Photo courtesy of Derek Jones
He’s a bit of a rebel. He’s a true patriot. He’s seriously country and he’s not afraid to sing about it. If you like your country music good and gritty, you’re going to love Derek Jones. I’ll tell you what happened with me. I listened to one of his songs to prepare for my interview, and I went on a bender! I downloaded everything he had. Then I went and texted links to a bunch of his songs to my husband because I knew he was going to be an instant fan. This was one of those chats I was looking forward to. I sure was hoping Derek Jones the person lived up to the songs I’d been listening to. If he was even half as cool as his music, it was going to be a good one. Take a look at how it went and decide for yourself how our Zoom chat ended up.
Patti McClintic: Hello. Can you hear me? Can you see me?
Derek Jones: Hello, yes, I can hear you and I can see you.
Patti McClintic: Well, we’re doing great so far. That’s amazing.
Derek Jones: (Laughs) This is going great!
Patti McClintic: Alright, we’re done. That was it. Just a test, you can go do whatever you want now. (Laughs) Hi Derek, I’m Patti from Think Country. It’s so good to talk to you.
Derek Jones: You, as well. Thank you so much for having me on Patti.
Patti McClintic: Thanks for being on. Let me tell you, I got up this morning and I started doing all my Derek Jones research and listening to your music, and where have you been all my life?
Derek Jones: (Laughs)
Patti McClintic: Your music just kicks ass. It’s so good!
Derek Jones: Oh, thank you!
Patti McClintic: I loved every single song. I started playing it for my husband, I was like, “Listen to this guy! You’ve gotta hear this guy, he’s so good!” So, yes, I started sending my husband Spotify links to your songs. It’s just so good.
Derek Jones: Right on! Thank you very, very much.
Patti McClintic: So, why don’t you give us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from, just your background. Like, pretend you’re on one of those dating shows or something.
Derek Jones: (Laughs) Well, my name’s Derek, I like long walks on the beach…
Patti McClintic: (Laughs)
Derek Jones: So, my name’s Derek Jones. I’m originally from Hartford City, Indiana. Once I turned 18 I left for the military, joined the military in 1999 and got out in 2003.
Patti McClintic: What branch?
Derek Jones: I was in the Navy, stationed in San Diego for four years and honestly, I was gonna stay in San Diego. I was a drummer then, I was in a punk rock band and I was gonna stay in San Diego. I told my mom, “Hey, I think I’m gonna stay out here and pursue this music thing out here.” She said, “The Hell you are. You get your ass home.” I listened to my mom and came back home and started college.
Patti McClintic: Moms have a way, you know.
Derek Jones: They definitely have a way, that’s for sure. So, yeah, I came back home, started college and I didn’t pick up a guitar until, I think, I was 24 maybe, 23, 24? A couple of my buddies would come over to the house when we would have parties in college, and it was phenomenal to watch them play guitar and I always thought, “Man, if I ever learned to play guitar I would never put it down.” So, I went out and bought one and they taught me the ins and outs and a few chords and I have not looked back since. I’ve loved this journey the entire way. I spent right around 10 years in Nashville. I moved to Nashville the weekend right after the big flood.
Patti McClintic: Oh, wow. That had to have been kind of interesting.
Derek Jones: It was very interesting, but to be honest with you, it made me fall in love with Nashville because I saw what a great community the entire city was with everybody helping everybody. It was phenomenal to be honest. I hate that it was such a tragedy for some, but it was a very beautiful thing to walk into, to see neighbors just helping neighbors and strangers helping strangers. There was such a sense of pride in the Nashville community. I spent 10 years there, the last four or five years I spent touring with Billy Ray Cyrus, and writing and recording with him, and then things started getting a little odd internally in that camp. They were telling me, “If you’re gonna be a musician you can’t have a family, and you can’t have this and you can’t have that.” It was time for me to leave, so I left and I have a beautiful family and I’m doing what they say can’t be done.
Patti McClintic: Yeah, good for you. You have to be able to have a life.
Photo courtesy of Derek Jones
Derek Jones: For sure, absolutely. It’s funny, because my last year or two in Nashville, I was having conversations with two of my best friends, telling them, like, “I’m seeing one dream kind of fade away while I’m out chasing another dream.” I’ve always had two dreams, even when I was a kid I wanted to be a drummer in a rock and roll band. I’ve always wanted to be a rock star, you know? I’m watching one dream of me being a rock star kind of coming to light a little bit, but the other dream of having a family with kids, I’m kind of watching that fade away. I guess it’s kind of hard to settle down in a town like Nashville when you’re on the road all the time. Then just out of nowhere, I met a girl, I fell completely head-over-heels, and now we’ve got two beautiful baby girls and life is good.
Patti McClintic: So, you’re not in Nashville now?
Derek Jones: No, I moved back up to Indiana. I’m still doing music full-time, still being able to do it. It’s funny because I moved away from Nashville and I’m starting to actually make a living playing music.
Patti McClintic: Well, there you go, it can be done.
Derek Jones: It definitely can be done, 100%.
Patti McClintic: Now that you’re in Indiana, what’s your weather situation? We’re not having very “Nashville-ish” weather today.
Derek Jones: Right. I’m seein’ that. A lot of my buddies that still live in Nashville are posting that y’all got some snow.
Patti McClintic: We do. Snow and ice.
Derek Jones: Yeah, we’ve got about a foot, maybe a little more. We’re supposed to get three to five inches more tomorrow. It’s beautiful though. You know, the bad thing is, up here if it’s not snowin’, it’s gray, it’s dark, it’s just kinda gloomy and depressing. At least when there’s snow on the ground it’s pretty.
Patti McClintic: Yeah, it looks a lot nicer when there’s snow on the ground.
Derek Jones: I’ll take the snow all day. The snow doesn’t bother me, it’s the gray and the gloom and doom that I can’t stand.
Patti McClintic: Yeah, no gloom and doom. So, tell me, the most recent thing of yours that I could find was “Everybody’s Somebody,” is that correct? Is that the most recent thing you have out right now?
Derek Jones: Yeah. So, that was the single we released late last year. I wrote that with a good friend of mine, his name’s James LeBlanc, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the name.
Patti McClintic: Yeah, from Alabama, right?
Derek Jones: Yes, he’s from Muscle Shoals, right. He’s the one who wrote “Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde,” the Travis Tritt song.
Patti McClintic: Yeah, his name pops up all over the place. Amazing writer.
Derek Jones: He’s fantastic. We were playing a songwriters fest in Muscle Shoals and I was actually in a round with him, and we kinda hit it off. I had a day off in Muscle Shoals, so we went to FAME Studios to try and write, and we threw a million things at the wall to see if something would stick and nothing stuck. After about 45 minutes, for whatever reason I was going through my phone, and I just said out loud, “Everybody’s somebody.” He kinda looked at me and said, “What’d you just say?” I said, “Everybody’s somebody,” and he goes, “That’s it! We’re writin’ that.” Then we just went to town and we had it down in about 25 minutes.
Patti McClintic: That’s so cool. I listened to that song, and what I love about the way you sing is you can understand every lyric. You sing with such clarity that I can understand every single thing. It’s funny when you say how quick that song got written, because the words to that song sound like something that my husband would write out of his own head, from his own life story. So, that’s why I texted it to him. I was like, “This sounds like something you would write if you knew how to write a song.”
Derek Jones: (Laughs) Right.
Patti McClintic: It is a cool song and that’s how we live our life, because everybody really is somebody, it doesn’t matter if you’re the janitor or the President, who cares?
Derek Jones: Absolutely, and with the kind of person I am, who you are and your social status doesn’t matter. Whether you’re left, right, black, white, I don’t really care. How you treat me is exactly how I will treat you, and that’s exactly what that song is about. Everybody’s somebody, and if you treat everybody with a little respect hopefully you get it back.
Video (audio) courtesy of Derek Jones Music and YouTube
Patti McClintic: That’s right and if you disrespect, that’s what you’re going to get back. The other one I really loved was “Somethin’ Different,” oh, my goodness, I really loved that one. That’s another one I sent my husband. Tell me about that one a little bit.
Derek Jones: So, that one I wrote a while back. I was out in Pennsylvania with Tyler Farr, doing some shows with him. We had country music playin’ on the radio and I literally started keepin’ track of how many times they mentioned their jacked up truck, their girlfriend’s cut-off shorts and her boots and it was ridiculous. So, after that run in Pennsylvania, I got back into Nashville and I called up my co-writer, Eddie Wilson, and I legit said, “Dude, it’s very clear that if we’re ever gonna get a song on the radio we’re gonna have to write about this stuff whether we want to or not.” So, we thought, “How can we write about it, but make fun of it at the same time?” You know, get a little jab. So, that’s what we came up with, “Somethin’ Different.”
Patti McClintic: It’s so brilliant, so hysterical. It was a great twist on a typical “bro country” tune. Again, the clarity of the lyrics, for a guy who has such a deep voice as yours, every single lyric comes out clear as a bell, and I’m giving you the best compliment I possibly can right now.
Video courtesy of Derek Jones Music and YouTube
Derek Jones: Well, I appreciate that, thank you. I think annunciation is very key, especially when you’re singing songs. You want to understand what they’re singing and what they’re saying. I always say it’s not my job to sing a song, it’s my job to tell a story, and make the people believe the story that I’m telling them. If they can’t understand what I’m telling them, then they’re not gonna get it. I’m a huge Morgan Wallen fan, love that guy to death, but sometimes I can’t understand what he’s sayin’ and it bothers me.
Patti McClintic: You want to call him up and say, “Hey, next time can you try for some clarity dude?” (Laughs)
Derek Jones: Right.
Patti McClintic: I have some difficulty with deep southern accents sometimes. I feel like I need closed-captioning. I’m not from the south as you can probably tell, but I’m getting better with it. So, who are some of your favorite country artists? I’m sure they’re all the “bro” guys that write about the jacked up trucks, right?
Derek Jones: You got it! They’re all my favorites. (Laughs) You know, I like the old school guys, of course I like Waylon and Willie, all those guys, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson. Really my fall back, the kind of stuff I listen to all the time, I’m a huge Allman Brothers fan, I love the Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker, stuff like that. As far as the newer country, I always say I hate what they play on the radio, but some of this newer stuff that’s coming out now like Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs, I do dig their stuff. I like their music and I listen to it, I support it and I buy it. I like the newer stuff that’s comin’ out. I don’t like the “bro” stuff.
Patti McClintic: I like Luke Combs because I think he’s found a good middle ground in meeting the old and the new. I think he’s found that sweet spot.
Derek Jones: Yes, yes he has.
Photo courtesy of Derek Jones
Patti McClintic: So, what’s new with you? What about new music? When can we expect new stuff?
Derek Jones: I’m getting ready to release another EP called Last of a Dying Breed and it comes out March 12th. It’s available for preorder and presave right now. The cool thing is if you preorder it on iTunes, you automatically get the title track, “Last of a Dying Breed,” and just by judging what you said so far, if you haven’t heard that one, you’ll fall in love with that song.
Patti McClintic: I will do that the minute we get done here. (I did)
Derek Jones: Yeah, please do. It’s a great song. It came about because I try to be a gentleman, I try and treat people with respect, especially women and Megan (his wife). Whenever we go out shopping or whatever, I always hold the door for her and that’s just the kind of guy I am. We were out shopping for our baby one day and I opened the door for her, she got in the car, I shut the door for her, walked around the car, got in on my side and these two older women come over and knock on the window. I rolled it down and the one woman said, “Young lady I just want you to know you’ve got yourself a gentleman. We don’t ever see that anymore these days, a guy opening the door for his lady.” She leaned over and said, “He does that all the time for every door, whether it’s the bedroom door or a car door.”
Patti McClintic: My husband does the exact same thing. You and him would get along fine.
Derek Jones: I think we would. So, I rolled the window up and I looked at Megan and I said, “That means a lot.” She said, “You’re kind of the last of a dying breed,” and as soon as she said that I thought, “Oh, my God, that’s a song, I’ve gotta write that.” So, I came home and started to write “Last of a Dying Breed,” and I’m so excited for everyone to hear it.
Patti McClintic: I can’t wait to hear it now. (It really is an amazing song)
Derek Jones: I’m excited and I’m scared to death. Every song on that EP is completely different. It’s kind of like a quilt, like, this song doesn’t match with this song, and every song is completely different from the next one. There’s a song on there called, “Nature of the Beast,” it’s a song about the struggle with addiction. It’s a super dark song. My brother struggled with addiction, he got hooked on meth and some crack for a couple years, and it was a very, very bad time for him. I’ve always wanted to dedicate a song to him, so I’ve got this one and I put it on there for him. There’s a song called, “Black Cloud,” it’s kinda got that Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart” kinda vibe, that circus kinda feel. It’s totally off-the-wall from anything I’ve ever recorded. Like I said, I’m excited, but I’m also scared to death because I’m afraid there’ll be a few of my fans that’ll be like, “Dude, what is this? This is weird.” (Laughs)
Patti McClintic: Well, you know, everybody does something like that. The last album The Cadillac Three put out, they kind of went a little “funkadelic,” and some of their fans went, “What happened to you guys? What happened to your ‘dirty south’ thing?” You know, that kind of thing. The band just wanted to do something a little different and fun, and they did it. The vast majority of the fans thought it was cool and understood they were having fun and wanted to try something else, I thought it was cool, I loved it, but I love the band. I think those guys can do anything, they can go play the dictionary and I’d be like, “They’re awesome,” but I can see what you’re saying. Did you write most of the songs by yourself?
Derek Jones: I did, I wrote all of ’em, and then there’s a couple I wrote with James LeBlanc. There’s some I wrote with a good friend of mine, Casey Edgar, who I also wrote my song “Cold as a Stone” with. Yeah, so everything I release is from the heart.
Video courtesy of Derek Jones Music and YouTube
Patti McClintic: I will definitely go preorder the EP so I can get that song, and other than that I think we’ve covered everything. So, I have this Chat Pack, a box filled with random questions. I’m just going to pull one out. Okay, the card says, “When people find out what you do for a living, what is the most typical question that they are likely to ask you regarding your job?”
Derek Jones: Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?
Patti McClintic: Alright, who is it?
Derek Jones: (Laughs)
Patti McClintic: Now that we’ve opened that can of worms.
Derek Jones: You know, with me spending four or five years side-by-side with Billy Ray Cyrus, I mean, he legit made me feel like part of the family, to where I was spendin’ holidays with them, Christmas, Thanksgiving, I would go to Miley’s birthday parties and they were pretty crazy, so I would say she’s probably the most famous person that I’ve ever met. She’s such a sweetheart. You know, her last birthday that I went to, there were about 15 of us sitting around a campfire, I had my guitar and we just passed it back and forth for about an hour. It was a good time. I would say she’s easily the most famous person I’ve ever met. Her or Charlie Daniels I guess.
Patti McClintic: There you go. Well, you have one that’s living and one that’s sadly now passed away. Yeah, Miley Cyrus is actually giant in the pop world. She started off with that little bit of a country stint and then went full-out pop and she’s a giant.
Derek Jones: Yeah, she’s pretty much worldwide huge.
Patti McClintic: Good answer. So, one more, because we are Think Country, when you “Think Country,” what do you think?
Derek Jones: Truth. When I think country, I think truth.
Patti McClintic: That was quick! Well, I thank you for spending time with us today and go do whatever it is you do, go spend the rest of your day with your kids of something.
Derek Jones: That sounds like a good deal. Thanks for having me Patti, I appreciate it.
Patti McClintic: You’re welcome and I do hope to see you at a live show somewhere soon.
Derek Jones: That makes two of us.
Like I said, I did go preorder Derek’s new EP Last of a Dying Breed on iTunes immediately following our Zoom interview. I listened to the title track right away and as he predicted, I loved it. I’m fairly certain this artist can’t miss. He’s one of those guys, if you like one song, you’ll like them all. Period. You can find him at all the links below and definitely go give him a follow. Be sure to tell him Think Country sent you!
For more news, reviews, interviews and features, please visit thinkcountrymusic.com
Photo courtesy of Derek Jones
DEREK JONES CAN BE FOUND:
INSTAGRAM: Derek Jones on Instagram
FACEBOOK: Derek Jones on Facebook
TWITTER: Derek Jones on Twitter
YouTube: Derek Jones on YouTube
*Featured photo courtesy of Derek Jones