked up the guitar at eleven years old, but I didn’t think then that I was going to be making music for a living. I just thought the guitar was cool and I wanted to learn how to play. As time progressed, it became more of a passion and I couldn’t really deny that I wanted to do it full time. However, I grew up in strict Catholic family who wanted me to go to college and get a regular job. But, you know, after awhile you can’t deny what you want do in life. So I decided to take a chance and pursue music because what’s the point in living if you don’t do what you want to do in life.
You are originally from Arkansas, but when you initially decided to pursue music you moved to Texas. Why Texas?
I had a buddy that was living in Austin who kept telling me what a great music scene was down there. I decided to move there because I could both attend school and play music. At the time I wasn’t necessarily playing country. It was more southern rock and an amalgam of different music. In Austin, I studied music business, music production, and took piano lessons. I learned how to read music, record music and improve my playing and writing. I learned a great deal.
Now you are based out of Nashville. What spurred the move from Austin to Music City?
I was playing music at night, but at the same time I had day job, which I was laid off from. When that happened, I just thought that now was my chance. If I was ever going to go to Nashville, it was now or never. I took the plunge and I have been in Nashville going on five years.
Early on, you did not always perform country music. What made you eventually gravitate to it?
I wasn’t always playing country music, but when I look back, I can see a country influence, particularly from Merle Haggard and Townes Van Zandt, in what I was doing as a singer songwriter. As time went on, I found more of my roots. When I was young, my dad played guitar and we would sit around together listening to Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash and Tim McGraw. But when I was a kid I didn’t want to like country music because you know, when you're a kid it isn’t cool to like what your Dad likes. But, I realized that I love it and it’s very natural to me.
You mentioned Kenny Rogers and Merle Haggard as well as others. Are those artists that you cite as influences?
Yes, definitely. Merle is a huge influence on my writing and vocals as are George Jones, Randy Travis, Tim McGraw, and Joe Nichols. I’m influenced by a lot of people, not necessarily one artist in particular.
Since you have been in Nashville, do you think things have progressed quickly for you?
I think when someone moves here they want something to happen right away.....and sometimes that happens. I think I was chomping at the bit, wondering why someone didn’t discover me or offer me a record deal. But I think you just have to earn your stripes and realize the goal is to become a better artist, singer, musician and writer. I want to find my unique voice and have something unique that I can contribute to people’s lives. I want to be someone you can listen to and think ‘I’ve never heard that before or I’ve never thought of that in that way’ with regards to something that I am singing about. But, it takes time to find that. I continually work on my voice and songwriting and I think everything is progressing at the speed it should be. I don’t want to speed things up and release an album that’s terrible. I want to come out with album everybody loves.
You released your most recent EP, which was an iTunes “New and Noteworthy” release, in February of this year. Tell us a little about that.
I had a full album completed, but then I signed with a digital distributor who suggested we release the full album as two separate EPs. So we took five tracks for one EP (Trailer Park Paradise) and then the second five tracks on another EP (Chicken On A Chain) and released them to iTunes as separate projects, the second being released this past February. The complete album is for sale via amazon.com and can be heard on AMI jukeboxes across the country.
I am very excited because this summer I have a new EP coming out. It will include all new songs that I co-wrote with songwriters such as Michael Ochs, Kevin Post and David Elliot Johnson. We also might put a remix of “Trailer Park Paradise” on there as a bonus track.
You have a growing fan base in Europe and recently your song "God's Green Earth" was included on the Maverick magazine sampler.
I love Europe and they love country music. They have been playing my music on the radio over there, for which I really am thankful. If they enjoy what I am doing and keep playing it that’s awesome. Hopefully, I might end up touring over there later this year.
It was really great to be on the Maverick sampler. It is a compilation cd of about fifteen songs that they release attached to the front of their magazine. It really means a lot that they included my music and are helping get the music out there.
Congratulations! You recently won Best Male at the Indie Music Channel Awards.
Yes! They had their award showcase in Los Angeles, which I didn’t get to go. It was so cool to be nominated and I am really grateful and honored to have won the award.
What are your plans for 2014?
I am really focusing on the new EP and getting it released. We will probably play some shows in the Southeast region because it is close to Nashville. We also may release “God’s Green Earth” as a single in Europe and push it to secondary markets in the US.
Is there a recent album that you have on repeat?
I listen to a lot of internet radio, but a new artist that really caught my ear is Cody Johnson, especially the song “Bottle It Up."
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Caroline Rose is a singer songwriter who values independence and maintaining creative control over her artistry. Last year, she released her debut album American Religious and is currently readying her follow-up. We caught up with Carloline last week when she took the time to chat with us about building a grass roots fan base, her new record and much more.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to pursue music as a profession?
I really came to pursue music though a series of happy accidents. I started playing the piano when I was really young, but the lessons didn’t last long because the teacher gave me homework! I picked up the guitar when I was about thirteen years old and taught myself. I’m not really good at theory or reading music, I just play by ear.
Basically, I ended up pursuing music professionally through failed attempts at other things. I had a full ride to college where I studied architecture. After a while, I became disillusioned with it. I wanted to travel and see the world, which I did, even living out of my car for awhile. It wasn’t the most glamorous lifestyle, but I got to do what I wanted and write the type of music that I wanted.
I played music for a long time, but for myself. My music was very personal; it was like a form of therapy for me. Early on, I was afraid that making music for a living would ruin my love of writing. Then, maybe two years ago, when I was living and working in Brooklyn, I decided that maybe I could build something out of the music. After I got let go from a job at a grocery store, I decided to pursue music; be my own boss, write my own music, compile enough songs and start touring. Although other people saw potential obstacles in my way, I didn’t. I just did it. My own life is a really random, meandering adventure which music dictates pretty well.
You have done everything independently and really built a fan base from the ground up.
Everything about my music is a very grass roots effort. We supported the music by playing shows and from there it seemed to have a snowball effect; people really started catching on [to the music].
Sirius XM started playing some of our songs and helped promote our shows by way of radio and emails. We started touring around the country and played everywhere from house concerts to alternative venues, people’s garages, barns, living rooms and backyards. I am so proud of being a self-made artist especially in the industry today. Every success we’ve had has been due to really hard work…and some luck.
Talk about your first record, American Religious, which came out in 2013.
America Religious was a labor of love. My musical partner, Jer, and I co-produced the album and recorded it ourselves in a studio in Vermont. All of the songs and arrangements are my own. We played almost all of the instruments. Really, whoever was in the studio first and could get to an instrument was really how we decided who played what. For example, I didn’t know how to play cello, so I rented one and played the part over and over again until I mastered the sound I wanted. I did the same thing with the lap steel parts.
What types of music influence you?
The sound that I’m currently making is largely inspired by Ryan Adams. There is an edgy quality to his songwriting that I relate to. Before that, I listened to a combination of things from rock to jazz to British folk and rockabilly and honky tonk.
I don’t want to create one type of music for my entire career; that would seem so boring to me. So right now, I might be making music that is alt country meets rockabilly meets British folk, but that is going to change. I’m going to get tired of it. So what someone will hear on this new album will definitely be different from subsequent albums.
You have a new record coming out this year. Tell us a little about it.
I am working with the people at Thirty Tigers who are known for giving artists a ridiculous amount of creative control. The industry has changed so much in the last five to ten years that working with a small company gives you all sorts of freedom. It’s really the best of both worlds: you get attention [from the label] and they let you be creative.
With my work, I desire and demand creative control. My whole life is dictated by having the freedom to do things in my own way with my own set of rules, a philosophy that carries over to the music. With Thirty Tigers, I get to make decisions pertaining to my music that I probably wouldn’t be able to do anywhere else.
The new record will be released in August. It is titled I Will Not Be Afraid, which is a song on the American Religious record that we recut with a full band. It now has much more of a genre-bending feel to it. I am so proud of it.
You wrote everything on your first record, is that the case on the new album?
Yes. I don’t co-write. I also don’t like other people giving me production critiques. I go into [writing and recording] with a very clear image in my mind of the picture I want to paint and the palate I want to use to create my music. I really think it is important for me to be honest with my music.
So in addition to the new record, what are your plans for 2014?
We will release the new album and plan on doing a heavy amount of touring, with lots of festivals.
On May 16th you will support Hayes Carll at The Bell House in NYC. How did that come about?
I am a huge Hayes fan. We work with some of the same people and when I got the offer to play with him, I was thrilled. I hope it is the start of a musical relationship, and we can play with him many more times. I’m super excited about the show.
Caroline will be supporting Hayes Carll at The Bell House in Brooklyn on May 16th. For tickets and information visit here
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Frankie Ballard is having a very good year. He recently released his second album, scored his first #1 single, and is touring successfully, gaining new fans in every city he plays. Frankie graciously took the time to talk with us about "Helluva Life," connecting with his fans and more!
Congratulations on the success of the album and your first #1. “Helluva Life” really resonated with people. Did that surprise you?
The lyrics to "Helluva Life" resonate with me so much; they really parallel my journey. So when we put that song out, I really hoped people would attach themselves to it and connect with it. It’s been really terrific to hear people’s stories at the merch table or on social media and learn how that song relates to their lives. It’s just so cool because that’s what you aim for when you write a song: to have a connection with people.
When you found out “Helluva Life” was #1 what went through your head?
Man, I felt like a child wanting to run down the street and do cartwheels; I truly did! (laughing) At first, I really couldn’t believe it; it was surreal. I had a really hard time believing my name was at the top of the chart with all of those other artists who have had #1 songs before me. It was a crazy, great feeling; one that I hope to experience many more times.
You posted on social media that one of the ways you celebrated the single being #1 was purchasing a Manuel suit. Did you celebrate any other ways?
The purchase of the suit was the big one. I wanted something tangible to hold onto to commemorate the song being #1. I also spent a lot of time in solitude, being thankful and reflecting. It really was a joyful time for me, and it still is.
I have been making music for a living for a long time. Having the song reach the top of the charts was incredible for me because I felt like I finally got in the door.
You have been in the business for almost ten years. Sunshine and Whiskey is your second album. For some, a #1 from a second album would be considered a swift rise. Do you think it happened quickly?
It is hard for me to keep perspective on that. In my heart, it has been a long journey. I remember playing the honky tonks, which seems like a long time ago, but ten years really isn’t all that long in the scheme of things. To me, it really doesn’t matter how long it took to happen, I am just happy that it happened. I hope it doesn’t take that long for me to have my second one! (laughing)
It might happen quickly! Your next single, “Sunshine and Whiskey” was recently released to country radio. It seems like the perfect summer song.
Well, I think the song is a great follow up to “Helluva Life.” It is a feel good song that has been getting a great reaction even though it has only been out for about a couple of weeks. I’m excited to play it during the summer at festivals and fairs.
You co-wrote one song on the album, but the rest were written by in-demand songwriters. How did you choose the songs? Were they pitched to you, or did you have specific writers in mind?
It was a little bit of everything. I started writing and looking for songs right after the first album. I tried to find songs that best represented me, were honest for me and meant something to me. It was a couple of years of hard work, but it was really satisfying to see the finished product.
There is an older song on the album, “Don’t Tell Mama,” which was written about twenty years ago & recorded by others. Why did you decide to include that song on the record?
I heard that song about five years ago and couldn’t believe it wasn’t a huge hit! The lyrics really moved me; they almost brought me to tears.
I always kept that song in my back pocket. I played it for my producer and he said we had to record it. Originally, it had a slower, more traditional sound, so we worked on it to make it our own and more of what I do sonically. I am so happy with the way it came out. I really love that song.
In addition to the music, your live shows are really energetic and fun. You have a real stage presence and truly connect with the audience.
I am up there having a great time and I want everyone in the audience to have a great time; that’s what it is all about. People are spending their hard earned money to come and hang out, and I want to entertain them. I try to be in the moment, be present and be entertaining. Although sometimes it might be crazy, I really do what I feel on stage. I think that’s the best way to be.
You have such a unique style, which seems like an homage to the 1940's and 1950's. Do you draw inspiration from that time?
Absolutely. Those were the greatest generation of guys; they served in World War II, came back, worked and raised families. They had no excuses and didn’t want any hand outs. I idolize those guys and pull [influences] from that generation.
In addition to singing and performing, you are a talented guitarist. When did you start playing?
As a kid, I was a strummer. Dad would sing Kenny Rogers and I would strum along. I didn’t get serious about shredding until I saw Stevie Ray Vaughn on Austin City Limits on PBS when I was in high school. One Sunday afternoon I locked myself away and was determined to only come out when I could play like that. I fell in love with the blues from Stevie, learned about him and his influences and went retroactive from there. I still love that music.
Professionally then, why did you gravitate to country music instead of the blues?
Country music was what I grew up on; what my dad and mom listened to, showed me, and taught me. Most of all, when I started writing songs, they were country; that’s what came out of me. I am definitely influenced by the blues, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers, but my heart is always country.
Previously, you have supported Kenny Chesney and Bob Seger. Is there anyone currently who you would like to tour with?
Eric Church. I think it would be a really cool, high energy tour. I think too that his fans would dig my music. I am a huge fan of his, so I know I would be watching his set every night.
It seems like your touring schedule is fairly packed through the summer. Is there a must have for you when you are on the road and what do you do on your downtime?
I need a good gym. I like to do something physical myself every day or I don’t feel right about myself. I am not the kind of person to sit around on the bus.
It’s music all the time. I am either practicing guitar, playing drums, or working on the set. I don’t have any hobbies; music is my entire life, and I love it.
A top five debut for the record and a number one single. What else do you want to accomplish this year?
Shoot, I want "Sunshine and Whiskey" to get up there and do the same thing [reach #1]! The biggest things though, are that I just want to keep being able to play shows and meet fans. I want to keep pushing the rock up the hill.
What are you listening to now?
I think Kasey Musgraves made a really great album that is so original and great for the format. I also have been listening to the Cult, which is kind of random, but I usually listen to some rock ‘n’ roll and some country at the same time. Gotta keep that edge on me now.
Watch the official video for "Helluva Life" below
For more information visit his official website
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Rachele Lynae knew from an early age that she was going to be a country music singer. Originally from Alaska, Rachele moved to Nashville and graduated from Belmont University. Over the past few years, she has been winning country fans with her high energy shows and relatable lyrics. On April 28th, Rachele released her self titled album on Momentum Label Group. She graciously took the time to talk with us about the record, songwriting and more.
Before we talk about the record can you tell us how you arrived in Nashville from Alaska?
I have always loved country music and always wanted to be a country music singer. From early on, I knew that Nashville was where I was going to end up. I am originally from Alaska, but my family moved to Washington [state] for junior high. One of my friends who had heard some recordings that I did when I was ten told me about Belmont University. I thought attending Belmont would be a fantastic opportunity to not only finish school, but to be in Nashville around the music.
You write, sing and play guitar. Do you have specific influences for each?
I have many different influences, so I cannot say there is just one artist ever in any of those aspects. I think having influences is not even a conscious decision. When I hear something that affects me, I think I just gravitate to it in my own music.
Congratulations on the release of your debut album, Rachele Lynae, which was released on April 28th. You co-wrote/wrote all the tracks on the album. Was writing for the album important to you?
It was. It’s really important to me that I can relate to the songs that I sing. Honestly, all of the stories in the songs were inspired by different things in my life. You know, life is not one color. It involves so many things; from family to falling in love and heartbreak to going out on a Friday night. I think it is really important to write about different aspects in your life and be honest about them. I am really glad that the album is so diverse; it’s not just one theme, it’s life.
However, I’m not closed off to recording other people’s songs. There are amazing songwriters and songs out there and if I found a song that touched me, I would think about recording it.
What inspired the song “Two For One Special?”
That one is a funny story from a few years ago. A friend and I started dating new guys at the same time. As we were telling each other about them, we ended up discovering they had the same first and middle name. We were like “wait, what?” It was one of those "oh my goodness are we dating the same guy moments!" We ended up finding out that it was just a weird coincidence, thankfully. Then we started joking around about what women might do if they found out they were dating the same guy. Of course no one is going to tattoo something on a guy’s forehead (laughing); the song is just a fantasy.
Do you have a personal favorite from the album or is it hard to choose since you were involved in writing them all?
Honestly, I can say I don’t have a favorite. My live shows are known to be high energy and full of the up-tempo songs, so I am really hoping that people who bought the record really take the time to listen to the heavier songs like “Clean,” and “Words in Red.” I’m excited for them to sit down with the lyrics to those songs, digest them and learn about my roots.
Your record was the first to be released on Jamie O’Neal’s Momentum Label Group. How did that come about?
I met Jamie through her dad, Jimmy Murphy, who I met briefly when I was thirteen. Jimmy and I loosely kept in touch, but after I graduated college I met with him to talk about my future. We found out a lot of our philosophies relating to country music were similar. I asked him to take a listen to the EP that I made in college. I told him that I would welcome constructive criticism because I just wanted to get better. Well, he called me in about ten minutes; he really liked it! He shared it with Jamie, and set up a meeting with her. I was extremely nervous about meeting her because she was an idol of mine, but she welcomed me with a big hug, and we immediately clicked. First, we worked on a demo, then she approached me about being on the label. Working with her has been both fun and a learning experience. She pushes me in the studio to do what I don’t think I can do. She is really supportive and encouraging.
What are your plans to support the record?
Well, we are working on picking a single. There are a lot of strong songs on the record, but we want to make sure we pick the one that will hopefully be the breakthrough single. Then we will be out there playing shows and continuing to spread the word.
Renegade Radio Nashville and The Highway have been big supporters of yours. Talk about that a little bit.
Yes, they have! [Sirius XM] The Highway is really great at finding new music and getting it out there to the listeners. Captain Jack has been a huge supporter from day one, which has been amazing. I think Renegade Radio's listeners want to hear something different when they turn on the radio. I appreciate both of their support so much.
What are you listening to now?
In my car right now I have Jason Aldean, Taylor Swift, and my record before it was finalized because I was trying to make sure it was prefect before we sent it out. I love to listen to Sara Bareilles when I need to stimulate the songwriting juices. She’s an incredible songwriter.
Watch "Fishin' For Something" below
For more information visit her official website
Find Rachele on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter