Ahead of his London headline show in April, we caught up with Jack White's Third Man Records signee Joshua Hedley to hear about his upcoming debut LP 'Mr Jukebox' and more...
HI JOSHUA! HOW ARE YOU AND WHERE ARE YOU IN THE WORLD TODAY?
I’m good! We rolled into Austin, Tx at around 4am this morning.
UNLIKE MANY OF YOUR CONTEMPORARIES WHO ARE PUTTING A NEW SPIN ON CLASSIC COUNTRY, YOUR MUSIC REMAINS TRUE TO THE MID-60S NASHVILLE SOUND. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THAT SOUND THAT YOU LOVE?
It just sounds nice to me. I don’t know. I like all the strings and the arranged harmony parts. I like the juxtaposition of these somewhat derelict hillbilly singers making this cinematic lush sounding music.
YOU'RE SET TO RELEASE YOUR DEBUT ALBUM 'MR JUKEBOX' ON 20TH APRIL (CONGRATULATIONS!). WHAT'S BEHIND THE NAME?
It’s an homage to my time in the honky-tonks. I’ve spent the majority of my life playing cover songs in bars. I’ve probably learned thousands of songs by now and when you’re playing these songs for tips in the bars you can get to feel like a human jukebox. It’s also somewhat of a nickname that was given to me.
CAN YOU WALK US THROUGH THE PROCESS OF MAKING THE RECORD? WHERE DID YOU WRITE AND RECORD THE SONGS? HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN IN THE MAKING?
I got sober at 31 and started writing. I wrote something like 20 songs in 2 months. That’s a lot for me. I was probably writing about 2 songs in 20 months prior to that. I guess the cliché is that it’s been in the making my whole life. But honestly that’s sort of true. Looking back now I can see that it was sort of inevitable that I’d start making my own records. I sort of thought of myself as a backwards Nilsson for a long time; I loved playing live but I had no interest in making a record. You can only do that for so long.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR SONGWRITING PROCESS - DO THE LYRICS OR MUSIC COME FIRST, OR DOES IT EVOLVE DIFFERENT FOR EACH SONG? DO YOU WRITE FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE?
Of course I write from personal experience. But I pick and choose experiences that aren’t so personal. I write a lot about heartbreak and loss because that’s something everyone has felt. And that’s the point of country music, that’s what makes it so good; relatability. Usually I have a line or a hook or some sort of catchy turn of phrase that’s stuck in my head for a few days and eventually it takes over my brain and becomes a song. I sit down with the guitar and the melody and chords just come out as I’m writing it. It’s almost always heavily influenced by what I’m listening to at the time.
WHEN YOU GET UP ON STAGE, HOW MUCH OF WHAT YOU'RE PUTTING ACROSS IS YOURSELF, AND HOW MUCH IS A PERSONA? DO YOU FEEL LIKE SOMETHING TAKES OVER WHEN YOU GET UP IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE?
I can’t be anyone other than myself. I just don’t talk about wrestling as much.
FINALLY, WHAT OTHER ACTS ARE INSPIRING YOU RIGHT NOW - BOTH ON RECORD AND IN THE LIVE SPHERE?
I’m listening to a lot of 6ix9ine right now, but I doubt that’ll make it’s way into my music.
Joshua Hedley arrives in town for a show at The Waiting Room, London on 12th April! Book your tickets now by clicking on the big red button below...