San Francisco native, Josh Gray, is a current Americana artist whose music entices everything from rock to blues to bluegrass. He got his first guitar when he was 16 years old, but he did not perform a live show until 15 years later. He stated, that he “simply was not ready.” He released his first EP in 2015, and then moved to Nashville shortly after in 2016.
Josh made the decision to record a full album, and he wanted to have the best musicians that Nashville had to offer play on it. However, as it often is, money was a barrier. He and the band decided to turn to crowdfunding through Kickstarter in hopes that would help turn his dream into a reality. They were able to raise $9,000 in just 30 days, and Gray and the band were able to start putting the pieces together.
In April of 2019, Gray released his much anticipated full length album, “Songs of the Highway.” Social justice, love, loss, and more are common themes weaved throughout, that any listening audience can relate to.
So what is Josh currently doing? Here at Music Mecca, we had the opportunity to chat with Josh and learn about his adventures in recording this album, and all that he has in store for the upcoming year.
Music Mecca: You just released your debut album “Songs of the Highway”. What was the process like, and what was the inspiration behind it?
Josh Gray: I wrote the songs over a three year period. The band and I practiced weekly for around five months. We spent a lot of time arranging and getting it just right. I ran a 30 day Kickstarter and raised all the money needed for recording. We went into the studio and the band knocked out their parts in just four days. We then brought in pedal steel, keys, background singers and a string quartet. It was a lot of fun, it’s great seeing something you’ve worked on so long come to fruition. And not just the completion of it but the satisfaction of feeling you did it right. The inspiration is everything I absorb and filter through my brain. Daily life, relationships, good movies, books, everything. There’s a part of me in every song.
MM: While it may be like asking your favorite child, what song or few songs are you most proud of and excited for fans to hear and why?
JG: Most proud of I’d say “All Out War”, “Darkest Before the Dawn” and “Two Hearts.” I think from a writing standpoint “All Out War” is one of the strongest songs I’ve ever written. “Darkest Before the Dawn” was a real exercise in covering a ton of different topics within one song. It was a challenge and I’m happy with it. I spoke my mind in a way that can’t be misinterpreted. “Two Hearts” is an example of outlaw storytelling. It’s intense and I think will keep a lot of listeners on the edge of their seat.
MM: What will you remember most about recording it ten years from now?
JG: The thing I’ll remember most is the comradery between band members. The desire everyone had to get their parts right. The pieces each band member contributed. The arrangements that only we could have made together.
MM: Do you have tour dates lined up in support of it?
JG: I did a short solo tour in support of the new album with my friend Jason Erie. I have some solo and full band dates with many more to come. This year is crazy but I plan to tour a lot more next year.
MM: What are some things that you do on a regular basis to keep up your image as an artist?
JG: I’m not super concerned with image, I just try to be myself. The main thing I do is try to upload interesting content to social media to keep fans engaged and up to date.
MM: Do you have a preference of playing solo or playing with a band?
JG: I prefer playing with the band. You’re part of a team on stage. You back each other up and you’re in it together. The audience also gets to hear a sound that is closer to what’s on the album.
MM: Who are your top three emerging artists going into 2019?
JG: Top three would be my friends Jason Erie, John Dennis and Holly Bruce. Keep an eye out for them!
MM: Friends, family, or other musicians ask you where the best place to eat in town is. Where do you send them?
JG: I would send them to Graze. It’s one of my favorite places. I’m a vegetarian and it’s a vegan restaurant. But even if I ate meat it would still be one of my favorites.
MM: What’s your favorite part about the Nashville music scene?
JG: The support from fellow artists and music fans in the area. The creativity and talent level of so many around here.
MM: If you weren’t playing music, what could you see yourself doing?
JG: I think if I weren’t playing music I’d still be writing. Probably fiction novels, maybe doing some photography.
For more info on Josh, be sure to check out his website HERE.