Sep 21, 2020
Sep 3, 2020
*foul language warning obviously*
If I see Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan, and FGL all together on the street
When you see that the best mainstream country song of the year, Caylee Hammack's "Small Town Hypocrite" bombed on the charts
The opposite of Vince Gill
Describe Keith Urban's last album
Did you hear about Kane Brown getting lost on his own land?
When your friends says "You're right, mainstream country is awful - give me Tyler Childers and Courtney Patton instead."
If 'that' is a boyfriend country song with snap beats:
When someone says they like Kelsea Ballerini better than Kelsey Waldon
and finally, to mainstream country radio...
Aug 20, 2020
Jul 28, 2020
May 12, 2020
Today, we speak with the Texas singer-songwriter-bus-driver, Larry Hopper. I hope you enjoy. (Also, he's taking over Galleywinter's FB page Thursday.)
FTM: Hello, Hopper! It’s been a while since we last spoke. I’ve been meaning to ask you, are you related to Jim Hopper from Stranger Things?
Larry: I said no to this interview.
FTM: Your denial didn’t take. So what have you been doing in the 9 1/2 years since our last interview? Prison time?
Larry: I had some good toast about 4 years ago. I wanted to make sure and tell you about that toast. It wasn’t any special kind of bread, it was just the EXACT right amount of toasted. Not burnt, not under toasted. Can you imagine? It was so good!! I have some pictures of the toast if you need them.
FTM: I'm good. What are you doing to pass the time during quarantine, besides (insert tired beard grooming joke here)?
Larry: During what? No idea what you’re talking about.
FTM: These crazy times, buddy! Hey, when you and your wife are teaching your kids for in-home school, are you in charge of bad jokes and puns training, while she teaches all the other subjects?
Larry: My wife will be offended that you would think for ONE SECOND I would be the one who would teach puns. She has her doctorate in Punning.
FTM: Is it true you co-wrote a song for Cody Jinks?
FTM: Yeah right, Hopper; is it one that “accidentally got left off the album?”
Larry: It was the title cut of his 2019 release “After the Fire.” It was the number one country album for one whole week. Then he released another album the next week and kicked himself off the top spot.
FTM: Oh really? Does Cody owe you money or something?
Larry: I wish. I keep hoping someone will remember that they owe me money. Nobody does.
FTM: Most artists, and I use that term carefully, consume lots of art to keep their creativity flowing. What sort of books, movies, and music keep your muse alive? I’m assuming there will be a follow up question about coloring books, Tom Green films, and Hoobastank.
Larry: I only watch my extensive collection of Puppy Bowl recordings. I recently read a book about a little dog named Meli that went to the vet. It was quite the thrill ride. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but page 12 will surprise you!!! As for what I listen to, mostly my interior monologue of self doubt and fear and neurosis and anxiety and guilt . Also John Prine.
FTM: So I see you’ve been doing streaming concerts during the pandemic. What does that mean?
Larry: It just makes sense. Staying home is the best way for people to come see me.
FTM: No, I meant “pandemic,” I’ve always assumed that had something to do with pandas.
Larry: This is why I said no to the interview. Plus you barely even seemed interested in my really good toast story. The toast was excellent, the story was really good.
FTM: You live a wild life, Barry. I haven’t been stalking you, I promise, but I’ve noticed there are always a ton of kids in your social media photos. Are you starting a cult?
Larry: I hear there’s good money in it.
FTM: If your cult will have brisket and singalongs, I’m interested. Let’s talk about that later. Right now, I need to know what you think about how Red Dirt, independent country, and Americana music are kinda sorta mainstream these days. When we did that first interview, I’d have never dreamed that our buddy Drew Kennedy would be modestly more well known in 2020. It's wild.
Larry: I don’t know who that is, but the meshing of all the different musical subsets is bound to happen. It’s a cycle. Some kids get sick of mainstream music and there’s a movement of a new sound, it becomes popular and in that popularity gets watered down and pushed towards a more generic sound to appeal to more people. theres art and then there’s business and the 2 can only coexist in a small window before it becomes more business. That’s not to say anyone is wrong for that that’s just the nature of the beast. Radio stations have to sell ads to keep the lights on. They have the seemingly impossible task of staying true to their format but appealing to as many people as possible. People get mad at radio stations if they play a song that that person doesn’t think belongs. That’s bizarre to me. Just.. don’t listen to that song? I don’t like calling myself an artist but I’m sure not a business man. That’s why most people reading this think you’re interviewing the guy from the Lawrence Welk show, But there’s always good music to listen to. Mainstream or not. I’ll check out Drew Kennedy though.
FTM: Oh you know who he is; he asked me to tell you to stop texting him asking to open his shows all the time. It's getting awkward for everyone. Next question: Are you working on any new music?
Larry: I’m always writing. I have plenty of songs for a new album I just haven’t had time or money to record. And with the covidteen going on I have no idea what everything will look like when shows start up again.
FTM: You didn’t have to go on for so long. I don’t really care, it’s just something I have to ask since this is a music blog. But since we’re on the subject, will you be doing any boyfriend country songs?
Larry: I don’t know what that means.
FTM: Nobody does. Hey, it’s bizarre that I’ve “known” you online for over 15 years and I still don’t know your favorite N-Sync member. Care to elaborate?
Larry: Timberlake is the only one I can even name.
FTM: Who are some of your favorite songwriters these days?
Larry: Other than the standards, Lori Mckenna is just unspeakably good. I keep expecting to move on from my Isbell fanboyness but he’s just such a great writer. The writing BJ did on the new AA record is so good. Courtney Patton is better than most. So are Jacob Furr and Gabe Wootton. Mike Ethan Messick. Jackie Darlene for sure.
FTM: Again, don’t actually care. Did you watch Tiger King? That was some crazy sh*t.
Larry: I did. It was sad.
FTM: I see you’re still not going to come out and admit that you were the fake Cowboy Troy troll on that Americana message board we used to frequent. Why is that?
Larry: I think the record will show that the Cowboy Troy user had better spelling and grammar than me.
FTM: Okay, I think this has gone on for long enough. I’m as bored as you are, if not more. Let’s do the lightning round! Do you have a Larry Hopper face Covid mask on your merch site?
Larry: yes. It comes in the shape of a shirt and you have to DIY your mask.
FTM: That’s a missed opportunity. Alright, favorite flavor of Swisher Sweets?
Larry: I don’t use them because of poisons. I need to stay healthy so I can overeat for longer.
FTM: That’s a hoax. Tobacco is grown from the earth, so it’s healthy. Bigly. Do your research. Next question is multiple choice: Are these times A)uncertain B)crazy C)troubling 4)frowsty?
Larry: Can I put “exhausting” as a write in answer?
FTM: If Sam Hunt asked to cowrite a song with you, what color would the Land Rover you bought with the royalties be?
Larry: I don’t think you can buy a Land Rover with royalty money anymore. I might could get me an old Isuzu trooper.
FTM: Jay or Jeff?
FTM: No, I meant Jay Cutler or Jeff Garcia. Read the room.
Larry: Jeff Garcia from the Grateful Dead?
FTM: You don’t know soccer at all, Lawrence. Who is the coolest celebrity you’ve ever met?
Larry: Henry Winkler
FTM: Ayyyy! Favorite Juice WRLD song?
FTM: That is an acceptable answer. What’s the first restaurant you’re going to sit down and eat at when it’s finally safe again?
Larry: Somewhere with chips and salsa
FTM: You thought that was going to be a trick question, but these are very serious. What is the highest number of feral hogs that has ever run into your yard?
FTM: When you’re writing a song: lyrics or music first?
FTM: Another serious question! I’m getting good at this! Spell “Thibodaux.”
Larry: Thibodeaux. I learned that from an episode of King of the Hill.
FTM: I was talking about the city in Louisiana and with this being an email interview, I gave you the answer and you still missed it. Anyway.. if you were doing a big nationwide tour, what particular food or drink would be on your tour rider?
Larry: 4 fried chickens and a coke.
FTM: Alright, now it’s the requisite time in a Farce the Music interview when we give you the opportunity to speak poorly of mainstream country. If you don’t say something funny, pithy, or meaningful here, you may lose legions of fans. No pressure.
Larry: jokes on you, I don’t have legions of fans.
Mainstream Country is awful but so is a lot of other stuff. I just don’t listen. I don’t care what they’re doing. It’s not for me. I am not their target. Honestly the only reason I even know the names of most of them is because of Farce The Music, haha. And it’s just name recognition. If I’m in a store and mainstream country is playing it lets me know that I still am not interested, but that’s the extent of how much I think about it. I don’t like most Jazz music, so I just don’t listen to Jazz music.i don’t have to make shirts about how much I hate it. I used to get worked up about what they were calling country music but labels are for the masses and the record execs. Something I work hard on reminding myself, and I wish more people understood: you don’t have to have an opinion on everything. In the time of this constant barrage of new information or media or whatever, we feel like we have to know about it all and have an informed opinion on every single thing. Just pick a few. I just choose to not care, as you can fell by the massive paragraph I just wrote on the matter.
FTM: So much for “lightning.” What do you think the water from inside a waterbed would taste like?
Larry: Pall Mall cigarettes and bad decisions.
FTM: Possibly. It’s just something I’ve been wondering about. Okay, last question: Would you rather have a sack full of punch or a punch in the sack?
Larry: I really said I wasn’t going to do another one of these interviews.
Apr 30, 2020
Apr 9, 2020
Feb 10, 2020
Jan 8, 2020
Oct 15, 2019
Mar 12, 2019
Jan 3, 2019
Aug 10, 2018
By Kevin Broughton
Jason Eady is a country artist with a bluegrass soul. He cut his teeth with his stepfather in central Mississippi, going to picking parties and bluegrass jams, but his six solo albums to date have all been in a traditional country vein. But on the heels of his critically acclaimed self-titled 2017 record, Eady has gone fully unplugged and put his own unique, rocking stamp on the bluegrass ethos. With help from an A-list duo from the genre, he’s made his best album to date, I Travel On, released today on Old Guitar Records.
It’s a good-time record made by a man at peace with himself and the world. We chatted about being positive while staying authentic, clearing out a Croatian bar in Paris, and jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. And other stuff.
I Travel On is a distinct departure – in several ways -- from your self-titled 2017 album. That one made our top 10, but it was pretty understated and a little somber in places. Musically and thematically this record may be its polar opposite. What were your mindset and/or goals with regard to the musical approach this time?
Well, this record and the last one seem pretty different, but I think of the last record as a bridge to this one. Before the self-titled album, I’d been very electric, with lots of steel guitar – country music. Sonically, they were bigger productions – not huge, though – than the last album. On the last one we kind of pulled it back; it was more of an acoustic album. I Travel On is fully acoustic. So I think there’s a sonic thread running through to it. And I had been wanting to move that direction.
About three years ago we played a show in Bozeman, Montana. And this room is fantastic; it’s one of those places everyone plays when they go to Montana. But it is small. I don’t know the actual capacity, but I would guess 30-40 people, and it’s wider than it is deep, so there are only about four rows of chairs. And we started bringing in all our gear, but the thought of cramming all those amps in just seemed weird to me. So we grabbed all our acoustic guitars, stripped down the drum kit and played the whole set that way. And it just sounded great. So I went into the last album with that idea, and toured that way as well.
The first thing I noticed on the opening cut, “I Lost My Mind in Carolina,” was that you brought in a stud on acoustic guitar. Got a ringer on Dobro, too. Who are these guys, and what was the recording process like?
Rob Ickes (dobro) and Trey Hensley (guitar) are the two guys. And my favorite thing about this record is that it’s real and organic. Our developed the sound by touring around and playing that way, where everybody did their own natural thing. And we came up with a sound that’s sort of bluegrass on the top end and a real groove on the bottom. While we were driving around the country we listened to these guys – they’re a duo, and they are absolute studs in the bluegrass world; their very first album got nominated for a Grammy in the bluegrass category. They’re just phenomenal.
So as it came time to make this record, I wanted it to be our live band, but I didn’t want there to be overdubs. I wanted the record to sound like we’re all sitting in a room. Our lead player can do all those things, but I didn’t want overdubs. So since we had been listening to them, and I just called Trey and said, “Would you guys want to do this?” He said yes. It came from a very real place; we didn’t just say, “Who are some studio badasses we can call?” We tracked 100 percent live from top to bottom, no overdubs. Our band would work them up the night before, but we had never played them with Rob and Trey before we recorded. Everything you hear on this record is what you would have heard if you had been standing in the room while we recorded.
Yeah, I know!
There’s a real blues/bluegrass feel to the whole thing.
I would never in the world set out and try to make a pure bluegrass record, because I have way too much respect for the genre. To be in that world, you really have to live it your whole life. You can’t dabble in bluegrass. But yeah, it was a conscious thing we were going for; we’re calling it “groove grass.” We wanted to hint at bluegrass, and people will definitely hear that aspect of it, but with pure bluegrass you don’t have drums or a bass guitar. “Groove grass” sums it up, really.
I want to get into several specific songs in a minute, but something stands out on the album as a whole and I’d like to get your take on it. Brent Cobb told me a couple of years ago that it’s possible to write country or roots songs with authenticity and depth without their all being sad and depressing. I think that’s rare, but it certainly holds true for this album of yours – and to a large degree the last one. What do you think of that premise? You seem to be a pretty happy guy.
I am. And I love Brent, by the way, I think he’s one of the best artists around today. Just incredible. But he’s right. And there’s that temptation when you’re writing songs that you want to be authentic or real; they can turn out depressing. But I wanted this album to feel good. There are some points on the record where if you want to listen to words and dig into meanings – and I worked hard on the words – there’s some depth to latch onto if you want to listen to it that way. But I also wanted this to be a record that you could just put on and play and enjoy. I get that there’s a need for feel-good music, where you don’t have to just think all the time. There are plenty of examples of people – like John Prine and Paul Simon – who write great songs, but I don’t know what they mean half the time. They just feel really good. Just put it on. Move your feet. Move your head.
But Brent’s right; you have to pull yourself out of that box, because it seems like there are two extremes in country music right now. It’s either said and depressing, or it’s so fluffy, about drinking beer on the river on the weekend.
Speaking of being a “Happy Man,” there’s a song with that very title. Were you making a statement for the record with that one?
I definitely was. I just wanted to get that out there. God forbid if anything happened to me, anyone could listen to that song and know that I’m a happy person and have lived a good life, and these are the reasons why. Because when you boil it down, there’s really only a few things that make you happy: There’s friends, there’s family, there’s doing what you love and the experiences you have. Here, there are two verses with three things each that make me happy. And at the end of it, I couldn’t think of anything else. The simplicity of it was very intentional.
And the origin of it – I don’t want to drag this out but this is a funny story – was overseas last year. We went to Paris, France to play a festival and wound up in a Croatian bar right across from the Notre Dame Cathedral. We could hear music playing inside that was lively, so we went in. This was like a Tuesday night but there was a party going on, so we wandered in. The bartender asks Courtney and me what we were doing there and we told him we were musicians. He asks my name, and dials me up on Spotify, and just started playing my music randomly, however that works. And it was just like three of my most depressing songs, one after another.
Yeah, man. Cleared out the bar. Everyone went outside to smoke all at once. Killed the whole vibe of the room. I started getting depressed! And I thought, “Good gosh, if I heard this for the first time I’d think this fellow is depressed, too. This guy’s got problems.” So I wanted to get it out there, that it’s not the case. I’ve written plenty of sad songs, but that’s just something I like to do sometimes. And ironically, “Happy Man” is one of the slowest songs on the record.
About the only thing that comes close to a downer on this album is “She Had to Run,” about a woman getting out of a dangerous domestic situation. Is there a story behind that song?
Yeah, I won’t go into the details of it because it’s a very personal song, but one I needed to write. And I knew when I got ready to make this album that this song would be the outlier, but it was too important to me. I had to get that one on there. I just hope that maybe there’s one person who hears it and thinks about getting out of a situation like that.
I won’t pry into specifics, but let me ask: Does the person who inspired it know about the song?
She does. We haven’t talked about it a lot because it’s still too close, too fresh. She got out, but it was frighteningly close. It was so close that the next person who was with that guy didn’t get out.
“Always a Woman” is intriguing. Tonally, it’s dark and in a minor key – by the way, is there another chord, or just C minor?
That’s it, the whole way through.
Lyrically, it’s kind of an ironic Valentine. “There’s only one thing between the devil and a good man” is really clever, because it can mean two very different things.
Unpack that song for me.
That’s the first song I wrote for this album, and the only one where I had a title set beforehand. Courtney and I were hanging out with a friend who was having a bad time and she asked what was the matter. He kind of shrugged it off and she said, “Is it a woman?” He said, “It’s always a woman.” I wrote that down, and I sat down with my guitar and just started droning on that C minor chord. And it’s a very specific fingerpicking pattern that never stops for four minutes; if you watch me play it my fingers [on the neck] never move.
And like we were just talking about, I didn’t want to write another sad song. So I had the first verse and thought, “This song has to turn. ‘Always a woman’ doesn’t have to mean good or bad.” So musically we used some dynamics to change things up, and I tried to change that phrase from a positive to a negative as well. And I think the whole theme of the record is finding the positive in things and moving forward. And that’s why we called the album “I Travel On.” It’s about moving forward. A lot of the songs are about physically traveling; this one does it in a mental space.
And the feedback/distortion thing is a nice backbone. Nothing electric there?
No! That’s the dobro player raking across the strings, and the fiddle player doing it in some spots, muting his strings. Everybody thinks there are electric instruments on that song and there aren’t. We had a videographer come in and shoot while we were recording that song; you’ll see it when it comes out.
And I guess you had to include at least a couple waltzes to preserve domestic bliss. I take it that’s your bride singing harmony on “Below The Waterline?”
Ha. Yeah, if you hear harmonies on this album there Courtney’s. I’ve always wanted to write a bluegrass power waltz. I love those, because they make the harmonies just scream. Courtney and I wrote that one together.
I was gonna ask if she got a co-write on that one.
She got two. We wrote that one, and “Now or Never,” the second track on the album.
This is kinda random but the key of C minor on “Always a Woman” made me wonder: Do you have a favorite key, or one that you end up doing the bulk of your songs in?
I write most of my songs in D and I don’t know why. And I had originally written that song in D minor, but when we got into the studio to record we got to that point in the chorus where you go up, and I couldn’t quite hit it. And when we lowered it, it kind of came alive, got darker.
Staying with random: You recently went skydiving with your mom and daughter. What possessed y’all, and would you do it again?
That was all my mom’s idea. She had originally wanted to do that thing in Vegas where you bungee-jump off of a tower on one of the tall buildings. And later we were together at Christmas and she said something about skydiving, and my daughter wanted to do it with her. So I bought it for my daughter, but every time they tried to go the weather was bad, then my daughter went off to college. She was home a few weeks ago and the weather was perfect. And on the drive over I thought, “When am I ever gonna get to do this again? All three generations are here. This is once in a lifetime.”
Tell me about the moment before you went out the door of the airplane.
It’s the most terrifying and exhilarating thing. On the way up it’s in your head what’s gonna happen, but it’s just indescribable, the way you feel standing in that door. If you’re not afraid looking out, you’re not human. There’s nothing about it that’s natural or normal. You have to try and get it out of your head, and trust the person who’s strapped to your back.
That was the worst moment, because we did a high jump. We were at 14,000 feet. I loved it. But there’s really no way in the world to use words to describe what it feels like.
Would you do it again?
You know, when I first did it I said there was no way – I was glad I did it but wouldn’t do it again. But there are times I find myself thinking about it. I don’t think I’d go out of my way to, but if somebody said, “You wanna go do this,” I think I probably would.
Y’all are doing something kinda neat, a sightseeing, musical bus tour of Switzerland with 40 fans. I’m familiar with musical cruises; is this something y’all came up with, or have others done it?
Courtney and I have gone to Switzerland five years in a row, I think. We have a promoter over there and we love it there. And you can drive from one corner of the country to the other in five hours. But we did something like this last year, with Reckless Kelly and toured Ireland. We were their guests And Courtney and I decided we had to do this in Switzerland. So it’s seven nights and five shows, and we’re personally putting it together, where we’re gonna stay and eat and the venues we’ll play. The response has been great. We’re really excited about it.
I Travel On is out today.
Apr 3, 2018
1. Brandi Carlile - By the Way, I Forgive You
2. Caitlyn Smith - Starfire
3. Ashley McBryde - Girl Going Nowhere
4. Dallas Moore - Mr. Honky Tonk
5. First Aid Kid - Ruins
6. Courtney Marie Andrews - May Your Kindness Remain
7. Caleb Caudle - Crushed Coins
8. Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour
9. Courtney Patton - What It's Like to Fly Alone
10. Buffalo Tom - Quiet and Peace
11. Ruby Boots - Don't Talk About It
12. Wade Bowen - Solid Ground
13. Mike & The Moonpies - Steak Night at the Prairie Rose
14. Trixie Mattel - One Stone
15. Whiskey Wolves of the West - Country Roots
16. Anderson East - Encore
17. Josh Grider - Good People
18. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats - Tearing at the Seams
19. Ross Cooper - I Rode the Wild Horses
20. Pedigo's Magic Pilsner - s/t
*there are a few recent and forthcoming albums I haven't listened to enough to rank yet
**This is just Trailer's top 20 - year end list will include all contributors