Can you talk about how Shenandoah band came together on and how you ended up signing with BMG for the new single and forthcoming album?
I was gone for about 17 years and during that process I was just burned out. We worked like mercenaries and I got tired of missing ball games and then I got an opportunity to do a record with my brother Tim. You know we did Butterfly Kisses and that was really a nice way to segway out of it for a while. I rejoined the band in 2014 and even after those years of absence, we met a couple times and talked about getting back together. It just never felt right – right time or right place. Well one time we met at the guitar player’s house and decided we’d do this. Someone got us in the studio to start producing the record and you know that in itself became confirmation. We signed a record deal with BMG and the next thing you know we have a record. It’s really hard to believe, even though we’re celebrating 30 years. To believe that an act like us can get a major deal like BMG, and tread forward with it, is even harder to comprehend.
Did you go into it with a ton of songs you were already playing, or did you start from scratch with a certain concept in mind for the new album?
We sat with Jay at Ascap and we listened to a ton of songs. Everyone’s always looking for the needle in a haystack that’ll work for what you’re going for. We really looked hard to find those five that we wanted to record and felt really good about. The mathematical probability that all of this has come together is just too good to be true.
You’ve been able to sustain your career for decades. How do you think your sound has evolved on this new album compared to the Shenandoah who started out years ago?
When talking with Jay in pre-production we wanted to find the type of material and the integrity of the song. Our band always cut tunes that told a great story – like “Moon Over Georgia.” So we didn’t want to compromise any of that. Jay was all for keeping with our original sound. He said, “that’s why I loved y’all’s stuff and was a fan.” Jay being so up on sonically the sounds and all that other kind of stuff, he could take it and cut it like it was in the late ’80’s or early ’90’s which is what it would have sounded like, but it would have been dated. With Jay’s knowledge to keep it up to date, people are saying it’s like Shenandoah never went anywhere. It’s like us 20 years later and we sound the same.
Will you be touring for the new album next year?
Oh yeah – we’ve been touring since I came back in 2014. We toured the Reloaded tour in 2015. It was like a cute little way of saying everybody’s back in place. In 2016 and 2017 without a shadow of a doubt has been the biggest year yet. We might wind up doing about 80 dates once we finish in ’18. At this time last we didn’t have close to the dates that we have already booked for 2018. Believing and trusting and understanding that success in a record will bring supply and demand and evidently has already proven itself.
After years making music and probably a few more mistakes, is there any advice you would have liked to give your younger self?
Our management and record label used to get us out there to make sure we we were pushing our record. Our first award we received was the ’89 Newcomer award from the Music City News award show and we worked a date the night before that and then we worked another show opening for Vern Gosdin, so when the award came around we didn’t actually have the opportunity to even take in the night. It’s like we won the award, that’s great, now get back in the trailer you have to get to the next date. So we didn’t have time to do the things that’d be nice to do and savor the moment. Every time we turned around we were going again, and going back to the very first question, that’s one of the reason why we got burned out. We were just wide open all the time and there was no time to take it easy and enjoy it.
Southerners know good cookin’. What should every Southern kitchen be stocked with?
1) Land Lakes butter
4) Fresh Berries and veggies. That’s what you need in order
What food is your food vice? You know, one you sneak in a little extra of when no one is looking.
Fig Newtons and Diet Dr. Pepper. Or a cup of coffee with a handful of Fig Newtons
Is there anywhere you have wanted to travel or a restaurant you have always wanted to dine in that you have not yet? Or somewhere you can not wait to get back to?
There’s a mexican restaurant outside of New Mexico called Garduno’s and anytime I ever get out that way I’m going. They make guacamole at your table for you and it’s absolutely the best.
What about a favorite place to eat in Nashville?
Peg Leg Porker, P.F. Chang’s, Morton’s, Ruth Chris. There’s a lot of places
One food everyone tells you to try, but you just can’t get up the nerve.
I don’t do the sushi thing. I have eaten it before, but it was deep fried.
What is one Thanksgiving tradition you have?
Turkey and all the fixings. I usually cook the turkey.
What is your favorite Thanksgiving dessert?
Carrot Cake that my wife makes.
How soon is too soon to start decorating for Christmas?
Look I’m Christmas at heart anyway, but usually the Friday after Thanksgiving is when everything starts coming out. As far as I’m concerned it’s Christmas all year around.
Name three things you are thankful for this year.
My salvation, my family, and i’m grateful that provision has been made for us to get back out and do what we love doing.
Finally for Battered and Brewed, If you could eat or have a drink with one person dead or alive, who would it be and what would you have?
I would give anything in the world to have a meal with my daddy.
Shenandoah originally formed in Muscle Shoals, Alabama in 1985. The band has charted 26 singles on the Billboard Hot Country charts, including #1 Hits “The Church on Cumberland Road,” “Sunday in the South” and “Two Dozen Roses” from 1989, “Next to You, Next to Me” from 1990, and “If Bubba Can Dance (I Can Too)” from 1994. The single “Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart,” which featured guest vocals from Alison Krauss, won both artists a GRAMMY®, Award for “Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.” To date, the group has sold millions of albums worldwide and is a recipient of the Academy of Country Music’s coveted “Vocal Group of the Year” award.
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