Ray Scott is an artist who values traditional country music and respects its roots. This is particularly evident on his latest single "Ain't Always Thirsty" which is due to impact radio in the coming weeks. The song, co-written with Mark Stephen Jones, is a realistic story from his personal history that is paired with the country music fiber on which the traditionalist was raised. Ray graciously took time to discuss the story behind the song, the upcoming accompanying music video and more.
Your latest album was released in October. The first single “Drinkin’ Beer” enjoyed extensive airplay on Sirius XM's The Highway, was HotDisc UK Song of The Year, and ranked 18 on Rolling Stone’s Top 25 Country Songs of 2014. It must mean a great deal to have that kind of support.
Oh, it does. It’s nice to know the music is getting an audience and that the audience and critics are responding well to it. I couldn’t be happier about that. It makes a huge difference to an independent artist having a career.
To prepare for the release of the second single,“Ain’t Always Thirsty,” you recorded six performances videos with your interpretation of such classics as “Put Another Log On The Fire” and “That’s The Way Love Goes.” What inspired this and why did you chose those songs in particular?
Those songs and artists were a big part of my childhood and have become favorites of mine. Outside of that, it was just me trying to show everybody where I’m coming from. In this day and age the kind of bro country, pop and rock influenced stuff has sort of made its way to the top of the heap in the mainstream. I come from a more traditional place. I appreciate storytelling, instrumentation and everything else from a few years back. Releasing these performance videos was my way of letting people know where I come from musically and artistically. I also wanted to introduce people to really great artists they may not be aware of; obviously everyone knows who Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash are, but a whole lot of twenty year olds may not know who Billy Joe Shaver or Tompall Glaser are. In a way, the videos were my “public service.” (laughing)
People say there are cycles in music, do you ever think we’ll cycle back to that traditional sound in country music?
Far as cycling goes, I’m not sure. The way society is going, the way we receive information and entertainment--I don’t know if it would become the next big thing. I think it will continue to be a pretty strong subculture and if that’s the case great because the last thing I would want to see is it go away, be forgotten or not be appreciated. It’s really sad to me because country music in its traditional form is one of the only true American art forms born in the United States. Europeans get that, appreciate and revere it and I’d like to see Americans by and large be more like that as well.
“Ain’t Always Thirsty” will be your next single at country radio. The song is a real story, deep and personal. Can you elaborate on the story behind the song?
That song is one of the most gut wrenching things I’ve ever written and also one of the most therapeutic. When I wrote the song I was going through a divorce and at a very low point in my life. I was realizing my mistakes, dealing with regret, and really scraping the bottom of the barrel--times which are important for learning’s sake, you know. The song came from a dark, sad place, but sent me on the path to improvement and recovery. Considering the early reaction and feedback, I think there are a lot of people out there that not only can relate to it, but also miss hearing that type of sound and song.
Rolling Stone Country will be premiering the video for the song on Monday, March 23rd. All we know is that it takes place in a seedy hotel room. Can you give us any more details?
This was the kind of hotel room where there was definitely a chalk line on this place at some point (laughing). The tub in bathroom had burn marks either from somebody laying cigarettes on it or cookin’ up drugs. It was seedy to say the least, but we were trying to paint the picture of someone at rock bottom living long and on the cheap, and not caring anymore. I think the video very effectively conveyed that emotion. It’s the first video I’ve ever shot that was serious; the three others were very tongue in cheek fun while this one is a little different. I had to channel those sad feelings and relive those moments; and I may or may not have taken a few drinks during that video to get in that place. It’s definitely me in all my glory in the video, that’s for sure.
Touring has taken you all over the globe. What are your professional plans for the summer?
We have lots of dates in the states coming up which I am very excited about and we’ll do another tour in Europe in July. I’m going to keep promoting the single and the album as well. It’s a fun time for me because I feel that I am reaching a whole new audience. Many people remember me from years ago, but there’s a new generation of kids who have come to know me from “Those Jeans.” I feel like I am in a new phase in my career which is even more active than the one before it. I will be out there taking every opportunity I can to get to the people and play for them. That’s’ what I love to do.
While you are out there on the road, to which artists do you find yourself listening?
It’s funny, there are a few artists that I love to listen to on trips, especially John Prine, of whom I am a big fan. I also like Steve Earle, Eric Church and have been rediscovering Chris Knight’s debut album. I have been listening to that this past weekend.
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