An award winning and respected artist, Stoney LaRue has been leaving his mark on the Texas music scene for over a decade. He released his fourth album, Aviator, last October and has seen the title track ascend the Texas Music Charts where it currently sits at #4. A modern day poet, he crafts songs that truly have something to say while his live show captures and engages the audience. Currently on the road in the Northeast with Randy Rogers, LaRue graciously took some time to talk about Aviator, songwriting and more.
Aviator, your 4th album, was released this past October. You worked with Frank Liddell and Mike McCarthy both of whom you worked with on Velvet, but it was your first record for eOne in Nashville. Having been independent, how was the whole process of making a record with a label?
It was wonderful, and a catalyst for sure. They’ve done more for my career in the past six months than we were able to do in the past sixteen years on the road. We have gotten to speak with more people, as well as play the Opry and have our videos on CMT. It’s just been wonderful; it’s everything I’ve been praying for all these years. Knowing Frank and working with him was a blessing; for him to take the time and want to collaborate with me on something floored me. What a great experience all the way around.
The record seems to be one that is very mature with an almost peaceful, reflective energy that melodically seems to flow together. Was that something you planned?
I think that it was Frank’s purpose and direction to make sure that the record was a complete thought, a work of art, and that it came across that way to the listener. I collaborated with Mando [Saenz] and we had written a lot of the songs in a timely manner. In fact, Aviator is [tracked] almost in the order we’d written the songs.
To me, your songs are very poetic. They have to be really listened to, digested and thought about. Do you like to write that way instead of say, a straight up story song?
I like to write all ways, but at this particular time and point in my life I really like the impressionistic approach to writing, to really get people to think about what they’re listening to as opposed to just being spoon fed something. Sometimes I think you should think about what needs to be thought about; that’s my purpose.
The songs are relatable, but still maintain a personal quality.
Oh yeah, absolutely. I know they’re personal to me and Mando as well. I would assume other artists would feel the same, but I can’t confirm or deny that; I can just tell my songs from my point of view. For me it always has to be portrayed that way. The fans aren’t stupid, they can tell when you’re faking it.
All of the original tracks were written with Mando. The two of you just seem to click from a writing standpoint.
Yeah, we sure do, he's just a cool soul. We met a few years ago writing for Frank. He put us together and we clicked from there. Sometimes I’ll write pieces and put them on my iPod or we come together to write with an idea or he’ll meet up with me on the road or I’ll go to Nashville to write with him. We have to pay attention though and make sure we make the time [to write].
Why did you choose Aviator as the title of the record?
You know what, there were a few reasons. I like a one name title that is kind of a thought provoker; like with Velvet it just says what it was to me, it encapsulated the whole smooth, idealistic portrayal of the record. For Aviator, I again wanted to go with the one word title and the song itself really meant something to me. I thought using the word aviator would spark interest because whenever you hear that word you usually think aviation and aircraft; you don’t think of glasses; I liked that kind of coyness.
The bonus track “Studio A Trouble Time Jam” closes out the record. How was the experience of recording in such a historic place?
We recorded the whole album there and that room was just….wow. I wrote that song in a more country honky tonk style, but the way it was ultimately portrayed was more like Led Zeppelin, and I was really happy with the way that it turned out. This was the very last song we recorded and we did it in one shot. It was like ‘we’re done, let’s fluff our feathers a little bit and walk around with our chest out.’
In addition to recording at Studio A, another special moment for you I imagine, was playing the Opry for the first time last year.
Oh my goodness, walking across the stage at the Opry, which was at the Ryman for those couple of months, was incredible. Little Jimmy Dickens was there, Vince Gill was backstage saying ‘hey I’m rooting for you,’ and John Conlee introduced me. My bass player Casey and Mando joined me and it was a wonderful, wonderful experience. I can still remember the floor creaking beneath my feet as I was walking towards the microphone; there was definitely a heartbeat, you could feel warmth, a ghostly feeling. It was something I’ll never forget.
In 2014 you had so many firsts and great experiences, is there anything you would like to accomplish this year?
Obviously I would like to get the music out to more people. I’d like to go overseas and do an USO tour, and revisit some places I’ve been. A lot of things have happened that I had been wanting to do. It has been so great to have the label’s support to get things done.
Having done so many things, is national airplay or a Top 40 country radio hit something that is important to you at this point?
I’d love it if that would happen, for this music to be as popular as whatever you wanna consider the music that’s on the radio now. I don’t think my writing is any less or any more than what is out there now, I just think that it’s different. I would only ask that the music has its day and at least give the listener a chance to hear it and have them be able to say ‘yes I like it or no I don’t.’
The last time you were in NYC was last year as part of the Four on The Floor Tour, which had an amazing turnout. Were you surprised at the size of the crowd?
I think it was an awesome turnout; I believe the place was sold out. I like getting out in front of people and seeing their faces and being able to interact. Everybody there was just extremely present and there for the right reasons. It seemed like they were really enjoying what they were listening to. There was a wonderment in their eyes and a confidence of their own personal knowledge. It felt like everything was all vibrating off one frequency. It was a great way to be introduced to NYC. I loved it.
Switching gears, you tweet and Instagram a lot of inspirational quotes. Is having a positive, loving outlook part of who you are?
It has to be. Sometimes my mind, if I let it, will go to dark weird places and I don’t like that. I like being positive and I like being happy. I remember when I was at my happiest and I try to get back there on a daily basis. It seems to work at least on a maintenance level. I try to be positive because every day waking up is a miracle in itself.
Finally, are there any up and comers that you think we should keep our ears open for?
Well, my brother Bo Phillips is pretty fantastic!
For more information visit his official website
Find him on Facebook
Follow him on Twitter
Purchase Aviator here
Stoney LaRue along with Randy Rogers Band play Best Buy Theatre in NYC on April 17th. Doors 7pm/Show 8pm. Purchase tickets here.