Chatting to Andrew Combs about his album, touring, weddings and Fly Fishing
It was an honour to be even asked and especially to be on the main stage – there were so many other great people playing on smaller stages that day.
Andrew Combs is probably one of the finest musicians we are fortunate to have in the Country genre today. If you have read any of my reviews on Andrew then you will read how he is truly a unique man with a God-given talent, who writes stunning, melodious songs with the ability to take you into his world with his raw, honest, inspiring lyrics.
Combs helps us escape the mainstream Country world for a while when listening to his music – reminding us there is more to the Country genre than what is played on the radio. Andrew’s music stays true to his Southern style roots and he delivers a sound so breathtakingly beautiful, that you lose yourself in his music from the moment he opens his mouth.
His current album All These Dreams was listed as one of Rolling Stone’s 30 greatest Country albums of 2015 – and it is easy to see why.
I caught up with Andrew prior to his show in Corby, Northamptonshire. Despite us both being exhausted, Andrew is probably my favourite person to have interviewed yet. He is down to earth, polite, very sweet and my kind of weird! He is also very funny. Andrew made me feel very comfortable and the interview felt more like an informal chat. Sitting outside the venue at a picnic table, we talked and laughed for about twenty minutes and, as the interview came to a close, Andrew said ‘Oh is that it?’, making me feel I had not taken up his time or bored him to death, ha! I have to admit, time did fly!
I wish I could have included everything we spoke of but we went off topic on several occasions which was funny and interesting but irrelevant to this interview.
I hope you enjoy our chat and please check out his music if you haven’t already.
Listen to All These Dreams by Andrew Combs on @AppleMusic.
Hi Andrew, we are so glad to have you back in the UK, it is really, really exciting
Oh, thanks for having me.
So, how’ve you been?
Good. It’s been a really busy year, touring and recording – and I am getting married in a month – a month from yesterday so, October 1st .
Oh wow, how exciting! Congratulations! Is everything booked and sorted?
Yeah, everything is set. You know, I am sure there will be some loose ends that need to be tied up.
Oh, there always are!
Is the future wife taking care of everything?
Pretty much, yeah. I was in charge of the booze, haha.
That sounds about right!
Tell us about your funny situation at the UK border this trip.
Oh, it wasn’t that funny! I was dressed OK, but they just laughed at me in my overalls.
Oh that’s nice (sarcasm).
What did they say?
They just said ‘Hmmm, nice overalls, what are doing? What are you doing coming into our country?’ and I just said, ’Oh, I’m playing music.’ It wasn’t that big of a deal, I just thought it was funny.
It is funny, ha. It makes a difference from going to the US border and, no offence here, but ha it is so scary going across the American border and they say ‘Why are you here? Who are you visiting? Where are you staying?’ And I am always like ‘ I don’t know, I didn’t do it’ haha!
Yeah, I know, it’s scary everywhere crossing a border.
So, you are doing a few dates this tour? Last night you played with Margo Price – what was that like? I have never seen her.
Oh, she’s great, fabulous. It was a great show, London is always fun to play – it’s a bit intimidating, but it’s good.
Surely you must be quite comfortable with London now, after playing at C2C on the main stage in the 02 Arena?
Ha, that was crazy!
You were on the same day as Kacey Musgraves, Eric Church and….who am I forgetting?
Chris Stapleton, of course, how could I forget him? What’s wrong with me?
So what was that experience like? How did you find the crowd? Did you have any expectations beforehand?
I didn’t. It was kind of like, I still look back on it like an experience that might never happen again and it was, it was weird in all the good ways. Never played to that many people, never played in a stadium – I am used to doing small shows like this. So it was an honour to be even asked and especially to be on the main stage – there were so many other great people playing on smaller stages that day.
It was a really good day actually and I have only heard raving reports about your set, so you definitely won over the crowd.
You and Chris are the only ones, I mean obviously Kacey and Eric are unbelievably fantastic but the names I have heard most are yours and Chris’.
And the English crowd – how did you find them in comparison to US audiences?
Oh, I like playing over here because, you know a lot of what I do is subtle and quieter and people listen over here.
We do listen.
Yeah, very respectful – which is nice.
Yeah, we are a very quiet, apologetic, queuing country, haha!
And what were the Scottish crowd like – because you played the Scottish C2C too – were they any different?
Oh, Scotland is a little bit rowdier but still very respectful. I enjoy them just as much.
I have only been to Edinburgh.
Yeah, Edinburgh, we are playing there this tour.
Have you been before?
Yeah, I really like that city a lot.
It is a really lovely city.
During the time you were over for C2C, you also went on tour with Eric Church. What is he like as a tour buddy?
I didn’t honestly – I mean, I met him, but he was kind of in and out so I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with him. But he seemed like a nice guy.
Oh, good – and how was his audience?
Yeah, you know it’s like, that world is a little different than the world that I spend most of my time in, which is more of a roots/Americana, whatever you wanna call it world.There were certain shows that were more receptive than others but, overall it was good.
Some shows were better than others, I mean he has got a loud rock band and I don’t – haha.
But it was all good, it was a lot of fun and I got to see a lot of places I had never been to.
Nice! So you released your second LP last year called All These Dreams – which is really good, I do love it!
For someone who has never heard your music before, how would you describe it? And the album?
I don’t know, ha! I mean Country with a bit of Soul and some Folk to it too. I like all sorts of stuff, so I like to think I incorporate it all into my music. I kinda let other people answer that question usually, that’s the best I can give haha!
Do you have a favourite track off All These Dreams?
I think Rainy Day Song, which is the first track, is my favourite. It kind of encompasses what I wanted to say on the record. Talked a lot about spirituality and being lost and found and that kind of thing and I really like that one. It’s actually going to be re-cut by Lee Ann Womack, soon.
Yeah, it will be under a different name, Shine On Rainy Days. The guy I wrote it with Brent Cobb – you will start hearing about him if you haven’t already – he is great and he is putting it on his record. Yeah, I really like that song, I like them all but I just actually got done recording a new record and so my mind’s kind of in that world right now.
Oh, how exciting! Has your music got a release date yet?
It will be out early next year but I don’t really know just yet.
Oh, that will be nice, that will be really nice. I love Rainy Day Song too and I love Foolin’ and Strange Bird – but every time I listen to the album, I change my mind.
Well, that’s cool. You know, the thing I really liked about that record was that everyone I played it to, they had a different favourite song and I thought that was a good sign.
Oh, it is. There are very few albums in the world that you can say you like every single song and yours is definitely one of them – there are no fillers.
What was the writing process behind Rainy Day Song?
Oh well, I wrote it with Brent and you know sometimes you write with other people and some guy has a song almost done, or you both start from scratch. But this was literally like 50/50 right – I had a chorus, he had a verse so we put those things together and it worked perfectly – and then we wrote the next verse and the next chorus together.
Well, it worked out very well.
So who would you say your musical influences are?
I generally listen to older stuff. I guess my heroes are like Kris Kristofferson and Guy Clark, Willie Nelson, Mickey Newbury, Townes Van Zandt – a lot of songwriters. I also really like some of the kind of California folky country stuff of the 70’s – Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, J. D. Souther – all that kind of stuff, but I like all sorts of music you know. I am also trying to expand musically, so I am listening to all different things than just kind of country folk.
I know what you mean, I think it’s important to be varied in taste. I haven’t always loved Country – my favourite band is Pearl Jam.
My fiancée is obsessed with Pearl Jam!
Yeah. Eddie Vedder is like her god – I think he is the only guy she’d leave me for, haha!
Oh, my husband knows that, too!
They are the one band, since I was 11, that I always say I kind of don’t want to meet, in case they are mean – as that would crush everything.
Pearl Jam? I have heard they are the nicest people in the world.
Yep! I have heard he, in particular, Eddie Vedder, is really nice.
Oh, that’s nice to hear, thank you!
I met a guy somewhere and his band opened for them and he said that they are the sweetest.
You just made my day!
I read somewhere that you also write for a publishing company – is that right? Could you tell me a bit more about that?
Yeah. It’s really not as interesting as it sounds. I mean, it’s great for me because I get to afford to not have to have another job. Touring at this stage doesn’t really pay the bills, especially when you have travel expenses and band expenses and everything like that, but yeah, I write songs and I turn them in and they see if anyone else wants to record them. I mean, I write for myself – there are a lot of writers in town that just write for other people, they don’t tour, they don’t release records under their own name or anything like that, but I write for me. If someone else happens to like it and put it out, then that’s great.
Like Lee Ann Womack.
I don’t even know how that works, do they just play her a song or…
Yeah. I mean you know Brent, the guy I wrote that song with, he knows Lee Ann’s husband who was producing the record. It’s a lot about who you know – it’s just getting the song into someone’s hands.
That’s pretty cool.
Yeah, it’s an interesting world.
It is, I know. Watching the tv show Nashville – they try to give us an insight of that world, but I think it was Striking Matches who said it’s exaggerated – you don’t get your first song picked up that quickly and you don’t get a big fat cheque right away.
Yeah, haha. It’s a bit dramatised.
I guess it has to be.
So, other than music, what do you like to do with your time – any hobbies?
Yeah – I fish, I fly fish. It’s pretty much the only other thing I do. I try and paint but I’m not very good at it, haha! I love to fish – I like being outside and enjoying the outdoors, so I go camping and fishing a lot.
You live In Nashville now right?
Yeah, I do.
So you get the luxury of nice camping weather?
Yeah, I mean it’s really hot right now but it does get cold in the winter. There is a lot of camping in Spring and Fall – it’s pretty sweet then.
That’s nice, and you’re neighbours with Kacey Musgraves – is that right?
Yeah, I was. We actually just bought a house out near the airport, but I was neighbours with Kacey.
She a good neighbour…?
Er, ha, well I mean, she lives like blocks down the same street, but blocks!
Ah, so not right next door?
Noo, not right next door, but Kacey is really sweet and her whole band are great friends of mine.
Oh, that’s nice. You were on the same night at C2C, too – so that must have been fun.
Yeah, yeah. We had done some shows with them prior to the C2C – like in the States so, yeah, it was good to have familiar faces back there. Like I said, we are not like really in that world. You know we don’t get played on those radio stations or anything but for some reason those artists like what I do, haha, so they bring me on tour, you know – for opening slots and what not and, yeah, they’re all really sweet people.
What I have read from Kacey, is that she is very much about the music and not just what is popular – same with Brandy Clark.
Well, I am glad so many artists support you, as well as fans.
Thank you so much for talking to me today and have fun up there tonight, I am very excited.