Interview with Drew Holcomb
Americana has become one of those genres that is easier to define by its characters than its characteristics, a fact that is wonderfully embodied by the boundary-blurring sound of Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors. Over the last decade, Holcomb and his band have put out some of the best roots-inspired music the genre has to offer, with their previous album Good Light garnering them their largest audience yet and some much-deserved attention from radio and television.
As both a “thank you” to fans and also as an exciting lead-up to the release of their new album Medicine (out January 27, 2015), they are currently offering Good Light in its entirety for a limited time here on NoiseTrade.
Ahead of the release of their new album, I spoke with Holcomb about the breakthrough of Good Light, his inaugural Moon River Festival, and what fans can expect from Medicine.
NoiseTrade: Looking back at Good Light, to what do you attribute the splash it made on the charts and the buzz it generated with fans old and new?
Drew Holcomb: We have been a band for nearly a decade, and when we made Good Light, I had a much clearer vision as a songwriter than I had on previous records. We decided to keep the recording process simpler than we had before. In the end, the album felt more like we play as a live touring band, a lot less going on sonically, with better articulated songs, melodies, and arrangements.
As a songwriter, there are songs on Good Light that were way more personal and more mature than anything I had written before; songs like "What Would I Do Without You", "Tennessee", and "Good Light." I think it was the record that we and our fans always wanted us to make.
NT: Good Light allowed you guys to do an international headlining tour for the first time as well. What was that experience like for you as a performer compared to when you play here in the states?
Holcomb: First off, our crowd overseas skews much older. It’s more of a 70's songwriter-loving crowd and less of a hip, Americana crowd. They are very intentional listeners and they give you more benefit of the doubt. Whereas in the states, lots of audiences can throw a vibe that makes you feel like you have to prove something to them. Both are great experiences, just very different.
NT: This summer featured your first annual Moon River Festival that you founded and hosted. What sparked the decision to start your own festival and what was the biggest thing you learned from it?
Holcomb: I've always wanted to host my own festival, and specifically host it in my hometown of Memphis, TN. I wanted to introduce our fans to my city, and to bring artists we have met along the road together for a big family style musical reunion. I learned that it takes a lot more work than I envisioned, but the end result was also more rewarding than I had imagined.
NT: With your new album Medicine being set for release at the end of January, what song are you looking most forward to sharing with your fans?
Holcomb: There's a song called "You'll Always Be My Girl" which might be a career song for me. It’s a simple song about love and marriage, but to me it really speaks to the height of joy and the depth of sorrow that real love entails.
NT: Thinking back to when you were entering the studio to record Good Light, what is one of the biggest differences between your mindset then and more recently when you were getting ready to record Medicine?
Holcomb: I think Good Light gave me the wings I needed to really make music the way I want to make it, without other voices – commercial expectations, or the work of my peers – having too much influence. Medicine is the harvest of that mindset. We recorded Medicine in just 8 days, and it feels like the most natural and present record we have ever made.