Q&A: Joel Crouse
Joel Crouse talks the making of Even the River Runs, shoplifting(?!), and the future of country music
By: Alina Tichacek
Photo Credit: Kristin Barlowe
Touring with the likes of Taylor Swift, The Band Perry and Darius Rucker, country singer-songwriter Joel Crouse is no stranger to success. His debut CD, Even the River Runs, debuted at No. 20 on the Billboard Top Country Album Chart, and since then it has continued to do well. What's up next for this country star in the making? Crank It Country sat down with Crouse to get the inside scoop.
Tell us about Even the River Runs. What was your process, what are its themes, etc.?
It’s been an interesting process. I wrote this record between the ages of 17 and 19, and I’m 22 now. I’m just happy that the record is finally out there now. It’s a good introduction to who I am as an artist and as a person. It’s my story of growing up and being on the road when I was younger and other stories about living in Nashville.
Is releasing your debut album everything you thought it would be?
It is. It’s cool seeing people hear my songs for the first time. The record has been done for three years, so it’s like reliving the times back when I wrote the songs. It brings back the memories of writing and recording it.
3 years? Wow, that’s a long time. What took so long?
As an artist and a songwriter, I want everyone to be able to access my music. I wouldn’t be a musician if I didn’t want my music to get out there. But it wasn’t my decision, it was the big wigs. Timing is a key part to releasing an album, so I just work on the creative side and let them do the rest.
We’ve seen a lot of talk about you wanting to shoplift your CD, just for kicks. Any update on that? Have you tried it, or have you been talked out of it?
I’m definitely going to do it. I went into a store the other day, but there was no one to film me doing it. I was like, "Dang, I want to do this right now, but there would be no proof!" I need to go back with my buddy and have him film me doing it. I mean, what are they going to do? It’s mine! I guess it technically is theirs now, but I wrote all those songs and all that. I don’t see the big deal. It’s got my name on it. I can just ask the security guard if it has his name on it.
You’re definitely not afraid of taking risks, and that comes through in your songs with your focus on honesty and story-telling. What does your typical writing process look like?
For Even the River Runs, I guess writing it was like I had all these stories I wanted to tell. There’s a typical Nashville way of writing: you go in a room with two other people from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and write a song. But for my next album, I’ve been writing a lot more myself and bringing it to my producer to look at. Or else I’ll write with my guitar player. It’s a lot more relaxing this way. I’m letting it come naturally and not forcing it. I work on a few different songs at the same time – I’m always writing I guess.
You mentioned you’re working on your next album. What are your goals for the second time around?
At this point, I think each album I’ll get a little more honest. I think as an artist that’s what everyone should do. I want this next album to be more personal. I want to write those songs that people listen to in their cars when they’re driving on a Monday afternoon. My goal is to reach and find people that relate to me through my music.
One of your strengths as an artist is how friendly and accessible you appear to fans. How do you incorporate this into your live shows?
Me and my band, we’re known more for our live performances. We’re just up there feeling the music and really just letting it out. We really just rock out. There’s a point at the end of the show where the guitarist, Kyle, bites his guitar during his guitar solo. Just like Jimi Hendrix. We just want to entertain, to make sure that people are having a good time and connecting with us. I think if we’re having a good time and really playing into the music, then it translates to the audience as well.
What do you think of the current direction country music is moving in?
Country has kind of formed itself into the pop genre. I’m not saying that country is pop, but Top 40 will play whatever people are currently listening to, and right now that’s country. With the younger audience, like myself, Kacey Musgraves and Florida Georgia Line, people like us grew up with the internet. Back in the day, Keith Urban and stuff didn’t have the internet to find new music. That limited them to one genre. We, though, had access to all different types of genres. I’m a songwriter – I like all types of music. If it’s a good song with good music and lyrics, I’m gonna listen to it. That comes out in our songs because we’ve been listening to so many different genres and artists. And I think that’s good. But timeless music, timeless lyrics – that will always be around.
Even the River Runs is available now wherever music is sold. You can catch Joel Crouse live on the Night That You’ll Never Forget Tour starting Oct. 16. He’ll be opening for headliner Love & Theft. To see more concert dates and stay updated on the latest Joel Crouse news, visit www.joelcrouse.com, like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter @JoelCrouse.