In 2016 I saw Andrew Combs live three times, the first time was almost a year ago now at C2C. It was the first I’d heard of the young Texas Singer-songwriter and I was fairly impressed by his set that day and the appreciation he had for his supporters. Just weeks later whilst in Nashville for Tin Pan South I stumbled across his music again at a bar called the Country where he was playing in a round with Matraca Berg (Strawberry Wine, You and Tequila) and Brent Cobb (Stay All Night, Don’t It) amongst others. It was the day Merle Haggard died and there was a sense of mourning in the air around Nashville and at this particular round which saw friends of Haggard’s take to the stage just hours after the news had broke, emotions were high. The music that each writer played, including Andrew Combs just felt more raw and real than anything I’d heard before and that night will forever stick in my mind. Later on in the year, Combs returned to the UK and I went along and had a quick chat with him.
I wondered if you could tell me a bit about your journey so far in music?
I grew up in a musical family, my Dad played piano, I didn’t grow up with Country music, I don’t really know if I consider what I do as Country music per se but I did get into the Texas songwriters when I was in high school. Some of my friends turned me on to them and I really dived deep into the folk and country songwriting World. From then on I lived in Nashville, I grew up in Dallas and moved to Nashville when I was 18 because of that and I’ve been there ever since.
Can you tell me about your songwriting process, what comes first or is it different every time?
Yeah there’s no set formula, sometimes it’s words, sometimes it’s music, sometimes it’s a title or a line. Yeah, there’s no rules.
What are your main inspirations? Where do you get ideas from?
I guess my inspirations are not just other music but films and poetry and conversations overheard, the outdoors, dogs… all sorts of stuff but in terms of music my main hero is Kris Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury and Guy clark, I love the old Country stuff Waylon and Willie and those people. But I also love Simon and Garfunkel and Jackson Brown that’s what my parents raised me on that 60’s 70’s folky stuff. I like Rock and Roll too, I’m all over the place.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever written a song about?
Well there’s a new one I’m going to play, it’s about looking in a girls window, that’s pretty strange.
When you’re on stage, are you completely focused or do you let your mind wander? What are your mid-gig thoughts?
Oh God, I wish I knew how to control my brain mid-gig. It depends, some nights I’m more focused than others, some nights I end up thinking about going fishing and what I ate for dinner, stupid stuff.
How’s the UK treated you, do you get to see much of the Country when you’re over here?
Yeah it’s been good, it always is. I’ve been a handful of times and the audiences are really respectful and quiet and that helps especially when you don’t have your band with you. I’ve always enjoyed England and Scotland and Ireland and their people.
What’s next for you?
I just recorded a record so hopefully that will be out in early 2017.
And Andrew will be back in Ireland in April for Kilkenny Roots Festival with more UK dates expected to be added to that trip in the near future so keep your eyes peeled for more announcements from Andrew and if you haven’t already go and check out his music at the website below.