Billy Crain is one of those inspirational artists that chooses to say what he wants to say, how he wants to say it, with also focusing on paying attention to what his fans want to hear. His truly soulful album Family matters draws from a time when rock and roll really rocked, a time where musical acts like Tom Petty and John Cougar Mellencamp lit up the charts.
RYAN: The album Family Matters is a very smart, socially and spiritually conscious album. How would you describe this album to anyone that has never heard it before?
It’s the kind of CD from a songwriter that is used to the pressures of writing hit songs and producing as the other hit producers do BUT does not stick to the formula. You won’t hear syrupy love songs and ballads. You get to enter into the musical world of Billy Crain’s head, what he thinks, what he writes, how he hears things, and how he looks at life…
RYAN: The songs are very story driven, can you take us through a bit of your song writing process?
I have completely rearranged my writing process. When I was a staff songwriter I always had the music arranged, a song title, melody etc and stick to that formula. I now keep a book of titles that I like. I’ll start scribbling notes and lines and writing poetry. I go to the piano or guitar and see what comes out to fit it and there you have it. One of the jokes on music row was “What are we going to rhyme with love today?” Absolutely nothing!!!!
RYAN: The track Wilder Things is one of my favorites on the album, do you have any personal favorite tracks and why?
Wilder Things was written about my daughter Stella. Sandy (my wife) and I were foster parents and little Stella Rose came to us at 4 days old addicted to heroin and 6 other drugs. The song is about parenting her because she is very, very unique. My favorite song would be True Beauty. It is about my wife and it’s an edgy love song which I like. It also is about her heart and the way God sees it.
RYAN: There are some influences that I think I hear in your music. Can you tell us what artists or other things have inspired you?
I have so many. My brother Tommy Crain inspires all the twin guitar harmonies, Duane Allman and Dicky Betts, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton on the guitar end of things. Artist wise I would have to say The Allman Bros Band, Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, and the Police. Children inspire me, I love children and most of all God. The music you hear on those CD’s are God inspired. He has taken me to new places I have never been before and I COMPLETELY trust him.
RYAN: Every song on Family Matters is its very own personal journey, is there a consistent theme that runs through the album?
Yes absolutely!! Dark House was about my journey out of depression, True Beauty about my wife and how she helped me through those times, Lucky Penny I wrote with my wife about the Sandy Hook massacre, Family Matters about the hardships of the last 4 years, Road Warriors about my brother and I growing up together musically, Glory was about my friend Jim Mahoney’s fight with cancer, Hurricane Helen was about my mom, I wrote it the night before she died and was on the way to the hospital to play it for her but it was too late, Wilder Things about Stella Rose, my daughter, Joe Parker was about a friend of a different color that took care of my mom for years, and about his funeral. 1928 was a late edition as I found out who my moms birth family was and how it all went down in 1928. This CD is a musical journey through my life and how really, really important family is.
RYAN: You have worked with many big names in the industry, is there anyone that you would like to collaborate with if given the chance?
Man, I would LOVE to write or play with Tom Petty!!!!
RYAN: With your vast history in music, do you have any words of wisdom for those just starting their musical journey?
Yes, don’t go into this to be a star. Remember this is a God given talent and never, ever take it for granted. If you do get to be one of the privileged few who make it, always be kind to everyone. You are no better than anyone else in this world. Treat your fans with kindness and respect and you will fan/friends for life and Always have fun!!!
RYAN: The Soundcloud/Rdio digital revolution is in full swing, how do you feel about the switch from physical CD sales to digital downloads?
Man, Ryan, I love physical CD’s just because you get a cover and can read about it. It just feels complete although I use iTunes a lot to buy music. Downloads are deceiving because you can have millions of them and not make very much money BUT you gain more fans and more fans means more shows and more shows mean more money…
RYAN: What are some of your favorite musical moments up until now?
Playing with my brother Tom Crain from the Charlie Daniels Band all those awesome nights, sitting all night in a hotel room with Dicky Betts from the ABB playing acoustic guitars, coming out and playing Freebird with the Rossington Collins Band many a night and becoming close friends with Allen Collins, and recently stepping onstage to a sold out Bridgestone Arena and singing my deceased brothers song “Lonesome Boy From Dixie” with the Charlie Daniels Band.How do you top that?
RYAN: Lastly, and thank you for your time. Is there any news from your camp that you would like your fans to know?
Thank you Ryan for your time. I am currently 6 songs into my upcoming 5th solo CD. It is taking on a while new direction and I can’t wait to share it with you!!!!