Can you talk to us more about your song “Airwaves”?
“Airwaves” is the title track to my newest album. The song is a love letter to the FM radio stations I listened to as a child, back when guys like Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen were still getting played on the Top 40.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
I wanted to write a song that reminded me of the big-sounding music I used to hear on my hometown radio station. The entire album is rooted in those influences.
Can you tell us about the process of shooting the music video?
We found the biggest radio tower around — the WSM tower just south of Nashville — and asked politely if they’d let us shoot a video around the ground level. That’s how we found ourselves spending a cold November day outside, lip syncing to our song. Around 6:00, we packed everything up and headed back to Nashville for a two-hour gig, then woke up early the next morning and drove to Arkansas for another show.
How was the recording and writing process?
I did most of the work alone, which is pretty common for me. I always have about 10 ideas going at once, and each idea takes a LONG time to finish. This time, all 10 ideas became complete around the same, and they seemed to share a common thread, so… time to make an album. We headed over to Paul Ebersold’s studio and tracked the majority of each song live, which works really well for this kind of music, because rock & roll really comes alive when it’s performed live.
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than on your own?
Whenever I’m playing in somebody else’s band, I try to be the sort of right-hand man I’d want to have in my own band. I’ll harmonize, I’ll play guitar riffs that echo the melody, and I’ll stay out of the way as soon as the vocals come in. That’s the philosophy I try to adhere to when I’m playing with Elizabeth Cook, Jon Latham, or any other songwriters who hire me to be their guitarist.
What role does Nashville play in your music?
Nashville will kick your ass over and over until you’re strong enough to fight back. There’s so much talent in this town that it’s intimidating. That’s the biggest role Nashville plays in my music — it forces me to be better, because everyone else is already so good.
What aspect of your life did you get to explore on this record?
My wife and I currently live apart, while she finishes veterinary school in Knoxville and I pursue my music career in Nashville. We’ve been married for nearly a decade, so it’s unusual to find ourselves living apart. That experience influences songs like “Remember This” and “Moving Like the Weather.” Songs like “Make It Last” and “We Came Here to Run” are inspired by the struggle that comes with doing what you love, why is something I can relate to.
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Honestly, I’ll just wait until a melody idea comes into my head, and then I’ll hold onto it, mold it, let it grow, and eventually build it into an actual song. Who knows where those melodies come from.
Any plans to hit the road?
We’ve always toured very heavily. We’ll do the same in support of this album. We’re actually about to play the Rock Boat, which is something we’ve always wanted to do. Bring on the high seas.
What else is happening next in Andrew Leahey’s world?
I’m about to make a cup of tea, listen to some Prince, and take a shower. That’s what’s happening, man.