Drake White has become quite the favourite amongst UK country fans – his soulful-rock country edge has everyone hooked and his excitable, energetic, honest way of performing has everyone talking about him non-stop. When Drake White and The Big Fire were announced as part of Country Music Week his tickets sold out within minutes.
On the day of his sold out headline show at The Borderline, I caught up with Drake to talk about his UK fan base, his music, his band and much much more. I hope you enjoy our chat!
Hi, Drake how are you? Welcome back to the UK. How has your week been so far?
I am good thanks, been having a good time; my wife and my parents are out here with me, too.
Oh, wow! So have you all been able to do some sightseeing and that?
A little bit – they’ve been getting to do more than myself but, yeah, I have done a little bit.
More than you did at C2C? I assume as that was a busier weekend and not in a central place.
Yeah, it has been a little more laid back, so we have been able to do some stuff.
Everyone I have spoken to has said that, actually.
As I said already welcome back. Everyone has been absolutely buzzing since your announcement and cannot wait for your show tonight. After C2C you have been on the top of everyone’s list as you were everyone’s highlight that weekend.
Did you expect that reaction when you came over for C2C?
I’m very careful with expectations. I play music and have a great band – these guys are very efficient at their instruments and at what they do and we go out there and have a good time. That’s what I am dedicated to do, to follow my true heart bliss by creating art that is true to myself and true to my family and true to my faith. That’s really it and so my expectations were…well, you always want people to like you, to like the music and the work you put into it, because we do put a lot of work into it. I think my expectations have been exceeded over here. I knew that we would probably do good because of the organic nature of the music; historically. organic, acoustic driven, rock Country music is successful.
Tell us about touring with Kip – he seems like a solid guy, you been having fun on the road?
Oh yeah, he is very genuine, very true to his art and his fans and we’re cut from the same cloth. He is a good guy and we have been trying to tour together for a while now.
Do you plan to write together?
Oh yeah, we will definitely create something together. That stuff is never really forced for me; you sort of just got to let it happen.
How was Shepherds Bush?
It was great, so great -a bucket list moment for sure!
My friend was queuing from about 9am – and today too!
Oh wow, that’s great! Oh, good!
Tell us about your band The Big Fire – why the name The Big Fire?
There’s Phil Pence who plays bass – he is the gentle giant from Georgia. ‘Jonny Mo’ Jon Aanestad, we call him Johnny Mo because it is short for molasses ‘coz he is slow and moves slow. He is from Iowa and he is kind of my Swiss army knife, as he can play anything he can get his hands on from harmonica to violin to any guitar, anything.
Adam is the drummer Adam Schwind from Texas and Jabe Beyer plays guitar stage left. I have always been partial to a band as opposed to just a singular name – just a band of brothers that you can tell are out having fun. They are friends, they are brothers – they go through the highs and lows together; that’s always been my vision of what I wanted to put out there in the world. ‘The Big Fire’ came from – well it’s our brand, the big fire is the act of setting around the fire and conversing with your friends and family and seeing that orange globe, the way it smells and feels that is why my band is called The Big Fire and why the first album is called Spark.
Spark has been out for a year now, congratulations! How has it changed your life?
Oh man, in so many ways. It’s allowed us to tour pretty vigorously throughout the States and now twice through Europe, and it has really just put us on the map. It isn’t one of those albums that just commercially exploded into a platinum status or a gold status but it’s impacted the brand and the fans that are there in a really cool way. We worked hard on that record to get it out there. This next record is going to be different. I am looking forward to it, because now I know there was a bit of push and pull and stop and start with Spark, which is not there with this new record; it is the soulful Country thing that I do. Like Making Me Look Good Again is that soulful Country. On this next record, the full album has that ‘rootsy’ sound, that feel – that’s the difference.
Do you have any particular ‘pinch me’ moments?
Oh man, daily. Just my parents being over here is a pinch me moment. Just staying in the moment with my wife and family just staying in the moment with my band at Shepherds Bush, playing Fenway Park with Zac Brown, having sold out shows in Boston, New York and L.A – all those are pinch me moments. It’s about staying in that moment.
Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind Makin’ Me Look Good Again.
Yeah, me and Alex my wife’s dad were sitting around drinking beer and her dad just said ‘Oh, man you have out putted your coverage’ – which is an American Football term, like she is way too good for you. He was kidding around with me, like she is better looking than you are and she makes you look good. So I wrote that down, we got a little deeper than that, too – because not only does she make me look good, but she completes the whole circle of this crazy artist’s life – me floating around being creative, she is creative too, but keeps everything grounded , everything in check – and it is really important that she is there, you know.
Ha! Probably has to be San Andreas.
I actually really liked that movie.
That’s a good movie, haha!
I have seen photos of you with dogs, are they yours? What’re their names?
Oh yeah, they are called Writer (Song Writer) and Maple (Syrup)
What breed are they?
Ones a Golden Retriever and ones a Boykin Spaniel
Awww they are very cute
You worked with Earth Wind and Fire for CMT Crossroads is that right? How was that experience and how did the pairing come to be?
Yeah, well I got a call from my management one day and he asked me if I was a fan of Earth Wind and Fire. I said it depended on which record, because I am a fan of some of their records but it’s not that I am not a fan of all their others. He goes ‘ Oh, well, they are doing a CMT Crossroads – would you be interested in doing it?’ I asked well what songs, you know? They presented songs like Boogie On Down and that’s how it came about. My dad’s a big fan; it was a blast.
Tell us about ‘Free Style Fridays’ – how long have you been doing them?
I try to be consistent with it. It’s one of those things that takes time and I try to tell people that Free Style Fridays are not thought out; it’s me jumping on facebook live and spinning out what is in my head and some weeks are better than others. Sometimes the subject matter kind of flows and sometimes maybe I am a little clogged up that day and can’t get it out. What I am doing with that is helping me too, because I am putting something out there that is very dangerous in a way because it is not rehearsed; it is very vulnerable, very spontaneous and in the moment. My drummer has told me before, ‘Well that one wasn’t really that good, ha!’, but I don’t care. It’s not that I don’t love the good ones, the good ones are great but freestyle is the vulnerability to go out and there and do it.
What is the best gig you have been to?
The best? Man I have been to so many. The best gig I think was probably Alison Krauss in Tampa because I was three rows back and just watched them just kill it. I had a great time that night. She sounds like an angel.
Do you have any favourite UK artists that you listen to – they don’t have to be Country?
Oh yeah, absolutely! I love Van Morrison and The Stones – I have been really influenced by them. I love Ed Sheeran, LOVE Ed Sheeran and Amy Winehouse – I can’t quit listening to Amy, she was just incredible she’s probably one of my favourites. I love Sam Smith, too.
Well, thanks so much for chatting to me and it was so nice to see you again.
I cannot wait for tonight’s show
Thank you, me neither.