CMA Fest Interview: Joe Bachman Makes Country Music with a Twist

CMA Fest Interview: Joe Bachman Makes Country Music with a Twist

Joe Bachman hit the airwaves over the past six months with his energetic and upbeat debut single, “Small Town Rock Stars.” Full of rocking guitar solos, it’s an anthem to a summer time spent on the water, feeling invincible in the hazy heat as you party with all your friends. Needless to say, it’s something of an essential summer time track for all country music fans. We had an opportunity to meet up with Joe when he was in town for CMA Fest and found that his music very much speaks to the heart of who he is.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Joe Bachman still manages to possess the southern values and sweet attitude of the men from the south. From his days in cover bands touring up and down the east coast to his hard work ethic when it comes songwriting and entertaining, he is aware of who he is as a person and a musician, and is determined to allow his listeners the chance to hear it in his songs. His music ranges from those quintessential party anthems, to truly meaningful and heartbreaking ballads that tell authentic stories. He’ll be spending this summer touring the country with Sister Hazel in support of his album “One” and is on the verge of releasing exciting new material. Want more info?? Check out our exclusive interview below!

So, is this your first CMA Fest??

Last year was actually my first!

What do you feel is the difference between last year and this year, as far as what you want to accomplish?

Last year was all showcases for me. So no one had any idea who I was in town. This year has been more about being able to follow-up on my album. And over the course of the past six months we have my first single going out on the radio and hitting the charts. So, a lot of people have been saying, what has he been doing? It’s a little bit different in that, a lot more people know who I am out here this year.

What is your favorite part about CMA Fest?

The camaraderie! I used to live down in Key West, and they do a songwriters festival every year, and I did that one for about six years. And for that one, everybody comes down from Nashville, and so I’m realizing how similar it is to up here. This is a much, much grander scale. Down there is probably 400 to 600 people coming into town where as this one it’s in the double thousands. But really just the camaraderie, for instance I was at this party the other night and it was like, my buddies from Florida Georgia Line walking in the door and two minutes later it was Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran walking in the door. It was crazy, just really awesome!

This is the summer kick off for the south, everyones ready to have fun! So growing up, what were your favorite activities to do as a kid?

I’m a boater. I love boating and fishing. I grew up on the water. I live in Nashville now but I also have a home in Florida. That’s what I remember about summer time. As soon as it got warm enough, we’d go out on the water and go fishing. The beach will always be summer to me.

You participate in the music events in florida. Was that one of your summer traditions? Were there any other music events you loved to attend?

The Key West thing was usually early April or May, so it wasn’t quite summer yet. But no… I’ve spent the last 12 years touring up and down the east coast. Summer time for me, from Memorial day to Labor day, was me playing 7 days a week. I usually had maybe three days off in the summer. I was very much the opposite of every teacher out there. I played thursday through sunday during the rest of the year, but come May it was just, this is where I’m busy and I travel every day. So I just played all summer long.

How did you get started in music?

It’s truly the only thing I remember.  I have no idea how. My mom and dad are not musical. From the very first thing I ever asked for for Christmas from the age of three years old were KISS dolls. Every other kid was asking for footballs, and my parents couldn’t understand why I was asking for those dolls. Then at six or seven I really wanted a guitar and microphones. And at ten years old I was walking around with a white glove on like Michael Jackson. I drove my parents crazy cause they were not musical people, they just didn’t know where I was coming from. Truly, that’s all I’ve ever done, anything I could do whether it was singing or playing. Even through high school, I was always the one singing and being in plays.

I had read you were doing cover bands for a while. How did you move away from that and decide to write your own songs and start performing them?

Well, the cover thing was actually in between. When I was younger at 17 or 18, I was doing just songwriting and it was a hobby for me, and I was working at a mortgage company to make money but I was just writing songs. Then I wrote this one song and took it to a local radio station in Philly. Never in a million years thinking it would get played. And I was sitting in a cubicle on a Friday morning and all of a sudden my song is being played on the station! I stood up and I went to my boss and I said, “I have to go, I don’t belong in this business.” And that’s the last day I’ve ever worked for anybody else. I was determined I was going to do music for a living and I basically just knew I had to play covers to make money. So I played covers for the next ten years just embracing the fact that I could make a living doing this. It started to feel empty after a while, so I knew I had to start writing and recording and moved in that direction. So the cover thing is right in the middle of it.

When it comes to songwriting, where do you tend to pull your inspiration from?

Just like everybody else, I had a rough, crazy childhood. I’ve been through break-ups and heartbreak. I’m no different than anybody else. What it comes down to, is I think the best writers in the world are the ones that can take experiences and put them in to words. So for me, coming from Philly to Nashville, it was a really hard thing because they don’t necessarily embrace you right away. I really wanted to be different, I wanted to come into the town and when I started writing songs, I went into all these co-writes with great songwriters. My most important thing was to walk into that room with a different idea. I didn’t want to sing about a truck every time, you know? I wanted to come in with, okay, here is something I don’t think has been written before. That’s what I’m trying to bring to the town. I don’t want to write anything that feels fake. I did not grow up on a farm, or dirt roads, so I didn’t want to write that… for me, it didn’t feel real. But I wanted to show how a boy from Philly could be a redneck. My dad grew up listening to Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, I was told from four years old that when a lady comes in the room you stand up and give her your chair, I went to church every sunday… there are a lot of similarities I had to being raised as a southern boy. And I just always really felt at home down here. Where I’m from they don’t believe in manners, and I do.

I’m from California and I’m in love with country music, so I totally get where you’re coming from. Everyone gives me really strange looks when I tell them country music is my thing.

That’s so funny! My roommate, he was in Philly, and on April 1st of this year he drove cross country to California to LA. He wanted to be a rock writer. Started writing songs every day and realized on May 15th that he hadn’t written a single rock song, he’d been writing all these country songs, and he’s not a country writer at all. And his songwriting coach was like, “you’re writing really good songs but you’re in the wrong state…” So in June he drove all the way back and now lives here!

That’s awesome! I love those kinds of stories, that’s definitely my goal some day to come back to Nashville.

You should!

Someday! So you’re working on the full length album right now, and the single “Small Town Rock Stars” is really upbeat and fun, can we expect more of that on the album? Or what can we look forward to?

The NEXT single is the totally opposite. Again, when I said I like to come in with different ideas, the next single is like that, it is about post traumatic stress syndrome. And I’d never ever heard that written before. This was probably the most pivotal moment in my songwriting career. On May the 1st of 2011, I was playing the Key West songwriters festival in front of 150 veterans, and I invited them back to my show later that night at Sloppy Joes. About 9:45 one of them walked up to me at my show and showed me his cell phone and told me that we needed to make an announcement that Bin Laden had been killed. I didn’t feel like I could make it, if I was wrong, I’d look like such a jerk. But his higher ups came over and told me it was the real thing so I made the announcement. We played a song holding the flag… needless to say a surreal moment for me. Fast forward about six weeks, I walked into my house and there was a box with an American Flag and a plaque. Turns out soldiers that night were tuning in live from Cuba on the webcam. They flew it for 9 minutes and 11 seconds and presented that flag to me for my patriotism.  Then one night after that, I was laying in bed and I got a text from one of those soldiers, it said “there’s a whole bunch of songs about our troops, and about the unfortunate ones we’ve lost, but I’ve never heard a song about the ones that have come over, have fought for us, and come home and are battling with everything they heard, smelt, felt in their heads. That’s what you need to write.” So I decided I wanted to write that song. And the most important thing was that I wanted to touch every one of the senses; smell, touch, sound, sight. We did, and it’s my favorite song I’ve ever written. It’s the most powerful song I’ve ever written. I went out on a radio tour and played it for some DJS. There’s never a dry eye in the house when I play it. It’s heavy, but it just needed to be said… it’s gonna be a heck of a video.

Wow, we can’t wait to hear it… that’s amazing. We know we just recently filmed your first music video?

Yeah! We actually filmed that last summer.

And how was that for you?

It was awesome! My best friend owns an island and when we started to look around for places, “how are we gonna do this, where are we gonna do it?” We were just thinking about Nashville. Every place in the script that referred to the place said “your favorite bar” and I was like, well does it have to be here in Nashville?? And my director was like, “no… why?” Well, my best friend owns an island that IS a bar. Take your favorite bar that holds maybe 1500 people, and take it and set it in the water, and you have to take a boat or a helicopter to get there. That’s what my best friend owns. So, we decided that’s where we were going. So we did, we had 2 million dollar speed boats, 2 helicopters, and 1500 people just partying hard. It was just awesome. Really fun.

Do you feel like it’s really important to you to inject your personality into everything you do? Your music, your videos?

Absolutely, for me I’ll be the first to admit I’m the furthest thing from the greatest singer in the world. I’m a performer, I’m an entertainer, I’m one of those people where I look up to Garth Brooks and Lee Brice. And I look up to them because either one of them can sit down with a guitar and make 30,000 people cry, and then literally 30 seconds later, they’ll grab a beer, stand up and have them all on their feet. So, I want to be able to do both. So for me, interjecting my personality, that’s the most important thing for me at every show.

You’ve toured with some pretty big names already. If you could go on tour with anyone, who would it be?

Lee Brice. Lee is not only a personal friend, but I just look up to him. he’s one of the best writers I’ve ever heard in my life. He can write unlike anyone but he can also bring a crowd up and down. It’s unreal to me. Granted, if Garth decides to go back on tour again… I might change my mind! (laughs) But for now I’ll say Lee.

I mentioned that I’m from California, so any plans to come over to our neck of the woods on your tour with Sister Hazel?

That’s the very first thing I asked Sister Hazel! ‘Cause I’ve never been out further west than, like, the Chicago area. I want to get out there so bad! They said it’s 100% in the cards. I’m really hoping to get out there and it’s in the cards!

Well we can’t wait to check you out!

Be sure to visit Joe’s official website for more information and check out his debut single “Small Town Rock Stars” on iTunes now!

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