Interview: Neil Mason from The Cadillac Three talks about their UK tour, fans, being on the road with Brothers Osborne and more

The Cadillac Three who consist of Jaren Johnston (lead vocals, guitar), Kelby Ray (bass guitar, Dobro, acoustic guitar, vocals), and Neil Mason (drums, vocals) are regular visitors to the UK – with their ever growing fan base in both the Country and Rock scene, TC3 have gone from playing to an audience in the UK of 100 to now over 2k.

The Cadillac Three are quite the band, they play loud, electrifying, phenomenal shows which fans never forget and that is what makes fans go and see them over and over again.

The southern rock trio are currently on their third studio album via Big Machine Records – Legacy.

The Cadillac Three were over in the UK last month (November) with Brothers Osborne as support for their Long Hair Don’t Care tour and they have been tagged as the gig of the year.

We caught up with Neil during his journey here to talk about the tour, the fan base, music and more.


Hi Neil, how are you?

I am good, how are you?

Good thanks – Welcome back to the UK – how has the trip been?

It has been really, really great; all the shows have been awesome. It is nice to see our fan base keep growing; it’s a very cool thing and I can’t tell you why it’s happening, but we’re excited!

You sold out Kentish Forum which is your biggest UK headline show to date – how did that feel?

We were excited not just to have sold it out, but to sell it out ahead of time, because then you don’t have to worry about it; all you have to do is turn up and play your show. It was a very cool thing and such a cool venue – we had never been in there before and it’s a really great theatre, it sounded great.

How have the audiences been? It sounds like it was a wild crowd in London?

Yeah, it was. We are still getting over it a little bit; we definitely went for it that night – the crowd was great, and we had a good after party afterwards. It’s funny sometimes people say when they are playing New York or Nashville that the London crowd is not as energetic, but we have never found that to be the case here – it was a great show. We started playing here at the Barfly to about 100 people and now to 2,300 sold out in just a few years is a very cool thing.

Yes, well your fan base is definitely growing and you get played on Planet Rock Radio quite a lot?

Yeah, Planet Rock has been a huge supporter. They have been great and have literally played us since before day one – they started playing us even before we came over here. We don’t get a lot of radio play back in America, so to have somebody that is so loyal like them is very awesome.

Your fan base seems to range from Country fans to rock fans who aren’t into Country at all, which makes for a much broader audience. Do you tend to find you have more of one genre fan base than the other?

It’s a bit of both; it’s hard to tell sometimes. We did the Download Festival this summer and we didn’t really know what to expect from that. That might be the biggest show that we have played on the main stage there. I think we probably won over a lot of rock fans from that, but at the same time there’s such a growing Country scene here in the UK. I think it is just great timing and a great blend for us, as there seems to be a lot of music fans in general that are interested in both genres. We kind of walk that line of doing both, so I think it has a lot to do with right place, right time, right sound.

How was the Download Festival? Did you catch any acts?

It was a pretty crazy experience; as soon as we got the offer to be on the main stage we responded with an immediate excited ‘Yes!’. Shortly after that, we realised that Aerosmith were going to be headlining the same day as us. We have become pretty good friends with Steven Tyler, because he has been living in Nashville for the last couple of years, so that was just like an added bonus. We knew that we’d be able to not only see Aerosmith play, but probably it would be their last Download show – and maybe their last show in England. To get to play on the same stage on the same day, that’s bucket list shit right there – that’s one thing you can tell your kids and grandkids. Even if we don’t get any bigger and nobody knows who the hell we are, we will still mention Aerosmith, haha!

On this tour you brought Brothers Osborne with you – how did that support slot come to be?

We have been looking for an excuse to do a tour with them for a number of years now and we have both been busy and progressively getting bigger. They had only been over here once for C2C and I think they were looking for a reason to come back and do more shows, so again it was right time, right place to be able to offer them to come over. Obviously they are killing it and winning CMA awards back home and stuff – they are one of our favourite bands; they are very talented with great songs and great players.

What is it like being on the road with them?

It’s trouble, haha! I wish the tour could go in forever, but I am glad that the tour is only four or five more days because I don’t think I can survive much longer, haha! We have had a very good time together, we have stayed up late, had a lot of laughs, had a lot of beers, listened to some music – so it’s a good hang and we are really enjoying it.

You recently released your third album Legacy. How was the creative process behind this album – and did you have a particular direction you wanted to go, and was it achieved?

We had a handful of songs we were really excited about which we had already written when we put out the Bury Me In My Boots album last August. It was actually the week after Bury Me In My Boots had come out that we grabbed a couple of days in Nashville when we were off the road, and started recording the Legacy album. We didn’t know what it was going to be called at that point and we didn’t know if those songs were going to necessarily end up on the album, but we had Dang If We Didn’t, Ain’t That Country and a couple of others that we went in and cut just by ourselves and a friend of ours, an engineer in Nashville – Drew Bowman. We enjoyed the freedom of being in the studio and being able to experiment with sounds and songs, so if something sucked, we were the only ones who knew about it! It’s nice to have that freedom until you get the feel of what the album is going to be.

Tell us about the single Dang If We Didn’t. Also, is there a process behind selecting a single?

It is different every time. Radio works so differently in America than in the UK; in the amount of time they may have worked one single, Planet Rock may have worked four or five singles so that’s a little tricky. Dang If We Didn’t I think was the first song that we recorded for the album and we felt like it would be a really fun single for us, which is why it ended up being the first single in America. I think we did it over here too.

Yes, you did.

Ok, good haha! We were also really excited about American Slang as a single and I think the next single over here is going to be Demolition Man.

You have written songs for other artists. How do you go about giving your songs to other artists – and are they always ones you feel aren’t right for TC3?

It’s different every time. There are times when we write something and we just know it’s for us or we know that nobody else would probably sing it. Then there are other songs where we write it, we listen to it for a while and maybe pitch it a little bit – and then if some other artist doesn’t take it then we may look at it again and think, how can we change the vibe a little bit and make it more of a TC3 song. We are trying to be smarter about the ones we pitch and making sure that we are certain that it’s not going to be something we want for ourselves, because you don’t want to have to take it back, haha! ‘Hey, Tim McGraw, give my song back’ – haha!

Of course, because he recorded Meanwhile Back at Mama’s.

Yeah, Jaren wrote that one with a couple of guys in Nashville. That’s an example of a song from a couple of years ago that I had not heard until after Tim had cut it – and so I never had the chance to say ‘Hey, that should be a TC3 song.’ But that had happened with songs of mine too. From time to time after a show, we try to sit on the bus and play each other what we have been writing in case one of us goes like ‘Holy shit, that’s amazing we gotta do that.’

What music are you listening to right now?

Oh, man. I am trying to rest my ears everyday because of how loud our shows are every night – but we were listening to the new Marty Stuart album the other night, which is really amazing and Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real.

Love them and him.

It’s pretty amazing – he sounds just enough like Willie, but still has his own thing which is cool. We are always listening to Tom Petty – and even more so now. He is probably my all time favourite – not only songwriter – but Petty and The Heartbreakers. If you wanted to draw up what a perfect band would be, that would be them, in my mind. It was very sad to have lost him, but his music has been timeless since as long as I have been alive, so I am sure it will continue to be timeless.

Oh it will. Did you ever see them live?

Yes, a number of times, but I saw him on this last tour in Nashville, too.

When do you think you will be back in the UK?

I think in the summer – and also next fall. We will be here every year till y’all don’t want to see us no more, ha!

Well, you are always very welcome.

What do you do in your spare time?

When we are back home, it is a lot of songwriting, so that takes up a lot of my spare time – and then hanging out with my girlfriend and hanging out with my family. That’s about it – and we eat Mexican food, ha!

Have you managed to get any over here?

I had a little and, I am not going to lie, it’s not my favourite thing over here – but the Indian food in the UK is really, really good.

Thank you so much for chatting today, I am so grateful for your time.

Thank you so much, I appreciate it and hopefully see you at the next show.

Purchase Legacy by The Cadillac Three here


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