Drake White Talks UK Audiences, Growing Up & Making Music – Interview
Drake White and his band The Big Fire have been kicking up a storm lately on tour in the US, bringing their brand of bluesy southern rock to clubs, amphitheatres and festivals all over the country. This May Drake heads out on tour with Zac Brown Band, and he has recently been in the studio putting the finishing touches on his debut album, which has already spawned the radio singles ‘It Feels Good’ and ‘Livin’ The Dream’. He also released the EP ‘It Feels Good’ last September, to give fans a taste of what to expect. We got the chance to chat with Drake about his enthusiasm for the UK, what his life was like growing up, and new music on the horizon.
On UK country audiences:
We have yet to get over [to the UK]. Some of our friends, The Cadillac Three have been going over there a good bit. And Blackberry Smoke, we’ve played a lot with Blackberry Smoke and I love it. I believe we have a big world, it’s a big world and my mind is totally open and I’m very very excited about getting over across the pond. I know our music is conducive [to UK audiences] for that matter, it’s real kind of rootsy and funky and soulful all in the same thing.
If you look at historically, if you look at the Rolling Stones – obviously they were from over there but – there’s a ton of rock bands that broke [in the UK] before [the US] and it’s like I said, it’s a big world man; I’m a nomadic soul. I love the thought of going and meeting the folks over there. I can’t wait. I mean it says a lot about your ears as Europeans, I really think y’all gravitate towards grit and guts, and like a really almost Americana type feel to a song.
[There is] so much history over there that I want to dive into. I’m a builder and I love to build things so I love that when you look at a building over there, or you look at a work of art and it could be – it’s a lot older than the US.
On his life growing up, and making music his dream:
I think I’m a very dream-oriented person. I was raised by a lot of dream chasers, a lot of people that were like, “Write your dreams down and make sure that you are going for them every day.”
I grew up in a small town in North East Alabama called Hoke’s Bluff, right in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, and it was a really kind of magical boyhood and growing up. I was able to chase deer, and frogs, and ducks on this property and just be a kid, you know? I could hear the music in nature, in that stuff. My dad was in the choir, in our church. My mum and my grandfather [were] preachers and so through that and my dad’s old records that I used to listen to all the time, and the radio, I just fell in love with music at like fourteen or fifteen.
I always had [an] infatuation with Hemingway and writers, like the stories of Huck Finn. I read Huck Finn when I was [in] sixth grade and it was just like, these guys were cool. They were writing, sitting there and really thinking. Then I realised that girls thought it was sexy, [that] girls thought it was cool to do that. I’ve always been obsessed with writing, and just about three foot off the ground in that kind of whimsical world that is song writing. So I moved to Nashville right after I graduated college in ’07.
On the reaction to his debut EP:
I am pleased. I mean, I found that my drive and my tenacity are never pleased with where you’re at, [so] I’m always trying to go forward. But I love live music, and I think a live thing is second to none, and I love what it feels like to be in a sweaty barroom with a bunch of people and just deliver something that’s heartfelt. So the EP is live and it was recorded right here in Nashville, and what it does is – while we’re working on a record and going through the hallways and the roadways that are the record business, and trying to get something released – it gives our listeners, gives our fans something to bite into and really experience Drake White and the Big Fire, and I think it’s been good. I think people dig it.
On the single ‘It Feels Good’ and the upcoming album:
We are a lot different from the commercial standpoint, to have a successful single to radio and sell a record off of the success of that single. ‘It Feels Good’ was one of our singles and it did really well, but it didn’t get quite as where we wanted it to end up. We really believe in ‘Livin’ The Dream’ and Jaren from The Cadillac Three wrote – was one of the writers on my new single. I write most of my stuff but getting that from Jaren, and Tom Douglas, and those guys is really cool, and we really think it’s going to do good. It’s a groovy song.
I think the [full-length] record, we’re shooting for like July/August.