Interview: 49 Winchester’s Isaac Gibson on the Road to Their New Record ‘Fortune Favors the Bold’
"This has been a long time coming. There's so much anticipation around the release of any album."
Isaac Gibson is talking about 49 Winchester's new album, Fortune Favors the Bold, out today (May 13). It's a special release for the frontman because it's the first time he and his band have ever worked with a label.
"Everything has been fiercely independent since day one," he explains. "That is, until we found the perfect label in New West Records. Now we have people who fill very specific roles and they do it really well. That's such a big part of this business, having the right team around you. If the music is great and the business and promotion isn't, you're at a disadvantage. What New West has done is allowed us to catch up."
49 Winchester have always embodied what it means to be "indie." From management to finances, studio time to tour schedules, every step of the process fell on the band to handle.
"We've been at this since right out of high school," he says. "Yeah, we've changed over the years, but we've still never wanted to do anything or make anything other than 49 Winchester songs. It's not easy and I knew it wouldn't be, but there has never been any other plan. It was always about fulfilling our own hearts and letting people witness that onstage and through our albums."
With New West in the picture, Gibson and company were, for the first time, freed up to focus on nothing but their creative process. This was, as he puts it, "the biggest blessing that's ever happened to 49."
Gibson happily describes how New West didn't put any pressure on the band to create a specific type of record and instead, "They told us they believed in us and sent us out. Simple as that."
Fortune Favors the Bold marks 49 Winchester's fourth studio record and while it sounds distinctly like 49 Winchester, it clearly highlights their continued growth and evolution as a band.
"To be honest, the first 10 seconds of the record, that's not like any other 49 stuff," Gibson says. "We wanted that, that's why we open with 'Annabel.' We put ourselves in a position, thanks to New West, to experiment, to try things we wouldn't normally do. We had total creative freedom. We love pushing our own boundaries and we're proud of what we do."
Though they experimented in the studio, Gibson wrote the songs the same way he always has: "When they come to me, they come to me. They write themselves pretty quick." He describes a good song like a bolt of lightning, and no matter what the last two years were like, that didn't change for the 10 tracks that make up Fortune Favors the Bold.
One foundational truth for Gibson as he writes songs is staying connected to his hometown of Castlewood, Va. Rather than being a distant memory for the band trying to achieve success in a bigger city, being intentional with his roots is a significant part of why Gibson is who he is today.
"Being here and living here now as a professional musician," he says. "It's kept us intact with where we come from and keeps us true to ourselves. That's important if you want to make something genuine and true — the core of who you are as an artist has to be unwavering."
Thinking about the small town he grew up in and still calls home, Gibson's voice is saturated with appreciation.
"I'm the same ol' Isaac that's always been here in Castlewood," he says. "That's kept our music genuine, it's kept us true to our cause and that is why we make exactly what music we want to make with no compromise whatsoever."