An Interview With Nashville Songwriting Stalwart & Honky Tonk Rocker Kendell Marvel

The average music fan likely doesn’t realize just how many of their favorite songs might just be written by someone else. Or a few someone elses. It’s always refreshing when the songwriter gets their due, and their time in the spotlight.

Such is the case with Kendell Marvel, a long time Nashville songwriter with songs cut by George Strait, Jamey Johnson, Jake Owen, and Chris Stapleton to name a few, the latter of which he’ll be hitting the road with this autumn. But in recent years, Marvel has been gaining recognition as not just the songwriter behind the curtain, but the artist in front.

Marvel is anticipating the release of his sophomore album, Solid Gold Sounds, set for release October 11th on Dan Auerbach’s label Easy Eye Sound. Auerbach worked with Marvel in co-writing many of the album’s songs on the record- songs that make you want to buy a leather jacket, secure some cheap sunglasses, and hit the road in some fine polished chrome, such as the opening track in Cadillac’n. Or others with a more traditional country feel, the kind that makes you want to slow dance with your sweetheart at the American Legion in songs like Let It Go, and When It’s Good. Solid Gold Sounds possesses an even keeled spectrum of rock, twangy honky tonk, and traditional country songwriting.

Marvel also has graced Nashville with Kendell Marvel’s Honky Tonk Experience, which on any given night can feature a rotating cast of hotshot artists of all walks shredding with Marvel.

We had the good fortune of chatting with Marvel about all of this and more, so without further adieu…

Music Mecca: You’ve got your newest album, Solid Gold Sounds, set for release October 11th.  What’s the inspiration and influence behind it? 

KENDELL MARVEL: I wanted to make a record that sounds like the records I grew up listening to.

MM: What was the most difficult part about writing/recording this album? 

KM: Nothing–ha! It was the easiest thing I have ever been involved with musically. From writing the songs to tracking and singing them. It all just fell into place.

MM: How does Solid Gold Sounds differ from your debut album, Lowdown and Lonesome?  

KM: I always said Lowdown & Lonesome was Merle Haggard meets ZZ Top. Solid Gold Sounds is Haggard meets Charlie Rich. It just sounds so much more laid back. I feel like I sang this without so much angst. Complete different set of players and a complete different sound.

MM: How long have you been working with Dan Auerbach and Easy Eye Sound, and how did that come about?  

KM: Not long. We met last fall through Dave Ferguson who co-produced the record. We hit it off immediately and when he said lets make a record it was a no brainer for me. 

MM: As a seasoned songwriter, how do you go about finding the right artists to sing your words? Do you write songs with artists in mind? 

KM: I just try to write the best song I can these days instead of chasing something that I hear someone is looking for. If I’m writing with the artist then we naturally are trying to write something for them. If I’m just writing, I normally don’t have anyone particular in mind. If it’s that good it will find a home.

MM: Do you have an atmosphere or pastime that aides in your songwriting process, or does it just come sporadically? 

KM: I’m a runner so I think a lot during my run. When I had a farm I used to write on my tractor a lot. 

MM: You’ve had songs cut by a number of notable artists. While it may be like choosing a favorite child, do you have any particular songs you’re most proud of? 

KM: My first cut was “Right Where I Need To Be” by Gary Allan so that one will always have a special place in my heart. “Either Way” is another favorite. Chris Stapleton and Lee Ann Womack have both recorded it and both versions are stellar.

MM: Do you recall your “first big break” as a Nashville songwriter, and who or what helped you get your foot in the door?  

KM: I wrote “Right Where I Need To Be” with Casey Beathard the day I moved to Nashville. I’d say I was really lucky to be in the right room at the right time with the right writer.

MM: How long have you been doing the Kendell Marvel Honky Tonk Experience, and how did that come together? 

KM: We started the Honky Tonk Experience in Feb 2017. Keith Gattis, who produced my first record, suggested I start playing in Nashville to let folks know I wasn’t just a songwriter anymore. Three years later and we’ve been doin’ it ever since. 

MM: You’ve got a tour with Chris Stapleton approaching this fall. Do you have any rituals or things that you need to make sure you have with you during? 

KM: Not really. This is my first big tour so ask me afterwards. I’m sure we will have some rituals. With Stapleton and the Brothers they may be unhealthy ones. 😉

Check out Marvel’s website HERE for more info on his tour and his music.

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