America. Are we united or divided? In a sense, it really has to do with what information you take in. What channel you turn on, what radio station you dial into, what you subscribe to and what you ignore. But, what if we put all that aside and just listened to each other? Mick Fury did just that in a project he just released called, “The Front Porch of America Project”. Traveling around for his own music career and listening to and experiencing the great divide that seems to span all time zones he decided to find out how big that divide really was. Fury traveled 8,500 miles in 14 days across America to get regular folk’s perspectives on what America today is to them. In a series of eight episodes, Fury gives light to how regular people feel about America on various topics and how their locations have an impact on how they see things. I chatted with Fury recently about his new series and here’s what he had to say for himself.
Think Country: What inspired you to do this project?
Mick Fury: My inspiration for Front Porch of America came in two waves. Everything always starts with music for me. One day I was sitting on my friend, Sean Patrick McGraw’s front porch with him in East Nashville, trying to write a tune and getting nowhere. We tried coffee, we tried tea, we tried whiskey. Inspiration just wasn’t happening. So, we sat, and stared out off the porch. In typical East Nashville form, interesting and wacky and cool people slowly filed by and one of us said, “Look at that. I feel like we’re sitting on the front porch of America.” and the idea for the song was born.
A few months down the road I was watching my newsfeeds go by and reading all the venom and anger and media portrayal of division in this country, and it was genuinely making me sick. I’ve been all over the country playing music, and I’ve never seen this “divide”. I’ve mostly only run into great people with big hearts who like to have fun. I called my videographer, Terry Little, in St. Petersburg Florida and I said, “This is gonna sound crazy, but I want to drive all over America and talk to people and see what’s ACTUALLY going on out there. I want to sit on their front porches and see their perspective.” He flew up to Nashville a few weeks later, and we were off. Along the way we thought it made sense to include music as part of our journey, as music has always been my favorite form of travel, so we also shot eight new music videos in our travels.
TC: What was your favorite part? Least favorite?
MF: My favorite part was getting a chance to sit down and listen to people. Really listen to them. People aren’t used to that. They’re used to arguing and fighting, but they’re not really accustomed to someone sitting there and hearing what it is they have to say. People are so fascinating and complex, they really surprise you if you just take the time to hear them out.
My least favorite part was the anger and the bluster. Hearing people parrot back things they heard on talk radio or watched on the news, and being so insanely angry about topics I’m not sure they fully understand. They have been fired up listening to some of these opinion shows (that only ever mention one side of an issue) and feel like people won’t listen to them or hear them out. I found if I could make it through the first ten minutes of vitriol and demonstrate to them that I honestly cared, they’d eventually calm down. More often than not, they’d end up having similar opinions to folks on the opposite side of the aisle, that they thought they had nothing in common with. Also, we traveled 8,500 miles in 14 days, roughly 600 miles a day, and shot eight music videos, so you might imagine the lack of sleep did catch up with us.
TC: Did anything surprise you, or stand out to you?
MF: My biggest surprise came ten minutes into the conversations, when all the heat of their arguments had blown away. People who might seem “simple” took me on a deep ride into their world, and really opened my eyes with how thoughtful they could be. Some of the footage we caught for the music videos in Montana and California and all these stops along the way also reminded me of how stunning this country’s landscape really is.
TC: Would you do it again in different parts of the country?
MF: I’m not sure if I would do it again. I enjoyed it and I learned a lot. I had a blast, but I was super over tired, I lost some weight, and I slept in a truck. I laughed and worked my tail off. If people watch it, and love it, and it brings some understanding into the world, I guess in that case I feel like I’d have to do it again. We need more things in this life that encourage us to listen and put ourselves in another person’s shoes.
TC: What was your biggest takeaway that you’ll remember from this project?
MF: My biggest takeaway is that music really does have the power to change the world. Without writing these songs, and wanting to film music videos, I never would have spent the time or all my limited funds from playing gigs, or had the drive to get out into America and find some truths. I never would have realized that if we could all be just a bit more empathetic, that all of these “problems” we see out there would melt away like the breeze.
Front Porch of America is split up into two seasons. Season two (episodes 4-8) is set to hit in a few months. The first season (episodes 1-4) is up and viewable on YouTube here:
https://goo.gl/UF8eRG. The series will also be viewable on Roku soon. Follow along at mickfury.com to find out more information as it’s released.
Also make sure to follow him on Spotify, Facebook, and Instagram to keep up with the rest of his series and his other projects down the road.