After years of touring and engaging fans with an honest style of Texas country, The Josh Abbott band has finally gone major. Not that he's letting the success go to his head. In fact, aside from some more opportunities to work with some bigger names in the business, life goes on as it always has for Abbott. He still tours, still dresses like a slob, and still loves getting to know fans. Earnest and charming, Abbott took a bit of time to talk to GoGoMix about life afer major labels, why his influences are more than musical, and his favorite things!
GGM: You guys were a band for quite a while before signing to a major label. How has life changed over the past six months?
JA: That’s a great question. Not a lot’s really changed. The label’s definitely opened the doors for us to work with a bigger producer. Getting to record with Keith Stegall was huge. He’s worked with Zac Brown and Alan Jackson and produced a ton of number 1 hits. I don’t know if that opportunity would’ve presented it had it not been for the label. But other than that, not a lot’s changed. We still dress like slobs (laughs). We have a good time, write our own songs, still tour. The only thing that’s really changed is the doors they’ve opened. We’ve gotten media appearances and worked with songwriters that we maybe wouldn’t have had we not been on a label. And the radio game. To get played on stations from Seattle to Pittsburgh, those stations are playing us.
GGM: Are you planning a full length?
JA: Yeah, our initial plan was to record eleven songs, put five out on the Tuesday Night EP, record a couple more, then release a thirteen song album. This plan all hinged on the success of “Hangin’ Around” as a single. Unfortunately for us, “Hangin’ Around” did not hang around very long on the charts (laughs). That’s just how the business works, but it makes us have to reexamine where we’re going with everything. We realized we have to go back in and cut five more songs to make an album that’ll go with the six that are unreleased, and that’ll be the album that comes out in 2016. I will say that last year was a really intense year for me with some personal stuff, and I wrote a lot more intense stuff. They’re not even really country, more singer songwriter/alternative. The label was super cool about it, and agreed to put it out as an EP.
GGM: On your Facebook, your list of influences are not so much your favorite artists musically but rather your favorite artists personally. Why was it important for you to make that distinction?
JA: I think these artists have done both. Guys like Pat Greene and Randy Rogers weren’t just influential to us in terms of style and sound, but they also took us in as little brothers. The other day, Pat called me with something he thought he needed to talk to me about from that big brother standpoint. I appreciate that. Their tour managers, their sound guys. The way we tour, meet with fans, do radio, getting advice from those guys has really helped us out.
GGM: The quote is, “To us, being influenced is more than just who you listened to in high school and college.” So, short of asking you what songs and bands influenced your music, what were you listening to in high school and college?
JA: Well, I was listening to whatever was on the radio in high school. In college I really started figuring out who I am as a person and started discovering that Texas country scene. Listening to Robert Earl Keen, Pat Greene, and Corey Morrow opened my mind to a subculture of country music that really spoke to the world we live in. They have Texas pride, sing about it, and it’s so cool. Randy Rogers, Wade Bowen, and Eli Young modernized it, added some more pop and rock sounds, and for us, that was where it was at.
GGM: What music are you jamming nowadays?
JA: What’s weird about that is I have a really eclectic taste in music! I know a lot of people say that, but I think I listen to stuff that would surprise people. Like, I’m a super big Alt-J fan. They should’ve been album of the year! They were robbed! I think they really took it to a new level with that album. I thought Hozier put out an incredible album, and Ryan Adams. You’ll also catch me on the bus listening to Pink Floyd, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt. And on certain nights when you and your buddies are drinking I’ll throw on some Jason DeRulo and Drake. I really feel like my tastes are all over the board.
GGM: I want to ask you about two more things I read on your Facebook page. The first is that it says you guys like quoting funny movie lines. What gets quoted all the time?
JA: Ah jeez, that was from years ago! That’s not really our thing anymore (laughs). I don’t actually run our Facebook page. I run our Twitter and Instagram because I truly enjoy engaging with the fans. On Facebook, I feel like that’s old. Once your parents, aunts, and uncles get on there, it’s like, I don’t know if this is the social media outlet I need to exist in.
I’d say as a band nowadays, we’ll use the Apple TV to watch the Punch Brothers play their live sets and just be in awe. We just love watching live bands play their sets, and figuring out how we can get better.
GGM: Well how about a couple of favorite movies?
JA: Like I said, I’m a country guy, so I’m all about Lonesome Dove. It’s more of a miniseries, but I like that. I also love Walk the Line, probably my favorite movie ever. It’s so timeless. Exactly what Johnny Cash went through, a lot of us are going through the same thing these days. That rags to riches story, and everything that comes with it. I love indie films a lot, so I’ll sneak on iTunes and find a hidden gem.
GGM: You get to catch up on any TV lately?
JA: Still into Justified. It’s had it’s moments where it’s almost lost me, but it’s in it’s final season. And I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan. It’s so complex. I'm glad Homeland got back on the right track. It really turned into a soap opera for a few years and it was like “jeez, I don’t wanna see Kerry have a baby with a terrorist,” or that bi-polar nonsense. I think that was what made the show for a while and that was not a good thing for the writers. But this past season, it seems they got back on track with the CIA and spy games stuff.
GGM: Favorite books?
JA: A lot of books I read are typically non-fiction, autobiographical sports or politics books, things you can read that actually have some sort of validity to them. Not knocking fiction, but I’d rather read real things. Currently, I just started George W. Bush’s Portrait for My Father.
GGM: You do a ton of touring. Is there a spot or restaurant that you have to hit up whenever you’re in a certain city?
JA: I tell you what man. I love the authenticity of local restaurants. I avoid Chili’s, Applebee’s, like the plague. When we go to LA, I always try to make a stop at Bazaar, an incredible restaurant. The chef of the restaurant is very renowned. But that’s for fancy. There’s a lot of little towns with stuff we love too. Like, when we go to Auburn, right there at Toomer’s Corner is Toomer’s Drugs. It’s the mystique of what Auburn is! We always go for a grilled cheese lemonade.
GGM: I know you mentioned looking like slobs, but what is your favorite article of clothing?
JA: (laughs) For the most part, we’ve gotten better at looking cohesive as a band. Wearing brands like True Grit and Faherty, those clothes that have a really good, comfortable feel to them and look good on us. I love Faherty’s poncho/sweatshirt thing they just came out with. Some people love ‘em, some people hate ‘em, but I really like them.
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