I’ve been very good. Really looking forward to finals so I can focus more on gigs over the summer. This time of the year is always super hectic, but having this album out and getting to do some work on the PR campaign for it offers a little tranquility in being able to get my mind off of school.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “So Young”?
Absolutely. I think I hold this one a little closer to my heart just because this was the first one that I really wrote on the album. For the first 2-3 songs we wrote, I was a little timid with my ideas, me and my producer Rodney would be collaborating and I’d hold off until I had a fully formed verse of ideas before I came forward with any of them. But on this one I was a lot more involved, it was like my first true experience really writing a song from scratch. And it immediately became like my child I was so dedicated to it. It took longer to write this one than any of the other songs, we almost gave up on it at least a half-dozen times, but I just had to see it through so I kept pushing to get it done, I just knew it was going to come out a great tune on the other side.
Did any event, in particular, inspire you to write this song?
This song was really about the end of my first semester in college. I was finally starting to get myself back out there and I had met this great girl that I just had a blast with. She ended up transferring schools at the end of the semester and it ended up not working out, but looking back at it that was always the most fun and eventful period of my college life. It was just all about having fun and making the most of the time that you had with someone even though you knew what you had going probably had an expiration date on it. I even tried to mold some of the music around a lot of the songs and types of music that I had gotten into through meeting her that fall. I’d like to think I did a decent job on that one mixing fun music that reminds you of coming of age and going out on the town and bittersweet lyrics looking back on a time you always secretly want back.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
This one’s definitely on our list of songs that we’re looking at as far as videos. Like I said it’s one that I hold a little closer to me so I’d love to be able to make a video for it, but that’ll all depend on how it performs relative to the other songs that we’re looking at pushing over the summer.
The single comes off your new album Seasons Change – what’s the story behind the title?
This title actually came to me through the bridge of So Young “Seasons change nothing stays the same” I just thought that that was such a good description of the album. Musically it goes through a lot of changes in genre and lyrically all the songs follow a theme of change in relationships or life. Where I’m at and have been the last few years has been a time where things tend to change really quickly, people you thought would be around forever just kind of fall off, you grow as a person and learn who you need to cut off. Eventually, you get scorned enough to learn that certain relationships just aren’t worth all of the pain that that person is putting you through.
How was the recording and writing process?
It was amazing. The writing was the biggest learning process for me. This is something my producer has been doing for years, but this was my first real endeavor into writing, so there was a lot of weak ideas on my end that had to be sifted through before we solidified really strong lyrics for 12 songs. For the most part, all of the writing for the album got done in 3 weeks. Two of them being when I went up on a couple of one-week trips to London to visit with Rodney and see just how much we could get done. Initially, we were planning on a 6 song EP but after our first week, we already had 5 songs that we really liked, so we decided to meet up again a month later and try to crank out a whole album worth of material. And then after our second meeting, Rodney ended up having some time to come down to Texas and see his family, so on days he had free, we’d find a spot to meet up and work on some more ideas that we’d had.
The recording process was hands down the most fun. The days were long, but we were playing music so those 10-12 hour days just felt like jam sessions. We recorded at this place just outside of El Paso called Sonic Ranch. It’s basically this Hacienda in the middle of a 2,000 acre pecan ranch that this guy inherited from his family, and since you don’t need a whole hacienda’s worth of people to run a pecan farm these days, he turned spare buildings into amazing studios. The guy who runs it all, Tony, has all of this amazing equipment there at the studios. He created a place where you can show up with just a bag of clothes and record an album because of all the gear that he has, and so much of it is vintage, it was great for the warm band feel we were trying to get out of the album. The place is just amazing, they call it a residential recording studio because while you’re recording there, you are also living there in one of the two houses, and then you get up, walk to the main house for some breakfast and then walk down the dirt path to the studio packed to the brim with state of the art equipment, and then at the end of the night you walk back to the house you’re staying at, and then do it all again the next day.
What role does El Campo plays in your music?
Growing up in El Campo, and Texas, in general, has had an immense role in shaping my music. Going out to the bars and dance halls as a kid I would hear bands that played the entire spectrum of music throughout the night. Growing up always hearing blended genres and diverse setlists is why my album has so many different flavors in it.
How has your upbringing influence you as an artist?
My upbringing was one filled with music. I think the single biggest influencing factor, as far as my upbringing, was the music that my grandpa played for me growing up. Without him I probably never would have gotten into blues or all that classic 50s/60s rock.
What aspect of your life did you get to explore on this record?
This record was really about me and my love life around the time of my last years of high school and my first year in college. It was a type of healing experience to put down all of those words, a decent amount of the album is about love that is either unrequited or love that has gone wrong, which I guess is just where I’m at in life. But getting to put all those words on paper and turn them into songs was like therapy. Coming out of making this record I felt like I was coming out with a clean slate.
Any plans to hit the road?
Absolutely, right now we’re working on building at our regular show spots over the summer and hoping to turn that into a bit of a small road run in the fall.
What else is happening next in JOEL’s world?
I’m really looking forward to getting into the summer and getting the opportunity to switch my focus back to what I really love, music.