Last time I was in Nashville, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with one of Nashville’s hottest stars, Frankie Ballard
In the USA everyone knows your name, do you know how big a fan base you have in the UK?
I don’t but I want to find out more, I want to be popular over there because I’m so fascinated with not only Great Britain but all of Europe, I’m really fascinated. I’ve never been and I just – I really don’t know a lot about the area and a lot about the country music scene and I’m fascinated by all of it.
It wasn’t that long ago, maybe a couple of years ago they’d say ‘Country music, ah, Achy Breaky Heart” and then they’d go “Hey Country and Western’ and they’d laugh at you but now it’s really turning round and there’s just this huge love of country music
Wow that’s so awesome. I would love to come over and people know me and my music
Can you tell me a little about you, you obviously grew up literally going straight into country music, and did you ever really want to do anything else?
I wanted to be a baseball player.
Who would you have wanted to play for?
The Detroit Tigers.
Is that where you’re from?
I’m from Michigan and my dad was a big Tigers fan, my dad and mom are both from the east side, from Detroit so always the Detroit Tigers, or maybe a fighter pilot.
So what do you think you would be doing now if you weren’t playing country music?
A fighter pilot. I would have went in the military for sure.
So can you remember back to the first time you heard yourself on the radio?
Yes. And there were two distinct memories and I like to talk about the second one because the first one was on my local home town radio station and I knew it was coming that was really cool.
But the first time I really was impacted by it I was in Sacramento California and was on a radio tour for my first ever single, it was called “Tell me you get lonely” and it was over five years ago and we were just introducing yourselves, “I’m Frankie a new artist.”
I walked into the station in Sacramento and the programme director’s name was Tosh Jackson, and he goes “Well let’s put it on the air” and I’m like “What do you mean? Like right now?” And he said “Yeah come on” and we went into the studio and he took out the song that was supposed to be coming up next and put “Tell me you get lonely” in and introduced it and I’m hearing it in the studio coming across the airwaves and it was such a surreal moment because I was so far from home and I thought this is really something pretty special. I was amazed at how good it sounded. It sounded more brilliant and bigger and it was – I’ll never forget that.
That must have just been kind so cool. Now I notice when I was reading about you before you like your Elvis, you like your Jerry Reed, did you used to watch Smokey and the Bandit?
Oh that’s my favourite movie.
Yeah I love it. I mean I know it’s not 12 Years a Slave or it’s not an academic movie if you will but it’s such a great character, Jackie Gleeson, Snowman. I love it; I’ve seen it a million times.
I notice a lot of people now when they go out and do their tours and are on live they tend to throw in a cover of a song that they really like. Thomas Rhett recently has covered Uptown Funk and that, is there one that you do or one that you would really love to do? Just to kind of show off something different?
I’ve for years covered Bob Seger. Growing up in Michigan Bob Seger was everywhere and they played a lot of his songs on Rock Radio that not everybody played. So to me Bob Seger was a lot bigger of a star, I mean he is a big star in America but even bigger in Michigan and I just have always loved him and got a chance to tour with actually a couple of years ago, so anything from Night Moves to Old Time Rock and Roll, Main Street, Turn the Page, all these Seger songs I’ve always covered.
My voice kind of is raspy like his a little bit so it fits real well but I always thought when I was a kid to me Rock and Roll was Led Zeppelin. I was way into the music and the group but I didn’t really know necessarily what they were singing about so more ethereal, mythical, mystical and to me Bob Seger and John Mellencamp and those guys, the songs were country songs.
It’s about the lyric and so to me Bob Seger and those guys fit right in with what I was into.
I would love to see you cover Elvis songs
Oh and I’ve done plenty.
So to me your whole look and your sound feels like you could have been in that era, 30/40 years ago, do you like that kind of era?
I blame my dad for all that. When I was 4/5 years old my dad was introducing me to music that he was into and he was born in 1950 and grew up in that whole Elvis, Everly Brothers era and when I was 4/5 I wasn’t listening to the radio, I wasn’t discovering new music I was a kid hanging out with my parents and so Elvis and I discovered Elvis as a 5 year old kid like he did in 1950.
Yeah I didn’t realise that Elvis wasn’t around – I didn’t know he was not alive at that time and so I think that all of that influence he had on me it forced me to sort of grow up as it wasn’t the 80’s, it was the 50’s and so that’s kind of what’s made me love Steve McQueen and Paul Newman and all of this music from that era so that’s where I get all my style and stuff.
What’s coming up for you?
Recording a new record, which I cannot even begin to tell you how excited about it and I’m doing it in a very different way. And it’s an important album because this is the follow up to that first…
That’s it, your first album people go for that second one and that’s proving yourself isn’t it and saying “Look I’m here, I’ve learnt a lot.”
There’s a lot of pressure on everybody to deliver on the second album so in the face of all that we’re doing something very risky and very different and I don’t want to reveal too much of it…
Okay. Sounds very interesting
…but I will tell you this, we are not recording it in Nashville which is a bit of an eyebrow raiser from most people which is a risk…
Even in the UK people come out here to record their albums.
So we’re going off the campus to record it and I’m recording it in a way and I promise you the rest of your story as soon as…
When it’s over I’ll hold you to that.
I promise, I promise because it’s an incredible story, it’s going to be – we’re going to not only be off campus but we’re going to record it in a way that I think is really going to make a difference so…
Exciting. So when’s that scheduled to come out?
Well Young and Crazy my current single will be the last single form the Sunshine Whisky album. The first single from the new project will be next so I imagine Young and Crazy will peak whatever it’s going to do midsummer so in the fall we’ll be having a new single from the new project.
Already for CMA awards. We will come out and sneak a preview.
I promise you that I will give you the whole – I’ll give you all the – I will not leave a detail out as soon as the time comes.
I would love that. So last question for you, one when are you coming to the UK, you need to. You just need to….
I can’t begin to express to you how much it would mean to me to come over there and play. The sooner, in my opinion, the sooner the better. And I truly – I truly – I don’t know the answer to when but the sooner the better as far as I’m concerned. I really can’t wait. I can’t wait. My favourite television show of all time is Top Gear. Of all time. Jeremy Clarkson I love it. I love it. I watch BBC America relentlessly. I love that.
Thank you so much Frankie, for taking time out to speak to Think Country and we look forward to catching up with you again