It’s been a busy time of late. Following a short tour of the US, I did some co-writing with friends in Nashville and then starting rehearsing the band for UK gigs. And, of course, there’s the small matter of preparing to release a new album.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Travelling Man”?
This was the last song I wrote on my 2015 US tour where I’d played in 21 cities in 17 States and driven 11,000 miles. I was trying to capture the feeling of life on the road, where you breeze in to town, sing your songs, have little adventures, and leave for some place new when the sun comes up.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
During the tour, people would ask me if I had a band with me. I would reply that it was just “me, a guitar and a car”. I knew I had the makings of a song and then somewhere between El Paso, Texas and Roswell, New Mexico the songwriting Muse tapped me on the shoulder and said: “How about this one, cowboy?”
Any plans to release a video for the single?
When we were rehearsing my UK band (The Chancers) for some festival gigs, a filmmaker friend of mine came down with his camera and recorded our performance which has ended up being the official promo for the single. You can see it on my Youtube page at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfvYMp4sqgU
The single comes off your new album American Odyssey – what’s the story behind the title?
The songs on the album are all stories of my epic journey across the US. I was looking for a title that conveyed that, when a writer friend suggested ‘Odyssey’. It just seemed to fit.
How was the recording and writing process?
All the songs were written on the road – notes made on scraps of paper in bars, diners and motel rooms, as well as singing into my little digital recorder as I was driving along. Back in the UK, I edited and crafted the songs until I felt that they were ready for the studio. I go in the studio very prepared to record the backing tracks. The drums were done one day, the bass on another day, then acoustics and so on. The fun starts when I invite my friends to contribute to the songs. I’m very lucky to be able to call on such a talented bunch of musicians.
What aspect of that 2015 road trip/tour did you get to explore on this material?
The album has been described as ‘an outsider’s love letter to the US’ and I’m okay with that. I hope the listener gets a sense of the majesty of that country’s deserts, rivers and mountains, and of just how in awe of it all I was. But I also wanted to convey the highs and lows you experience on a journey such as this; of making new friends wherever you go, and then having to leave them behind when you move on and the realisation that you are on your own and a long way from home.
Any plans to hit the road?
An aspect of touring in the US that served me well was performing house concerts. I really like the intimacy of these shows where I get to unleash my Irish blarney – so I thought I’d do it in the UK. I’m visiting as far south as Plymouth, as far west as Belfast, as far north as Glasgow and as far east as my home county of Suffolk. I could always add more dates, so if any of your readers are interested in hosting me – I’m fully house-trained…?
What else is happening next in Tony James Shevlin’s world?
We’re about to start planning a US tour for 2018, to re-visit some places and also to tick off a couple of new States on my list. This time I hope to avoid Arizona and Texas in July when the temperature reaches 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46C) which does not suit my Celtic complexion!