INTERVIEW: David Nail "Red Light"

MCA Nashville recording artist David Nail celebrates the release of his debut album “I'm About To Come Alive” today, but this celebration has taken ten years to get here. I spent a little time with David discussing the journey that led him here and talking about the excitement of seeing a small town boys dreams come true.

Bev: David, thanks for visiting with me today, I have been enjoying the new single hitting the airwaves. Can you tell me about the new CD project you have out? You are doing well with the single.

David: Yes I would love too. The record has been a long time coming; we have been working with it almost two years. I guess we have just been trying to find the right time. I hope there are enough people out there that know who I am and there seems to be enough demand for it. The new single “Red Light” is taking on a life of its own and is doing really well. Everyone seems to be re-energized in regards to the entire project. It is a real exciting time and something that I have been waiting for. I am on the verge of my ten year anniversary here in town and it is something that I know, for me personally, will be emotional day, when the record comes out. It is something that I have been waiting for, for quite some time now.

Bev: What has been the biggest surprise for you?

David: I am not easily surprised. I live my life not waiting for bad things to happen, but I always try to prepare myself for the down side of things and that way I am not surprised. I deal with things as they come along, that makes the good things that much sweeter. As far as any real surprises along the way, when I moved to town things began to happen pretty quickly. I thought I would be four or five records in at this point. If anything, when I talk about being here ten years, I tell people “you remember how long high school took”? It seemed like four years were forever, I have been here the equivalent of two times of high school and a couple of extra years. When you look at it like that, it just seems like “Wow”. It is a lot of time in one place and in some ways I am proud of myself that I didn’t pack up, give up and move on. There were definitely some moments when that was a possibility.

Bev. Have there been any setbacks that you really had to step back and look at and re-evaluate?

David: Yes. I am a pretty serious person, but I can cut up with the best of them. For the most part, when it comes to work and being creative, going out and singing songs, at least in my own personal case, is extremely personal. There is a process of writing a song and then getting comfortable with revealing that side of you to the world. I think there was a time when people came and read me wrong in the beginning; but I think it was just me having to realize that it was okay to be serious and also be able to sit back and relax and enjoy the process just as much as the performing. There are a lot of variables; it is not just the act of hopping up on a stage and singing. I think that I was so intensely focused on that aspect, that I wasn’t really able to open up to the other responsibilities that I had. A lot of it has to do with when I first got my record deal in 2000. I was twenty-one years old and never been on a plane and I was so green about real life experiences that I think that was part of my struggles. The time I have spent here allowed me to mature and be a little bit more prepared this time.

Bev: As far as what is next, you have the single out right now, what is the next step?

David: We have the record ready go on store shelves; we’re doing some radio promotions and shows for radio. I have been fortunate to have some really strong friendships with the people in radio; ones that I hope can last a long time. I have been real lucky to have them to step when it didn’t look like things were going to go through, but they stepped up and took up some of the slack. I have had some really important new ones to come on board in the last few months. Hopefully now we have a little room to breathe and get out there and people are starting to hear more and hopefully the music will take care of itself.

Bev: When you have been out on the road, I am sure you have had some instances, some surprises or embarrassing moments. Can you share any with me?

David: The most embarrassing moment I have had performing was actually a month before I decided to move back to Nashville. I was performing at a talent show at a college. My fraternity brothers pulled some strings to get me into the show so it was a dramatic ordeal. I got there, did my song and I was scooting back away from the microphone when my chair caught one of the cords. I flipped over backwards with the guitar in my hand in front of about 2,000 people that were all in sororities and fraternities. It was pretty mortifying. At nineteen years old, you are at such an impressionable age and so worried about looking cool. I don’t think that anything can happen now that is going to top that. I have one bad habit of not making sure that when I leave a bathroom, my fly is taken care of. I don’t know where that came from or what started it but randomly, in the last six months, I guess I am just getting old; my memory is not working as well. I don’t know what brought it on but I am trying to go above and beyond to make sure that I am nipping that in the bud.

Bev: As far as advice to some of the up and coming artists, what is the one piece of advice that you have gotten that you would pass along?

David: I would just say, try to find the best possible team of people around you. Whether it is management, your booking agent, your business manager and then later on your record label. What I always say is you are only as good as the people around you. I have been fortunate in the last few years to build a team of people around me that I feel set me up to be successful. They have given me the best opportunity to have that true shot which is something I have really strived to get, that one true window of opportunity where your God given talents take over. I would tell them to be patient because what is cool tomorrow was probably not cool yesterday. The trends and what people are interested in or what people are looking for can change rather quickly. It is extremely easy in this city to get discouraged. I have fallen victim to that myself on more than one occasion. It goes back to those people around you that can bring you up when you are down and not feeling so confident or maybe bring you down when you are flying a little too high in the clouds.

Bev: When you do perform live, have you established any kind of a tradition that you do before you get on stage?
David: A few years ago, I went to Memphis to hang out with a buddy of mine and his brother-in-law and family. He had just built this really nice theater room and he was trying to show off. He pulled out this DVD of a live U2 concert. I don’t think he so much wanted me to watch the show as he wanted me to experience the theater and the screen. He turned it on and it was the most unbelievable live performance I had ever seen. The next morning I drove out to a store and purchased the DVD and now every night on the bus, I pop that in and we watch the first couple of songs. It was just really a significant show. I had never seen 800,000 people jump up and down and clap and sing that much in unison. I just tell the guys “hey, we’re not there yet but maybe someday”. I am going to go out and reel in one audience at a time. I remember seeing Garth Brooks on his first tour and I went to that show not knowing what I was getting myself into and a few years later, he is selling out Central Park. It is something that I take very seriously and I try to remind the guys every night it is a marathon, not a sprint and that each show is as important as the other

Bev: When you do perform live, does the audience react more so to one song or the other; or do you have any songs that have gotten a really surprising reaction, that the audience has liked more that you expected?

David: I am still getting use to taking everything from the audience in. “Red Light” is doing really well with markets so obviously that gets the biggest reaction and that is the one where I really try to pay attention to how loud the people are singing it back to me. We close the show every night with a tune called “Turning Home” which is kind of the theme of this new record. I tell people all the time that I have looked for my entire career for a song that I can really sing and can dig into from the emotional state. I close my eyes every night and I more or less wear that song out word for word. I tell everyone that I know it is Tuesday night or Thursday night but we’re going to take you to church with this one. Close your eyes and imagine it is Sunday morning and they seem to really get in to it. It is a slow song and I know the majority of times you don’t close a show with a slow song but it definitely has that Sunday morning spiritual feeling. It is a very dynamic song and I feel that is the kind of thing I want to leave them with. Sometimes I get a little choked up playing it because it takes me back to those struggles that I had a few years ago and now I am on the verge of some success hopefully.

Bev: Any one thing about the album now that it is coming out, the one thing that you really want to get across to the fans?

David: I was a kid growing up in a small town and could not wait to get out of there. I felt like it was holding me back. I had all these big dreams and aspirations for my life and being from such a rural place that didn’t set me up to succeed. Then I moved to the city and I have traveled all over the country. I have been in the nicest hotels in America and I have eaten at the nicest restaurants and I have flown first class and I have seen all the perks of what I have been fortunate enough to do now for several years. As I have grown older, it almost seems like with each level of success that I start to have, I find myself leaning back toward those small town values and morals. I think subconsciously, this record took on a theme of that when we began making it. You know, this small town kid goes to the big city and thinks all his prayers are going to be answered and little does he know that he’s still so much a part of that small town kid. That is not to say that I don’t enjoy the city and don’t enjoy perks that come with it and the things I get to do. I was raised in a small town and had a very conservative upbringing and I think when you spend 18 years in that environment, it is going to take more than ten years to get it out of me.

Bev: Are you into the Twitter, Facebook and Myspace social networking?

David: I am pretty active, I try to twitter once a day and when I am on the road, I try to do more than that because there are more things going on. I have kind of backed off Myspace. I do a blog once a month and then I’ll check the plays but as I get so many more friend requests and it has grown bigger, it has become harder to try to answer all the questions and be as active as I want to be. My wife already yells at me enough that I am on the computer too much. I don’t want to get divorced for spending too much time on Myspace. The good thing about Twitter is you can control it from your phone so it is much more convenient.

Bev: David, I know you are very excited about the project coming out and seeing this phase of your dreams come true, and I wish you much success. Thank you so much for spending a little time with me and sharing some of your dream and your journey to get here.

David: Thank you Bev and I look forward to you coming to a show soon. I appreciate you taking the time to do this.

For more information on David Nail visit

(Photo Credit: Andrew Southam)

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