"It's a soul-stirring, speaker-shaking musical journey" A chat with Jarrod Dickenson
Poised to release his new album around the time of Country To Country festival in March of this year the plug was suddenly pulled and Jarrod Dickenson's record disappeared from the schedules. The Texan has reappeared now, on a major label, and with his album fully in tact. We spoke to him about Ready The Horses and a few other things.
Hey Jarrod, how the devil are you?
I’m quite well, thank you.
What have you been up to today?
Today was spent wandering around the stunning streets and enticing record stores of Amsterdam before catching a flight back to London.
How would you describe Ready The Horses in two sentences?
Ready The Horses is a soul-stirring, speaker-shaking musical journey through the real lives of fictional characters. It’s an honest, open record about life, love, hope and despair; at times as smooth as honey, and others as prickly as a cactus.
There are some many wonderful tracks on the record, each seems like it's own little vignette. What was your process for writing and selecting the songs?
Thank you very much. Each of these songs, as all songs do, came about in different ways. Some were written alone. Others were collaborations with friends. At the root of all of these songs is a story. That’s where it all begins for me. The songs that found their way onto this record were mostly songs I’d been performing live for some time, though a few were finished shortly before heading into the studio.
You recorded the album live to tape, what was the thinking behind choosing that process?
I’d always wanted to record on tape, but this was my first real opportunity to do so. A friend of a friend owned a studio in East Sussex, and he’d just gotten an old Atari tape machine in that he was itching to try out. He kindly offered us a mate’s rate to come in for a session, and we were more than happy to be the guinea pigs. We spent the next several days playing these songs together while the tape machine ran in the background. When you record the way we did, all playing together live, and going straight to tape, you lose the safety-net of using ProTools. I think that puts you in a different mindset. It creates a sense of urgency, and forces you to give your all on every take. It was a lovely experience, and I think I’d have a hard time going back to recording any other way.
If people could only listen to one track from the record, which would you suggest?
That’s a bit like choosing your favorite child, but I suppose (at this particular moment) I’d have to say ‘Gold Rush’. We had such a great time recording that song. It’s a mean, nasty, menacing sounding song with all sorts of strange things happening in the track. At one point our drummer was on the studio floor with a metal serving tray in one hand and a hammer in the other, using the latter the beat the former until it was unrecognizable.
My favourite track is ‘Your Heart Belongs To Me’, it’s just a great song with some brilliant interplay in the vocals. Who’s that singing with you and how did that become a duet?
The person singing with me on that track is none other than my beautiful wife, Claire. When I wrote that song I always heard it as a duet. It’s one the two of us have been singing together live for a few years now. It’s always a special moment during our live shows, and it was a wonderful experience to be able to capture that on tape.
How did it feel to have the record delayed for six months when you signed with Decca?
As anxious as I was to send this album out into the world, when Decca said they wanted to sign the record I think you’ll understand that under the circumstances I was more than happy to wait a little longer to release it!
You played Country To Country in London earlier this year, how was that?
We had a great time playing Country to Country. It’s a wonderful festival with an eclectic mix of artists. Thankfully, the UK has a very broad definition of “country”, so someone like me, who wouldn’t really be considered a country singer back in the States, can be on the same bill as Miranda Lambert or Reba McEntire, and the audiences here welcome both equally.
And now you’re back touring the UK, where are you looking forward to visiting?
I’m looking forward to all the stops on the tour. The UK has been a very kind and welcoming place for me over the years, and one that I always look forward to visiting.
How’s your 2017 been so far?
2017 has been a great year so far. I was signed to a major record label with an incredibly rich history. I’ve released a record of which I am deeply proud, and now I’m getting to sing those songs to audiences who are eager to listen. It doesn’t get much better than that.
If you could only listen to one song this week, what would it be?
Choosing one song is tough, but choosing the artist is a no brainer. Like many others, I was hit hard by the sudden loss of one of America’s finest songwriters last week with the passing of Tom Petty. His music was a huge part of my youth, and it stuck with me as I started trying to make music of my own. He’s been an inspiration from the get-go, and his music is still the bar we’re all trying to reach.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
What records did you purchase today in Amsterdam?Thanks for asking. I found three albums today in my vinyl search.
This Is The Sea by The Waterboys, Larger Than Life by Freddie King and Jamming With Edward!, which was an album made by three of the Rolling Stones (Mick, Charlie and Bill) along with Ry Cooder and Nicky Hopkins.
Finally, how do you take your coffee? (Or alcohol?)
I take my coffee black and my whiskey neat, just as God intended.
Thanks so much for your time Jarrod, have fun while you’re in the UK.
Thanks very much! Let us know if you can make a show. We’d be more than happy to have you out. Cheers!
You can catch Jarrod on his UK tour now, or buy / stream his new album Ready The Horses from any decent music outlet or streaming service. For details on his tour visit his website.
12th October - Soundhouse, Leicester
13th October - Deaf Institute, Manchester
14th October - Esquires, Bedford
15th October - Louisiana, Bristol
17th October - Latest Music Bar, Brighton
18th October - St Pancras Old Church, London
19th October - St Pancras Old Church, London
22nd October – Empire Music Hall, Belfast