(CSC) 1. Great to be with you, thanks for your time! Tell us about the musical journey that you’ve been on since releasing your debut album “Rubberband.”
Oh gosh, how much storage do you have on that recorder? (Laughs) You know, it’s been a little over a year since “Rubberband” was released and the journey of that record started two or three years before it came out, before people got their hands on it. The first half of the record I was doing sessions before I had a record deal; I had a publishing deal, through my publisher we were goin’ in there and tryin’ songs out. It turned out when I signed with Warner Brothers they loved the sounds we were making and they kept a lot of the songs that we had recorded and the recordings of them and everything. Then we went back in and recorded the other half of the record after I had signed the deal. There’s a saying, “You have your whole life to make your first record…” I took that to heart for sure. I made it with my best friends.
Then the rollercoaster really began after the record came out. I was experiencing my first song at radio, “Could It Be” and it was going Top 20, which was a lot of attention that I’ve never experienced before from the country music world, and that was such a blast. And then it seems like I haven’t been in Nashville, except for three days since that time because we’ve been out on the road touring ever since. We’ve been out playing colleges and clubs on our own; all the way up until this past summer and playing for different radio stations across the country. Then we signed on with Brad Paisley’s summer tour, it’s on college education basically, like graduate school of touring. Getting to watch him every night and hang out with his crew. Literally the weekend that ended was the week that this tour started, (the CMT Tour with Kip Moore and Sam Hunt). We’re just kicking this tour off, but already it’s been yet another great life experience. If I’ve learned anything in the last year, it’s how much I really do enjoy making music for a living and I’ve been reminded that I get to do that for a living and I’m very grateful for that.
(CSC) 2. As you continue to work on and prepare material for your next record, what can we expect to hear and where do you hope to take it musically speaking?
The first record I was getting my ship out into the water and this record I’m gonna’ drop anchor. I’m finding my certain part of the ocean where I want to live sonically. While I was figuring a lot of things out on that first record and kind of getting permission to try things, this next record is not a permission record, it’s a forgiveness record. I’m gonna’ go ahead and do it and not apologize for it and if I need to ask for forgiveness I will; but it will be even deeper into my roots. I feel like I’m truly a country music artist and I love that country is such a big tent to be under right now, because it means there’s more country music fans than ever before. But I do love the heritage of the genre and I hope to be one of the ones carrying it forward in a fun, evolving way but also in a smart way.
(CSC) 3. I find it surreal to be here with you at Joe’s Bar interviewing you once again, but this time as a solo artist. It was in July of 2009 that we first interviewed you with KingBilly, (Richard Marx and Hugh Jackman were in attendance) When you think back on your departure from the band, did you always have that burning desire to pursue a solo career?
It was something I always had in my heart to do, but I loved the experience of that band and when the opportunity to be a part of that band came up there was no way I couldn’t go for that adventure. I am so glad I did because even though the band isn’t together anymore, John Osborne from that band (KingBilly) is with Brothers Osborne and they are kicking ass right now and I love it! Matt, the bass player, he’s out on the road playing with Hunter Hayes. So all the guys are doing their own thing and it’s great. We all traveled the country together in a passenger van and that was my first time to do that, and I think for a lot of the guys it was their first time to do it. So now I’ve been back down those same roads when we were in a van but now in a tour bus. I have some fond memories and some life experience under my belt that I will always cherish.
(CSC) 4. Having received numerous awards and high honors, including recognition from the Mississippi Senate for your excellence in both music and academics, what have those milestones taught you and how do you remain true to yourself?
I can promise you, it’s not that hard to stay humble. Life hands you opportunities, great opportunities to remember just how small (Laughs) things are. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of a career and all, but for me, staying humble, I’ve got a great bunch of guys out on the road with me, we joke with each other constantly and I think that humor is a great way to stay true to yourself. Also I try to get back home to Mississippi when I can… I got this jar of dirt over here that I put on my hands before every show to remember where I come from. I’m taking the scenic route to stardom and I’m loving it because it is scenic. I think when I do get onto the ACM stage and the CMA stage and I’m holding that award and giving the speech that I’ve practiced giving since I was seven years old watching the shows at home in Grenada, Mississippi on TV… every minute of the journey up to that point is just as important as those 30 seconds with the music telling you to quit talking and wrap it up. Every part of it, the bar gig we played where Hugh Jackman and Richard Marx came in and literally there were less than ten people in the whole bar. I’ve been there when there were less than ten people in the whole bar and no two people in the room were anywhere close to a movie star or a famous singer/ songwriter. (Laughs) Those end up being the sweetest moments. I remember having a conversation with Eric Church about playing a particularly rough bar, and I’m goin’ man, “I’m really down and out playing these gigs and playing at this place.” He was like, “I’ve played that place seven times, and dude you better enjoy those days. You’re gonna look back and realize that that was the most fun you ever had.” So I take those words to heart.
(CSC) 5. Speaking of education, having studied at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, what do you value most about having the opportunity to learn and grow in one of the finest schools?
Berklee, an exceptional school. Boston, an amazing town, one of my favorites. Red Sox won twice when I was there. I was a good luck charm, thank you very much. The best thing about Berklee was the friends I made. Eric Massey, who engineered my record and continues to work with me very closely, we all moved to Nashville, a couple dozen of us around eight years ago. I lean on those guys and gals, we’re rising together with the tide… it’s a really cool thing. Those relationships are definitely the most valuable thing I carry with me from Berklee.
(CSC) 6. Being a skilled musician, you play everything from the banjo, to the mandolin, fiddle, guitar and MORE!! Which one did you begin playing first and who taught you to play all these instruments?!?
I took piano lessons from kindergarten through high school and I stuck with it that whole time, but I don’t necessarily play piano that much anymore. If I’m forced to fake it I can on piano. But banjo was my first string instrument you could throw around your neck and everything. That got me into bluegrass and I had a fabulous banjo teacher, Larry Wallace, he is a “Sunny Mountain Boy,” which means he played with the “King of Bluegrass,” Jimmy Martin. He is very well steeped in the traditions of bluegrass and American music and he passed that on to me. I kind of taught myself the guitar a lot, but I say that and it’s only half true. Because I played in all these great bands growing up with guys who were 20 years older than me and had much more experience and they took me under their wing. My weekends in high school were, I would go out to the bar and play four 45 minute sets and get paid $150 bucks… I would have paid $150 bucks to do it. It was a great, great life experience. Same at Berklee. Same in Nashville, when I moved to town.
Enjoy Part II of our interview with Charlie below:
(CSC) 7. As a songwriter, are there any specific situations in life that tend to inspire you to write more than the other? What defines the perfect song for you?
That’s a great double question! I think you can find inspiration anywhere. It’s really where the heart of inspiration intersects with clarity and kind of figuring out how to take a story and express it in a way that everybody feels like it’s their story. I have a song called, “Mississippi In July” it’s probably what I’m most proud of as a songwriter to date. It’s half-truth, half fiction and it comes from a real place. But I didn’t let my personal story get in the way of it being something that other people can relate to. I think that the story of, “Mississippi In July” anyone who has turned down or turned away love in the past from someone and then realized after the fact when they see that person in love with someone else, that sort of strange mixture of emotions of regret, maybe kind of being at peace with it. There’s a lot to draw from there and I think a lot of people know that feeling. I think perfect writing is not thinking that you have it figured out. Guy Clark, you will never find another songwriter as good as him in the history of the planet… I don’t know, he’s got to be in his 70’s, but he probably wakes up every day and still approaches songwriting like he’s a rookie at it. Because it’s infinite, you can never stop learning. I think the greatest songwriters have that attitude. Tom Douglas actually, that’s the guy to look up on YouTube. His induction speech for the NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) happened very recently. That says it all, Tom Douglas’ speech. What is it, “Ditto?” (Laughs) I say ditto to that speech.
(CSC) 8. Who have been some of the biggest influences on you as a songwriter?
Anybody who took the time to write with me. There’s a guy from my home state, Tommy Poke, I remember when I first moved to Nashville I thought I was the greatest gift to Nashville to walk through the doors there in a decade. I would sit there at Tommy Poke’s house and he was so patient with me and he taught me so much about songwriting. Looking back, it’s the guys like Tommy who really had the most influence on me. Ryan Tyndell, who wrote pretty much the whole album of, “Rubberband” with me. We fought, we stayed up all night, we shared and were vulnerable… he’s like the older brother I never had. He has influenced my journey as a songwriter greatly. Of course I could rattle off names that you know and names that you don’t know but it’s not necessarily who influenced me but if it’s somebody who's reading this, it’s who influences them? Everybody’s path is different.
(CSC) 9. As a solo artist, what has been the most rewarding part about being able to interact with old fans and make new ones?
Hands down the greatest feeling in the world, I would call it my drug of choice; it is applause but specifically when people sing your words back to you. Even if it’s not my crowd and I've played for some crowds that did not dig what I was doing and I'll find that one person and often times I find out later on at the merch table or something they drove five hours to get there. They made a homemade shirt that has my name on it or some lyrics and they Instagram some crazy trip they took because a song of mine inspired them to take a trip. But there they are in the middle of a crowd that doesn't know or care who I am and they sing every word to my song. And if I see that person, it is very hard for me, still today not to get a little emotional because that’s just the highest compliment that anybody could pay you for writing a song is that it connected with them and it meant that much to them... Mission accomplished as far as I'm concerned. The only thing I need to worry about is turning that one person into like tonight you know; I've got scores of people here tonight for me. One day it will be 20,000 or 50,000. When you got that going on it’s just the same thing; it’s just a higher dosage of the same adrenaline rush.
(CSC) 10. Our readers want to know who your dream duet partner would be and why?
That's so hard to say because the first name that just came into my mind is Ashley Monroe and I actually have had the chance to sing harmonies with her and I just think the world of her. But if we're gonna go like pie in the sky dream duet partner, uh, you know I'm such a Tom Petty fan... I would love just to go jam in a garage with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. I know that’s not technically a duet but a music hang… that and if you could go back in time and jam with the Beatles, I think that would be pretty epic.
(CSC) 11. Being a strong supporter of traditional country music, what can you and other artists do to ensure that it remains a vital part of the industry?
Just know your history. If you ask Kacey Musgraves about records made in the sixties and the seventies she could lay it on you. Whether it was who played the instruments on the session or sang the harmonies or who wrote the songs or if she just needed to sing you the song. I particularly love her interpretation of country music but I would even go so far as to say people who are the farthest from what traditional country is, I love it too, you know? Like we're on this tour with Sam Hunt… Sam Hunt is hands down one of my top five favorite people in country music right now and he couldn't be further from traditional country. I think that he is pushing it into a new place that is super cool. My only thing is just read a book or two and listen to a box set or two so that when asked as an ambassador of this format you know more than Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places" which is a great song but there is more to the country music story than Johnny Cash and Garth Brooks… and everybody knows them already.
(CSC) 12. Moving forward, what goals have you set for yourself to eventually achieve headliner status?
Man, I just hope I'm still doing this next time we talk you know? Because I've had so many different emotions. My second single did not do very well and it crushed me…I was depressed for a couple months about it but then it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me because I realized out of that experience, “Man, I have nothing to complain about.” I could probably stand to get a little more sleep but I'm playing music that I love to play with people that I love to make music with and I've had the chance to pick the brains of some of my heroes…you know sit down with them over coffee and ask them questions. I'm living the damn dream you know? I just want to do it bigger and better because I want to make more fans, more friends and that will come in time… It is a marathon, it is not a sprint.
Keep up with Charlie Worsham below: