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Interview: Jeremy Pinnell on new album ‘Goodbye L.A.’ and being back on tour

Jeremy Pinnell may be a name that’s still relatively unknown to UK country fans – but that could all be about to change.

Originally from Kentucky, he released his debut album, ‘OH/KY’ to critical acclaim in 2015, followed by a wave of touring in both the US and Europe. After finding success with his cover of Concrete Blonde’s song ‘Joey’ earlier this year, now he’s about to release his third full-length album, ‘Goodbye L.A.’, the follow-up to 2017’s ‘Ties of Blood and Affection’.

I recently caught up with Jeremy (pictured centre above) to talk about the new album, how he approaches his songwriting, his experiences returning to live performances and potential plans to come back to the UK.

Your new album comes out next month – what can you tell us about it?

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Yeah, it’s an album we recorded at the beginning of 2020 in Austin, Texas. We recorded with producer Jonathan Tyler and it was a great experience. Junior Tetweiler played guitar, Charles Alley played the drums and Adam Durie played the bass guitar. It was a great experience.

What were the biggest influences on this record for you?

I guess the biggest influence for this record was really I just wanted to write… not so much influences as I wanted to write a more upbeat record, you know. Something just kind of like take the weight and pressure off and just let people have fun.

You also recently released ‘Wanna Do Something’ as the album’s lead single and put out a video to go with it. What can you tell us about the song and the video?

We did. The song was written… it’s just a song about trying to do other things other than music or art. And I think if an artist or a musician or even a writer attempts to do something else, you always find yourself coming back to that art or that music or whatever, you know. And that was just kind of like a simple song about that.

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I also wanted to ask about your songwriting for this album. Were there any songs that were particularly easy or particularly difficult to write?

The title track, ‘Goodbye L.A.’, it just came real naturally. It felt like I had turned a corner in being able to figure out that you can write about whatever you wanna write about with no restrictions or anything. And it kind of opened up the door for the rest of the album. ‘Cause sometimes it can be daunting. But if you just enjoy the process of writing, and you’re able to free up and do what you want, pretty much.

Do you have a typical songwriting process?

Yeah, I don’t think my process is different than any other. I’ve discussed it with other people. You always come across the melody, or maybe someone said something that stuck with you and you wanna use that. But it usually comes with the melody and then you usually put some music to it.

Do you ever get writer’s block? And if so what’s your way of dealing with that?

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Yeah, I don’t care. If I’m not feeling it I just don’t write. And then I know eventually I’m gonna write, so I like doing other things other than writing and playing music. So it doesn’t bother me at all if I’m not feeling like it.

I also wanted to ask you about the cover of ‘Joey’ you put out earlier this year. What was it that drew you to that song in particular? And has the response to it surprised you?

Yeah, it was the beginning of the pandemic and we were just travelling musicians at that point. And I just was at home, and that was always one of my favourite bar songs. I’d go to a bar and put money in the jukebox and play that song and maybe a couple of others. Maybe ‘Shoot To Thrill’, AC/DC and ‘American Girl’ maybe, by Tom Petty. And I would always play ‘Joey’. And I just always connected with that song. You can hear the honesty in her [Concrete Blonde lead singer Johnette Napolitano’s] voice in that song, and the message was real powerful. It’s just about loving somebody.

And so I thought I’d give it a try. I always wanted to try it but I couldn’t find the right key, and I found something that works. I recorded it once and then I recorded it again with my telephone in my living room. The next thing I know a buddy of mine, Scotty, told me I should release it, and I thought it was a terrible idea. And the record label and my manager also wanted to put it out and I still thought it was a terrible idea. ‘Cause it’s a phone recording, who wants to hear that? But I guess, I don’t know. Maybe I just don’t know.

You’ve recently gone back out on the road. How are you finding the experience of being on tour again after such a long break?

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I don’t know. I imagine my experience is pretty much the same as anybody right now. You’ve just kind of got that feeling in your stomach. I mean you want everything to be OK but everybody knows it’s not. So it’s like… we just played Nashville last night and it was good. It was nice to play my guitar and sing and hang out with my friends. But yeah, I’ll guess we’ll see how it goes. I mean the world is kind of upside down, crazy. Sometimes you just gotta pretend.

You also played some UK shows around the time of your previous record. Do you have any plans to tour over here once it’s safe to do so and travel restrictions are lifted etc?

Yeah, we were supposed to be over there last for five weeks, and I think we were supposed to be there this year for five weeks. And now we’re just hoping for the future. You know, I love being over there. But I don’t know.

It’s also been four years since the last album. Has anything changed about how you approach your music since then?

No, I think I’m still always trying to figure it out. But I guess I’ve learned to let go a little bit more and just have fun a little bit more. So I think that that’s really helped – just enjoying doing what I’m doing.

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What’s the one song you wish you’d written?

I mean, there’s a few of them, but anything off ‘Red Headed Stranger’ by Willie Nelson. That record I think is just like the ideal record for any songwriter. I mean, ‘The Red Headed Stranger’, ‘Time And The Preacher’, ‘Can I Sleep In Your Arms’. I know that’s like three and you asked for one.

What do the next six months or so look like for you? Is touring and the album the main focus right now?

Yeah, we wanna put this record out. We want people to hear it and we’re excited for people to hear it. And yeah, we’re just excited to play the songs off the record so the sooner the record comes out the sooner we can play the songs. We got some tour dates coming up this year in October, November, and then I think we’ll call it a year and see what’s going on next year.

Jeremy Pinnell’s new album, ‘Goodbye L.A.’, is out on 1st October 2021 on SofaBurn Records.

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