As a kid, I gravitated toward three things: songs, swagger and spectacle. When I turned 11, I got a bright red Gibson Les Paul, which I took all over my hometown of Birmingham, AL– talent shows, birthday parties, middle school dances, and all the other glamorous gigs you book when you’re a kid who just wants to play all the time. I was enamored with over-the-top rock stars that were pushy and unapologetic because they were that good. I was drawn to the weight and chops of Jimmy Page and Stevie Ray Vaughn, and the soul and grit of Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder. I couldn’t get enough. As the fascination grew, I quickly started writing my own songs.
At 19, I quit school, started a new band, played every dive in the Southeast for 50 bucks and beer, and eventually signed a giant record deal with Epic Records in 2005. We spent lots of their money making a big record, opening big tours, and believing big promises. The wheels eventually fell off and we realized this isn’t about overnight success. You have to grind it out for a LONG time. You have to work your ass off just to get by. You have to keep paying your dues and keep paying your dues and keep paying your dues.
In 2008, I decided to go solo and take the DIY route. It was time to own it. The thrill of any success and the weight of any failure would be on my shoulders. I wasn’t going to hide behind a band or pretend it wasn’t my name on the marquee. I was ready for another season. I recorded The Fire EP in August 2008 and the reset process was in full effect. I self-released 7 more EP’s over the course of the next year and a half. I toured in my car, shared bills with some incredible artists, and made some new friends. I had a couple of songs placed on Grey’s Anatomy and made it to number 1 on the iTunes singer/songwriter charts a few times. By May of 2010, I had a list of 30 tunes that I still hadn’t recorded. With the help of fans, Pledge Music, and producer Paul Moak, I had the team and the resources to make my first full-length album. I headed to Nashville to make Now You’re Free, a record I had always wanted to make full of anthemic rock songs with heart.
After touring that record, I was dying to do something a bit more stripped down. I wanted to make a record full of the residuals—full of what’s left on the canvas after you strip it all off. I had parted ways with everything. My relationship with my management/agency was on the rocks, my personal life was a nightmare, and the song output was at an all time high. That’s when I decided to make a record for me. No pressure, no rules. I decided to be an artist again. No business, just art. That’s where A Banquet For Ghosts began. I gave everything I had to that record. Every note, every lyric, every imperfection – they’re all part of a bigger story. A story I need to tell.
So here I am. 29 years old and still climbing the ladder. Partially because I love it, partially because I’m addicted to it. I still tour in a van. I still rummage through the gummy worms at 4am fuel stops. I still look out the window for hours because I can’t sleep in a moving vehicle. I still miss home. And I still dream.
A wise man once sang, “I know it’s only rock n roll…but I like it.”
I hope you do too.
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