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Interview: Logan Mize talks Country Music Week, new music and Country radio

The independent Country star chatted to us when he was in London recently.

Logan Mize
Credit: John Shearer

Independent Country artist Logan Mize is building a sizeable fanbase for himself here in the UK.

He was recently here for The Long Road and he’ll be back in October to play Country Music Week and embark on a headline European tour. Logan recently put out a cover of Coldplay and The Chainsmokers’ song Something Just Like This and he’s busy writing and recording new material.

I caught up with him in London following The Long Road to talk about his UK fans, discuss the status of the new record and find out about his relationship with Country radio in the US…

Welcome back to the UK. You’ve been here quite a few times haven’t you?

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Yes. I think this is my fifth time. I believe. Fourth or fifth.

What keeps bringing you back?

The people man. We keep showing up and they keep coming out to the shows and they seem enthusiastic about it so it makes it fun for me. If everybody was like kind of halfway into it, I wouldn’t come back. It’s great.

You were at The Long Road over the weekend, which looked really packed. What was the audience like for you?

The were really cool. I could tell there are some new people who hadn’t heard of us before. Maybe they were there for Cam or maybe they were there for Josh Turner but that’s what’s great about festivals. You can kind of steal other people’s fans instead of just doing your own headline shows.

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You’re already coming back in October for Country Music Week. Will you have time to go home between now and then?

Yeah. We’ll go home. I have a show in Nebraska this Friday so we’ve got to go to Germany tomorrow night and do some press over there for our tour that starts October 18th. I’m busy in the US right up until we come back.

How do you cope with such a hectic schedule? It must be confusing to figure out what country you’re in at times…

Sometimes. I get tired sometimes. Lugging your crap around airports and stuff does get old. I just find a balance and make sure I have enough time at home. When I get home I totally unplug and just chill.

Is there any kind of preparation you do before you come out on these tours?

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They’re used to be. It’s getting lesser and lesser than it used to be. I feel like now I’m always just waiting right to the last minute so I can stay in my at home headspace. Then it’s like, ‘oh I gotta. I got to fly out at 6am It’s 10pm right now. I guess I better pack a bag!’ There’s not too much preparation. We did do tour rehearsals here a couple weeks ago to work up a new show before we did the Europe tour. Other than that not too much prep.

What kind of differences do you find between the crowds in the States and over here in Europe?

Honestly I feel like everyone’s more in tune to what you’re doing and saying on stage. I feel like there are times in the US that I could probably get by with a lot of things because people aren’t paying as close attention until you play the song they want to hear. You got your hit song and they’re there for that. The hardcore fans are up front listening to all the album cuts. Over here I feel like everybody’s into every song, they’re into your whole set. They really want to take it in and see what you’re about, which is really cool because you spend three minutes playing the big hit song that everybody knows and you spend so much time prepping and learning all these other songs that mean something to you. I feel that they invest more in the artist over here, which is great.

Logan Mize

Credit: Logan Mize

The US is still quite chart based whereas we’re moving away from that over here and people do still enjoy an album. Have you found any particular songs that are resonating over here that surprised you?

Yeah, we did a cover of Coldplay and The Chainsmokers Something Just Like This. We just did it for fun. Somebody on Twitter challenged me to do it so I said, ‘challenge accepted’. We recorded it and I didn’t really have any expectations with it. I think that’s actually doing well on radio over here, which is kind of cool. We had a good good reception to that. There’s a couple of other things that I put out recently on this project called From The Vault. That came out a couple of months ago but they were songs that were recorded in 2014 and I had a record label that basically buried them and wouldn’t let me put them out. They’re very raw recordings. They’re very different from the cleaner more edited stuff that we have done the last few times. They respond well to that, which is cool. I don’t know if anybody did in the States but we played a couple of songs off that little project yesterday and it was like, ‘oh no they know what we’re playing’. It’s cool.

UK fans like to hear everything you do once they’ve discovered your music. They’ll seek out every new release to get familiar with them before seeing you live so I guess we are a little different to the US in that way where they gravitate towards singles…

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We do we have hardcore fans in certain regions of the States where you can go and it’s like your cult followings. It’s really strange because we’re not a mainstream act. We’ve been a very successful independent so we still have pockets of places where people are just way in. Then you go out on your regular tour dates and you can sell some tickets but they only know the single.

Country radio in the US is such a hot topic for many reasons right now. What’s your relationship with it like?

My relationship to Country radio is actually really good. I have a lot of friends in Country radio and all the program directors they’ve been really good to me but the way that it’s done is so backwards from how you would think it should work. It’s like, ‘OK that’s a great song but we can’t play that right now because this other thing is testing really well’. There’s a lot of songs that sound just like the other song right on top of each other and I think there’s a formula to that. That happens so often and I don’t think the best stuff is always getting played. That’s not to say I feel like I’ve been slighted by Country radio. It’s a much different way of doing things.

It feels like Country radio is creating two genres of Country music – the stuff they play and then everything else…

For sure because this stuff I listen to, I’m a huge country music fan, but I don’t think any of this stuff I listen to is on Country radio at all. With streaming platforms now it’s a great time for somebody to do it their own way and not have to have Country radio to do it, which really hasn’t been the case in the past unless you’re Wilco or Ryan Adams or somebody like that.

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Even Kelly Clarkson has waded into the debate with a video of her being released saying that hardly anyone in Country makes Country music any more and calling out the lack of women on Country radio…

I think right before I left for the airport the other day I saw my wife listening to that on her phone. I was like, ‘what is that?’ and she was like, ‘oh it’s Kelly Clarkson, she’s going off about country music’.

Kelly is of course the daughter-in-law of Reba McEntire and she’s dabbled in Country but always really been a pop artist. Is it interesting for you to hear that perspective from someone outside of the genre?

Yeah. It’s good to hear. I think the same conversation is being had all over the place and it has been for quite a long time I’m sure. She’s got a point. It’s accurate. There’s like a lot of males, they’re all from Georgia and some of them sound a lot alike, and they just keep coming out of the woodwork. They’re everywhere. I mean can we do something a little bit different that hasn’t been done? If they were the best of the best that would be one thing but there’s some really great stuff that’s just completely not even getting played. She has some good points.

It does feel like there’s a gradual shift at the moment back towards a more traditional Country sound. Does that give you hope for the genre?

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Yeah. I think it’s really cool that they’re doing that and that’s working. I know I’m not a traditional country artist, we’re more like a heartland rock kind of thing so I don’t know if we’ll ever fit the mould of what the industry wants, which is fine. I’m happy to stay in my own lane but I think it’s cool that the traditional stuff is making a comeback.

What’s the status on a new record. Have you been working on new material?

Yes. We’ve recorded six new songs and then we’re doing three more next week. We’re trucking along pretty good but we won’t have a single out off that project until right before we come over for that European leg of the tour. October 18th it starts I believe so I think the single drops that week.

Will we be hearing more new material when you’re back for Country Music Week?

Yeah, I’ll have one new song to play and then I don’t when the album will follow because it’s all going to get mixed and mastered and all that. We’ll have one song ready. I think it’s gonna be cool. I dig the new stuff we’re doing so it should be fun.

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Logan Mize

Credit: John Shearer

What can we expect in terms of sound? Is it a progression from what we’ve heard before or are you trying something completely new?

I used the same producer for this project. We’re making in the same way we made the last one but sonically there’s just a few changes that we made. We had some synthy sounds in the last album that I thought were cool but we’ve moved away from that. We have steel guitar this time. I moved away from steel guitar in 2014 after my second record came out because it was getting so expensive to have a big band on the road. We cut down to a four piece after that album because it was costing so much money. Now we’re at the point where we’re like, ‘OK it’d be cool to bring steel back because I love it’. We can probably get away with it now so it steel’s back in the mix, which is good especially if everything is shifting back toward traditional country.

What about the writing side? Are there are themes that are coming out in the new songs?

The thing I always try to remember is that I take writing too seriously sometimes and I’ll be like, ‘I really need to get out what I’ve really been feeling’ and I’ll sit down to write those songs. I’ll listen to them when I’m done and I’m like, ‘where’s the part where people hear it and buy a ticket to a show?’ You’re always going back and thinking, ‘where’s the fun song that’s gonna make people smile and have fun?’ Then you go work on finding those songs and finding the balance. There’s still the fun party songs. I just moved back to Kansas and I just recorded a song called Hometown. There’s a theme of being home because I’ve been in Nashville for 12 years so there’s there’s a lot of that on there.

Why did you decide to move out of Nashville after so long?

You know Nashville grew a lot and my kids are in school, my son is starting first grade, and it just felt like I don’t know if this is where I wanted them to grow up. Traffic was so bad. I remember sitting in traffic for 45 minutes to take my daughter to pre-school. Then I picked her up and sat in traffic for 45 minutes again just to get home. I spent two hours of my day taking her to school. This isn’t how I grew up and she isn’t going to want to sit in a car this long. It really hasn’t affected anything professionally. It’s been good.

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It sounds like it’s given you plenty of inspiration?

Yeah for sure. Absolutely. It’s been very inspiring. We’re building a house out in the middle of a bean field on my wife’s family’s farm right and just being out there is great. You’re trying to write Country songs in a bustling city and it’s like, ‘this isn’t gonna work’. (laughs).

I’ve not made it to Nashville yet but it is referred to as a hits factory where there’s a line of publishing house churning out hits. That must make it harder for an independent artist such as yourself to forge your own path…

I did the whole come down to Music Row nine to five songwriting thing. I’ve done that. I think I got my first publishing deal in 2008 and that was the thing – you come down, they book your co-writes, you come and do it every day, you write a song, make a work tape… if it’s good enough you make a demo and do that over and over and over. Some of those guys are geniuses and they go down there and they crank them out but it started to become work to me.

They always say if it becomes a nine to five then it’s not fun any more…

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Yeah. It was like, ‘I’ve got to go and make up stuff every day? I have to do this now?’ Before all I wanted to do was write songs rather than work this crappy dump truck driving job. When you start feeling the same way about songs it just wasn’t working. It has to come organically for me to enjoy it.

You can’t feel everything every day and it must be hard to write songs in that kind of process. Perhaps it’s easier if you’re writing for another artist as opposed to writing something for yourself. Is it soul crushing to be writing songs for the sake of writing them?

Yeah it can be. There’s co-writers though that I love to write with it. When I go down there I’ll still go write on Music Row sometimes and it’s great but sometimes you get the wrong combination with the wrong people in a room and everyone feels that way. If you get the right people and crew together, it turns into more of a hang usually but you’ll walk away with a good song by the end of the day.

You’ve got a busy time coming up but is there anything else you’re planning on getting done before Christmas?

We have the rest of this Better Off Gone tour, which ends in Amsterdam. Then we go to Brisbane, Australia for Hometown Fest. I have a station wagon that’s an ’89 Chevy Caprice and I’ve done social media sourced tours in it before. I ask where fans want me to play and we’ll get in the station wagon to come play. We might do one of those later on at the end of the year towards Christmas just for fun. In the New Year hopefully we’ll have a new album to drop and then start the whole thing over again.

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Can we expect any Christmas songs?

Oh you know what? I’ve always wanted to make a Christmas album. Like a comedy Christmas album (laughs) but that hasn’t happened yet.

You have to start recording in July to get it ready for December don’t you?

Yeah. My wife’s a really good singer and she’s really funny. She’s actually a lot better than me and she’s made a couple of albums. Her and I have talked about maybe doing a comedy Christmas album together sometimes. That’d be kind of fun.

An alternative Garth and Trisha?

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Yeah absolutely (laughs).

Logan Mize’s latest single Something Just Like This is out now. He will be performing at Bush Hall on Thursday 24th October 2019 as part of Country Music Week.

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