1. Hello Andy, can you tell me a little bit about yourself before you became a country musician?
Thank you for checking out my music and taking the time for the interview! I grew up just outside of Boston, MA and I actually didn’t fall in love with country music until a little bit later in life. I ended up going to college in Chicago and a lot of my friends were religious about country music. The melodies and stories quickly grabbed a hold of me…I was hooked. When I was a kid I begged my dad to let me take piano lessons. That’s where it all started. After many attempts he finally caved, but he had one condition…I had to practice 30 minutes every day. He held me to that for many years, and although I hated him for it then, I am in debt to him for making me stick with it because a lot of kids give it up. Long story short, I started with a classical piano background, balanced jazz band with football in high school, played keys in a “Phish” type of Jam band in New England, and after I caught the country bug in Chicago I ran with it to where I currently reside in Arizona.
2. Who are some of your musical icons?
It’s actually a very diverse list. For country, I would say everything Chris Stapleton does gives me chills. I also love Harry Connick Jr. & Frank Sinatra in the jazz arena (My dad raised me on that stuff). Being a New England kid I also grew up as a Dave Matthews Band fanatic. I know people either love or hate Dave, but his live venue and ability to control the energy in the crowd is nothing short of amazing. If I had to pick one icon, my favorite of all time would be Ryan Adams. When I heard him play “Oh my sweet Carolina” raw and unplugged when I was in high school..that was the moment I knew I wanted to be a songwriter. He’s the reason I picked up the guitar and started putting pen to paper.
3. What is your favorite venue to play in Arizona?
There’s a really cool country scene here in Arizona that I’m excited to tap into. This goes along with the next question, but my band is close to finalizing our set lists for 2019 before we get into full swing. Dierks Bentley has a row of bars out here called “Whiskey Row” which is probably a name most country fans would recognize. A few other great Arizona venues are Santan flat, Buffalo Chip, and Denim & Diamonds.
4. What is the background story behind your latest single “Black on Out?”
“Black on Out” is one of those songs that wrote itself in one sitting. It was a hit by lightning type of deal. I purposely wrote it with an oxymoron element between the music and lyrics. The vibe of the song is somewhat upbeat and optimistic, but the lyrics tell a deeper story. John Mayer calls this “happy sad kind of music.” On the surface level the message is about spending your week on autopilot and when the weekend comes around wanting to just “Black it out” and escape from reality. We grind through the week so we can live for the weekend…It’s just so easy to bite on that temptation, especially here in Scottsdale, AZ! It’s a lot of fun and I think we all at some point in our lives are chasing those short-term highs without any guard rails. At the core, it’s really about trying to move on from the one that got away and how going out to the bars weekend after weekend becomes a vicious cycle that can be hard to escape. Deep down you know you shouldn’t be doing it, and that partying isn’t going to fill that void, but you keep doing it anyway. The hole you are trying to dig out of only gets bigger. I think the last line of the chorus sums it up perfectly, ” and we binge in a lie when we say.. I ain’t ever doing this again” Ultimately, it’s one of those songs that could mean something different to everyone..whether they are working through something or pre-gaming to it as a party anthem!
5. How did you start listening to country music?
This is actually a good story. My introduction to country were names like Johnny Cash and Tim Mcgraw, but Texas Country was actually where I started off. When I was a sophomore in college I studied abroad at Beijing University in China. At that point I could barely speak mandarin so don’t ask me what I was thinking with that decision! One of my roommates ended up being a guy from New Mexico that went to Colorado University and he was obsessed with the Casey Donahew Band. I ended up wearing that album out for an entire semester (when people still listened to albums!) Songs like “Stockyards”and “High”. I still laugh about finding Texas country in a dorm room in Beijing!
6. When did you know you wanted a career in country music?
It actually didn’t fully hit me until a few years ago. I’ve been writing songs my entire life while working in finance. For me, I was in my late 20’s and that inner voice was really starting to scream at me to do something with my music. I’d written so many songs over the years that were sitting collecting dust and I could no longer sit on them! I don’t want to look back at 80 years old with any regrets and that was a powerful motivator for me.
7. Is there anything new coming up with your music in 2019?
I’m really excited about the music coming out in 2019! We’re taking our time releasing them and the plan is to release each of the songs every couple of months throughout the year. I’m flying to Nashville in February to wrap up a few things, but should have the next song out by the end of March.
8. What is one of your favorite quotes?
I can’t confirm if Willie Nelson originally said this or not, but “Three chords and the truth – that’s what a country song is.”
I don’t think there’s a better way to describe country music!
9. Is there anything else you would like to share?
There’s a really cool non-profit I’m involved with called “Musicians on Call” where I volunteer once a month to deliver the healing power of music to patients at the local Veteran’s/Children’s hospitals. There are many musicians all over the country that participate and I always like to spread the word on how awesome of an organization it is!