INTERVIEW: Kentucky Country Singer-Songwriter Andy Brasher

Pic by Kenny King

irst of all, congrats on the recent release of your latest single “Myna Bird.” Can you talk to us more about the song?

AB: Thanks! The song compares a singer/songwriter to a myna bird, which is a type of “talking” bird. The comparison actually goes back to my mother when I was 6 or 7 years old. She used to call me a “little myna bird” because of my ability to repeat the lyrics to songs I’d heard. We’d ride into town with her to get groceries and if I heard a song for the first time on the way into town, I could repeat most of the lyrics by the ride home. This idea has stuck with me for a long time and after years of touring, playing cover music, all the while trying to push my original songs, the comparison really explained my situation and that of my songwriting friends. I started writing “Myna Bird” on the Brasher/Bogue tour bus after a gig at the Flora Bama Lounge in Perdido Key, Florida. It was about a year or so before my split from the group in 2015. The rest of the band was still at the bar and I was alone in the tour bus at around 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning. My good friend and fellow songwriter, Wayne Mills, had just been killed in Nashville, Tennessee days earlier and I was in deep thought about him. We lived the same kind of life – writing songs and running up and down the roads trying to get people to listen to them. So, I wrote this song for us.

Any plans to release a video for the track?

AB: Yes. The official video for “Myna Bird” has been completed and will be released soon. No date on that just yet, but folks can certainly subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified.

The single is the title track of your new album Myna Bird (due out April 3) – what’s the story behind the title?

AB: “Myna Bird” refers to me and my songwriting friends, as I mentioned before. I think all of the songs on the album fit under the “Myna Bird” theme. But also, “Myna Bird”, as a song, was really the impetus for the creation of the album. Producer Harry Smith (who also produced our Brasher/Bogue records) and I had talked about doing a record of my solo material for a while and this was the first song I showed him. He loved it and it really pushed us to get started on the record.

How was the recording and writing process?

AB: I’m always writing and collecting ideas, so by the time I was ready to record the album, I had plenty of material to choose from. Some of these songs were written 10 years ago and others just a few months, but they all fit well together. I presented about 30 songs to my producers, Ross and Harry, and they helped me pick the 10 songs that would make the album. They were also instrumental in helping me shape some of the songs in pre-production. I’d never really experienced that process before, with someone editing my original work. It was hard, at first, to compromise ideas I’d had for a long time. But, we ended up making the songs even better and it was a process I came to love.

The songs continued to evolve through the recording process. I couldn’t ask for a better environment to record. Blackbird Studios is simply top notch. Half the time, I had to pinch myself to believe I was really there! We had access to great instruments, mics, rooms and the best equipment. The musicians we used were complete professionals and they made the album come to life. We laid the basic tracks to eight of the ten songs on Myna Bird in the first two weeks of production. The songs “Checkbook” and “Last of Our Kind” were a bit trickier. We had some trial and error before we nailed those down.

What was it like to work with Ross Hogarth & Harry Lee Smith – and how did that relationship develop?

AB: Harry and I have known each other for years. We’ve done lots of projects together and he was the first one I called when I was ready to make this record. We’d talked about it in the past and I knew his vision for the album was similar to mine. Harry’s knowledge of song structure, melody, harmony and his mastery of guitar make him such an asset. I’ve never left a session with Harry without having learned something. Through Harry, I had the unique opportunity to record at Blackbird Studios. It was by chance that we met Ross Hogarth there. Ross was the guest engineer the week we started recording. We all hit it off immediately and got to know each other over the course of that week. Ross really liked the songs I was recording and Harry and I approached him about coming on board as a producer and completing the project with us. Watching Ross work in the studio is epic! He’s got great taste, great ideas and knows how to get the sounds he’s looking for. Harry and Ross were amazing in the studio, we had a blast cutting up in the downtime and it got very serious when it came time to get to work. They are both equally passionate about music and it comes through in the recording. I think, for me, the best part of working with these two is how much they cared about the record. They’d spend lots of time on the phone with me talking about the songs…critiquing where they were and plotting the course for where they needed to go. It was nice having co-conspirators and their influence is greatly felt on the album.

What role does your hometown in Kentucky play in your music? Your time in Nashville?

AB: My hometown is the best! There is a culture of appreciation for music and the people that make it here. I know a lot of artists can’t say that they are appreciated in their hometown, but my community has always been supportive of my career. Nashville taught me a lot. While I lived there, I met many of the people that would continually influence my career in positive ways. From songwriters that I’ve collaborated with, musicians I’ve worked with, industry folks that I got advice from… there are talented people from all over the country that make Nashville home.

Where did you find inspiration for the songs and lyrics on Myna Bird? Is your process different as a solo artist versus the collaborative environment you had with your last band Brasher/Bogue?

AB: Inspiration for the songs on Myna Bird came from my life. Some are real stories, some are made up, but they are all based on my experiences. Yes, my writing process is a bit different than it was with Brasher/Bogue. The ideas and inspirations and the way I attempt to mold them into stories is the same, but there’s no one to counter or question my writing decisions in the solo environment. That has its benefits and drawbacks. Dustin Bogue and I worked extremely hard on the songs penned during our Brasher/Bogue run. We were constantly challenging each other and holding each line to a standard. That method was arduous, but it produced some great results. I still try to hold myself to a high standard when writing on my own, but I also have the freedom to go any direction I want without compromising.

What else is happening next in Andy Brasher’s world?

AB: With the rest of the world, I’m concerned for public safety right now. Concerns over COVID-19 have really changed the social landscape. I support the decisions of our leadership, but I’m concerned for working musicians, crew, bartenders and many others in the service and entertainment industry. No public assembly means no income for them. I know these will be challenging times ahead, but we’ll make it through together.

I’m looking forward to the release of the Myna Bird album on April 3rd, 2020. We’re taking pre-orders already and we’ll be shipping CD’s out as soon as it drops… we may just have to push back the tour and album release parties until the spread of COVID-19 has ceased and the country is in better shape. In the meantime, I’ll jump behind the camera and do some live mini-concerts on Facebook and YouTube. I can connect with my fans in a safe way during this time, and prevent myself from going stir-crazy!

LISTEN HERE

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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