Interview: Wade Bowen discusses new album Solid Ground, playing at Black Deer Festival, writing about Guy Clark and more

Texan singer/songwriter Wade Bowen just released his seventh studio album titled Solid Ground via Thirty Tigers who are his new label. Solid Ground is an exceptional album with a great mix of cross over genres such as Country – rock, Americana and Folk and is an album full of well crafted, strong songs that are a must-have on your playlist, CD players, whatever you use to play music.

Wade will be returning to the UK for a European tour which includes a slot at the first ever Black Deer Festival in Kent this June.

We caught up with Wade to discuss his new album, playing at Black Deer and more. Wade was a delight to talk to, he was humble, kind and generous with his time and stories.

Please check out Solid Ground as it is by far one of the best albums of 2018.

Hi Wade how are you?

I am great thanks

Tell us about your new album Solid Ground, I believe it is your seventh album?

It’s my 11th overall album, buy my 7th studio album – it is crazy to say that. This record is called Solid Ground because I was born and raised and still living in Texas. I am a huge Bruce Springsteen fan for example and always liked the way that he always talked a lot about where he was from and I think this record is a lot of that. To me, I really wanted to capture the sound of Texas and I wrote about characters and ideas and I wanted to paint people pictures of where I am from and what’s beautiful about it. To me, Texas is Rock, It’s Country, It’s Americana, it’s a little bit everything so I really wanted this album to represent my state and show people what I love about it.

Keith Gattis produced the album – tell us about working with him and why you wanted him to produce the record ?

Yeah Keith and I have been friends for over ten years probably and it was fun to make a record with a friend because he was pretty honest about everything and really pushed me too. He said “you know you have touched on writing about Texas on your other albums but let’s make a whole record about it”. That’s where the song Day of the Dead comes from – it is very South Texas and has Tejano mixed in there too. Keith was adamant to make a concept album. We wanted everything to fit together and for it to feel good. I wanted it to feel like you were watching a movie and I think we got that accomplished.

Yes I agree – I think it is a cinematic album.

Thank you for saying that as that is what we were going for.

This is your first release on Thirty Tigers label I believe?

Yes – They have been great to work with. We’ve been in out of all kinds of labels over the years, independent labels, major labels. I just got out of a major label deal and I did one record with them but this is the first real project that I have released that has given me a lot of confidence back and made me feel good again. I think having Thirty Tigers be a part of this has really helped the album and has put people behind me that really believe in what I am doing. They have let us do whatever we want that has made me feel good.

You have a great list of co writers on the album – how do you go about co writes?

I have my people that I call up when I can and there were a lot of new people too. I had never written with Angaleena Presley or Andrew Combs before. There was a lot of me calling up old friends but mainly me pushing the envelope, me pushing myself. I pushed myself to get in the room with some new writers, some fresh blood and to see what happens. It really worked out good – when you push yourself you learn a lot more and hopefully I became a better writer and a better artist for it.

Calling All Demons is one of my favourite tracks off of the album. It reminds me of a country Pearl Jam in many ways.

Haha that’s funny you say that. The chants at the end of the song where it hums, that was Eddie Vedder inspired for sure. From the moment I wrote that with my buddy Seth James I said “Man, we got to put some demon chants there at the end and make it sound like how Eddie Vedder would do it”. There is a little bit of grunge influence in my career, probably not as much as I would like though. I love Pearl Jam and I think that song shows the dynamics of what I like to do as an artist. I like to do really country stuff with the fiddle and the steel guitar and then turn around and do songs like this one. I love the diversity of being able to do that, I have always done that, I like to ride the line between rock and country.

Broken Glass is one track off the album solely written by yourself and seems quite personal?

Yes it is. It was after a fight that I had got in with my wife and I had said some things that I wish I hadn’t. After she went to bed and slammed the door, I sat in the dark feeling like an idiot. That song and Anchor are two very personal songs on the album that my poor wife unfortunately has everything we say or do go out to the world. She is pretty cool about that though, she is cool how we can have these arguments and fights and then suddenly there is a song about it. She once told me after this song though that it’s not fair that I can write a song to get it off my chest and she has to find other ways to deal with it. It’s a very true statement that makes a lot of sense because it really does help me get these things off my chest but she has to figure out another way.

You worked with British singer Lucie Silvas on this album? She lent her vocals to a couple of tracks?

Yes, she did. I had known Lucie but had not at that point got to meet her and Wow! I am blown away on so many levels not just by her as a singer but she is so sweet and I really have enjoyed getting to know her during this whole process and I look forward to getting to know her even more. I really feel that the songs she sang on really needed a female presence to them, even if it wasn’t necessarily in your face but they needed a female presence and she did it in the way she did and it was quite eerie to hear because it was almost like the character was hanging out in a room with you and it’s just really cool what she did. Her contributions are probably my favourite parts of the record and it really made it stand out instead of being just a couple of sad songs that were put on a record – she found a way to make them unique.

The songs she was on were Broken Glass and Anchor?

Yes

Tell us about writing with Jon Randall and how Guy Clark inspired the song Death, Dyin’ and Deviled Eggs. What has deviled eggs have to do with the song..

They are a food people make for get togethers. Southern cooking in the states is comfort food and deviled eggs is a delicatessen. My mum always says she doesn’t want a funeral, she wants a big ass party and that’s kind of what this song represents – it’s like “hey enjoy your life” but when we lose those we love it takes a little time to mourn but then we celebrate your life. Funerals are for the living not the dead. It was interesting writing this song with Jon Randall – I have been friends with him a long time and he is one of the most talented people that I have met in my life. The whole Guy Clark thing, well he was a hero of mine for a long time and I realised that I had never written a whole lot like him even thought he was a huge influence of mine. Guy has this style and this way of writing. We started to write this song a couple of weeks after he passed away and I said to Jon that I really want to write a Guy Clark song – he has gone and I really miss him and I just want to imitate him. There is no greater respect than trying to be him and so that’s where this song came from.

Thank you. I love the album in its entirety and I am looking forward to seeing you at Black Deer Festival.

Yeah I can’t wait for that.

Yes and it will be the first one too which is exciting for me to go to and for you to be a part of. Will you catch any acts whilst there?

I am so looking forward to it and I love Jason Isbell, I love everything he does and I am anxious to see his show. I have a good European tour surrounding it too which I am also excited for. We will be in Berlin, Amsterdam, all over the place. When I was over about a year and a half ago it was all acoustic shows and I was just blown away by the intensity that people listen in the UK – it is very respectful and very cool and I came back to the states singing your praises so I look forward to coming back and I am trying to convince all my friends to come with.

Well you are always very welcome here so do keep coming back.

I will

Thank you so much for talking to me today

Thank you so much and hope to see you at Black Deer Festival

 

Listen to Wade Bowen – Solid Ground here

Purchase Wade Bowen – Solid Ground here

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