The Oak Ridge Boys: LP Field Press Conference CMA Music Festival 2010

The Oak Ridge Boys LP Field Press Conference CMA Music Festival 2010

Q: Country music continues to evolve and as new generations come and rules change; from your perspective, having been through all this for so long and being such legends, can you talk about the present state of country music?

Joe Bonsall: I think that is a real good question and yes, we have been around a long time. Our first big hits were in 1977, tons of hits through the 1980s and into the 1990s and we still get a little play now and then. We still have a big schedule, big tour and a big career going. We are very blessed and thankful to still be around and singing.
To answer your question directly, I think country music is in wonderful hands. I think the pendulum has always swung back and forth. Is that country? Is that country? Is that too rock and roll? We heard that in the 1970s too. I don’t know if that is the relevant part. I think the relevant part is I think there is more great, young talent singing songs in country music right now than there has ever been at one time. I think country music is going just fine.

Q: CMA Music Festival began back in the mid 1970s. Talk about how it has grown over the years.

JB: We have taken part in every single one of these in one form or another, usually pretty big parts in most of them. It just gotten bigger and bigger until it outgrew where it was and something needed to be done. I think the CMA took the bull by the horns here and decided to take it really big and huge and made it happen. From our standpoint tonight, being out there on that big stage and singing the anthem to those people and especially here in Nashville Tennessee where not that long ago, we were all under water drowning right here is awesome. Where those people are sitting out there; was all under water. There are a lot of people that thought this event wouldn’t happen this year. To us, as long time residents of Nashville and part of this music business for all these years, I think we are all very thankful to see this event going. We are thankful to see that big crowd out there and feel the excitement, to see the bars and hotels full, the streets full and restaurants full. Right now, as Nashvillians, as Tennesseans, to see this going on it means more to us than it ever has.

Q: As someone that has participated in all the Fan Fairs and Music Fests, what are some of your most memorable fan experiences? Something wild you have been asked to sign or something crazy someone said?

Duane Allen: I don’t know if we can talk about all the crazy things we have been asked to sign.

JB: Let me count. Let me just say this, someone asked the question a little while ago about “is country music more accessible than other types of music?” I don’t know if you are going to find all these artists that accessible all year long. Here at CMA week, all the artists do make themselves accessible and everyone does get out there with the people and sign and take pictures, fellowship and chat with them. I don’t think that goes on often in any other part of the music industry and that is what makes this festival so special. People come here to stand in line, although I hate to see people stand in line for hours and hours. At the height of our career, we had them lined up down the hall and my fear was we couldn’t get to them all. You just had Lady Antebellum here and they are at the top of the heap right now, they are the biggest act in our business right now and they had people all the way down the hall. I use to worry that I couldn’t get to all of them and then if you didn’t get to all of them, we would have people mad and yelling at us. That is heartbreaking sometimes and that is why most of the year, you don’t put yourself in that position but here, we all put ourselves in that position.

Q: Can you give career advice to aspiring new artists? How has technology changed the music business?

DA: Use all the technology you can but when you put your voice in a recording mode, be as honest as you can with the people, don’t mess with it that much and record the best songs you can find no matter who wrote them. Cut the best music, the best songs that you can find. It makes no difference who the writer is if you cut the best songs. They will take you everywhere you want go and fast. The better the songs, the longer the trip.

JB: We live in a town where everyone is looking for the great artist and the great song so if you have all that, that cream will rise to the top and they will find you. You just have to prepare for the fact that you have to work real hard at it. It isn’t easy, no overnight success here. Duane is right, the bottom line is the good song but by the same token, if you are there singing and no one is paying attention and you are not moving them with what you are doing, go sell shoes.

Q: Because there are four of you, how difficult was it for you to pick a good song?

DA: A good song speaks for itself, you don’t have to look for it. When it comes to you, you know it. If I listen to a song and then put it down and don’t listen to it for two weeks, but I am still singing that chorus, I want to know what the name of that song is. More than likely, I can tell you the name because it is still going around in my head. That is how I look for hit songs. I listen to hundreds of songs with every album we record. I don’t listen to them over and over, I listen to them one right after another and the ones that stand out, I put in a special stack and go back to them. The ones I remember, I pull out of that stack.

JB: I think having four of us is a benefit to us because you have more minds, more eyes on the ball. We have been together so long we know how to tell each other that a song is not that good and we listen to each other. By the same token, like Duane says, we know what is good too.

Q: William, can you tell us a little about your artwork that previewed here in Nashville?

WG: Yes, my art is on display at the Tennessee State Museum. The curator of the museum and Pam Lewis met last fall and then asked me in January if they could have a showing of all my landscape paintings together in one big showing. I have 23 canvases that are at the Tennessee State Museum on display. It opened on June 3rd and will go through June 13th. We had a little get together there the other night, it was a really fun event with some special guests that came to join us. I am very honored to have the museum tie my art show with the CMA Festival.

Q: You last album was a little different in some ways. Have you seen new fans come along because of that music?

JB: There is a unique story behind our album. A few years ago, Shooter Jennings asked us to sing on a song called “Slow Ride” on his “Wolf” album. We got to know his young producer David Cobb, young rock and roll guys just having a lot of fun out there and making good music. David said if he had a chance to work with us, he had some incredible ideas. He is not only a young, 33 year old rock and roll producer but he is a music visionary and a historian. He knows all about us, he knows more about us than maybe we forgot about ourselves. We worked it out where we went into the studio with David. His first idea, he said we would think he was nuts but he heard us doing “Seven Nation Army” and we said “we think you’re nuts but keep talking”. He came up with this idea that where the bass guitar riffs would play, Richard would sing. We recorded but we didn’t go crazy with the whole album, we cut a few unique things on it. We cut “Boom Boom”, we cut “Hold You In My Arms”, Golden does a beautiful rendition of Neil Young’s “Beautiful Bluebird”, we have a couple of really great gospel songs on there and our new single is “Mama’s Table” written for us by Jamey Johnson which is as country as you can get. We are down there hanging out with these young musicians, young engineers, young producer, Shooter Jennings, Jamey Johnson for a late night recording. I think what we found there was some real down to earth honesty with what we were doing. Did we do a few things that were a little out there? Yes, The Oak Ridge Boys singing “Seven Nation Army”? We got more attention from that than anything since Elvira—everyone is talking about it. It is a lot of fun to sing that song on stage too. We throw the audience a big curve with it sometimes. Working with David brought out some real honesty and integrity in what we were doing harmonically and choosing the different songs. “Boys Are Back” has been a monumental project for us over the last year and yes, I think we have received some new fans as a result of it.

Q: I remember running into Jamey Johnson right after you cut that song and he was the most excited than I think I had ever seen him.

JB: Let me tell you what Jamey did recently. The Southern Gospel Music Association gave us an award for our years that we spent in gospel and our contributions to gospel music. It was a Southern Gospel event and they wanted us to get up and sing a couple of songs and we decided to sing “Mama’s Table”. William ran into Jamey and told Jamey we were doing the event and asked him if he wanted to come down with us. Jamey went and got up on stage at the Southern Gospel event and there we were; The Oak Ridge Boys and Jamey Johnson up on stage singing “Mama’s Table” and it was huge. Jamey had a ball being there. We thought he might skip out afterwards but he hung out with us all night long. Jamey is very special; I think you all know that.

Q: What was it about that song that drew you guys in?

JB: I can go back to what Duane said about a song really getting to you. Here we are one night at about 12 o’clock midnight and David Cobb tells Jamey to play some songs for us. Jamey just started playing songs. He is such an incredible writer, I thought they were all great. I think we could have done “The Oak Ridge Boys sings Jamey Johnson” album and it would have been fine with me. When he did “Mama’s Table”, we all got chills and Dave said “don’t play anything, let that one just sit there for a minute”. We recorded it the next day and Jamey came in and cut a track for us that day. Somewhere there exists, on our track, a Jamey vocal and it is incredible. Someone needs to mix that in such a way…

For additional photos of CMA Music Festival LP Field Backstage visit
For additonal photos of William Lee Golden and the art exhibit visit (there is also an interview with him right here on my blog so check it out too!)

Transcribed by Pam Stadel for Digital Rodeo

No comments: