1 Great jacket on the cover. A Manuel? It’s a contrast to the suited Moot of Man About Town. Which one is closer to your spirit?
Thank you, that suit was made by Jaime Custom Tailoring in Hollywood, CA several years ago. He makes stage clothes for Dwight Yoakam, Chris Isaak and ZZ Top. When I got hooked up with Pete Anderson back in 2003, I started going to Jaime to have things made. Believe it or not, I’m still paying off this jacket.
After I take all the photos from an album shoot, I try to find ones that speak to me, that standout, that are evocative and tell a story. This album cover is strong image and there’s mystery to it. And it’s the mystery that I identify with more so then the rhinestone suit or the business suit of “Man About Town”.
2 To the music now. The press release describes it as more roadhouse rock than country. Was that a natural development?
It’s a natural progression going from the honky-tonk stuff to more sort of classic rock and that’s really what I’ve been listening to a lot of. I still revisit the old “golden era” honky-tonk stuff every now and then but it seems to be on the more of a special occasion. “Man About Town”, had 3 or 4 rockers and the rest country/honky tonk, my plan was always to flip that on this album.
3 You are using your regular band on this album. Did this allow you to work the songs up live in advance?
Yea, we worked on the songs for about a year and a half. I would write them and bring them to the band and I have a rough sketch but we really started beating the songs up and give them their own kind of sound as I would bring them in. So it was a really nice change to have my own guys (Bill Corvino, Joe Mekler, Michael Massimino)with me as opposed to using studio musicians which can be a little sterile.
4 All your albums have been produced with a guitarist/producer. Do you find that’s advantageous recording with a working musician?
Yes, plus I really love the sound of the guitar and I love people who know how to play it. I also find that communicating with guitar players who are also songwriters (both Pete and Kenny write some killer songs), makes a big difference. So it’s the combination of them being a working musician and songwriter that I find this most attractive.
5 A lot of artist seem to be seeking a description to define what they play feeling that the straight term “country” is open to be misunderstood these days. What’s your take on that?
Well, I’m less interested in labels and terms and more focused on songs. When I sit down and work with the guitar, I never know what’s going to come out. I mean, it’s kind of like a channel and if it works that day, you’re an open channel and I’m receiving some sort information from somewhere and whether that’s going to be country or roadhouse rocker or whatever, I really don’t know. And I try not to ask too many questions about it, I just try to dial in the cosmic radio, to get the right frequency you know?
6 You have worked outside the major label system but were you ever approached by a major label?
I did, SONY Nashville got very interested right around the same time I hooked up with Pete Anderson. They flew out to see us play in Los Angeles and we had dinner afterwords. They were all very nice, and they called me a few days later asking me if I wanted to play ball. I had the gut feeling that I’d make better albums with Pete, and I knew that he would never go for their deal of “keeping Pete as producer but recording albums in Nashville”. The SONY guy also said something to the effect of “we already have a “Derailers”, on the label so we would have to change your direction.” This is also before Pete and I had any of our differences, so I thought the right thing to do was to stay with Pete, loyalty wise and for the good of the music. So I told the SONY guy “I wasn’t much of a ballplayer” and that was that.
7 Would you consider the major label route with all that that entails?
I would consider everything but the small labels that I’ve been on and I, we been doing what labels used to do, which is artist development. That’s where you get three or four albums to find yourself as an artist, to find your sound, to develop. We’ve been doing that on a shoestring for years and I think it’s really paying off. I’m very proud of the “Goin’ In Hot” album.
8 You own the label, Crow Town Records, with Michael Massimino are you considering other acts for the label and why that name?
I have a pretty singular focus on what I’m doing and I leave all that kind stuff to my business partner Michael. This is a pretty new venture for us and I think we’re going to see how this album does and then go from there. I know Michael certainly is interested in taking on other acts but the label has to be able to be profitable. Our namesake comes from the old west novels series “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry. I read all those books along time ago and was fascinated by this town “Crow Town” were all the worst of the outlaws hung out. The name has stuck with me through the years and it just ended up being our record label name.
9 Does your music sustain you or do you need to work in other areas?
This year we are pretty busy so I don’t have to take up any secondary work, on years were not touring so much, I’ll do some behind the scenes work on film and television shows either New York or Los Angeles.
10 When the studio you recorded the album in burned down did you feel that you would have to start the process again and if so would you have changed anything?
Yea, I was already trying to work it out in my head how we’re going to start from scratch again and rerecord the whole thing. You can’t quit, so I was just trying to see when everybody schedule would allow us to get back in the studio. I wouldn’t want to change anything really. I was concerned with recapturing what we had.
11 The reaction to the album has been very positive. Does that make it worthwhile or do you have to have the commercial part?
You do need a little bit of the commercial part to stay in business and go on to make the next one. That being said, I’m really glad that the reaction to the albums been positive and it does make it worthwhile, this is a creative process and you do something privately and then you try and share it with people and you hope they like it.
12 Is it a vital part of the process to have an album to back up a tour or can you survive without a regular album release?
My personal goal is to release an album the year for the next five years, or as close to that as I can get. It’s always good to have new product to sell when you’re on the road but there are a lot of places even in the United States were we haven’t been yet, so as time goes by, those are the areas we’re going to start focusing on in between releases.
13 After your time in Nashville, where you recorded your gig sales album you hooked up with Dwight Yoakam producer Pete Anderson who also played with you live. Looking back why do you think that didn’t take off for you both?
I think it served it’s purpose, but I don’t know if that formula was ever supposed to really be anything other than it was. During our time together we toured all over the United States Europe and Japan, got several songs placed in films and made two really good albums. Did it come close to the success that he had with Dwight, no, nowhere near as close. But I’m not Dwight and my path is different than his, even though some of the same people show up in each career.
14 You have played in Europe before but making the trip seems more difficult now, especially with a band, have you any plans to release the album in Europe and to tour also?
The album is distributed worldwide, so it’s definitely released in Europe and we’ll take any opportunity to come over there that we can. The last time we were there in 2013, we had a full U.S. band and we had a blast. It just seems that the economic troubles that our countries find themselves in, make it harder for offers to come perform.
15 As an artist what goals do you feel you would like to achieve in the future?
Again, the idea is to release an album the year or as close to that as possible for the next five years. Along with that constant touring both in United States and abroad, hopefully some more placements in film and television. That, and to continue to make new music. Those are my goals and that is my path.