It’s always great when you get a chance to sit down with a music artist to discuss all things music, including the creative process and the many other facets of being a musician. Today’s guest is American country music artist Rusty Gear, whose new EP, Delivery Man, has just been released.
Thanks for with chatting with us today Rusty. Your new single, ‘Delivery Man’, is the first track from your new EP. Can you tell us a bit about why this was the choice for first single and how this song came about?
Thank you. ‘Delivery Man’ is an upbeat rocker of a song and it is usually good to lead with an up-tempo single. We’ve played it a few times live and the response has been great. I wrote the song late last year with the verse chords and riff coming first and a little inspiration from a friend who delivered auto parts part time for NAPA, and who, like a lot of people, rocks to the car stereo on long drives. The intro with three power chords repeated throughout allowed me to make a key change into the chorus, which makes it more powerful.
Often people will listen to the first few seconds of a song and decide whether they like it or not, and that’s particularly true today because of the plethora of choice available and the nature of streaming music. Do you think this song is a good indicator of your overall style and sound?
It is. Most of my music is guitar driven and the slide guitar in Delivery Man and rocking beat is similar, for example, to ‘Out and Runnin Round’ from my previous EP.
The new EP is a great mix of contemporary country, with some up tracks and some semi-ballads. With many of the tracks, if not all, one can imagine them on commercial radio. Do you have this in mind when producing the track or are there
I don’t focus on a song being radio ready when writing it. I think more about telling the story with compelling music and having something that would work well if you played it in a bar. Once we are in the studio, my producer (Brad Hill) and I will try to put a contemporary arrangement to the songs that might have commercial potential.
No one can escape their roots but in this globalised world, a music artist can sometimes sound like they could come from any place in the world. How important is your background to the kind of music you make? Do you think your artistry contains a sense of place?
I grew up in the Northeast US and country music is traditionally linked to the South and Southwest (Texas, Oklahoma, etc.). But the spirit of the music is broader than any geography and the universal themes of respect for small town, rural life, exploring relationships, both good and bad, and celebration of family and traditional values all resonate strongly with me.
So let’s talk about some of your previous releases and how that relates to your new EP. Where does Delivery Man fit into your back catalogue?
Delivery Man is my 6th record and follows closely What We Believe, both produced by Brad Hill, with country and Americana songs. What We Believe got a lot of support on country radio with It’s Still You charting in Europe and getting play in Australia and the album reaching #15 on the Roots Radio Americana Album Chart. Separately, last year I also released Out and Runnin Round, produced by Tony Sarno, which has a more traditional blues/rock sound. The title track got some radio play outside the US. I have another three songs coming soon in that genre featuring the amazing Bekka Bramlett on vocals.
Often music making is a collaborative effort. Can you tell us a bit about how the EP was recorded and who else was involved?
In Delivery Man, my producer, Brad Hill, played an important role in the final arrangements and in creating the tracks. We had great Nashville session players on the record. These guys play with top artists like Jon Pardi, Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw and they bring incredible talent and sounds to your original music. The band put a great chill groove on Gold on the Horizon and nice vibes on Terra and Over the Pass. This was my third project with this team and we work together well and have some fun doing it.
You’re also a performer and like so many other singer-songwriters, performing is where a real connection with an audience is made. Can you tell us what performing means to you and how this affects your relationship with your creative process, if at all?
I really enjoy playing my original music live. The band always gives the originals their best effort and we really like it when a song works and the audience is dancing, clapping, etc. We always get a great response to tunes like Tequila Won’t Solve Your Problems and Darty Time, but it is great when you connect with the ballads too. When writing songs, I always think about how a song translates to a live performance. The real test of a song’s quality is when you play it by yourself on an acoustic guitar in front of people.
How important is it for you to have videos for your songs?
Videos are critical for social media venues like Instagram. I have some good ones out there with stock footage, but a professional video with new footage is really expensive. I have learned that a video is a distinctive piece of art. I am particularly proud of Rest in Arizona, a patriotic video about survivors of the Arizona’s sinking at Pearl Harbor that has resonated with veterans.
Considering the ubiquitous nature of social media, how important do you think having a video is these days?
Videos are becoming a more important avenue of distribution, with Instagram, Tik Tok and Spotify Canvas having massive reach and the potential for a viral sharing of content. You can still reach a large audience through playlisting, radio play and performance, but videos really help and labels spend a lot to produce compelling videos for their big acts.
So finally, what do you hope the new EP will do for you?
I hope the songs connect with listeners and attract a lot of new fans to my music.
Thanks for being with us today Rusty, and we look forward to our next catch-up.