Who inspired you to go into the world of music?
Well, a lot of folks. As a kid, I loved Willie and Waylon. “The Red Headed Stranger” was my first obsession. As I got older, I got into Gospel, Blues, and Rock.
What made you choose Country music?
I didn’t “choose” country music. In fact, what I now do isn’t really “country”. But country is certainly in my DNA. Growing up in Texas, living in Nashville, and being consumed by Johnny Cash, well, it kinda colors things, doesn’t it? The music I make doesn’t conform to a genre and I have no need to wave a flag. Not for a state or for a marketing purpose. I make the music I want to make. Country song craft (stories, melodies, and feel) happens to be the foundation I build my house on.
At what age did you want to become a singer?
Well, I started singing at 3. I don’t know that I ever wanted to be “a singer”. Singers are such weirdos! I just always wanted to sing. I still feel that way. That’s why I play bass on stage. I WANT to be a musician. I happen to sing.
What is on your iPod’s most played list?
Oh wow. Well, right now I’ve been wearing out the new Father John Misty, “I love you, Honeybear”. It’s nothing like what I do, and I love it. Of course, if I really looked… Hold on, I will. Ah… Nick Cave “Abattoir Blues”; the most played record on my phone.
What was the first record you ever bought?
With my own money? A record by the Gospel group, The Imperials.
And the latest?
Jacques Merlino, “Love Letters”. Sure he’s my son. And I produced the record. But I still bought it on iTunes!
If you could play any instrument, what would it be?
Well, I wish I played piano better. I guess I could practice and make that happen! (Haha!) But I guess pedal steel. It’s just such a beautiful sound in the right hands.
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
Hope. Not to be daft, but I’m a guy that suffers from depression. A little hope goes a long, long way.
Do you prefer “Classic” Country or “New” Country?
In general, classic. But there’s always good songs and bad songs. The thing about classic country, is that nobody listens to or remembers the crap songs! They were there. They just faded away. I don’t suffer from “Good Old Day” syndrome. There’s good stuff out there today, in 10 years, we will still listen to it.
Do you have any superstitions or routines that you do before you perform?
Usually one glass of Jameson pre-show and 5 minutes of solitude. Not a superstition, just a need to relax and focus.
If you could work with anybody, who would you choose to collaborate with and why?
My Mt. Rushmore of heroes is Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, and Tom Waits. But I’d be terrified to work with a hero! I’d hate to sully their work. I tend to write better with women. Maybe Miranda Lambert (whom I’ve toured with) or Lana Del Ray.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Well, I hope to be writing and producing other folks for my job and then playing and recording just for the joy of it. But, I might be driving a truck! Who knows?
What do you do to “relax”?
I don’t relax well. When I do, it involves family, friends, a cocktail and laughter. I do like working on my car. I’m not any damn good at it, but it’s fun. What is your favourite holiday destination? I don’t do holidays either! That takes money and time; two things in short supply! I guess the south of France will always be what I think of when I think of “holiday”.