INTERVIEW: Rob Blackledge "Inside These Walls"

Rob Blackledge recently released “Inside These Walls”, a CD project he is proud of and very comfortable with. Blackledge wrote or co-wrote every song on his debut album as many artists do, but he is not your typical young artist who is hungry and eager to see his music rush to the top of the charts, but rather a solid young man who has been around the music long enough to know that good music comes from the heart and soul and music that sticks around is music that is a part of who a person is. I visited with Rob about his current CD project, as well as some exciting projects he is involved with and even got him to open up a bit about some of his fears.

Bev: Tell me about your new CD, titled “Inside These Walls”

Rob: Well, it’s about 4.5 inches by about 5.5…[laughs] Nah, I’m getting used to it, it’s been done now since March. It was produced by Jeff Coplan, who also produced a band called Love and Theft. I co-wrote their current single, so that is cool too. I met Jeff through those guys. I always joked about making a record with him because he’s really good , but I knew I could never afford him. When I signed a deal with One Revolution, I was able to get in the studio with Jeff. It took us about 3 months. It’s a pop/rock record with charismatic vocals and charming melodies. It’s all over the board, I’ve always been an artist that hasn’t been able to pick a channel. If something moves me or inspires me I’ll write that song and if it’s an R&B song then great, if it’s a country song, great! So I tell people if you don’t like the first three you’ll probably like the second three, just give it a shot all the way through. There’s something for everyone.
Bev: I know you wrote or co-wrote all of the songs, were they all specifically written for this project?

Rob: I think the oldest song is about four-years-old. A lot of new songs were co-written. I did enjoy that collaboration. Jeff stepped in on a couple and gave his two-cents. The song I had the least amount to do with is “Sweet, Sweet Lady” which Jeff and Kyle Riabko, wrote about two years ago. Jeff played it for me and it was right up my alley, kind of a bluesy thing. I didn’t like the name, it was “Kiss, Kiss Lady” originally and it was about this guy who was very reclusive and stayed at home at night and lived by the rules. Then he meets this girl, party-animal, live life to the fullest kind of girl, and I said that’s not really how I am. My life is more of the opposite so we switched that around and I got to put my two cents in on that one. All the rest are at least half mine.

Bev: Have you picked a favorite on the CD yet?

Rob: It depends on the day really. It goes back to having a record that’s a little bit of everything. I think the favorite that I could listen to every day is “Your City My City”. To play live, “Sweet, Sweet Lady” is just the funnest song to play to a crowd. It has a blues groove and I can really show off my voice. It would have to be between “Your City My City”, “Early Morning Riser” and “Granola Girl”. They all have a cool feel to them, all depending on what kind of day it is which is my favorite.

Bev: Fan wise, what do you get requested to play most often?

Rob: Oh man, everybody loves “Worth Taking”. They always have. We did the popularity thing on iTunes and “Worth Taking” was all the way up there, and I have an older song that was on my last record called “Broadway”. I think fans are still getting used to this record. Again, a lot of response for “Sweet, Sweet Lady”, “Our World”, a song called “Everything”. I imagine as time goes on that will pick up popularity as well.

Bev: What are you doing to get the word out besides internet and utilizing the basic promotional tools?

Rob: Calling my friends. (he jokes) I’m a horrible self promoter, so I tend to let things infiltrate. Let things do as they will. I live life that way too. I let things unfold, it’s always a slow build. I think music that grows like that, will last much longer than when it is resemblance of shooting up a firework stating “here, here’s what I have”. I would say I don’t really push it too hard. I’ll get on twitter, or Facebook, or Myspace and let people know what’s going on. Outside of internet and radio here and there, most of it is shows and word of mouth and just working it.

Bev: Are you working and playing within the Nashville music circuit or are you traveling?
Rob: I have been playing in Nashville quite a bit lately, more than I ever have actually. I used to treat Nashville like any other market and maybe play it two times a year. I’m playing here three times this month. I think that’s important because Nashville is a different place. People come to hang out, not necessarily to hear the music, it’s more so if you can become the cool kid in town, people will come to your shows. It’s a fun place to be, but I also really appreciate getting out of Nashville. There’s just so much music appreciation when you go to a little college in central Indiana that nobody ever goes to, they really love it and they love you. Those are the fans that I probably enjoy playing to more. They’re going to like you, they’re going to remember you when you come next time because I think they really appreciate you driving out to where their world is. I grew up in Mississippi, so I always got bummed out when bigger acts didn’t come through Mississippi, I never got to see anybody play music and when somebody came everybody loved them because somebody actually took their time to come through you know. I don’t mind being that guy.

Bev: What’s your favorite part about creating this project? Are you more of a writer or do you prefer performing, the studio time or promotion?
Rob: I’m definitely a performer! More than anything else, that’s my love. I do enjoy writing, but I’m not as persistent at writing like most great writers are, which is probably why I’m not great. My love is the stage; that is where I feel most comfortable. I don’t feel comfortable in a crowded room, I don’t really go to parties. I don’t like going to clubs, but I will sit at a packed bar on stage with a guitar or piano and feel very comfortable and at home.

Bev: When you are out on the road performing are you touring with anybody?

Rob: Mostly I’ve been solo. I finally found a great band. It is not hard to find good players in Nashville. It is hard to find good players in Nashville that are not busy. I don’t have anything in the works right now as far as getting on the road with anybody on a regular basis. I am getting married in a month, so that kind of gets in the way of the “Big Fall Tour”. That’s ok with me though, I’ve said it a few times this record is going to speak for itself. I have no problems putting this off until fall and settling in to marriage, but in the Spring, I will be gone all the time.
Bev: Are you trying to push it to radio at the present time or are you waiting with that?

Rob: We are pushing it to radio. Again, radio hasn’t been our focus point. I’ve done minimal radio touring in the Northeast and the Midwest and I had a good response. I have gotten a few ads here and there, but it hasn’t been a huge focus. It has been more direct marketing approach that we are taking. I like that, again, because I think it will make the music last. If somebody picks up on it and hears about it and falls in love with it and finds it, like the first time I listened to Pete Yorn, I picked it up off of an end listening section at a mall. It was back in ’98 or ’99 and I thought “Wow, this guy is great!” and I’ve always remembered and bought Pete Yorn. That’s kind of what I hope people do with this, is that they create a connection with this that doesn’t have anything to do with MTV or top 40.

Bev: What’s the biggest reaction or comment you hear after you’ve played?
Rob: Most people are impressed by my voice, I have never really thought about that. That’s usually what I get. Maybe I’m just that amazing of a singer [laughs]. It is a nice compliment, but it is the one thing I have the least to do with. It is very cool it comes out that way.
Bev: What’s the most bizarre thing you have ever been asked?

Rob: There are plenty of aggressive women in the world, so of course there are plenty of those stories. Actually, I haven’t been asked many things. I usually don’t stick around long enough to let people ask me anything too crazy. I had a some-what inebriated girl somewhere on the east coast make a pretty aggressive move right in front of the merchandise table one night. It’s always an interesting aspect of the business.

Bev: Do you enjoy that part of it, meeting up with the fans?

Rob: I’m introverted. I have to express my utmost gratitude, but it’s the hardest part for me.

Bev: I understand your song “Everything” was chosen to appear on the season finale of "Ruby" on the Style Network!

Rob: Yeah, that is pretty cool. I am excited about that!

Bev: Anything else you have up your sleeve you can share?

Rob: There’s also a promotion we are doing with “Her Magazine” that is giving away a wedding to a Nashville couple. My song “Everything”, it’s going to be the featured download and then I will be singing at the wedding. The October issue will have it in there, so tell your friends to pick up a copy and register to win!

Bev: Rob, I love your music and have enjoyed our visit. I wish you all the best and look forward to visiting with you again soon.

Rob: Thanks so much, and I appreciate your time and your interest in what I am doing.

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