Chatting with The Cadillac Three
I met up with The Cadillac Three in Birmingham during their recent European Long Hair Don’t Care tour. The band have toured extensively in the UK and Europe over the last few years, building up a solid fan base of both rock and country fans looking for that authentic, gritty sweet southern sound…
TC: Welcome to Birmingham again! We saw you last year with Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown…
Kelby: Yes, that was almost a year ago to the day, in November last year.
TC: Yes, that’s right. Well the year before that we were supposed to see you with Whiskey Myers supporting and we left work early all excited and got stuck on the M6 with….
TC3: Whiskey Myers! Yeah there was a huge accident…
TC: Yeah, we got stuck for 7 hours and didn’t make the show – same as Whiskey Myers as we were tweeting them & they were tweeting us back ha-ha! We just made it off the motorway at 11pm and turned around and came home…gutted!
TC3: That sucks, oh man!!
TC: That was your first headline tour over here, wasn’t it?
Kelby: Yeah, I think it was…
Jaren: We were in the Institute I think?
Kelby: Yeah! Glad you made it this time!!
TC: So, how’s the tour been so far?
Kelby: It’s been great, its’ been really good. London the other night was great, I mean all the shows have been pretty packed and the fans are great, nice and attentive! You’re very attentive over here.
TC: Oh yes, the British are very attentive – we’re watching every move you make ha-ha!
TC3: (Nervous laughter!) Kelby: Yes, they’re just wondering what me or Jaren are gonna say next I think! Yeah, it’s been awesome, playing with Brothers Osborne – we’ve been trying to play with them for years. We’re really good friends with those guys so finally its happened and here we are!
TC: You had the Broken Witt Rebels with you for the start of the tour too?
Kelby: Yes, for the Europe part – Germany, Amsterdam, Paris & Ireland.
TC: So, talking about the UK audiences, are they rock fans predominately or is the country element taking over?
Jaren: It’s a hybrid! I don’t know it’s weird – it’s like every night is different over here, but I noticed that you’ll see a load of Download (UK rock/metal festival) shirts but then you’ll see a Johnny Cash shirt or a Hank Williams Jnr shirt. I think we’re that band for people that love Lynyrd Skynyrd, love, you know, the heavier country thing – you know cause Brothers Osborne are very country and I think this is why this is such a great mix. Whatever it is, we’re kind of combining that heavier aspect of those bands I grew up listening to with all the right parts of country music that we like, so it’s kinda like split right down the middle – country and rock, its pretty good.
TC: I think you’ve picked up new fans this time round from the country genre that probably missed you last time round as they considered you too rock but now that country is constantly evolving…
Jaren: Yeah, I’m glad we came over when we did, like when we started coming over before country started kinda doing this…
Kelby: Yeah, everybody started following us over here – that’s what happened!
TC: Yeah, it’s been crazy this week, we’ve had Thomas Rhett, Old Dominion…
Jaren: Maren’s here tonight too…
TC: Yeah, bad planning to have two different country gigs in the same town, same night – a unique country dilemma for UK fans who want to see both! Everyone I know is travelling halfway around the country seeing bands constantly. How do you guys label yourself and your music?
Jaren: We say Country…
Kelby: Country fuzz…that’s our country genre.
TC: So, I know you are all childhood friends who grew up in Nashville together. Idyllic childhood?
Kelby: Sure! Yes, I mean we all grew up and he grew up (points at Jaren) playing guitars and drums and stuff, kinda playing in bands we met in high school, in different bands, and then started playing together not too long out of high school and we haven’t quit yet – we’ve taken it all over the world.
TC: Your background is steeped in a lot of country tradition. Jaren, your dad was an Opry band member is that right?
Jaren: Yeah, he still plays with them yes, I grew up kinda doing that and going to that…
TC: And you guys made your own Opry debut in 2014? How was that, it must have been really special?
Kelby: Yeah, that sounds about right! It was very cool. We’ve done it a few times now but we heard from our management the other day that they’ve wanted us back since the summer but we’ve been so busy that we haven’t been able to make it, so we’re going to try and do it in the New Year again too. It’s definitely an honour, it’s something that’s been around a hundred years and is the heart of country music and to be a part of that is really cool.
TC: The Opry seems to have changed a lot as to who they invite to play, the artists are definitely diversifying…
Jaren: I think the genre in general has kinda broadened…
Kelby: I think it kinda had to…
Jaren: Yeah, in a way that they are playing catch up too. I think what’s neat about the Opry is that I’ve been going there since I was a kid, you know it’s always been like…well, Jerry Lee Lewis played the Opry, Elvis played the Opry! It’s always been this thing that’s notorious for Country & Western music and there’s always these people that kinda are doing something really cool, maybe just outside the genre and they still actually come in – its just such a cool thing. I think that’s the most nervous I ever get when we play, I don’t really get nervous for like, these kind of things or whatever, but that shit I do!
Kelby: Yeah, it’s always tourists in the audience too…
TC: Yeah, they’re expecting Kenny Rogers and then you come out…
Kelby: Hahaha, yes they see the ‘Long Hairs’ come out and they’re like ‘Ok, I guess this is what we’re getting then?!’
TC: So, did you ever have a Plan B? Was it always going to be music?
Neil: We’ve been lucky to have been in bands and been touring since pretty much we got out of high school so there hasn’t been a need for a Plan B yet – hopefully!
TC: So hypothetically if music was no longer an option, what would each of you do?
Kelby: (no hesitation) We’re going to open a Mexican restaurant called the Cadillac Taco Place!
Jaren: Yeah, I’d just move to the beach and open a place like that, but if this stopped working I’m NOT going back to waiting tables cause I did that for a long time and it sucks!!
TC: Your new album Legacy is a fantastic album and I really love listening to it. I love your earlier two albums and the party songs but this new one has, in my opinion, a more country feel to it and a level of maturity that can only come with growing responsibility and maturity. Legacy is just an incredible track. What are your favourite tracks?
TC3: Thank you!
Kelby: It kinda changes to me almost every day and some of the songs will get played a little bit more than others off the album, but I feel like they’re all a lot of fun to play cause they’re all new. Take Me to the Bottom is a lot of fun to play, that’s a great song and it’s kind of stepping out of our comfort zone – his (Jaren’s) vocal range comfort range too and the falsetto stuff so, I’d probably say that one right now, today.
Jaren: Someone asked us this question yesterday and I think I said something different to what I’m going to say today! I’m a fan of the whole album, there’s songs I think are really cool just cause they show a different side of us – I love playing American Slang, that’s a pretty rad song if I do say so myself!
Neil: Just because we’ve been playing really loud for a month straight, right now I’d probably say that Legacy is my favourite because it’s nice and quiet but it’s also, like you were saying, I just think it’s probably the most well-written song that we’ve ever put on an album and I think that, you know, that’s not easy to do, those don’t come along every day and when they do, it’s great that we were able to find a way to make it our own and even though Jaren wrote it, but to make it something that fits within our sound. It was a big piece of helping to finish the album not only because it’s the title track but also cause it led to ‘Take me to the Bottom’ and it also led to ‘Tennessee’ because it was like, ok now we have a couple of these ideal quiet things maybe we need one more heavy song, and so it kind of helped point us in the right direction when we needed it at the end there of that album.
TC: It’s a very special song for sure. You also have Lori McKenna on the album – another of my favourite songwriters, I love her!
Neil: I love Lori.
Jaren: She’s extraordinary. She brought that American Slang idea to us and we were just like ‘hell yeah, we’ve got to write that’ and we did and it’s such a cool thing!
TC: She wowed the crowds at CMA Songwriters Series at C2C a few years ago. Is that something you’ve ever considered, coming over and playing at C2C?
Neil: I don’t think that we’ve been asked, I think that early on we were kinda doing our own thing and I think it was actually right before they started C2C and I’m not sure what the reason is for us not having done it! Right now, at this point we’re….
Kelby: Finding our own fans!
TC: So, it’s not something that you particularly want to do?
Neil: It’s not something that we wouldn’t consider doing but we’re able to come over here and do these sizes of rooms on our own so it would have to be the right scenario, you know? It would have to make sense – hey, we’re open to anything!
TC: It’s such a great weekend to hang out and they’re bringing some really cool people over for next year – we’ve got Lukas Nelson coming over this March.
Jaren: Yeah, everyone’s been talking about him over here this time!
TC: I love his Dad so it’s a natural thing to love Lukas’ voice too – he sounds a lot like him. I hadn’t heard much of his material until recently.
Kelby: I haven’t either…
Jaren: Yeah, we did a live thing with Bob Harris last night at the BBC and he played one of his songs and it was really good.
TC: It’s that blues & rock infused country that I really love and it’s great to hear it mixed up with all kinds of country now at C2C. Chris Stapleton played a few years ago and you could hear a pin drop in that arena.
Kelby: Wow, if you could hear a pin drop in these crowds when we play then with Chris Stapleton, you could hear a pin drop for miles!
TC: I know you all are superb songwriters and have co-written songs for top stars like Tim McGraw & Kenny Chesney. I know that the Band Perry wanted White Lightening but you kept that for yourself. How do you decide which songs to keep and what to give away?
Neil: We flip a coin! (met with lots of laughter)
TC: Oh, if it was that simple!
Kelby: Yeah, exactly if it was that simple!
Jaren: Now we are a lot more conscious of that, we’re trying to keep some of these songs that, you know as soon as you finish a song it’s like man this thing is huge, it sounds so big and send it to Keith (Urban) or whoever but instead of doing that now we’re kind of, wait a minute – could we do this? Is there a tweak we could do on it that makes it more us? So, I think now we’re trying to be more conscious of that and in that situation (White Lightening) they liked it but they wanted me to write a chorus for it and I just said no, I just think that’s the way it should be! Then I said to Neil actually, do you think this is too ‘whatever’ for us and he’s like no I think it’s pretty cool and so we ended up doing it. Legacy was on hold for Thomas Rhett too and we pulled it back from him – he was really cool about it, he was just like I totally get it, it makes perfect sense. Honestly it makes perfect sense for me and him – he just adopted a baby girl and then we had a baby and he’s way in the middle of it now!
TC: So, my fan question of the month which you’ve already kind of answered earlier was that country stars are opening bars and restaurants in Nashville at the moment, I hear Dierks is opening one soon too. What would yours be called?
Kelby: TC3 Taco Club!
TC: Your signature dish?
Kelby: Fuckin’ Tacos! (lots of raucous laughter) I like tacos!
Jaren: I can see that already written…FUCKIN’ TACOS…(more laughter)
TC: I’d love ordering those…
Kelby: With a Cadillac Margarita….
Jaren: Well, there you go hahaha!
Hurry up and open that restaurant Cadillac Three boys cause I just can’t wait to go in and order that dish very loudly!! Legacy is available to download and buy now. Just don’t forget to open all your windows and crank it up LOUD