Montana-born and raised. Where would you go if you were to take a visitor on a tour of your home state?
National Champion javelin thrower and an All-State basketball player in high school. Your involvement in sports continued in college at Washington State University where you went on to take a Division I All-American title. What role does sports play in helping students realize academic successes?
You’d be amazed. I’ve used sports my entire life to compete in class, at work, in music… anywhere and everywhere in between.
You graduated with a Summa Cum Laude in Mathematics and went on to teach high school mathematics. If you were to write a song about being a teacher, how would the first verse go?
I’m not a good one to ask. I only taught for a couple years after college before the music career took off. It’s one of the most admirable professions out there. Some of my “to this day” closest friends are former students.
That same year your duo, Nathan Chance, disbanded and you went on to submit your song, “Be Real,” into CMT’s Music City Madness competition.
The song won the competition (and is the title track on your first album) and you began booking more and bigger opening gigs (Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Alan Jackson, Ronnie Dunn). You followed up with the album Think About That, then came your third record, Down to Get Up, — even though you were unsigned and unrepresented. What resources helped you navigate the industry as an independent artist?
Everything I could. TIME mostly. It took TIME. I’d stay in on weekends and after work to write and rehearse. I’d track down promoters and talent buyers to book shows. I’d fly to Nashville for writing sessions and meetings with labels publishers. I leveraged every single second I had time to dedicate to the pursuit of music. Along the way, I found a producer I loved. I found writing partners I could be myself with. I found management that took me from one level to the next. I found booking agents from 7 different regions across the country. The list goes on and on. To be honest, I wouldn’t wish the “path I took” on anyone… then again, I wouldn’t appreciate where I am if I hadn’t.
“Kill A Man,”“the dark love song you never knew you needed,” is about loving someone so much it would ‘kill’ you if they left. What inspired the song, co-written with Taylor Goyette and Brian Pruitt?
The title. I remember walking into a session with Taylor and Brian with “Kill A Man” in mind. I was like, “is there any way to write a love song that never delves into the grotesque if we title it KAM?” Both guys thought about it for a bit. Then we started coming up with classically “romantic” ways to die. We made sure each guy was on board with each “death” because we didn’t want to cross the line. We used little bits of each of our relationships (2 married, 1 engaged… at the time) and came up with… “Kill A Man.”
‘Industrialized Country’ “is a country lyric and a country vocal mixed with metal guitars, pop structure and industrial layers.” You shared that your “whole process has been in response to bullying. Everything I’ve done is to prove people wrong. I know you’re supposed to do it for the love of music, but I’m cut from a different cloth. I don’t mind being told what to do, but I don’t like being told what I can’t do.” A different business model for sure, “You have to be pretty cutting edge to create an entire sub-genre.” What’s ahead in 2023 after the release of the projects like I and I²?
“Kill A Man” seems to be gaining momentum… so we’re gonna ride it out for a while. We’ve already got an entire album in the can and lined up for release in 2023. It’s gonna range from country to metal to pop to EDM. We really went outside the box for the next batch of songs. It’s still me, but I can’t say it’s a side of me anyone has ever seen before.