In Interview – Eric Paslay: “A song’s written how it’s supposed to be written”

Manchester gigs - Eric Paslay in interview

We talk to country star Eric Paslay about his new Live in Glasgow album, performing live in Europe and writing for his upcoming studio album.

We just wanted to have a bit of a chat with you about performing live, touring the UK and your live album and your upcoming studio album as well. Why did you choose to release a live album? I personally love them. I wish more acts would do that.

Our band is so good live! I think a lot of people they assume I was a songwriter first when actually I had a record deal before I ever had songs recorded. But they just you know, they picture me as man and guitar with I love doing that. And if anyone can ever see me solo, come on out because it’s a fun fun thing but a lot of people don’t see me with the band.  I’ve learned a lot of people, at least in Nashville haven’t heard me with the band.  So and then I think now they can hear me. And a lot of fans love the show. And we just wanted to give him a memory of what our nights are like together on stage.

What made that show so special?

It was one of the first places I played in Europe.  And it was just one of those memories!  We had a magical night.  The whole crowd were singing along to songs that I’d never had on the radio.  They knew my whole album and I’ve learnt that everywhere in Europe – they know your whole album.  But it just happened that Glasgow was the first spot where my mind and heart were opened and I just thought, wow, this is amazing, how you are all really attached to musicians and what we’re doing.  And it just happened that we recorded it in Glasgow and it was a magical night.  And then we got to play there again last night and celebrate with everyone who was on the record – it was fun.

How can you actually tweak your music for the live setting? Do you take slightly different approach to each track?  Do you approach the track differently to how you did when recording it?

Yeah, when I go into studio, I try to record it to where we can play it live. There are so many cool things you can do in a studio. We do add some little extra flavours and you might add more guitars and can fit on a stage just because it sounds cool. Through time I’ve learned that’s not necessary. To have a great part have the one guitar part that is it. You don’t need three of them.  If you’re adding three it’s because you didn’t get the first one right. So really, we don’t change a whole lot of anything really. We don’t have a keys player. So there are occasional times where there’s a little cool cloud in the background on the record that that isn’t there live and no one ever knows they have a great time and Dan makes up for it on his electric guitar. Chris makes up for it on the bass.  Hopefully, I’m foot forward on the acoustic guitar. Josh was always keeping the heartbeat. So that’s a thing, it always transfers right. A lot of people say they love my album, but they love me live even more. So I don’t know what that means. But that’s great because we make records for people to come out and see us live.

“The invitation back means people show up”

This is your biggest tour of the UK to date. And what do you attribute your success to?

I don’t know. I love everyone here. I’m glad that they’re coming out.  The invitation back means people show up and if people are showing up so that means we’ll come back.  I love it here. I love it in the states too it’s cool playing such a big place thing and you can just tour forever. But there’s so much … the architecture, the people are so friendly here. And that’s everywhere, but it’s just a little different. It’s like, it’s Europe. Everything’s old here. And I love old things

From the stage, do you notice a difference with the audiences in different locations?

People are taught how to listen. That’s what I’ve learned through travelling and touring. And how someone reacts to the music doesn’t mean they like you more or less. It just means they’re taught how to listen where I’m from, you cross your arms and you look like you’re going to kill someone. And that means you’re soaking up every lyric. And then other places people are just hands up in the air partying and rocking and singing every word, you know. And some shows are just a lawn chair and people are eating a picnic and having fun, you know, and it’s, it’s the setting and all that and especially with the younger acts, I think they, they take it offensive but if someone doesn’t react like the Beatles came to town like screaming and hands up in the air and it’s like, man, they that’s how people listen here he has to understand how a community listens to music in general and realise they loved you. But I will say in America with so much Country radio, everyone reacts to the number one song more.  They don’t all go buy an album. And I think what is really special in Europe right now is there’s not a lot of Country radio on the radio. So the only way people get it is buying the album. So it’s kind of special to hear people yell out songs that are on an album that you might not even remember how to play.

When you’re preparing for a tour, how do you go about putting the setlist together?

I have a lot of help. Dan is great. Luke plays lead guitar Chris is great. And we all kind of discuss and figure out how the flow is. And we’ve played a lot of shows together so we kind of learn what works together and what doesn’t.  But this tour, we’ve got a brand new set with some new songs in it, so we’re getting used to the set. But people are loving it. I’m glad we’re getting to share new songs.

And those songs today songs that will be coming up on your new album?

We’ve got a brand new album that will come out early next year. A new studio album. We’ve got the live album right now and a new studio be out early next year.

What can you tell us about it?

It’s like what I was saying earlier  … we don’t have eight guitars trying to figure out what the one needs to be saying. But 80% of that we didn’t cut to a click track. That means you can’t go fix stuff … means you better have caught magic when it happened like they used to, before computers came along to fix everything. And we still use some computers to make some magic in that. I don’t know … it’s special. I think every artist is like it’s so great. It’s so special. I love my album. I’ve made a lot of albums, some that haven’t come out … thank you record labels … I love the the label I was at because they got a bunch of hits on the radio and I wouldn’t be here now had it not been for them. But I did record albums that they never put out which is heart-breaking and totally confusing to all involved, including them. And so a lot of those songs that were never released, I went and re-recorded, which is terrifying to do because you already caught magic, so how you going to do it again chasing the wind. But we caught it. I don’t know how and it’s I’m just very grateful we did and it’s I can’t wait for people to hear it.

The ones that you’ve just recorded again have they have you approached him differently now to the first time you laid the tracks?

A song’s written how it’s supposed to be written, the way you caught the first time if it moves your heart why go try to recreate it? I went in and did it the way that I meant it to be written and meant to be recorded. And we did the same hooks the same words and all that. I mean, it’s clearly never going to be the same. We didn’t go just try to copy it exactly the same, but it’s still the same feel.

And what sorts of inspirations fed into the album, themes and the tracks?

Think just life in general. If life doesn’t feed your album you’re full of bullshit. I think just the wisdom of being on the road for a little while. I have a tiny, tiny little mustard seed of wisdom occasionally I think maybe.  Maybe I don’t have any wisdom at all because I just said that. I don’t know I just I made sure that the songs that I love and move me and that I know that has moved people over the years when on this album. And I was there might be a couple that I selfishly put on there that are totally hard songs that I love. I will totally say that there’s a couple songs that the party kids will be bored to death. But those who listen to words and actually think about the human condition I think will be entertaining and love them.  But it’s life in general.  My wife and I just had a little girl. She’s nine months old. But there’s a song in there that I wrote for her.  Every song is about love in one way or another, whether it’s there or not.

How does it feel when you’re performing live? You do a song which is obviously going to be so personal to you.

They’re all personal in a way. You know, I think as a songwriter you don’t always write exactly your story but you’re writing songs and there are few little lines you know in every song that you have the memory of a person in mind or whatever that feeling was or even a memory of playing a show but it’s a man it’s it’s truly is amazing to be able to get to do this and play an instrument and sing.  People are moved by what we’ve done on stage and we have a blast singing and playing the songs and it’s truly a great adventure.

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Author: Evangeline Atkinson