By Kristin Welcome
Jeremy Parons describes the song writing process as “slicing off a piece of your soul”, and his latest release, “Things I need to Say,” is both heartfelt, thoughtful, and easily relatable for so many. I spoke with Jeremy about song writing, his influences, and spending time with the legendary George Jones.
KW: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today? How are you?
Parsons: I’m good, how are you?
KW: I’m doing well. I wanted to talk to you about your latest album release, “Things I need To Say.” Tell me about what is different on the album from songs you have previously released?
Parsons: The difference is specifically, I have grown more as an artist and more as a song writer. This record; I put out a record before this years ago, and the songs were all written by me, and all very personal, but this specific record; “Things I need to Say” is as its entitled, is a compilation of thirteen songs, that were me venting about things that was going on in my life, and they were actual things that I needed to say. A lot of the stuff touches on, I was dealing with my parent’s divorce at the time; so it’s my therapeutically writing through that, and just kind of getting it off my chest; and it turned into a compilation of a lot of songs that mean a lot to me. When I wrote the title track “Things I need To Say” that just stood out to me as a whole thematic; or the whole entire theme of the record was being defined by one song.
KW: Tell me about some of your favorite tracks off the album, and why?
Parson’s: My favorite tracks off the album are “Things I Need To Say,” which is the title track, because I remember sitting down and writing that song; and like I said I had things I needed to say, and like I said when I put down the pen after writing that song; I realized that I had said it all, in that three minute song. That was exactly what I needed to do, and you write songs sometimes, and some you are not completely satisfied with; but when I got done with that one I was completely satisfied with it, and it meant a lot to me to be able to get that off my chest. Another favorite is “Why is The Blue Bird Blue”, which is the last track. That song is my favorite specifically because it’s an homage to Hank Williams Sr. and all the old traditional sounding music; which was a very big influence on me, and I was able to sit down and write that one really quick. It was also one of my dad’s favorite songs, and so he is very happy it is on the record, as well it is a big fan favorite too. Between you and me, we are working on a music video for that song next week, so I am really excited about that. It is set to be the next single for me.
KW: That will be excited to see that released. When do you think we will be able to view that?
Parsons: I would say no later than April, and I am over shooting, and I probably plan to have it out by sometime in March; but just to be safe we will just say April.
KW: On what formats will that be released?
Parsons: Hopefully, well it will definitely be on YouTube, and we will put it up anywhere we can is the main goal, I think always with stuff like that. I am going to try to get it in as many outlets as I possibly can, but you will definitely be able to find it on YouTube, Facebook, and I’ll probably pin it to the top of my Facebook page and stuff, so it will be easily assessable, so also on my website as well.
KW: You mentioned already Hank Williams Sr., tell me about some of your musical influences past and present and how they have shaped your music?
Parons: Absolutely, like you said that I said Hank Williams Sr. has a lot to do with it, and a lot of those older guys, like Faron Young and Johnny Horton. My dad was… I was adopted by my grandparents, so I was … all that stuff was kind of playing around me when I was growing up, and for a lack of a better term I guess my dad kind of brain washed me, and I am glad he did. There is a lot of great music and there has been a lot of great substance. But those guys were very pivotal in me finding my own sound and my own writing style, but out of the newer guys I would say I am very influenced by like more indie acts. There is a singer song writer coming up, he just one two or three Grammy’s; Jason Isbell is his name, he is one of my favorites in the Americana field, he is just a very profound writer. He is one of those guys who gets the point across, and in a very intelligent way. I respect it so much. He always, when I listen to him, makes me want to be a better writer, so he is a big influence. Another guy is Ryan Adams an L.A guy; he makes slightly country, slightly alternative, slight sometimes rock and roll, but he is very expressive; and I love the emotion he is able to get across, and deliver as an artist. All those guys I listen to. I am like they make me want to be a better artist. They motivate me; they are kind of like your day to day motivation, like, “alright if I can be just half as good as they are I am doing better”. (Laughs)
KW: What do you think it is specifically about them that pushes you to go further into what you are writing?
Parsons: I think with anybody even outside of music, I really respect and love passion. When people are passionate about their craft they, you can tell that they wouldn’t want to do anything else, and could not imagine just doing anything else. I think it’s great to see people like that that are so passionate. It’s infectious in a way.
KW: What would you like your fans to take away from your music?
Parsons: I think specifically I would want them to listen to it, and if they are depressed or dealing with something, realizing that I was depressed and dealing with something when I wrote that record; you are never alone, there is always someone you can talk to. You know, I was lucky enough I had people to talk to, and I also had music that I was able to use as my outlet, and I think the most complimentary thing that I hear when people listen to it and they are like, “man I was having a day where I just needed to here this, and I put on your record and there it was, and you got me through the day.” That is the thing, it makes you feel like you are doing the right thing. So I want them to know we are all as the opening track says, we are all “Just Making Things Up as We Go Along” you know.
Me: That’s definitely true. Tell me a little bit more about the evolution of your career. I know you started off very traditional Country and Americana, with “Things I need To Say” I can see there is a more contemporary feel, and more social consciousness if you will, more of a comment on what is going on (in the USA) right now?
Parsons: Yeah absolutely, I just think that just comes, you get out in the world and we are born just clueless, ignorant so to speak and as you get out there more you just see things going on and you just mature, and you go through life experiences, that’s what happened between the first record and “Things I Need To Say”. My eyes got kind of opened more to just everything that is going on, I have met more people, and I enjoy listening to stories, and some of those people you felt like it happened to you; it’s so heavy. I think there is growth and maturity in general, and shedding layers of ignorance by just getting out there and opening my eyes; like listening to people speak, and speaking back to them through music.
KW: Also you wrote a song called “Life” on this album, talk a little more about that and the meaning behind it?
Parsons: That song was one of those that I just sat down, I did not have an idea, I did not know what I wanted to write, but it just kind of came out of me. I was having one of those days where it was like what I guess this is just life sometimes. You know it’s crazy, you’ve heard “we are never going to make it out of this world alive”, just all of those quotes were just swirling around me, and what everyone has to deal with; it’s just life. We are all just people, and we are living it together, just living day to day sort of thing. On the record that was cool, it was a good segue to the second track, “Making Things Up As I Go” because its leading into “Life” and they just went together, like a couple hand in hand,
KW: I think the album is a great way to go through the things that you have been thinking about, and I think it’s going to reach a lot of people, on a personal level.
Parsons: That means a lot, and I appreciate you saying that. You know you work really hard on something, and its always scary to put something out there, it’s like slicing off a piece of your soul and handing it to someone in multiple formats and copies. It means a lot to hear you say something like that because all I want is to connect with people, and share the love of music. Music is very powerful thing and it has helped me out a lot.
KW: Certainly the songs you have on the album, are all things that are universal today that people deal with.
Parsons: Yeah, and it’s kind of about; and I talk to people about that all the time, writing songs are very important, and I make sure to leave it broad so some more people can connect with it. You know music isn’t just for one person, you write it because its therapy, but you are also writing for a reason. Like I said earlier, so people know they are not alone that they always have other people to talk to, and that there is always other people going through the same thing they are going through. It was a nice exercise to write in kind of a broad perspective, where more people can connect with it. It wasn’t about making it, it wasn’t about specifically what was going on in your life, as it was making it about; this is going on in more than my life.
KW: Definitely. So tell me what is on the agenda for you for 2018? Are there any tour plans that we should know about, or anything else you’re working on?
Parsons: The music video is the closest thing I am really excited about and it is just naturally happening, and is going to be really easy and fun to film. I’m getting a lot of friends in Nashville involved. As far as tour dates, I have absolutely nothing set in stone, but I had a meeting with a guy the other day and we are talking about getting a compilation of summer dates together. So people can stay tuned to my website, Facebook, and Instagram and everything, and there is links to all that stuff on jeremyparsonsmusic.com. I will put up dates as I get them, and it’s going to be fun. The record still has legs, so I am going to run until it can’t run anymore. I am just pumped to get it out to more people. I have enjoyed talking with you and want to talk with more people.
KW: Thank you. So if there is anyone ideally that you could tour with who would it be?
Parsons: ooh, that’s a good question. I would have to say either one of the people I stated earlier Jason Isbell is a big deal, and I would love to go on the road with him; because I just feel that I could learn so much from him as an artist, and as a person in general. But, Chris Stapleton would be another killer one, but he is so untouchable right now, but that would be a huge honor. Any of those guys, I have so much respect for them.
KW: Do you think that there is anything in particular that sets you apart from some of the music that is typically coming out of Nashville right now. I know that with guys like Stapleton some of the more indie country artists, they kind of don’t want to be lumped in with Pop- Country.
Parsons: Yeah the Pop and Bro Country stuff; I think the thing that I have, I am not really good about talking about myself in this light, but I think the one thing that I have to my advantage is that my voice is kind of different; and it stands out in a way, this bravado that I think I get from listening to Hank Williams Sr. and all those older guys; I think that’s the one thing that I have working for me. I try to bring my personality to the stage so it’s about initiating the crowd and making them feel involved. Like it’s not my show, it’s our show so hopefully that stands out, and so hopefully I can just do what I do, and be who I am, and hopefully people will connect with that.
KW: So where can we pick up your albums right now?
Parsons: It’s in every digital outlet; I believe like iTunes, apple Music, Deezer, Rhapsody, all that good stuff; google music, Band Camp, every digital outlet; and you can get a physical copy off my website as well Jeremyparsonsmusic.com. If you leave a note on there, if you order one and you want it signed and personalized, or if someone is having a birthday or anything, I will get that to you and I will mail it. I’ve got koozies, t- shirts, and everything up there too.
Me: That sounds awesome. I think fans definitely appreciate it so much when you put those personal touches in, and let them know that it matters to you.
Parsons: Yeah it’s a human to human connection, music that is what it is for, you know. It’s connecting with [people] and it’s taken me some cool places, so you’ve got to give back you know.
KW: Absolutely, what is one of the biggest highlights of your career so far?
Parsons: Man the stand out one, and this was almost ten years ago now, November 21, 2008; I got to open a show for the late great George Jones, in Houston, Texas. It was just me and my guitar, and I got to hang out with him and his wife, and it feels like it was yesterday, to be honest, and I can still smell the arena. It was a rotating stage, it was one of the coolest shows that I have done to date. I’ve done cool stuff since; I’ve gotten to go overseas; and especially when he passed away, I realized how lucky I was. Not that I didn’t when it was happening, but it was, it will always be one of the greatest things that has happened in my career, for sure.
KW: He is such a legend, a great opportunity to have been able to spend that kind of time with him.
Parsons: It was awesome. I was really blessed to get that chance.
KW: Is there anything else that you would like to share with Totally Driven readers today, or anything that I have left out that you would like to talk about?
Parsons: No, I think we could do a big old thank you to everyone, and thank you for being you, and having such a cool deal, and wanting to talk to me. Thank you to the people who subscribe to you and everything, this is cool. I like this. We can have a chance to talk and I think we touched on everything we need to cover.
KW: Thank you when do you think we might see you touring closer towards the North East.
Parsons: Maybe it might be; so I was talking to the guy the other day, and we are going to… the plan is in the summer we are going to work our way north starting in Kentucky. Maybe keep playing our way up as far as we can, so no promises but hopefully around that time.
KW: I’ll keep checking back on your website, and see when hopefully there are some dates that come near this area.
Parsons: Perfect I’d love to meet you.
KW: It’s been an absolute pleasure to speak with you today, the album is great and I think you have a beautiful, and distinct voice; so I hope to see a lot more from you in the future.
Parsons: Thank you so much, and I hope to speak to you in the future; and I really appreciate the kind words. Like I said this is a passion project for me, and it means a lot connecting with people. I sincerely appreciate it, and this was very fun and my pleasure, and I hope to do it again soon.
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