I’ve been very spoiled… just finished a 20-show tour opening for Lauren Daigle, and I’m about to go back on the road for my Himalayas tour. That would be my album, Himalayas, not the mountain range. 🙂 All the travel is tiring, but I truly, truly love it, and it’s worth the effort.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Gold Plated Lie”?
It’s from the perspective of the devil trying to seduce someone, which makes it a different kind of song for me; most of my songs are autobiographical. I love an opening line that piques your ear, and I think this one does – “I catch Hell for paradise lost, when it comes to bargains I’m the boss. Here’s an offer that’ll light your fuse, step right up you’ve got nothing to lose.” I wrote the song with my friend Cheyenne Medders – I came into our writing session with the riff and he wrote that first lyric on the spot. After that I knew we were on to something cool. So it’s fun to sing, and with the tempo and arrangement, it’s really fun to play!!
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
I wouldn’t say one event sparked it, but it’s a theme that I like because we’re all tempted to cut corners, to do the expedient thing over the right thing at times, and this song talks about that without coming across preachy.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
There’s a live video of it from the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville that I can’t wait for people to see. I think it was a really good performance, and that space is just magical.
The single comes off your new album Himalayas – what’s the story behind the title?
I named the album after my song “Himalayas,” which is about facing fear and becoming more, doing and seeing more. From here in America, the Himalayas represent something grand and exotic and distant to me. So they made a good metaphor for accessing the parts of yourself you suspected were there but had to go find.
How was the recording and writing process?
It was a bit of a long and winding road. I used to work with Ricky Skaggs, and I played in his band for five years. During that time, I came up with my sound and the concept of how I write for the bass and voice. So there were a few years of coming up with tunes and arrangements, learning how to actually physically perform them, and then the recording process. This album is certainly a labor of love.
How do you go on balancing all your different influences?
I just try to listen to stuff and let it seep in. But I also learned not to be afraid of my influences and letting them show in my music, as eclectic as they are. I love Jaco Pastorius and I think you can hear it. I love Paul Simon and I think you can hear that too.
What role does Nashville play in your music?
Being here is a big part of how I learned to write songs and conceptualize arrangements. A lot of that came from my time with Skaggs and playing with his band. There are so many heroes here to learn from, and the more you soak up the better.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Mostly from my own life. I associate just about every song with a particular person. So when I perform, I conjure those people in my mind for each tune to get into the emotional space of the tune. It’s almost like praying. And when I write I do the same thing… whether the subject matter is happy or heavy, it helps to feel like I’m talking to someone. If they were here now, what would I say to them?
How has the road been treating you so far?
I’m pretty used to the road, and it doesn’t wear me out too badly. That said, my schedule has been pretty intense the last six months, and I can definitely feel it. Luckily, I think it’s made me stronger and more consistent, but I gotta make sure I sleep.
NPR Tiny Desk is certainly one!! That was a dream come true, and it’s been cool to hear people’s response to that. The great thing about that is the fact that it’s recorded and online – there are so many beautiful moments on a tour that go by undocumented and get forgotten. I know from the last six months I’ve had many highlights – playing gorgeous, historic theaters like the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Some of my favorite moments, though, have been at my own headline shows even though they aren’t as big as the shows I was opening with Lauren Daigle or Andrew Peterson or Jon McLaughlin recently. At my shows, I get more time to really connect with the audience and feel something magic there. I heard people sing my songs back to me at my shows for the first time this year, and that’s pretty hard to top.
Any plans of doing a live collaboration with Lauren?
Hmm, great idea! We don’t have plans for that at the moment, but once her tour is over and things have settled down just a bit, maybe it’d be possible. She is so fantastic – a powerhouse voice and just a great human, and I hope we’ll get to work together again.
What else is happening next in Scott Mulvahill’s world?
In two days, I’ll make my own debut at the Grand Ole Opry!! That’s pretty surreal. After that, it’s a lot of touring, and a lot of dreaming about the music I will be making and the places I’ll be going. It’s really just the beginning for me… I’ve got so much inside that needs to get out.