Thanks for taking the time to talk with us at Battered and Brewed! Let’s get to know a little bit about you first. Tell us what it was like growing up as a guy in Ohio with dreams split between sports and music. On a scale of 1-10, how crazy was it managing life as a full-time athlete year-round, with leading bands on the other hand?
Well it was definitely tough, I’d say a 7. I started playing guitar, writing and playing both solo and cover band shows the summer going into high school. Juggling anything with music is hard enough, so music was definitely kind of the backseat to sports for a long time. I taught myself through the internet and learned most songs late at night while everyone else was sleeping normally.
How long after becoming a certified PTA did it take you to realize your heart was calling you to do music? What was your first step in following your heart to chase that dream?
It was always calling me to do music, it was more of a priority thing. We grew up incredibly poor and my Dad did everything he could for us. He raised my two brothers and mostly by himself with the help of nearby family at times. So I knew I wanted to get to school to make money to help him and my brothers out and give them some life experiences that I wanted them to have and being an employee was really the only sure way to do that. As I got older and had been able to help them out some, I realized not only was music calling me, it was making me miserable not doing it – I only had myself to blame.
So the first step – I started over, started playing solo acoustic cover shows in my spare time and really taking a brand new approach to music. I had never really looked at songwriting analytically, I naturally knew how to structure songs because of playing so many cover songs through the years, but I really dove into the nitty gritty of songwriting and started figuring out the people that wrote those songs and listening to songwriters talk and I was reading more and more. Hard work, dedication, led to progression, and all though part of me was always dying to play music, it’s now an obsession, songwriting, performing, the business, all of it!
What’s it like being an independent artist? Seeing as you’ve had so much success with monthly listening on Spotify, what would you have to credit for gaining such a following all on your own?
It’s tough as hell being an independent artist! I don’t think people outside the industry realize the amount of work that goes into what they see/hear. I do have a great manager, Jarad Barr (one of my best friends growing up) that handles booking, and a lot of the major business aspects of what I do including starting up and maintaining great relationships with other industry professionals.
However I design my own website, I keep inventory, I ship merchandise, I design flyers, I design merch, I design album covers, etc. It takes hours and hours just for that stuff, then I steadily write two and sometimes three times a day (10-12 hours), sometimes I even get to breathe, eat and sleep! Spotify was definitely amazing for us, being independent, it kind of gave us the validation that we were doing something right at least. John Marks support really validated us in a lot of people’s eyes as well.
Lastly, I would definitely credit gaining a big social following on my own to the hard work and countless hours I spend thinking outside the box, and then interacting continuously with all my followers, I personally run all of my social media accounts and it’s tough but I love connecting with people and more so I love letting people know they’re appreciated and I can’t do this without them, so technically I’m not that “independent,” it’s their music too, they’re listening, they’re spreading it, they’re allowing me to do this!
I love the fact that you encourage your fans to shoot you direct messages on your Facebook page. Tell me what it’s like taking the time to talk with your fans.
I honestly have some of the most amazing fans. I get really cool messages daily from people telling me how a song is really connecting with them and helping them get through a certain moment in their life, and I normally screenshot it and save those – not only because it’s motivating for me – but I like knowing who had my back from the beginning and not forgetting the people who supported me all along!
Your new EP Hello Summer, Vol. 2 just recently dropped! Tell me about it.
Hello Summer, Vol 2 is the continuation of something I’ve always envisioned doing. I love writing real and vulnerable songs that matter, but I’ve also always used music as an escape, especially when I was young and I would love listening to feel good songs that could instantly change my mood. That being said, I’ve always been obsessed with being in water or around water, the beach, the island lifestyle so I wanted to try to capture those songs in short “side” projects to keep giving my fans continuous music without pulling complete attention away from the more real, radio driven songs that I have on my albums!
Do you have any big plans for promoting this EP or maybe a tour along the coast?
We were able to do pretty well, we hit #7 on iTunes and stayed in the top 100 for nearly a week. The songs are great summer anthems whether you’re by the water or not and although we don’t have a coastal run set up yet, we do have a ton of big festivals that I can’t wait to play some of these songs at!
Okay – Now for the food questions!
Name three things that are always in your refrigerator.
Beer, beer, & beer. Those are foods, right? I would definitely say some sort of dip (normally chicken dip), leftover Mexican and if the freezer counts, always have some sort of turkey sausages or ground turkey ready to cook!
When you’re back in your hometown, what is your go to local spot that you love to eat at?
Man, I grew up in a town of 200 people. The closest area that actually had sit down restaurants was Cambridge, about a 25 minute drive from where I grew up. There are two spots I’ve always loved – Downtown Arena (Pizza, Subs, pretty much everything) & Theo’s Restaurant (I’m not a big sweets guy – but they’re known for their pies, and their Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie I could eat every day).
Do you cook? If so, what is your favorite dish to prepare?
I used to cook all the time, now with music, I don’t really have time. I do love making homemade pizza, pretty much anything with ground turkey, and I still make my own buffalo chicken dip when I actually get more than an hour at home.
When you eat out in Nashville, where do you like to go?
Las Palmas is close to my house so I go there a lot, but I love Martin’s BBQ, I love Tin Roof food and too many drunken nights in midtown have led to Daddy’s Dog’s or Cookout. Hey, I never claimed to make great decisions!
If you could have a drink and a meal with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you have?
I’d have a beer with Jesus (like Thomas Rhett), for obvious reasons, the questions would be endless and I’d let him pick the food.
Hello Summer Vol. 2 is available now! Get it HERE