So Country 2 Country is just 10 days away and we are delighted to bring you an interview with one of the stars of the festival, Mo Pitney! Throughout the weekend there are a number of chances to catch the young country musician from Illinois. Plus he is also playing the C2C Roadshows the week after C2C so check our designated page for his performance times and locations! Read on to find out more about him!
Could you start by telling me a bit about your journey so far in Country Music?
Yeah well I started out playing Bluegrass when I was probably 13 years old and I did some travelling with my family the first couple of years I played and we went to Bluegrass festivals and things like that and I did that until I was 16 or 17. Around that time I had a friend, a man called Billy Lawson who was a songwriter from down in Alabama who worked in Nashville and Billy called me and asked me to write some songs with him and thats what I did, we wrote about 30 songs and right away we had gotten a record deal with Universal, a demonstration deal it wasn’t a full blown deal. We just kinda started taking off and there was a problem with a merger that happened between universal and capitol and in the mix up I ended up getting signed at a different record label which was Curb. Ever since then I’ve gotten to make one record with a producer named Tony Brown and really after that record we’ve been using that to travel and keep the band working and it’s been a great time and I hope to make the next record and keep moving forward.
Growing up, what did your parents make you listen to and what are you listening to now?
Well thankfully they didn’t make me listen to anything I just so happened to want to be like my Dad and he liked Country and Bluegrass music so I dug up all his old records and whenever we drove anywhere we had Keith Whitley, Tony Rice, Larry Sparks, Merle Haggard or Alan Jackson, any of those playing in the car. I just started to gravitate to the ones I liked the most and dived in and not just listened but tried to learn the music.
Where did you draw inspiration from for the record?
It was kind of a mix of things, for the first record, when I learnt how to song write I was just writing about what I had experience with until that point as an 18 or 19 year old kid so wether that was something I went through when I was younger or something I went through at the time but the inspiration came from different experiences, losing my dog, having my heart broken or falling in love.
Do you have a set songwriting process - do you write lyrics or melody first or is it different every time?
I think they just kind of happen at the same time, I find that if the lyrics come first the melody can sound kind of stock and if i come with a melody first I find it hard to get my point across lyrically so the song can be freer if I try to create them at the same time.
What’s your favourite aspect of the industry writing, recording or performing?
I like it all when it’s good. Sometimes songwriting is bad and it’s not that fun but when you’ve got a good song and real inspiring things are happening I enjoy it but that’s the same for recording and performing, I think you get the same amount of high when you’re playing a great show or whatever those moments are that feel inspired. It’s hard to beat that feeling.
You’re coming over to play C2C soon but it’s not your first trip over here, do you notice any differences between UK and US audiences?
The way I describe it is there’s definitely similarities in the audiences but there’s a listening crowd audience here that really love traditional music and songwriting and respect for that but I’d say in the UK that audience is larger. That’s just what I’ve noticed.
A few silly questions for you now. On stage are you completely focussed or do you let your mind wander, we call it your mid-gig thoughts?
I definitely let them wander, a lot of the time it’s where my wife’s at or where the baby’s at because often they’re close and I haven’t been able to lay my eyes on them so I think about that sometimes. Sometimes I think about food if I haven’t eaten yet because I can’t usually eat before the show because it makes it tough to sing so I’m often playing while I’m hungry. Or I’m thinking about what needs doing at home, I try not to wander like that, I try to be present with the music but sometimes it’s hard.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever written a song about?
Erm let me think, you know what I don’t know if this is the strangest thing or if this is the right one to bring up but it’s actually a new song of mine and it’s probably the most out there song I’ve written. It’s called Here I Am and I happened to find out that my ancestors in the 1600’s came from Clare, Ireland. They moved, a guy called James New Pitney moved to London and he got on a ship called The Planter in 1623 and he came over the sea and landed in Maryland. So I wrote a song about that whole story in my bloodline, my ancestors from over the sea and it’s a new song, it’s the most out there. I’ve also got a song that I wrote about having your heart broke in a grocery store called Clean Up On Aisle Five which I’ve always thought is quite a strange song.
So you’re coming to the UK and you’ve already talked about some new songs so can we expect a new album? What’s next for you?
We’re working on it right now, we’ve compiled about 25 songs and we’ll find the best ten or twelve and hopefully we’ll go in the studio in the next month or two and hopefully we’ll come out with something that’s worth something!