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Interview: Eric Paslay reveals all about new album ‘Even If It Breaks Your Barefoot Friday Night’

Hit songwriter and artist Eric Paslay returns with his new album ‘Even If It Breaks Your Barefoot Friday Night’, a re-imagination of some of his biggest hits as a writer and performer.

With him being set to go on tour with The Shires next month in the UK, Eric sat down with me to discuss his love of UK fans, architecture and the development of NFT’s.

Read the full interview below…

Hey Eric, good to see you, how are you doing?

I’m good. How are you?

I’m good thank you. It’s been a while. How’s life? How are Natalie and Piper, she’s grown up now!

It’s good. Everybody’s good. Yeah, Piper’s three now; she’s ridiculous and wonderful. Natalie’s great. We’re always making new music and renovating some house and doing all that which is fun. Never ending. If we’re not doing music, we’re doing something. There are times where we’re like I kind of miss the quarantine time. But it is nice to be back out in the world and playing shows. I’m heading down the road tonight for a show in North Carolina and in a couple of weeks I’ll be heading out rocking the UK. Twenty five dates; it’s going to be one fun and amazing whirlwind.

When was the last time you were actually over here because the pandemic had ruined most international travel with music. Was it C2C 2020 where you landed and then turned straight back around?

Yeah, we had played Berlin and Amsterdam and I was literally in the hotel right beside the O2 because we were supposed to play it the next night. We actually went and saw Nelly play (just through management connections). So we were there ready to play at the O2 and then we were on a plane the next morning. Yeah, March of 2020 and this tour with The Shires has been on the books since so we just keep pushing it back and I’m glad Ben (Earle), Crissie (Rhodes) and the agents got it to stick and we’re getting to do it.

How are you feeling about coming back over to the UK? You’re a fan favourite over here with the fans. 

I love it. I love the architecture. I love y’all. I love the way that the crowds listen and that people don’t mind what I do. I love playing the States too but I always find it funny playing in Europe because people say ‘we want to come to Vegas and see the new shiny buildings’ and all of us Americans are like ‘I want to see the old cobblestone streets where people were killed.’ I’m kidding, that’s dark. But it is wild, there are times I go over there and see these really old places and I wonder what happened here, you know. It’s intriguingly cool. It shows that our lives are long but they’re short so use them well. The deep songwriter pours out when I get to walk through old buildings and see old stuff. I always say people don’t go to Europe to see condos. Keep the old stuff up, because it’s amazing. I love that you don’t tear down the old things and it’s protected. We’re horrible at that here in the States, we just tear down every old thing there is and it’s not even that old!

I’ve got remnants of a thirteenth century castle in my town which always tends to amaze a lot of Americans.

Yeah, it’s incredible. It’s like, these are blocks, what do you do with these blocks, put in a subdivision? No, leave the blocks. These are castle blocks, you silly man. Greedy jerks. But no it’ll be great man, I really am looking forward to it. The fact that we’re playing twenty five towns. I’ve definitely only been to maybe eight of them. I should go through and check. But typically when we come to Europe, we’re going to Germany, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands and all that. So I’m excited that we’re just focusing on the UK and getting to play that many shows there. Also in front of that that many people because The Shires have such a big following. I’m just thrilled to get to come hang and hopefully keep building my fan base of of y’all coming back to the shows. I keep investing in y’all and y’all keep investing in me and it’s a whole lot of fun.

The Shires are one of the original country pioneers when country had a big surge in the UK so it’ll be cool for you guys to perform together at shows. With all the rescheduling, have you actually managed to play any gigs with them?

We played together in Australia, we met in Australia. That’s just ridiculous, being from the UK and the States and we met in Australia. That was six, seven years ago, probably. I don’t even know. I’ve been a fan of theirs and they’ve been a fan of mine so it’s just cool that it’s all working out. They just recorded a song on their new album that we wrote called Bar Without You In It which sounds great. It’ll be cool to sing that and yeah, this will be our first actual proper show since we’ve known each other.

On this tour, you’re going to be playing the new album. ‘Even If It Breaks Your Barefoot Blue Jean Night’, great title, by the way. I love the combination of the elements there.

Thank you, the fun thing is I’ve been playing this album for years because it’s all hits I’ve written or play but I’ve never recorded the studio version of ‘Even If It Breaks Your Heart’ or ‘Barefoot Blue Jean Night’ or ‘Rewind’. I was able to re-record my hits with ‘Friday Night’ and ‘She Don’t Love You’. I also did a new  version of ‘High Class’ and ‘Song About A Girl’ so it’s my greatest hits in a way as a songwriter and a singer. It’s cool to have those new versions out and and have fun doing all that. I will also be playing some other new songs on the tour. 

I’m glad to hear that. I’m sure the UK fan base will be pleased. Why did you choose to do this re-imagination of these songs at this sort of time? 

I’d never had a version of ‘Barefoot Blue Jean Night’ or any of those songs that other people had recorded or that I’d written. I play them every night and we did the Live In Glasgow but I didn’t have a studio album and thought it would be fun to do that. Also I own the album. So it’s like, hey, well I can have my version. Why not, why not hear mine too? I’m being entrepreneurial in that way too. Mitch, who I recorded the album with is just insanely talented and awesome. Honestly, I know these songs so well I was curious to be like ‘here, what do you think you should do with this?’  Everything he does is what I can imagine in my head. I don’t even have to say it. I love everything he does. We’re actually working on another new batch of songs. I don’t know when those will come out but sooner rather than later, that’s for sure. The honest truth is I get on these recordings, which is interesting to see and all that  with having a little girl, it’s being smart with what you have. These are my versions so you know, if you want to pay for more Piper food, then click on my versions, keep them all on repeat (laughs). It was just fun to reimagine, I’m actually starting to hear the new recordings in my head when I’m playing. I don’t want to freak people out too much, but they’re pretty much the same.

You say that your owning them, you’re giving fans a chance to own them, to buy into the royalties. That’s an interesting part of it too.

We’re being crazy man, the NFT world. I was writing with Charles Kelley the other day, and he was like, what is an NFT? What is this? What are you doing? And I’m like, I know, it’s hard to understand. To me, it’s just here’s the golden ticket. There’s a 100 of them and it’s like, this is the ticket, you get to buy it for 25 bucks, and we’ll just have never ending shows like this, I’ll play and hang out and send you free things. We gave away one of the NFT lights that I built, and our first community hangs. The very last drop on, I think it’s April 20, people can literally bid on 10% of the album royalty that I’m auctioning off as an NFT, which is ultimately tangible money in your account, if everybody plays the record a lot. But it’d just be interesting to see. I’m curious to see if like there’s some dude in Nebraska that buys all ten of them or if they’ll get split up, we’ll see what happens. I always joke about auctions, whoever guesses the highest number in an auction wins. It’s crazy. It’s this weird concept. But yeah, each one is one percent of net profits from the album. Whatever the album makes you get one percent in a net profits from it. So it’s pretty cool. And it’s out there. It’s ridiculous but I own this album, I can do whatever I want. 

Eric Paslay
Credit: Paso Fino Records LLC

I presume that you spoke to people about going down the NFT route, because very much I was like Charles Kelley, when I heard about it. I knew it was digital currency but I didn’t 100% know what it was. What was the thought process behind going even more digital with the release?

Well, honest truth is my management. Blockchain is amazing. You can’t fake a receipt, so if you bought the ticket to my show, you own a ticket to my show and there’s endless possibilities with that. But to me, the way that I look at it, is that it’s my goal with every NFT that I do, whether it just be the picture, (you do get a picture or some type of spinning motion, art, you know, which is amazing. I love art and all that), but it’s basically there is something that comes with it. It might be tangible, it might be an experience, might be all of that. My goal is to add never ending value to that. I think that’s with every NFT and why people are investing in them, is that this is a piece of art or this is a piece of music that an artist has that has never ending value to it. Even with the gorilla photos, that artist is now giving more art to those NFT holders. So it’s a never ending value. It’s like Willy Wonka to me, here’s your golden ticket. It’s never ending. Oh, you like the chocolate river, well check out this elevator, let’s see where we go next. You know, it’s kind of, to me, we’re on a journey together and anything I think up of I’ve got a whole community that I can go to and, and create new things. I created these lights out of the black walnut tree that fell down on our house during the tornado. It’s called light out of darkness, trying to make something good out of out of bummer things happening. And those lights sold in like twenty something minutes via NFT. So it’s like, well, shoot, I gotta come up with another creation. Apparently people want things I build. It’ll be another interesting thing. And figuring out how we tie all those communities together will be a lot of fun. And we’re still brainstorming. And it’s not like we have no idea what we’re doing. They definitely know what they’re doing and I know the plan, but it’s the fun to bring people together.

It’s cool that you’ve built something with your own hands to give to this NFT community, it already has a personal touch.

I guess a love language of mine is doing things for others. It’s fun to build and create. I’ve never really tried to build a project with everything being the same. None of the lights are exactly the same. They all have a different vase, but they were all from the same tree limb, that black walnut. But it’s fun, you know, just being creative and hopefully adding some light in people’s worlds if they were lucky enough to get a light and.

How is the community doing after that hurricane. It was obviously a couple of years. Is everyone back on their feet now?

No, there are still just empty lots on our street where the tornado just literally tore the houses down or made them unrepairable. We were insanely fortunate, the tornado went directly over our house, but we’re at the bottom of the hill. I think it didn’t hit us as hard as it did on top of the hill where other houses were. I hope they had insurance. I planted a whole bunch of new trees on the street and they’ve been growing over the last couple years but it was like we lived in a zombie film because our whole street was just bricks and churches had fallen down and chain link fences were down and no one was around. The zombies you’d see were all the bachelorette parties walking home. Which I love. You know, it’s like tornado and pandemic. It was just a very bizarre time to live on our street.

Can we delve into a few tracks on the album? I’m sure most people who are fans of your music are probably going to know everything that’s on the album already but let’s delve into the re-imagination. Was ;Barefoot Blue Jean Night’ almost a nostalgic experience for you? It’s been around for a while, Jake Owens performs it, it’s been very successful. You’ve played it live countless times but how was it actually getting into a studio and doing it yourself?

Yeah, I play it as part of the set every show. To me, I knew exactly how I’d record this. So getting to hand it off to Mitch who produced it was just amazing. There’s a cool bass riff that he added to recreate it and it was just cool to have my own version of it. I’m sure ten years ago, my version would be a little different, you know. I did put Jake’s name in there because I had to give him a tip of the hat for all the work he’s put into it. It’s all nostalgic in a way but in a way it’s a nostalgia that I visit almost every show because I play that song for the crowd every night but it was it was exciting just to hear it reimagined. I got a drum line in there too. We won Song of the Year at the ASCAP awards, and we actually had the Vanderbilt drum line come out and play with us. Because I’ve grown up in Texas, the drum line was the biggest hype thing that could have happened during my childhood.  

The Driver’, which you have a music video out for, is amazing. As much as Charles Kelley and Dierks Bentley are obviously incredible, I think I prefer it with just one vocal on it. I think it sounds really cool. It’s not a massively hyped song anyway but was it a conscious idea just to bring it down a little?

It’s just a song that tells about the whole process of what we do you, from the people that get us there to the people on the front row, to us. Being in the crowd at one time dreaming, we’d be the one singing. It’s just a wheel that keeps on spinning. We got nominated for a Grammy with that song. I just tried to make sure that the album wasn’t just all number ones, you know, I’ve yet to get nine number ones (laughs)’. We’re working on our sixth right now with Keith Urban. We’ll see if Wild Hearts gets all the way up there. Maybe when I’m on tour. I just think I’ve always loved that song (‘The Driver’) and I think it works well with three people singing and it’s also interesting to hear it just with one voice. I love that people like it.

You’ve also dialled down ‘Song About A Girl’. Have you enjoyed the process of minimising things a little?

I did. I’ve played that song just me and a guitar and it’s kind of fun to bring it down and make it a little more sexy. That’s what we were trying to do with this version of it. I really didn’t want to copy what we already had. It’s one of my favourite recordings we have, Mitch is just so good. I love producing things but this time I just handed it to him and he did so good. It was just an amazing process to go in and for me to learn that sometimes I don’t need to be there all the time. If we want to reimagine something, if I’ve known songs for this long, I knew that it would be difficult for me to do so it was cool to have him there to do that.

I guess by taking yourself out of the process a little bit, where you were involved was much more focussed?

Yeah, it’s good. It’s the whole forest for the trees, make sure you’re not staring at the painting so long that you can’t see the face anymore.

Do you think you have a favourite on the album that you’ve re recorded?

I don’t know. They’re obviously all hits. I love playing them and seeing the crowd sing along. I always love the message of ‘Even If It Breaks Your Heart’ and ‘The Driver’. They’ve all turned out really well. Speaking of paintings, I don’t have a favourite colour. I can’t always just pain blue. They all have a love from just experiences of playing live and obviously having success with them. I wish I could answer your question. I just don’t really have a favourite. I will say I think we’ll play ‘Rewind’ live like that from now on just the the way that we did it on the album. It just turned out really great.

What do we have to look forward to from you in the rest of 2022 post UK tour, working on some new stuff potentially?

Working on new music, I’ve already got dates set in Denmark this fall. So maybe we’ll have another tour set up over there. I’m always playing shows in the States in between the European tours. Between renovating houses, because we have so much time (laughs) to recording new music and raising a little one. I’m sure we’ll have more NF T’s that I build, or create. I’m looking forward to this UK tour and it sounds like maybe I’ll be back this fall. So we’ll see. I’ll just keep putting that up to the Universe because I always love coming back.

Manifestation is key! Pleasure talking Eric, we’ll catch you soon! 

Looking forward to seeing you! Take care. Have a good one.

Eric Paslay’s new album ‘Even If It Breaks Your Barefoot Friday Night’ is out now. Watch the lyric video for ‘Even If It Breaks Your Heart’ below:

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