If you were to write an intro for “Coming to Break Your Heart” before it played on the radio, what would you want listeners to know about the song?
Writing as a trio is unique. We all brought heartbreaking experiences to this song without indulging in the details during writing.
We usually like to let the listener interpret the songs for themselves. That’s the beauty of creating something for everyone. The song could touch someone in a completely different way than we intended. If we tell them how to listen to the song, it’s like a spoiler.
We want them to take it how they need it at the moment. Whether it’s because someone hurt you and you’re trying to get back at them,
Or that they hurt you, but you know that by doing so, they really hurt themselves. It can truly be interpreted in so many ways.
It’s unusual in its boldness but common in the theme that we’ve all been hurt by the people we love.
6 Things You Don’t Know About Us:
Can each of you share a memory from your childhood that influenced your decision to pursue a career in music?
Shannon: I’m not sure that any of us ever made a conscious decision to pursue music. It’s almost like the music was pursuing us. From 2–3 years old, I would dance and sing as a toddler. I just HAD to entertain. Lori has always written songs in one way or another since she was a young child, and James grew up playing every instrument known to man. None of us could really escape it.
Introspective lyricists. Genre-blending melodies. Stellar harmonies. Each member is a songwriter, a musician, and a lead vocalist. First EP, Hello Heart, released in 2019. How did the three of you come together as a trio?
Shannon: The song, “Lies,” really brought us together as a trio.
James: Shannon and Lori were playing in a band in Los Angeles and decided to move back to Nashville. Lori and I are longtime friends, and when I heard the song “Lies,” I felt that it was an endeavor I wanted to be a part of based on the solid foundation of the songwriting, harmony arrangements, and eclectic musicality of the project. We worked so hard and so much the first year. That time generated trust and closeness, which are reflected in our performances. We all felt it was simply magical when it came together.
Lori: Yes, and when James even mentioned the idea of being in a project with me, I jumped on it. There’s no one I’d rather make music with than these two amazing human beings.
Connecting with listeners through deeply personal live performances. “As a trio, every song we write means something different to each one of us. We welcome and embrace the listener’s right to have their own interpretation as well.” What have fans shared about how they connect your lyrics to their lives?
Deep emotion. This may sound strange, but a lot of people cry at our shows. We have lost count of the times that someone comes up to us afterward with tears in their eyes and shares the emotional experience they had during our performance. Most of the time, it’s during our song “I’m So Used to Loving You,” and they’ll share their own story about losing someone, or “Lies,” and sometimes other songs for other reasons.
On our song, “Lies,” we make SURE not to try to interpret the song for anyone because it is multi-faceted. But the harmony arrangements are so intricate—powerful and delicate at the same time—and, for some reason, move a lot of people to have emotional reactions when they hear us sing them live. It is the highest compliment we could ever receive. But yes, we tend to make people cry at our shows.
Nashville, Music City. Scheduling time to go to at least one secluded songwriting retreat per quarter. Bucket list places to write?
Lori: When we said we try to make sure to go on a writing retreat at least four times a year, I guess that could sometimes be misinterpreted by some. When we talk about going on a songwriting retreat, it’s literal. We are retreating from the world, our lives, phones, family, etc. As long as we have a comfy couch, isolation and privacy, and a good coffee pot, then we are all set. Our bucket list would be more about time than location. We would LOVE to have a week instead of a weekend each time!
Shannon: We could be in a basement as long as we are together, comfy, and isolated. So to answer your question, our writers’ retreats are no vacation. We are definitely working. However, it probably wouldn’t hurt to schedule one somewhere in the Caribbean!
James: I could think of many beautiful, secluded, and exciting places to spend a weekend. Unfortunately, writing a song is likely to be overlooked. We are always having fun together and easily distracted. Hawaii sounds amazing, but I fear I’d return with a tan and hangover instead of a song! We don’t seek out boring places, but truly, all we really need is a comfortable couch and a coffee pot. Our wishlist would more likely look like spending a longer time or doing it more often!
Debut full-length album, Orbit, set to release this fall. Reading it will showcase the growth and evolution of your sound. Which fellow artists have most inspired the changes in your sound?
We believe that what we do vocally has a distinction above all else. Our new additions to the band, Kenny Sayne, Dylan Stansberry, and Michael Urdy, brought power and energy that we honestly weren’t prepared for. They not only inspire us but also bring us great comfort in their individual appreciation of our original sound.
So when we talk about the evolution of our sound, it’s not about other bands’ influences on us, but our opportunity to take the acoustic trio, which is us three (Lori, Shannon, and James), and expand our performances to our full six-piece band.
We are such diverse songwriters that it has been a thrill to take our three parts of harmony, guitars, and percussion and record and perform our songs full-out. It’s an evolution of our sound from the trio to our full six-piece band, and it’s so wonderful to get to share this aspect of The Close with our fans as well!
What do each of you enjoy doing in your free time, outside of music?
Free time?? What’s that?? Lol! We haven’t had free time in over 5 years now. We are always working on writing, music, harmonies, touring, social media, videos, etc. Please don’t get me wrong; we welcome this with open arms. I guess, when there is the chance to take some time for ourselves, Shannon likes to go camping and fish, Lori would read and write screenplays, and James would without a doubt be on a golf course somewhere (with Shannon and Lori)!
Can you share 12 songs that have influenced your lives and careers?
Lori: “The Boxer” by Paul Simon
His writing has absolutely inspired me. The lyrics from his song, “The Boxer,” brought me so much comfort growing up. I wear a necklace with the words “But the fighter still remained” to remind me who I am when life gets tough.
In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of every glove that laid him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains
Lori: “Sing to the Glory” by Acapella
Inspired me at a very young age to listen to every nuance, breath, and part of a song. They work together in magical ways to exact feelings from the listener in a way nothing else can really do. The group Acapella changed my life and the way I listen to music.
Lori: “Yoda” by Weird Al Yankovich
Inspired me to really listen to the lyrics. Yes, it’s a parody, and yes, it’s silly—actually hysterical. But it inspired me to really understand the genius behind well-written lyrics, no matter what the tone of the song is. It taught me that there should never be filler lines. This I learned at age 10 or so! Weird Al literally helped shape me as a songwriter! LOL It sounds ridiculous, but he’s a genius!
Lori: “Night Shift” by The Commodores
This song inspired me from a young age. It was pop and light, but the arrangement and harmonies moved me to feel something about the subject matter, even though I was too young to really understand what they meant. What I couldn’t glean from the lyrics, because I was 10, I got from the emotion, arrangement, and vocal performance of the song. It transcended the subject matter and spoke to me emotionally, even at that young age.
Shannon: “You Are My Sunshine”
My mother sang that song to me when I was a baby, and the song always makes me smile. I’ve always said this song was written perfectly. So simple and real. I mean, who doesn’t know this song? It’s a legend!
Shannon: “Silver Threads And Golden Needles” by Linda Ronstadt
I was only 2 years old when I first heard this song sung by Linda Ronstadt. My aunt Judy used to have an album with this song on it. I instantly fell in love. Listening to songs like this from such a young age definitely left its mark on my musical journey.
Shannon: “I Can Still Make Cheyenne” by ‘King’ George Strait
When I made the decision to move to Nashville from Georgia, I had made a demo with a few songs I had written. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to put a cover song on there as well. So I recorded myself singing “I Can Still Make Cheyenne,” and added it to the demo. The song was written by Aaron Barker and Erv Woolsey. Some years later, I had the opportunity to meet Aaron, shake his hand, and tell him how much this song touched me. Such an amazing experience.
Shannon: “My Big Dreams Are Small” by Shannon Walker
I actually wrote this song, but the reason I list it here is because it changed my life and got me my first record deal. Lori loved it and unknowingly to me, sent it to Karl Braun, a dear friend of ours who also happens to be an entertainment attorney. He took the song to DM Records. They loved the song and gave me my first independent record deal.
James: “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glen Campbell
Dad played in the living room with an old high school band once a year and would let me sing this song with them. My first experience singing with a full band and performing for a room of listeners at the same time.
James: “Operation Spirit” by Live
My brother turned me onto this song, and it took me many listens to figure out why I was moved by it. Energy, passion, and clarity. Also, the bass line is wicked!
James: “Hello” by Lionel Richie
Was the first time I experienced how the song remembers when and can take me right back to my first real relationship in school that consumed me. I believe the influence is that when I hear this song now, I have a completely different opinion and respect for it, but it still takes me right back to those original feelings. That’s powerful.
James: “Cornflake Girl” by Tori Amos
This song is, for me, the perfect blend of raw artistry and production. I could listen to this song on repeat and never stop appreciating new things.