“Some people write third-person lyrics that are stories about other things. What I write is all relatively personal to me. I give my best effort to make first-person observations about things that can be universal and seen by people in whatever way they want to take them.
I wrote songs in high school for this blues/rock band that was terrible. One summer in college, I worked a research job in a forest in Alabama. When we had downtime—in the middle of the day, because it was too hot to work—there was nothing to do so I spent hours drinking coffee, playing guitar, writing songs. I came back from that summer with a bag full of songs and started a band and that’s when I really started playing a lot.
Songwriting-wise, I draw a lot from Texas songwriters. Guy Clark. Jerry Jeff Walker. Willie Nelson. For guitar, I like a rocking sound. I love all the good English bands of the ’60s and ’70s—the Faces, the Stones, barroom rock ‘n’ roll music for dancing and having fun.
With Greazy Alice, we’re all over the place these days, style wise. Patrick [Smith, guitar] is deeply rooted in the blues but has made a transition to playing a more country/rock style. He’s always been super proficient, but over the past two years he’s really come into his own and is now developing his own style, which is so important to the way the band sounds. The drummer [Austin Heilman] likes Primus, Modest Mouse, Clutch. I can tell a lot of the times he wishes we were playing heavier stuff, but he likes playing this stuff, too.
I’ve learned that when you put in a lot of effort into making something—work hard, have the right attitude about it, whether or not anything ever comes of it—then it’s going to be a great time and you’re going to remember it fondly for the rest of your life.
A lot of my favorite musicians are the ones able to make a life out of playing without chasing any kind of fame or commercial recognition. To be a hero in your town, to be in a band that people around you love to go see. Look at what the 40s [Morning 40 Federation] and King James [and the Special Men] have done, with all that sway they have over the neighborhoods in New Orleans. Just that level of being a fixture and involved in your community. To keep playing, keep developing, not be a flash in the pan or burn out. But to really make a lifetime of having music as a central part of your everyday life and never give up—that’s what I see as success and that’s what I hope to achieve.”