On the few occasions that I've had the pleasure of seeing Charlie Worsham perform live he has instantly won the audience over. He has an endearing personality that shines through on stage and so I was eager to catch up with him at The Long Road to find out more about the Mississippi native who loves the UK audiences almost as much as they love him! He won me over straight away as he complemented my phone case which has Guinea pigs on it, a conversation ensued about the furry friends before and after our five minute interview! Despite the busy schedule Charlie had that day it was wonderful to see his eyes light up as he talked about his influences, the passion for music shone through. Read on to find out more about what he's listening to and the music he's writing as he prepares for his big day.
Can you tell me how you first got into music and when you decided “this is what I want to do for the rest of my life?”
You know it's funny how I decided I wanted to pursue music for a living it's hard to think back to a single moment when I thought to myself this is what I want to do, I think for me there was never a time when I didn't think that's what I'd end up doing. My first memories of music were going to see my dad play drums in a local band and he would always let me sit on his lap or when I was older sit behind the drum kit myself in soundcheck and just bang on the drums to make noise and I loved that feeling of just of how loud and powerful the sound was and later when the lights went down and the band cranked up I remember seeing the guitarist do the solo of Werewolves of London with his teeth and I thought yeah that’s what I want to do with the rest of my life. So I was hooked from then on and I never really tried anything else, I might have said I was going to be a lawyer but that’s not what I believed in my heart. I've just always been obsessed with music.
You spoke a little bit about your parents there, but what did your parents play to you when you were younger, on car journeys etc and what are you listening to now?
So growing up, and I'm an only child, my dad was a child of the 60s, my mum a child of the 70s and they were both huge Vince Gill fans and I remember many times going to see Vince Gill in concert he's become my Northstar in terms of music and in life he's just such a great steward in Country music and in Nashville and he gives back to the community which is a great way to be. My dad being a child of the sixties grew up on the Beatles and the stones watching them on TV and when they came over to America. At the time we’d just had the Kennedy assassination, their music was this moment of hope and joy and happiness and this other thing we could focus on. So throughout life he took me to my first rock 'n' roll concert which was the Rolling Stones and it was amazing and when I was at college and university he and I went to see Paul McCartney so that music has just been the soundtrack to my life. Even today it's a big part of what I listen to but I love finding something new whether its actually new or just new to me. I'm a big fan of my friends Brent Cobb and Brothers Osborne have a killer record right now the new Ashley Monroe record is great. Outside of country, I'm actually getting into hip-hop right now like Kendrick Lamar he’s such a great lyricist and those guys aren't afraid to write about things going on in our culture which to me is really important but I love it all.
When it comes to your own songwriting do you have a set process?
You know I have a set process I try to keep to but a lot of times I think being a songwriter is about always being ready when the song idea hits, ideas never come the same way twice so you have to be as prepared as possible to transcribe it when it comes. I try to fill a page up every morning I filled up my page this morning on the train, it was rubbish but I had a great professor once say don't be afraid to write crap because crap makes the best fertiliser and it's true, the nine pages of rubbish that you write help to create the one page of good stuff and I believe in that. Sometimes it's a melody, or it's something I'll hear in a conversation. The best stuff happens all at once, but that's what all the other habits are for, for when that inspiration strikes.
When it comes to your lyrics are they influenced by what is happening in your life or in society?
For sure, I find it hard to write from a place where I think oh I'll just write whatever I think could be a hit, it has to come from an honest place. I'm getting married in a couple of weeks so it's interesting, the inspiration that's been floating around me lately because it's a different set of emotions that I’m writing about and not just the romantic side of that or about the woman I'm about to marry, it's about family and about how the relationship with family changes. Of course there is a lot of social commentary right now with our country I think it's important to explore that and to write about it. Sometimes you write a song and it's not that it's important to write the song for people to hear it, it's just important that you write it, the work is its own reward.
A couple of strange questions for you now, what's the strangest thing that you've ever written a song about?
It's funny, I'm always making up songs, my soon-to-be wife she laughs, I leave her voicemail songs, I'll be sitting in traffic just singing into her voicemail (singing) “this guy in front of me will not turn even though his turn signal’s on.” So that’s kind of strange.
When you're on stage are you completely focused or do you let your mind wander, what are your mid-gig thoughts?
Mid gig thoughts? Yeah, I'm in the moment but it's funny, I almost have a two track system going, my ears, because I've always been in bands wether as the front man or otherwise, I've spent so much of my life in bands, my ears ground down to the sound, so I'm listening to what the other musicians are doing but my eyes, the other part of my consciousness is trying to do the same with the audience it's trying to keep a look out and get a read on the audience. And on good nights which I tend to have over here because I love the audiences here, it's easy, we’re trying to make everything sound as good as it can be and up our game when the audience gives us those positive vibes but on other nights when the audience isn’t giving you much, it’s harder to stay focussed. Luckily those nights are not as common as the good ones and at the end of the day making music beats any day where you're not making music.
Final question, what are you working on at the moment and who are you working with?
I'm writing as much as I can for the next record, I've given myself to the end of this year to write this record, I think I'm going to have what I need by then. I'm writing with a lot of new writers I've just started working as a writer with Sony ATV and that's been a thrill. I have to say the most starstruck moment was getting to write with Tom Douglas and Trent Dabbs, we've had so much fun writing together.