Morning Show Host Brendan Hogan recently chatted with Singer/Songwriter/Producer John Paul White ahead of his show at Once in Somerville on Monday, May 13th.
BH: Congrats on the new record! By the summer of 2014, after years on the road and much success with The Civil Wars, you decided to move on. I imagine that must have brought a sense of relief; to have time ready to spend with your family. Now you're back with your second solo album in 3 years. How are you feeling?
JPW: "I’m feeling more comfortable with this vagabond style of life than I have in a while. It’s been a bit of a learning curve - how much is enough, how much is too much - and it probably always will be. I’m getting better at balancing my need to connect with people through my songs and my longing to just sit and hold my babies"
BH: Tell us about The Hurting Kind. On this album you enlisted the help of some Nashville icons to help co-write (i.e., Whisperin' Bill Anderson and Bobby Braddock) and create the sound of the album (i.e., Pat Bergeson and Lee Ann Womack). Seems like you were going directly for a big countrypolitan/Nashville sound?
JPW: "I was going at it indirectly. I wanted those countrypolitan elements involved, but I wanted to steer clear of making a retro, throwback kind of record. Early on I realized that my voice and melodic sensibilities were always going to give it a unique spin, as I’m not a traditional country singer. That allowed me to immerse myself in the instrumentation and arrangements, but not worry too much about sounding dated."
BH: You are a tremendously gifted singer and songwriter. Which came first, and do you still approach your music that way?
JPW: "That’s very kind! I’m the most self-deprecating guy out there when it comes to my voice. I’m tweaking constantly to try to improve. Singing was my first love, by far. I never wanted to be a songwriter when I was young. I just wanted to sing and catch the girl’s eye. It was college before I started seriously realizing why I loved this, and that was due to my songwriting. I dug into the bones of what really was going on inside me when I’d get those chill bumps from music.
BH: The Shoals region of Alabama has for decades been a hot bed of great music via FAME Studio, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, and all of the incredibly soulful records that came out of those places. Today it's artists such as yourself, The Alabama Shakes, Jason Isbell, The Secret Sisters, Patterson Hood and others. Any thoughts as to what makes the area special?
JPW: "Back in the day it was sheer determination and ignorance. Our founding fathers and mothers around here were blissfully unaware that you had to be in New York Or LA or Nashville. They figured a hit was a hit was a hit. That sort of blind confidence seeped into the town and the generations that followed. I think we all had a leg up on other communities, knowing that if you build it they will come - instead of the other way around. That allowed us to create in our comfort zone instead of a rat race.
BH: Anything you want to share that is on the horizon for John Paul White?
JPW: "At the moment I’ve got my head down and am stoked to tour for the next 4 months. I’ll be hitting pretty much the whole lower 48, and then off to the EU. But...songs are starting to pop in my head left and right. That really makes me excited about the future."