Josh Thompson Serves More Than ‘Beer’ on New Album
The first time is a charm for Josh Thompson. The country newcomer's debut single, 'Beer on the Table,' has hit the Top 20 on the country singles charts, with catchy lyrics that have fans singing along at the top of their lungs at his live shows. Now those fans don't have to wait any longer to hear more from the Wisconsin native, as he releases his debut album, 'Way Out Here,' this week.
At age 12, Josh began working for his father pouring concrete. He realized early on the value of hard work, as his blue collar upbringing helped pave the way for a career in country music. "It's a lot of work," Josh tells The Boot of his new role in life. "And I expected that. I embrace it, and I love it. I love being busy, and I love getting stuff done and traveling. That's been kind of a surprise with the amount of traveling, but at the same time, it was an easy adjustment for me to make."
'Way Out Here' showcases a man who has lived the music he makes. He tells his stories with candor, honesty and a good-natured spirit. Of the album's 10 tracks, Josh wrote or co-wrote each of them, collaborating with some of Nashville's A-list writers including Rhett Akins, David Lee Murphy, George Ducas, Casey Beathard and Dallas Davidson. "I think I came out of [making this album] with two or three good writing relationships for the next one, which I think is great because they're really strong writing relationships," he says. "Those things can last a lifetime."
Josh started dabbling with songwriting more than a decade ago, but admits that being a writer isn't always as easy as it might seem. "As a songwriter, I'm really at the mercy of a great idea. I could sit and write songs all day about a telephone or a piece of dry wall, but at the end of the day, you really need a great idea, a great hook and a great story," says Josh, who is also a co-writer on the title track of Jason Michael Carroll's latest album, 'Growing Up Is Getting Old.' "I think those things don't come along every day. Of course you're always ready for them to come along. I think that's the toughest part ... trying to find a different way of saying something that people have said for hundreds of years."
While in the studio working with producer Michael Knox (who also produces Jason Aldean), Josh says he found his comfort zone immediately. "It was such a painless process of this whole thing. We knew what songs we wanted to record and pretty much knew how we wanted them to sound. Michael is great in the studio. He's super fast, and he's not afraid to try different things.
"I'd been in the studio in demo situations for five years now. It's pretty much the same process. It's got a little more stress attached to it, but it's better in a lot of ways because with demos, you're really snapping to get through and get as many songs done as you can in a four-hour period. Whereas, if you're cutting a record, you have the ability to take your time and make sure you love it ... make sure it's right. I actually like it a little better than just demoing."
Josh has been giving his fans a sneak-peak to the new music during his live shows, but he's anxiously counting down the days until fans can get their hands on the actual product. "All of these songs represent me in some way. I feel that probably 'Sinner' is the one that pretty much bowls a strike when it comes to me."
One aspect of his career in which he's not entirely sure he's bowled a strike yet is actually being comfortable in front of the camera when it comes to shooting music videos. "It's definitely a new experience and it's definitely awkward. Cameras are a new thing that I'm trying to get used to."
Josh says the video for 'Beer on the Table' was made much easier by the hands-on approach from the crew. "Everybody had that video mapped out so well that it really was an easy thing to get through. We really only recorded for six hours that day. I think two of those hours had to do with me. It was definitely an easy process which made the stress level a lot less!"
And then there's the makeup. "The makeup's there," he recalls with a laugh. "Apparently when you film in HD, there's a different kind of makeup that you're supposed to use. I didn't have time to wash it off ... the last thing I wanted to do was sit at a sink in the L.A. airport and wash makeup off my face. I [thought], 'You know what ... I'm going to leave it. I will wash it off when I get home. I'm just not going to look at anybody! Halfway home, it felt like somebody had smeared my face with clay!"
Last week, Josh released a bonus video for the album's title track, which premiered exclusively on The Boot. The video -- an acoustic, raw look at the other side of the beer drinkin' newcomer, shows the honesty and depth of this new star on the rise. (Watch it here.)
Since signing his record deal about a year ago, Josh has experienced some standout moments . "Playing the Ryman and playing the Opry have been two life-changing experiences," he says. "Those two are up there with hearing my song on the radio for the first time!"
With so many great country icons to emulate these days, Josh hopes that his career can shadow in the footsteps of two of his biggest influences -- Merle Haggard and George Strait. "I am a huge Haggard fan. Obviously, I want the recognition of a singer-songwriter that he has. I am also a huge fan of George's career because he's been like this rock in the middle of a current his whole career. He's still recording great music, and he hasn't wavered. That longevity and that connection to fans and the radio is admirable. That is something I look to achieve."
Earlier this month, Josh hit the road with Eric Church on the Jagermeister Country tour, which will visit 32 cities.