Interview: Pat Green Comes ‘Home’ With New Album
After three years, Pat Green is ready to release a new album.
Home, the Texas country artist's first new album since 2012's Songs We Wish We'd Written II, is Green's 10th studio album in his 20-year career -- and he says it's more than worth the wait. The disc, which is being released via Thirty Tigers, features guest appearances from Lyle Lovett, Sheryl Crow, Lee Roy Parnell and more, as well as a song written by Dierks Bentley.
Green recently sat down with The Boot to talk about Home, his newest single, "While I Was Away," and how he feels about the current status of country music.
How would you describe Home?
The songs that I wrote on the record are some of my favorite songs I’ve ever written, without a doubt. And I guess there are some that think the next song they write is the best song they’ve ever wrote, but I don’t.
You're an established songwriter, but you didn't write all of the songs for this record.
The Zane Williams [song] "While I Was Away" is such a powerful and piercing and glaring view of the truth about parents.
"Girls From Texas" was a no-brainer. Jon Randall presented that. He was like, "Hey, what if we got Lyle Lovett?" I said, "That’s the perfect storm."
Dierks Bentley’s "Break It Back Down" [is] happy-go-lucky. [It] doesn’t sound like anything on the radio. I don’t think that anything on there sounds like anything on the radio.
What was the process of making this album like?
It was very personal. I took a long time off. I got really burned out by the middle of the last decade by making records by committee. I’m sure I’m not the one to coin that phrase, but I made a lot of records with a lot of people in the room, trying to tell me how to make a record. After 14 or 15 goes at it, I’m pretty sure I know how to do it.
You've had success both with releasing albums on major labels and independently.
I think there’s power in anybody who’s determined. My rule of thumb has always been "You can’t outwork me." If you outwork me, then you deserve more. Those first 10 years of the band, we didn’t come home. Luckily, for the first five years of my marriage, we didn’t have kids, so my wife got to go with me all the time. We slept in the bunk on the bus. I’ve put on a few pounds since then, so it was a lot easier back then. That was just hard work.
Would you ever record for a major label again?
It depends on what the major label wanted to accomplish. I don’t think I’m willing to go back to making records with 10 people in there telling me how to do it; I’m over that. But if I got a really good A&R person, if the passion was on the same level as me and the vision was the same.
Plus, I really like to write my stuff. Since "Wave on Wave" and "It Feels Just Like It Should," there’s only been a handful of songs that record labels are willing to say, "You’re good enough." I’m like, "I’ve been doing this all my life. I might not be good enough in your mind, but in my mind, these songs are pretty crafty. If you don’t want to put these out there, then that’s fine, but we just can’t do it together." It would be a long shot.
You also used your own band to record Home, which is the first time you didn't use studio musicians.
I’ve done it when we were doing the cover records, Songs I Wish We’d Written, and the live albums, but I had never done it with all-new material.
It’s weird, because working with studio guys, you can direct it a little bit more efficiently. And with guys in your band, who you see every day, it’s kind of like with your wife: You’ve got to broach the subject of changing something they made up. It’s a little bit different, but it’s just as fulfilling. Maybe more so.
They are an interesting group of guys, and we’ve known each other for so long. Why wouldn’t we do it? I feel stupid for not doing it sooner. I’m just not the brightest guy. Sometimes I get set in my ways. I think everybody has their thing, but I think we all appreciated that record for what it was.
What made "While I Was Away" resonate so strongly with you?
When I was on tour with [Kenny] Chesney in 2007, I came home for two weeks to watch my daughter be born and be with Mama. And then I went back on the road, and I didn’t come home for four months. I saw her maybe another two or three times until she was six months old.
You come home, and you’re like, "Dang. Why am I doing this? Is this really what God intended?" It’s not natural for you not to be around your kid for the first half of the first year of their life. But I didn’t have a choice if I wanted to have a career doing this, being on the Chesney tour, the biggest tour in the world. The tour was bigger than U2, was bigger than the [Rolling] Stones -- more people, more everything. And I had that opportunity given to me by Chesney; I had to take it. And that really was one of the things that set my career in motion.
When you’re done with that tour, and you realize that there’s an infant at home that you haven’t really met, you’re pretty ready to get home.
How do you feel about the music industry right now?
It’s competition, and it’s real, and it’s healthy. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. I’m just saying that everything has its season. I’m enjoying my season. I don’t know if it’s fall or what it is, but I feel cool. I feel very happy. Best year of my life.