INTERVIEW: Bryan White "Dustbowl Dreams"

Taking some time off to get away from the craziness of being on the road, Bryan White found his identity, not only as an artist and a songwriter, but also as a human being. When asked what he hopes to accomplish with this new album, he smiles confidently and says, "I am looking forward to this next chapter of my career as I have plenty more to say with my music." Inspired by his ancestors, his heritage, and pride, White is determined to once again make an impact with his music and use his platform for the greater good. Never forgetting his stellar past, he looks ahead with confidence, determination, and much anticipation to a future filled with more dreams; “Dustbowl Dreams”.
Bryan and I visited recently about the time off, his family and the music that has been and continues to be such an important part of who he is.
Bev: Bryan this project is amazing! It’s been a while since you have released an album, how long has it been since your last one.

Bryan: Well, thank you I appreciate that! I guess since the last full on studio commercial record, it has been a while. We released a greatest hits in 2000/2001 and from there it’s been a lot of EP’s and other things here and there along the way. I took a much needed break. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to handle continuing on with another couple years. I knew I was at that threshold where I kind of needed to step away and re-group and do some serious soul searching. I really wanted to get back what I really enjoy out of life and be around people I love and for a long time I was feeling sort of cut off from my family back home, and I’m sure they felt like that too in a lot of was. It was like “Wow, we’re never going to get to see him again, he’s subject to the industry” and it was really much needed time off. Some of it was forced and some of it was instigated by the record label that went under. My fourth studio album was not as well received and for whatever reason it all happened for a reason and I’m so glad it did because the results of taking that time off are far more valuable than having if I had stayed. I’ve got two beautiful kids to look at every day and I can say I’m a dad now; I’ve dreamed of that my whole life. My wife and I are doing better than we ever have and we’re doing things at a pace we can handle and life is good. It’s nice to finally have a project that is transparent and for the first time in my life be 100% honest to just write about what was going on in my life.

Bev: Transparent is a very good word, you can tell that this is a very personal album for you. What time span is represented in the writing of the material on this album?

Bryan: I wrote all but two songs on this project. I would say over a course of a two to four year period all the songs happened. It’s funny when you’re making a record at your own pace, there’s good and bad about that; the good is you’re doing it at a comfortable pace, but at the same time you never know when to quit. You have got to be the boss, you have to put a cap on it, you have to stick a fork in it at some point and for me, being a songwriter, the whole process is kind of tough; when I thought I was wrapping it up I’d write with somebody and end up writing a song thinking “wow this is really cool, we’ve got to put this on the record”. That tacks on another couple months and in some ways it is the curse of being in charge. Being a songwriter you always feel like the latest thing you wrote is the best.

Bev: Is this the first time you have recorded anything with Steve Wariner?

Bryan: Actually I’ve done a lot of things with Steve. The first thing I did was when he asked me to play drums on his first instrumental album, and that album was called “No More Mister Nice Guy”. It was his last record for Arista. He and I also did a duet called “Talk To Her Heart”; I think it was on his “Two Teardrops” album. It wasn’t released as a single, but it was just an album cut on the record. There was a big hoopla among the people at my label at the time, they sort of messed up a beautiful moment for me as it was the first time I was getting to do a duet with a hero and I forget the actual reason, but it was something like they didn’t want to confuse buyers or my fans or some kind of weird industry thing like that; it ended up being where my name is not on the song at all. I’m not even credited on the album. I have to really think about what the situation was, but it was something completely absurd but it kind of ruined it for me. It was a really great experience and I wasn’t really able to celebrate it. I think that was part of my wanting to do something with Steve again; knowing he and I were at a place where we weren’t traveling a lot, I knew I wouldn’t have such a tough of a time pinning him down. I could do it the way I wanted to do it.

Bev: I know he has always been a big inspiration and hero of yours. It is also a very fun song, written by Bob DePiero, another person I personal admire. I know this will be a hard question, but of all the songs on the CD, is one more personal to you or your favorite? I know a lot of them are close to you, but which one do you think is the most?

Bryan: I would probably have to say “Dust Bowl Dreams”, there’s something about that song that brings the full circle together. All the songs on this project are very personal to me, but that one is the most. The only way I can describe that song, is it is the most personal thing I’ve ever written and who knows I may write one that’s better down the road, but as of right now if I wanted someone to know who I was, that one would be a great one to represent who I was.

Bev: There is the auctioneer you hear on the CD and in the liner notes it says Wilford White, how is he related to you?

Bryan: That’s my grandpa. He passed away about three years ago and he was really my father figure. I really looked up to him and he was really my hero; still is my hero and just kind of the epitome of what I think a man is. He loved his kids and loved his grandkids, would work his butt off and didn’t take no for an answer. He was an auctioneer all his life and sold cattle at the Oklahoma City stockyards for thirty plus years. I guess you’d call him a legend in Oklahoma City. He’s a celebrity who used to give the cattle market report every morning on a TV show called Good Morning Oklahoma. I used to hear my grandpa every morning as I was getting ready for school. It was really cool. There should be a cartoon made based around him. He was such a jolly old kind of guy. He made a big impression on everybody around him and I want to be like that, so this is my chance to. I had that recording of him competing in St. Paul, Minn. at the world livestock auctioneers championship in 1981. The song he is on is one of the biggest songs about Oklahoma and you’ve got one of the biggest stars in the world part of it. I’m speaking about Vince Gill.

Bev: Is the song in some sense a tribute to your grandpa?

Bryan: Yes, absolutely. It obviously a badge of honor as far as the subject matter goes. That song for me is really my identity; at the same time I really pay tribute to the kind of man I look up to the most and the guy who makes me most proud to be an Oklahoman.

Bev: Did he ever teach you how to do the calling and the auctioneer type thing? Did you ever pick up on that?

Bryan: He did! I’m not great at it and I’m sure in some ways he probably wondered why I didn’t jump on that and try to pursue that. I didn’t really have a passion for it. I was always fascinated by it. I’ll tell you a funny story, one time in an interview, I think it was Regis and Kathy Lee, for some reason they had read a bio that talked about my grandpa being an auctioneer and Regis was asking me about it. Before I came out on stage, they said do you mind if we ask you some stuff about auctioneering and I panicked because I was thinking “Oh God is he going to ask me to auctioneer on national television!?” I thought we were here to sing you know and so I freaked out and I called my grandpa and woke up him up at six o’clock in the morning and I asked what do I do if he asks me to auctioneer, I don’t know how to mock auctioneer, if there is something up that I’m trying to sell its ok, I get that, it’s easier to do, but to do it off the cuff it made me panic and he sort of walked me through it and he said don’t think about impressing people, but think about the value of whatever it is you are going to try to sell and take it slow. Just don’t get in a big hurry and to me, still to this day think it was a disaster. I wish he would’ve never asked me about it and he would’ve just asked what’s your next single coming out or something! But it is one of those times that I definitely remember, but I don’t credit myself to be an auctioneer, no.

Bev: Did they actually ask you to do that on air?

Bryan: Yes they did! Not one of my finer, shining moments in life.

Bev: What was it you were trying to sell?

Bryan: Well, you know how Regis is and what kind of guy he is, everything is moving so fast and he said “can you do that bud, can you auction something off?” While I started to explain what auctioneering is all about he didn’t want to hear that, he wanted to hear some chatter, he wanted to hear a chant. And I went in to this like I’m going to show you how this works kind of thing and it didn’t come across real well because he’s kind of like start’s yelling and it was like he was at an auction you know and I don’t know…it was funny.

Bev: Changing the subject a little, are you addicted to the social networking and into Myspace, Facebook and Twitter?

Bryan: Absolutely! I’m a tweeter and I’m on twitter all the time. I’ve been doing this for a couple years now and my wife will roll her eyes and look at me like what are you doing and I’d be like well I’m just kind of twittering so the fans know what I’m doing and stuff like that; and then all of a sudden Brad Pitt’s on Larry King Live talking about Twitter and then she’s looking over at me going “Oh God they’re all doing it now!” So it’s so funny, but I love it, I think it’s cool. I think the greatest thing for me is to let your fans and the people that like what you do feel like they’re a little bit closer to you and vice versa. I can share my thoughts and simple things such as, I’m going to the studio or I’m going to write, you know and just little things like that. It’s neat to be able to communicate with people that way and yet somewhat be private about what you do.

Bev: Let’s talk a little bit about your awards and your accomplishments. You’ve gotten so many of them; what are you shooting for now?

Bryan: When I wake up every day the most important thing for me is that I want to be a good dad. I want to be a good husband. I want to be those first because to me that is going to be my legacy in life, but as far as accolades and awards, I don’t find myself thinking too much about them. My wife sometimes will say things like, with all the things we’ve been through in the last ten years when you win your next award we are going to be bawling, and I think she throws those thoughts in there sometimes to keep me shooting for them. Awards are great and they broaden your horizon, but as far as a short term goal I’m just really hoping “The Little Things” does well. It’s a great song. My focus now is to try and promote this single to the Nth degree and do the best I can to make this project a success. That is my short term goal. I’m a record producer, a writer and a singer. I would love to try and produce other acts, develop new artists and give back some of what the industry has given to me; I would say that’s a good long term goal.

Bev: Are you on a label or are you doing this as an independent?

Bryan: I am on a label and it is independent; it’s called Just A Pup records.

Bev: What all are you doing to promote the CD besides interviews?

Bryan: I’m doing a lot. I did a pre-listen radio show in Chattanooga, and I’m doing a lot of that type of intimate listener exposure, we’re doing dates here and there to promote the single, but a lot of press, TV and similar things to get the word out. Twitter and Facebook allows me to really reach out and promote as well and I’m grateful for those outlets too.

Bev: Are you going to do any videos to go with these songs?

Bryan: There is a video on my website and Myspace. I’m connected to a company called GIP Music it allows a portion of all of our sales to go to something I really believe in and all the artists that are involved with GIP music can get involved. The video is actually on that website as well. We also just did a video for “The Little Things”.

Bev: That kind of lead me into my next question, I was going to ask if you were involved in any charity projects right now.

Bryan: The organization that I most strongly support at this point in my life is called Compassion International. It is a child advocacy program a lot like World Vision. They allow you to be involved in a child’s life by helping them with their finances and helping them with food, clothing and education. For me, kids are everything, especially now looking through the lens of fatherhood. It’s something that’s most important in my life, not to be really cliché but it all really starts with kids. I have had the opportunity to go on one trip with the organization and it really changed my life. I went to Ecuador and I got to meet our very first sponsor child which completely wrecked me. It was just absolutely awesome to have an experience like that. I really got to see what they do first hand and it’s really simple. The thing that blows my mind is what we spend monthly on things like Starbucks and all the little small things we spend money on. Compassion won’t let us spend more than thirty eight dollars a month, and really that is nothing but at the same time it is the very least we can do from a humanity perspective.

Bev: How old are your kids now?

Bryan: Four and one is about to be six.

Bev: What has been one thing that maybe the kids have done or said to you, that has inspired something musically you would had never done if they had not said or done that?

Bryan: Oh wow…that’s a tough one. This probably doesn’t answer your question, but I remember where I had two or three really great ideas come out when they were really really young and I was rocking them. I had a glider and I did so much praying, thinking and all those kind of things when I was rocking them to sleep; so many ideas came out of my gratitude. I think it is when you sit down and sit still for a moment that you start to hear things a little better and life gets a little clearer in those still moments.

Bev: I know they are still very young, but do you see them following your footsteps? Or maybe do you see them in acting following Erika’s more?

Bryan: I can tell that they are both going to be very creative and blessed in a lot of those areas. They have that thing when you hear them sing a certain song where you can tell they have pretty good control of it at their age and they hear things really well. As far as acting, Erika says that our youngest definitely has all the traits. At any random moment, he’s got a new costume on or just kind of doing a new thing in the room by himself and he’ll say “you’re going to be this and I’m going to be this and I’ll stand over here and when you come in I’m going to…” he just directs the whole scene.

Bev: Do either of them play instruments yet?

Bryan: That’s another tough question. One day they’re playing guitar and the next day their messing with the drums, and then one day they’re in the piano room messing with the piano, so you know yes and no. There’s no way of telling which way they are going to gravitate towards next or to say any instrument has been mastered at this point.

Bev: No formal lessons as of yet?

Bryan: Not yet.

Bev: Bryan, I think we could talk for hours when it comes to kids and music, but I need to wrap this up for now. I have enjoyed this time with you and always have enjoyed your music. I hope this album brings you the attention it deserves.

Bryan: Thanks so much, and I enjoyed talking with you too. I look forward to next time as well.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great interview! I've heard Bryan's podcast at where he talks about his involvement with Compassion International, it sounds like a great organization. also has Bryan's single "The Little Things" available for free!