By now, Mo Pitney is probably on your radar. If he’s not, I have some suggestions. In no particular order they are A Boy and A Girl Thing, Country, and the soon to be released, Clean Up On Aisle Five. A native of Rockford, IL, Pitney came to Nashville with a goal in mind – to make it in country music while remaining true to his roots. He signed with Curb early on in his Nashville adventure, and from the moment he stepped out on the scene he was receiving standing ovations everywhere from the Opry to bars across the nation. His warm vocals breath a certain comfort into his music, while his lyrics tell stories that every hard working American man or woman can relate to. All you have to do is take one listen to A Boy and A Girl Thing to know that you’ve lived through almost every single one of those moments.
During CRS I sat down with Mo to talk about his new album, what inspires him, and the trip he’s most excited to take this year.
How long ago did you move to Nashville?
I’ve been in Nashville for about 7 years now. For a while I was coming back and forth, my grandparents have a place up north and I was doing some work up there, while I was working on a record down here in Nashville.
Tell me a little bit about how you got into songwriting?
Songwriting for me came a little later, I started playing when I was 12, and I always thought I was going to be a tour guitarist. I was actually really afraid of writing songs, it freaked me out, I don’t know why. Then I met a guy named Billy Lawson when I was 18 and I came to Nashville, and he really encouraged me to write. He wrote some songs with me and I watched how he did it and the things that inspired him, and once that door opened I’ve never been able to shut off.
What music or artists have had an impact on your songwriting style?
Wow, it’s not always just artists that influence and inspire me to write. It’s really everything that does. There are writers that I love, a bit more than artists. Like Dean Dillon and Harley Allen (Tough Little Boys, The Baby, I’ll Wait for You). My influences go back as far as Merle Haggard, as far as songwriting, Roger Miller is a huge influence on me as far as writing styles. I try not to copy those guys, obviously, but I’m really inspired by what they did.
Your sound is a mix of traditional and modern country, a bit more traditional leaning, when you’re writing a song do you go into it aiming to be more traditional?
I try not to put myself in a box at all. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music, and if I’m not careful I’ll let what people have already labeled me as determine who I am. But when I go into record, or write, or pick a song, it’s always just what my heart tells me to do. When I get chills or I find myself singing it throughout the day that means my internal clock likes it. That’s kind of my guide when it comes to music. It’s really driven by what do I respond to or what comes out when I want to share my heart?
“Clean Up On Aisle Five” is set to be the next single. What inspired that song?
Leigh Ann Womack recorded a song that I love called, “If I had Known It Was The Last Time.” And it was about a guy leaving her at a fair ground. I wanted to have my own heartbreak song that didn’t have lines like, “She cleaned out her closet and she walked out my front door.” With the same emotion, but so a younger person that might not be living with their girlfriend would completely relate to it. I told the songwriter Will Nance that, and he came back a week later thinking he had a good idea. He just said the title, “Clean Up On Aisle Five” and asked me if I thought it was sad or funny? He brought the idea to three other guys and they laughed at it. I said, “I think it’s a heartbreak ballad,” and he agreed. Within a half hour we had that song, it just kind of fell out.
When I first came to town Will told me, he’d never had success with any song that didn’t come easy. If it didn’t fall out in about an hour, he’s never had success with it. We’ve written songs that we spent a year on, and then this one happened, and it was the one that people really gravitated towards. We’re really thrilled and thankful that god gave us a good one.
Tell us a little bit about what people can expect on your up-coming album?
The album is finished, we’re just waiting on some of the mixing. But there will be a few surprises in there that showcase some of the other things that I’m drawn to. For the most part the core of the record is what you see when I’m playing on stage. The production didn’t cover any of that up, I don’t think, we tried not to let that happen. It’s just really me. I don’t know how to explain myself in words but I can do it through music.You can learn more about me as you listen. It’s coming out hopefully in May.
What else is exciting you in 2016?
Apart from the music business I’m getting married in March! So that’s what I’m mostly excited about. Outside of that I’ll be doing some traveling. I’m actually going to Alaska tomorrow to play a show there and we’re going to use part of it as a vacation and go on a snow mobile trip. I’ve never been but always wanted to go, so that’s very exciting. I want to go see what God’s painting is like up there.