Jimmie Allen has certainly made an impression on the country music scene. Signed to Stoney Creek, the Delaware born Jimmie Allen released his debut album, Mercury Lane, in October. The album followed relatively quickly on from his self-titled debut album which was released earlier in the year to huge acclaim.
And he shows no sign of slowing down. A debut run of UK dates followed the release of the album, including a Manchester gig at The Ruby Lounge, supporting Chase Rice. And he’s also been announced to perform multiple sets at the Country To Country Music Festival.
We caught up with one of the fastest rising country acts at his Manchester gig to get a few words on the album and touring.
How’s your first trip to the UK going?
“Excited to be here and a place I’ve always wanted to come to. I love it. I love that people took the time and not only learned my songs but learned other songs that I have out that I have recorded. Just the overall vibe is super cool. I dig it, the fashion, everything.”
“there was something for everyone on there”
The dates have following quickly on from the release of your debut album Mercury Lane. How have you found the reception to the album?
“The reception has been cool, man. I like that different type of people connect with different songs because a certain age group might like this song [or another] – I feel like, on the record, I intentionally put so many different styles of country on there, so that way there was something for everyone on there.”
How long were you working on Mercury Lane?
“About a year and a half. There’s a bunch of songs that I liked. I’m always writing and always recording demos and stuff so I had a bunch of sounds and songs that I’d already started putting together and then got with the label. I found a few of the songs that fit cohesively with the sound that I had and just picked the rest – 15 that I loved the most – and just threw them on there!”
Mercury Lane follows on relatively quickly from your EP. Did the creative process differ substantially between the two?
“It was the same pretty much. I constantly write songs and I’m constantly recording, so it’s not like I said, “Okay, I’m going to take five months and write and record.” It’s a constant thing where I’m always adding songs to my bank. Then, when I know I want to put a project together, I find songs that I feel tell the best story together. Then, I just group them and boom. Then, while that processes, I’m already still writing songs for the next record. I just write songs. I write a bunch. I write and record all the time, that way I always have a pool to pull from.”
Where do you find the inspiration for your songs?
“Different places. My life, family, television shows. When I meet people on the road I just talk to them and I like to dig into people’s lives a little bit, just find out a little bit more about them, because you never know where the inspiration’s going to come from.”
“I think the biggest challenge was keeping the album to 15 instead of 20 songs!”
What was the biggest challenge you found in the album?
“There wasn’t really a challenge. I think the biggest challenge was keeping the album to 15 instead of 20 songs! Other than that it was pretty easy. It flowed smoothly. I feel preparation is something that’s so important, and a lot of time we take for granted. That’s preparation for everything. Not only getting ready in the morning, but projects like albums and shows, like touring. Preparation is so important. I feel it’s something I’ve been wanting to do my entire life, so I’ve always prepared for having an album so if a label says, “We need an album.” “Here you go, it’s done.” Just turn it around, man, just keep going.”
Do you get much opportunity to write whilst you’re on the road?
“I don’t really like writing on the road. I like coming up with ideas on the road. When I go home for a few days, that’s when I like to sit down and really plug into it because on the road, I feel like it’s limited time. When I’m on the road, I’m in the entertainer mode. I want to put on a great show and just focus on connecting with my fans through the show. Then, when I’m at home then I’ll focus on writing the songs that I’ll use later on. I don’t really like writing it on the road. Every time I go home, I run through ideas I like and see if I’m still as inspired about the same subject matter when I get home. If not I just toss it out.”
When you sit down to actually write that track, how would you then approach it? What comes first?
“It depends on the song, on my mood that day. There’s some I’ll just start by myself on acoustic. There’s some that I’ll take with me to a writing session. There’s some that I might just have a friend start building a track and go for it. It just depends. I’m a very in the moment kind of guy. I never like having a system because each song has a life of its own, and I don’t feel you should box it up or pigeonhole it to one style of creation because each creation is different. They’re like children. We don’t treat kids the same. I don’t treat songs the same, whether how I approach it or even how I record it.”
“That’s always on mind. Just, don’t suck!”
What can fans expect when they see you perform live?
“My live band shows, I’m jumping off the speakers, flipping over stuff. Acoustic shows, we don’t have to dance, it’s more tame. It’s more, I tell a little bit of the story behind the song and really just showcase the lyric in the song not necessarily performance. Vocal performance more than running around, stuff like that. It’s more dialed into like the song and the meaning.”
You recently played your first arena show. How did that go?
“That was awesome. … Great time, man. Actually, that was the same day my album came out, so it was awesome.”
What was going through your mind as you walked onto that stage?
“Man, just trying not to suck! That’s always on mind. Just, don’t suck!”