with Andy Griggs
Andy is one of the greatest country artists here in the US and worldwide and I got the opportunity to ask him a few questions today.
Q: Andy, record sales in general are declining. It is only country music that does not experience declines as dramatic as pop and rock music do. What do you think is the reason for that?
A: In my opinion mostly all music originated from country music and like it, it is also always going up and down like Rock 'n Roll, Pop, R&B and Rap. Sometimes it is steadier as far as album sales are concerned. But as soon as country music goes down it comes right back up. Surely there is always a concern as far as album sales are concerned, but to me country music will always be at the top.
Q: At the moment there is a real country music boom in Germany and Europe. The Dixie Chicks were in Germany and Emmylou Harris is coming to Germany for three concerts. When can we count on a concert by yourself in Germany?
A: As soon as I get an invitation I will catch a plane… I would love to play in Germany.
Q: If a concert organizer would like to book you for Germany or Europe who would they need to contact?
A: They would need to contact my management team, which is Donny Kees Entertainment. My booking agent is William Morris, they operate from Nashville, TN.
Q: Where can one get information about yourself?
A: I have a website: www.andygriggs.com Most of the information, like my life story etc. is on there.
Q: Country music has many faces. Besides Pop, Rock, Cajun and Bluegrass there are many other elements in it. What is country music for you?
A: Country Music to me is a way of life. I am a fan of all formats of music but to me country music is the only one that I have always, and I think that is true for most any common man and woman, been able to apply and relate to a good country music song. With most of your Rock 'n Roll songs, most of your other format kind of songs it is kind of hard to relate to. They may be great songs, but they don't really fit into your life quite as much as songs from Hank Williams, Minnie Pearle and Roy Acuff do, the way they did back then all the way to now. You know, I was listening to a new song of my good friend Black Shelton and I cannot help to think that all country music is more real and more ready to relate to our life than any other thing in the world.
Q: Lots of fans would like to know what your plans for 2004 are and when we can expect a new CD from you?
A: I am looking forward to 2004. We will be releasing a brand new single in February and the album right afterwards. This whole year 2003 we have been preparing for 2004 and it is going to be a great year.
Q: Do you write your songs yourself?
A: I do a lot of song-writing, but I am not narrow-minded enough to think that my music can only be written by myself. A great song is much more important to me than the fact whether I wrote is or somebody else did.
Q: What is your favorite country songs and what drew you to them?
A: My favorite country songs…. that is hart to say. When I was a kid I grew up listening more to Hank Williams Sen. and Waylon Jennings, than anybody else. Wayland definitely hit the wilder side more as a teenager growing up - he was the outlaw and all his music described myself on Friday and Saturday nights. But so did Hank Williams and the lonesome side, the way he sings his songs, like "I am so lonesome I could cry", "Rambling Man" and so on. That definitely hit the heartbreak side of myself.
Q: When you visit a country music concert in Germany you see most of the fans in Western outfits. Is that the same in other countries?
A: When I look into the crowds in my shows, I see all kinds. I see cowboys and cowgirls, I see bikers, people wearing a three-piece suit - to me that is encouraging. A lot of people might say "These people do not look like they belong here", but to me, that shows that this music goes to all kinds of people. Country music is not just for cowboys and cowgirls, it fits all kinds of styles.
Q: How much do you think can a song influence the public opinion?
A: I think a song has more influence than anything else. Music is probably one of the strongest things underneath the court room of God. Even in the bible it says that God was delighted by David's music. I think music in general is not just an influence, it is probably one of the most powerful influences that we have in this world.
Q: How would you describe the style of music that you are playing?
A: It is kind of hard to describe your own music… There are a lot of different shades in my music. From Wayland and Hank I love Bluegrass, from growing up in Louisiana there was also the Texas Swing, there was Blues from South Louisiana, there was Jazz, Rock 'n Roll - so, if you put all of those together, all of those have influenced me. Probably Gospel, Bluegrass and Country influenced me the most. When I make a record, I feel that all of those sides come out.
Q: Can you tell us something about your history?
A: I was born and raised in a little town called Monroe, Louisiana. My whole family was into music. My dad was a song leader and director at our church and my brother played the guitar and sang. He was a phenomenal singer, song writer and player. I lost my father and then I lost my brother when I was 18 and that is when the music began with me, as far as playing music is concerned. Music was always the pillar of my life as a fan and as a listener, but I never really picked up a guitar until then. It was my brother's guitar and it was my brother's songs. I never wanted to be a country music singer or a professional singer, I just wanted to play his songs. I was drawn into it and it kept evolving and evolving until, one day I realized I was miserable if I was not playing music. No matter what job I was doing - if I didn't have my guitar somewhere around I was miserable and that lead me up to Nashville.
Q: Andy, you have many female fans around the world and I am sure they all would like to know whether you have a girl friend.
A: I am single. I am not married. I am just writing and having a good time. I have hunting dogs and a guitar and at the moment that is my main squeezes.
Q: 2003 was a big year for many artists. The CMA Awards in Nashville just passed by. Many people got an award. Was there any surprises for you about some of the winners?
A: I would not say 'surprises' - of course, there are people that you are extremely proud of. You feel you have a lot to do with them. Right now I am on cloud Nine about my producer, Randy Scruggs. He got the award for "Musician of the Year". Me and Randy have been in the studio a lot and putting together a lot of sweating and prayers in the studio. So in 2003 I had the chance to sit down with Randy quite a bit and watch Randy doing what he does best, and he is a genius, so to me that was the biggest moment to see Randy getting that award.
Q: At what age did you get your first record deal?
A: I was 25 years old when I signed with RC Records, that is the company that I am still with.
Q: Do you have any musical role models and if so who are they?
A: I have a lot of role models, people that I have always looked up to. I just named one, Randy Scruggs. As fast as the singers are concerned, there are Larry Sparks, Mahalia Jackson, Lester Flatt and Wayland who is a great singer. As far as musicians are concerned there are Randy Rhodes, who was Ozzys great guitar player all the way to Earl Scruggs on the banjo. I have a lot of heroes.
Q: If the Lord gave you the chance to change anything you liked in the music business to make it better what would you change?
A: The only thing that I would like to see changed, and it won't take me to do it but everybody, is worrying less about who sings the most country, who sings more pop or who is in the middle or who wears their hair the longest…. To me it is not about the cowboy hat or about your hair or about the clothes you wear, it is not even all about the way you sound, as long as you sing it with your heart and soul. To me that is music. So I would like to see less worry about image and format and more focus on great music.
Q: What would you like to tell your European fans?
A: I am looking forward to the opportunity to come to Germany and Europe. I have always wanted to go, so one day, hopefully really soon, I will come out there and meet as many country music fans as I can. I think we could have a great time and you guys could show me a good party.
CH: Thank you for the interview Andy.
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