Interview: Josh Thompson Opens Up About ‘Change’, Changes in Country Music and Future Plans
The album, which is being released on ole Digital / the Orchard, is a project that Thompson originally recorded in 2011, when he was signed to RCA; when he left the label one year later, the disc was shelved. But now, the first of two installments from those sessions is ready to see the light of day -- and no one is more excited than Thompson to finally get to share these songs with his fans.
The Boot sat down with the country singer to talk about his new record, country music's current state and why songwriting is so important to him.
How would you describe Change: The Lost Record, Vol. 1?
Sonically, at the time when we cut it, it was very modern, and it almost -- even though it was a few short years ago -- it almost sounds like it has slight pieces of throwback in it. So that’s awesome; what a great sound for right now. I think if I was trying to make that same record right now, it would sound a little different.
It’s about looking at yourself and where you’ve been and where you’re going in a broader spectrum. There’s still songs about drinking and partying ... I’ve always been tied to the blue collar theme in country music; I think that definitely sticks out in my music. And I think the work ethic that I learned in the concrete industry, I think I’ve applied that to music.
How has the country music industry changed since your debut album, Way Out Here, was released in 2010?
Country music has always been one of the things that has always been multi-faceted, if you will. There’s always been sub-genres in the genre, and there’s always been people who claim, ‘That’s not country,’ and we’ve heard it since country started. Nothing really has changed except for the background beats, but it always is turning.
Why did you choose ole Digital / the Orchard to release the new record?
ole made sense. I thought about just releasing it on my own, and then through talking to [ole Creative Director] Ben [Strain]; I used to work with Ben Strain, back at Sony / ATV. He made a comment about releasing it. He knew all about the record we cut on Sony, [and] he was like, ‘That’s what we do. We release records. That’s what we started doing.’ We had a meeting with him, and we had met with some other entities who are in the same kind of business, but it just made sense, because I knew everybody here.
What was your reasoning for releasing Change in two volumes instead of one?
I just feel like putting out two EPs a year, as opposed to one record a year, I think it helps keep the content going and helps keep the music fresh. I think people’s attention span for records is changing; they’re more a single song. So I think EPs are kind of the way to go to match where the music is going.
Why was it important to you to write all of the songs on the album?
The people I loved wrote their own songs. Merle Haggard -- I mean, he would cut some outside songs, but those guys wrote their own songs because they knew what they wanted to say, and it helped shape who they were and their sound. It’s important. I can cut outside songs, and I can sing them, but I have to feel like I wrote them.
I love writing songs, and I love getting songs recorded by other artists, especially the artists that I respect and looked up to for years. It’s great when somebody wants to record your song. To me, if I recorded a song of mine, that’s awesome, but it’s not quite as cool as a stranger wanting to record a song you wrote, because you touched a nerve or, somehow, you wrote the song that stuck out against the thousand songs that they listened to already.
What are your plans for the remainder of the year? Will you be out on the road?
We’ve got a busy fall. I’ll do some deer hunting, and then Christmas will come around, and I’ll do some relaxing. Next year, when the next EP comes out, it will kind of be like a fresh slate with whatever it is I want to do, and I’ll figure it out. I’ll always be writing songs.
We love to play. It’s a great way to get out, and you’re continuing to touch the fan base and gain songs. You can try new songs out. I’ll always tour. I love it.
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