INTERVIEWER: Charlie Woods
VENUE: Jam in the Valley - Varysburg, NY
Follow Charlie on Twitter at @convictcharlie
While at Jam in the Valley in Varysburg, NY on July 13, I had an opportunity to sit down with Aaron Watson, one of my personal favorite artists for the past seven or so year. I've purchased everything he has released since I first began following him (thanks to Adam Drake who is a former radio programmer on Texas Regional Radio and shared "Barbed Wired Halo."). I have watched Aaron's career arc rise and it has been great. I'm so glad I was finally able to sit down with him and ask some questions. He couldn’t have been more gracious.
Charlie: What made you go all in on promotion for “Outta Style” and say this is the one to push hard?
Aaron: I thought it was time to be aggressive from a business standpoint. I wasn’t able to afford it early in my career. I thought it was a reasonable and achievable goal. We also wanted to get radio into an indie artist mindset.
Charlie: Every time I take a look at your tour schedule, it is filled with new areas, new places, and even new countries. Does it feel like to you, in that regard, that the music is growing? (The closest he has been to me is at The Dusty Armadillo, about a 4 hour drive)
Aaron: It has been amazing, the power of the internet, and social media to an indie artist. We couldn’t get on shelves in major outlets like Target, which we now have been able to do. In the last 4 years, we have been to 40 states and also 11 countries. I’m just a salesman selling a song.
Charlie: You wrote all 20 songs on your last album. People don’t realize what a feat that is. Do you prefer to write or co-write?
Aaron: I just love to write. I am always around myself and wherever I go there I am, so I write with me.
Charlie: Does your family sometimes travel with you?
Aaron: From time to time, if it makes sense. They are each involved with their own things and I respect their lives.
Charlie: How many employees are at your own indie owned Big Label Records? Big Label Records was established in 2006 by Aaron and his longtime manager Gino Genaro, and is headed by Tony Morreale.
Aaron: We have two dozen full time employees. In addition, we also have part time and contract labor. In the near future we are signing new acts. We are searching for heart and soul.
Charlie: Can you explain some of the differences between Texas Regional Radio and mainstream country radio?
Aaron: Regional Radio has more freedom and a bit more rebelling. There is a lot of politics on mainstream radio. I have been told for years why we can’t play you on mainstream. It took me 18 years to get our first top ten. I have never been bitter, only thankful. I don’t care if they play my music at 3:00 am or 3:00 pm. I make my music for the fans, first and foremost.
Charlie: My favorite song on the new album is “Blood Brothers.” What was the meaning behind that one? It has a similar feel to “We Shall Be Free” by Garth Brooks.
Aaron: My nephew is African American. I don’t see color when I see him. He is just my nephew. He doesn’t see color either. It is great to see life in that way from a kid’s perspective. That is also why children are such a blessing. It was written from the heart.
Charlie: Jordan Lehning was co-producer on the new album. What drew you to work with him?
Aaron: I liked our conversation and we got along on the phone. His father is a major producer. Jordan did Rodney Crowell’s latest and if he’s good enough for him, he is good enough for me. He is full of fire.
Charlie: What does country music mean to you?
Aaron: It is everything. It is my life, livelihood, my passion, my hobby, and my job. It is what I have to do and what I want to do.
Charlie: What is your current favorite out there now by another artist?
Aaron: I have been listening to Roy Orbison’s son and the Philharmonic Symphony.