Who are your influences?: As a songwriter, my biggest influence is probably James Taylor. My parents would wear his stuff out when I was growing up. Other artists that have certainly had a big influence on me are Garth Brooks, Billy Joel, George Strait, John Mayer, and Zac Brown Band.
Describe your nominated work: I think I’ve heard it described best as rootsy-country.
Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording?: We really didn’t. I wanted everything to be pretty organic and have a traditional feel.
Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned?: Oh man, there definitely were. There’s a song on the record called ‘Wings of an Angel’ that I co-wrote with Taylor Jones, of The Vespers. When we tracked the song, initially, there wasn’t much of an intro but our lap steel player, Josh Matheny, started playing around with this lick that was just so cool. My producer and I looked at each other and instantly knew that we had to put it on there…so that became the intro for ‘Wings’.
How did you raise the funds for this project? How long do you expect it will take to recoup your out-of-pocket recording expenses?: We raised funds through indiegogo and didn’t really have a timetable for recouping our recording costs. But, thankfully, everything has already been recouped.
Why did you choose to submit this work to The IMAs?: I was initially contacted by someone that heard the record and knew about the IMAs. They suggested that I submit to the album of the year category and when I looked into it, the initial cost seemed well worth the investment, so I did.
What’s your definition of success and how will you know when you’ve achieved it?: I’d say, right now, my definition of success is to make a living and support my family through music. Long-term, my goal is to have an impact through music and I’ll know I’ve achieved it when each project we do is able to help somebody.
How will you leverage your IMA honors to achieve your career goals?: It’s a huge honor and hopefully it will be a springboard to greater exposure for the music.
Who’s sitting in your audience and what makes your fans unique?: The fun thing about our shows is that the audience varies depending on the show and no two shows are alike. One constant, though, is that they love all types of music. We might do a 90’s cover followed by Merle Haggard and people are singing right along. It makes it a lot of fun.
What is your guilty pleasure on the road? Any close calls or mishaps while on tour?: Food. My wife and I were both health majors in college and we generally eat pretty healthy at home. When I’m on the road, though, it all goes out the window.
Are there any songs you wish you wrote and why?: If there’s one song, I’d have to say it’d be ‘Sweet Baby James’. I have a real affinity for story songs and I just love the internal rhyme scheme that James Taylor uses for that song in particular. My wife and I named our son James too…so there’s that.
What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans?: They might be surprised to know that Billy Joel is one of my biggest influences and I listen to his stuff a lot. I’ve been listening to a lot of Nashville singer-songwriters lately, too, and there’s a guy named Ben Rector who I really respect and love what he does.
How do you discover new music? Do you buy music or are you content with streaming?: Honestly, I stream it. It just allows me to listen to so much more. I will still buy music but right now, especially with where we’re at, it’s so much more cost effective to stream it.
How will musicians make a living if fans continue to expect music to be free?: I think performing is a big part of that equation. There will always be a demand for live music and I think the live show builds a lot of trust with fans, which, in turn leads to sales.
What don’t fans/audiences understand about the music industry today?: I’d say most fans don’t understand how difficult it can be for songwriters to make a living in today’s industry.
Are digital singles/EPs vs. full albums the future?: I think there is a place for both. But I’d say NSAI got it right when they said, “it all begins with a song”. If you keep making great music, people will want hear it.
Finish this sentence: The music industry is… always going to evolve.
What do you have in the works for the upcoming year?: I’m currently working with an artist development group to release two singles, which will hopefully bridge the gap between Light In The Dark and the next record. We’re also constantly adding dates to the calendar so we’ll be playing a good bit this year, which I’m excited about.