Casey James is one hard working man. I met him for the first time back on my birthday in February at a lunch put together by the Sony Music Nashville Digital team, but we never had the chance to sit down and chat until now. In our exclusive interview with Casey we ask him some of his fans most asked questions: on the music video for “Crying On A Suitcase,” what it was like finally releasing his album, and if country music was always the genre he wanted to be in. He’s come a long way in just a few short years, and it was time to introduce our fans to one of the more talented artists on radio right now.
Casey released his debut self-titled album earlier this year to great reviews. He’s proving that you don’t need to be a reality show winner, whether it be The Voice, American Idol, or X-Factor, to have a place in country music. A songwriter, he co-produced his own album – which is rare for debuts. Casey will go far and things are just starting for him, so get to know Casey before you start hearing him all over your radio – which you will be.
Okay, first of all.. the most asked question by fans… What is it about country that you’re drawn to? Was it always country music that you wanted to play?
That’s such an interesting question. I’m drawn to good music, I’m not a genre person. I’m just lucky that the genre that I play in and write is a genre that gets me. I’m just thankful that I get to fit in somewhere, and I think that’s really it. I feel like now more than ever that music is a little bit genre-less, but back during my childhood, growing up, country music was something that I always loved, for sure.
The other most popular question was if you have any idea when the music video for “Crying On A Suitcase” will be coming out?
Yeah, it will come out as soon as they get done with it (laughs). I have no idea as far as timeline, that’s totally out of my hands. I don’t have any work on the editing process other than “I like this,” or, “I like that edit.” I mean, a lot of people’s time and effort is going into it over the next few weeks. It could take a day, a week, a few months… I have no idea to be really honest with you.
Any hints to what the video’s like?
Yeah, absolutely! I think it’s gonna be really great. There’s a lot of literal interpretation on the song, which in my mind makes it a little more artsy. I really am proud of it, it’s got a lot of imagery in it. It’s the whole backstory of the relationship – the good times and the bad times and the struggle of the lead character trying to make the decision on if he should go after her and swallow his pride, or does he go after her and make it right. It’s got a lot going on and I think it’s going to be really great. I’m excited for it to be done.
You wrote almost every track on your album, but is there a particular story that sticks out to you?
(laughs) Well, they all stick out to me, each one of these songs. I’m sorry to answer so shortly, but it’s true. Essentially, any song that I write, if it fits the moment in my life to write a song about it, then that turns into the story of the song. As far as any particular story, I think the songs are as personal as I want to get in those moments.
What’s the best piece of advice someone has ever given you about the industry?
I can’t say that I’ve had anyone give me any advice as far as the industry is concerned. I take advice from different places and put it into my career. I think the main thing to do in any business, no matter what it is, keep grounded and know where you want to go and go down that road with purpose. No matter who you are and where you’re at, people are always going to try to pull you one way or the other. If you know who you are, and what you want to accomplish, then I think that it makes your journey a little easier.
Yeah, I’ve written with a whole bunch of people. I’ve got a list of about 40 different people on (laughs) that I need to get back together with. Right now, I’m really focusing more on the road a lot, so it makes it a little bit more difficult to take the time and get with people and actually get into the writing process. When I get a day off here and a day off there, I’ll be spending it writing. I really enjoy writing, and I have a list of people that I really enjoy writing with, so I can’t wait.
Speaking of being out on the road… how do you keep yourself busy on long trips between shows?
There’s a ton to do. Generally speaking, I’m doing interviews or responding to e-mails, or texts, or phone calls. There’s so many moving pieces to what I’m doing right now that a lot of things need to be addressed all the time. There’s really never any down time, but when there is I’ll call family and friends to catch up. If I have any time other than that, my band and I will catch frisbee, or throw a ball around. In worst case scenario, when we’re on a long trip on the bus we’ll play Tiger Woods Golf, or watch a movie, or something.
If you could put together your dream tour, who would you hit the road with?
Hmm… I’m gonna go with my band. (laughs).
That’s kind of cheating, but ok.
Is there a song out on the radio that you wish you wrote?
Yeah, I really love “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.” There’s a lot of songs out right now that I wish I wrote on the radio, that being one of them. Some come and go, and I feel like maybe they should have stayed on the air a little longer. That song I loved it the first time I heard it on the radio and thought, man, I wish I wrote that one.
Is there anything on your ipod fans may be shocked you listen to?
No, I don’t think so. I think my fans know me well enough to know what I like. It would be really, really hard for us to find something to shock them I think.
You’ve been really great at interacting with your fans on Twitter, is that something that’s important to you?
I just kind of do it, I do it because I enjoy it. It’s not like I really try to do that, you know what I mean? There’s some times when I don’t, it really depends on the timing and if I have time. If I do have time, I like to keep people in the loop. It’s easier for people to understand you in country music, and I feel like I’ve made friends. It doesn’t feel like fans to me, it feels like friends, and I think they kind of feel the same way. It’s just something that happens naturally, I guess.
How did it feel to finally have an album out?
It’s probably the most rewarding feeling to know that I worked a long time, not just the past few years, but really my whole life in preparation for that moment. The experiences I’ve had, and really everything has lead up to that point. I really worked so hard to have the opportunity to have an album out in stores that is being promoted and that people are able to hear. To finally get to that point, to know that it’s out there for people to enjoy, to buy, and to listen to.. there’s really nothing like it. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Is there one moment that you can remember when you realized that music is what you wanted to do?
(laughs) Every moment? It’s never really been a question in my mind. I’ve always done music, and it’s what I love to do. I was really blessed to learn the important things in life are not money, or anything other than doing what you love to be happy. For years, and years, and years I wasn’t making any money but I was happy to do music. Just.. it’s never really been a question for me. I’ve always been doing music and it’s always been something I’ve loved. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I don’t think there was any particular moment, I think it was every moment.
Is there one city or venue that you haven’t played yet that you’ve always wanted to?
Since everyone I know is seeing Batman this weekend.. who’s your favorite superhero?
Ooh, that’s a tough one. Hmm.. there’s a lot of superheroes (laughs). I don’t know, I know you just said Batman, but I’ve actually always been a fan of Batman because he’s just a guy. He’s the only superhero that doesn’t have any superpowers. I always thought that was really cool, that he uses everything he’s got to do good and he doesn’t really have any powers. I always thought that was really commendable. I used to always read Batman books when I was a kid, so yeah.
I saw on Twitter that you were thinking of using a fan’s idea to name your guitar. Do you really name your guitars?
Some of them, yes. I mean, I’ve got a few that I do. It really is about if you play a guitar enough you just end up coming up with something to call it. There’s a lot of guitars that I own that I don’t play enough as much as I should, and I’m sure I’ve come up with a name for them at one time, but since it’s something I don’t play on a day-to-day basis it just kind of gets forgotten.
We asked Casey what video he wanted us to include in this interview, and he chose his cover of “Polk Salad Annie” one because it’s “really, really cool.” We’re unable to put the actual video in the post as it auto plays on embed, so here’s a link to his cover for Yahoo! Ram Country. We’re embedding his second choice, his acoustic version of “Drive” below as well: