The Shootouts’ sound is reflective of their Northeast Ohio Rustbelt roots, steeped in many familiar things but still its own: an energetic fusion of Americana, honky tonk and Western swing that Shootouts’ fans often refer to as “country music for people who don’t like country.” And while their hometown of Akron, OH isn’t a place normally associated with country music, these influences are as integral to their sound as those of the country music greats.
Your hometown is home to the Pretenders, The Black Keys, and Devo. How have these fellow Midwesterners influenced your music?
While Akron and Northeast Ohio aren’t known for country music, there is one thing I’d like to think that we have in common with bands like The Pretenders, The Black Keys, and Devo: a strong work ethic. The Rustbelt certainly has had its share of ups and downs, but the folks who live there just put their head down and work harder. We take that to heart, which I think is a good thing in the music business — you definitely need to have thick skin.
2019, debut album, Quick Draw. 2021, Bullseye followed and became a Top 10 Americana radio album. Just months after its release you began working with producer/legendary singer Ray Benson and Sam Seifert on your third album in five years, Stampede, which releases via Soundly Music. Benson and members of Asleep at the Wheel contributed to “One Step Forward” and “Better Things To Do” featuring Country Music Hall of Fame member Marty Stuart. What was it like working with these legendary artists?
Every record we’ve made has been a positive learning experience, but getting to work with Ray, Sam and Asleep at the Wheel has been a real masterclass. They were so encouraging and enthusiastic about the music and handled our songs with great care. We’ve had a great time getting to know these folks, as well as record and do some tour dates with them. And to have all of these folks — Ray & the Wheel as well as Marty Stuart, Raul Malo, Buddy Miller, and Jim Lauderdale — lend their support to what we do is incredibly meaningful to us. They are all gentlemen, and we hope to make them proud with this album.
Your Opry debut is scheduled for the day the album releases. “Being invited to perform on that stage, and to become a part of that history, is quite literally a dream come true. It doesn’t seem real, and likely won’t for a long time to come.” A 30-date tour will follow — which venues are on your dream tour?
Getting to play the Grand Ole Opry is definitely a bucket-list moment for us. We’re honored to have been asked and can’t wait to celebrate the new album with them. Outside of that, we’d love to play The Ryman and Austin City Limits someday. One down, many more to go!
Nominated for Best Honky Tonk Group at the 2023 Ameripolitan Music Awards at Graceland in February. The Awards showcase music with prominent roots influence including Honky Tonk, Rockabilly, Western Swing & Outlaw Country Music. Which artists have most influenced your sound?
The Shootouts sound is definitely a mix of all the things we love about country music. You’ll hear a little bit of Bakersfield, Nashville and Texas in our sound. A few folks have said we even have a bit of a punk rock energy to our live show, which I take as a compliment. Honestly, we’re probably as influenced by The Blasters and Rockpile as much as we are by Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Other band favorites include Dwight Yoakam, Johnny Cash, George Strait, Sheryl Crow, The Everly Brothers, Tom Petty, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, and every one of the special guests on Stampede. The list goes on and on.
What’s ahead in 2023?
We plan on touring this record all year long, likely 100+ tour dates, including getting out to the west coast, too. Who knows though — maybe we’ll end up back in the studio for album number four! Ha!
Thank you to The Shootouts Ryan Humbert for this interview.