INTERVIEW: Curtis Peoples

Curtis Peoples - Coffee Shop Arena Rock by Bev Moser
A songwriter with an understanding for what it takes to make a great pop record, Curtis Peoples crafts songs that fans of rock to acoustic folk and pop can enjoy. Recently, Curtis performed at Nashville’s 3rd & Lindsley and sat down with Bev to discuss his thoughts on performing, touring, his pet peeves and what inspires him. Curtis is a very fan-oriented person and it shows in his demeanor one-on-one as well as on stage. He is very humble and honest in his responses and you can hear his enthusiasm when he speaks about his career and music. August 19th marked the release of his debut album with ten well-crafted songs that showcase his talents as a songwriter and artist.
Bev: Welcome to Nashville. Is this the first time you have played here in Music City?Curtis: No this is the 5th time I have played Nashville. I have played at “The Basement” one time, otherwise we enjoy coming here to 3rd and Lindsley. When we played “The Basement” my friend Tyler Hilton was making a video and they asked me to come and be a part of it since we are such great friends, so it was all about the road trip and we ended up at the venue .. was very cool. Bev: How does Music City differ from any other cities you have played in? Curtis: Honestly, Nashville scared the hell out of me for so long because it was so different. It is in a way like playing in LA, but it is really out of my comfort zone, or it was for a really long time. I always felt like I was playing rock music in a country town, when, really, there are all kinds of genres here. What happened was that a lot of my friends started to move here, like Charles Kelly from Lady Antebellum and some other friends and we would come to town we would all stay at his brother Josh’s house, so there would be like 15 of us there and it became “home away from home” and it became much more comfortable after that. I have a lot of friends I really miss when I am gone who live in Nashville now, so this is becoming more and more home for me now.Bev: Of all the songs on the new album, which is getting the most popular or favorable response and most requested and why?Curtis: I really thought it would be all the ballads, because the genre that I am somewhat following, it is their ballads that people tend to like but there are not that many ballads on this album. My favorite song on the record is called “All I want” and it has definitely become a fan favorite. I really believe in this one. I think it could be the one to really put my name out there. When I made this record, I went into the studio and said I wanted to make a rock album ..I want it to emulate Tom Petty and Bon Jovi, and my producer Marshall Altman was all about that and I think he did a great job. There is a song called “Holding Me Down” that someone told me the other day sounds like Rick Springfield and it made my day – so those two songs are the ones right now I am getting the most feedback on and most requests for.Bev: Traveling from venue to venue, when you arrive in a new city, what is one of the 1st things you look for? Curtis: I try and find a cool bar or diner and then something familiar, like a McDonalds or Arby’s so it balances out and I feel good about where I am. I am not a big sight seeing kind of person as far as checking out a new city, but I need to know within like my two block radius of where I am staying and so on what is where. My main thing is I need to see the venue and know how it is laid out and what is what, then I calm down and I can relax. Once I get to the venue and know what is going on, then everything else is just okay.Bev: Anything in particular that inspires your writing or is it random thoughts and feelings? When you have a block .. what do you do to refresh yourself and get back into the mode of writing?Curtis: I am quality over quantity when it comes to song writing. If something does not really feel like I have to constantly play the same thing over and over when I sit down, and it does not really grab me – then I will scrap it if it does not hit hard. I am such a music fan, especially pop music, from the Beatles to Van Halen, I like making songs that I want to hear over and over and over myself. And I do not mean that in a selfish way, but I mean it as to say that if I had to go out and buy this record what would it have on it that would make me want to have it. So usually an older artist inspires me. I have this old Pearl Jam book that I had back in high school, and whenever I really get stuck I look at it. It has all these live shots from their early era or whenever the Grammy’s are on or big awards shows I just want that so badly and it usually inspires me to be creative and play. Bev: If you had your choice of anyone to write with who would it be? And Why? Curtis: Paul McCartney, he would be my dream. I think that he and I are sorta the same spirit when it comes to how we write and think. He is hopeful and positive. He has always been someone who inspires me anyway and I would love the opportunity to write with him on a project. Bev: Same questions, but performing, anyone past or present you would love to perform with?Curtis: U2, Bono, is the ultimate rock star. Bono is the mix of all of the great rock artists. He can be so passionate and serious and then he can be so ridiculous and totally over the top and he does it all. U2 shows totally blow my mind, so that would be the ultimate person to perform with. What he does live is what I aim for.Bev: Worst experience on the road? Curtis: You know I play in some of the smallest and weird places and that in itself never bothers me, but I think sometimes you expect much bigger and I am one who always puts so much pressure on myself and that sometimes can create a really bad experience for me and it takes me a couple days to get back to myself and find my balance. San Diego, where I am from, we were doing a Joe Cocker song, I tried to get up on this chair or a stool and in two seconds it fell and I went ass-backwards and it had been one of the best shows ever up to that point and after that, it was all I could think of. And to everyone else, no one cared, but to me it was so rough. Bev: Any other embarrassing stage stories? Curtis: I have forgotten some lyrics in some big ways and that is always embarrassing, but the worst moment was one time I had gotten this shirt while on stage and someone convinced me to try it on right there. And I saw the pictures later and thought OMG I am never doing that again .. I am very white and not very muscular and I have a majority of girls in my fan base so they all thought it was hilarious and all of a sudden there are 90 U-tube videos out there of me taking my shirt off on stage, so that is definitely my most embarrassing moment so far on stage. Bev: How about pet peeves of being an artist? Curtis: So many. I call them the Larry Davidisms, because I am the musical version of that guy. My pet peeves are small things – down to things like when we are on tour and on this particular one we have books that our tour manager put together, a great book with our whole itinerary and so on and they call it the TOUR BIBLE and I hate that reference, and then when someone has an interview over the phone and someone calls it a PHONER, ohh gosh, I hate that term, and I hate it when people cover “There Ain’t No Sunshine” cause I have heard it like a million times… these are the little weird things that bother me. I also don’t like pandering, there is something singer songwriters do that especially those who came out of the John Mayer era, a fake phonic of sensitivity .. they try too hard to imitate it and that makes me crazy or breathiness .. most people just read their modern singer songwriter book and are trying to emulate everything in it and it drives me nuts. Some things don’t bother me til they happen and then I will find myself asking myself why it bothers me so much. Bev: What do you enjoy most about being an artist? Dislike? Curtis: I do not care if I make five dollars or five million dollars, when my album comes out and people come up to me or email me and tell me how much they like it, that is the coolest feeling, it never ever gets old. We travel all over and what a cool job to have and it took a lot of work even to get to it at the level I am at now and it is just so cool. I miss my family and home of course, so I dislike that, but I think what I dislike most is on the off days I am kinda lost. I don’t know what to do with myself when we are on the road and I am not home but in some random town where I don’t know what to do or where to go. I usually end up at the movies and that will calm me down. Bev: In 50 years, looking back at the life of Curtis Peoples, what do you want to be remembered for most? Curtis: I pride myself in treating people well and fairly and I think that has helped myself as an artist and gotten me where I am today and try to remember peoples names or at least their faces or something about them and I really want to be able to continue to do that, and of course I hope to have a couple big hits too that people recognize me for. Something that really set the world on fire, even one song. Bev: Is there anything in particular about this album you really want to say about it or about yourself that no one ever asks you in an interview? Curtis: I hope people really see hat I mean when I call this “coffee shop arena rock”. I want people to really have a good time when they hear my stuff. I hope when they have a party or a BBQ that my album is one people put on, that it is one they want to dance too and that this is a really good record and that this is honest music from me and I am not making a record that just sounds like I could be on the radio. Bev: In closing I would like to thank you for your time and wish you great success as both a song writer and a performer. I am looking forward to the show. Are you doing anything in tonight’s performance that you are not doing anywhere else? Curtis: I never rehearse banter, it is off the cuff and I never plan what I am saying. Even when it falls flat I can come out with something .. I appreciate the improv of the set. I hate it when shows are so rehearsed even down to when to say what and you can go to show after show and you get the same thing. It works for some artists, don’t get me wrong, but for me, each show is unique and new. For more on Curtis Peoples, check out his website at or
(reprinted with permission Music News Nashville)

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