Carter’s Chord Dish on ‘Wild Together’ EP, Toby Keith and Advice They Took From the Late Waylon Jennings
Becky, Emily, and Joanna Robertson had quite a musical history long before becoming Carter's Chord. Thanks to their parents, who played in Waylon Jennings' band, they were able to rub elbows with the big names of country music since they were young girls. As a result, they found their own talent -- and are prepared to use it to take on the new age of the industry -- but not without a little advice from Waylon, of course.
Taste of Country gabbed with the sister trio, who called to chat about their new EP, 'Wild Together,' which dropped on May 24. The six-track mini-album is a compilation of songs written solely by the girls that were simply too good to hold off for a full-length record. The humble trio also dished on their producer, Mr. Toby Keith, the success of their latest single, 'A Little Less Comfortable,' and what's next on their musical agenda.
So obviously, you were raised in a musical environment. Tell us, what was it like growing up in a musical family?
We grew up in a very musical family. Both of our parents were in Waylon Jennings' band all through the outlaw years. Our mom sang background for him and our dad played the keys, and we just grew up with a huge, rich musical heritage with Waylon and Jessi Colter and the Crickets. It was one big extended family. By the time that we were young, we were completely exposed to all of those people through just jam sessions at the house. Music was something that was just kind of a part of our DNA. We've never known not having it around.
Our parents took a little bit of a break to start a family, but they got the original band back together a few years before Waylon passed away. We were a little bit older and got to see our parents onstage, and it was a huge inspiration to us to start doing what we're doing now.
So you guys were on Waylon Jennings' 1993 album 'Cowboys, Sisters, Rascals and Dirt.' That's pretty cool. What was it like recording that?
Our dad, when he got off the road with Waylon back in the day, he started producing childrens' music. It was a project that he and Waylon did together, and we were younger and got to sing on it. We got to do some TV appearances with Waylon, so we thought we were a big deal, you know, dressin' up and getting to sing onstage when we were younger. That was a really fun thing to be a part of.
Was it just a slow transition into forming Carter's Chord? Who had the idea?
It was pretty natural, actually. We all grew up playing and writing music individually, and we all kind of have different musical tastes. As we got a little bit older we kind of came together and said, "You know, why don't we try to do this all together?" We'd always sung three-part harmony together and everything. So, it was about six years ago, and we came up with the name Carter's Chord and it was perfect, and that's when we started going for it. We made a demo CD and shopped around and ended up in Toby Keith's hands shortly after that. It's been a fun journey!
What's it like working with Toby Keith?
You know, what you see is what you get. What you would imagine his personality to be, he's pretty much like that. The only difference, we would say, is that he's a lot more … reserved than what you might think. Very laid back. Just total straight-shooter. It's been really neat working with him. We've been with him for several years -- he's really stuck it out with us and given us time and a place to really develop as an act. He's also our producer, so he gives us wonderful creative freedom and he knows the importance of an artist being able to do their own music and their own songs and contribute to the sound and everything. He's great -- he just kind of sits back and listens to us sing and intervenes when necessary. We really love him.
Being sisters, especially close in age, you've got to clash every once in awhile. What kind of stuff do you guys fight about? Do you think it makes it harder or easier being a family group?
Usually clothes [all laugh]. Or if someone's running late.
No, we genuinely get along. This is all that we know. I can't imagine doing it on our own at all. But we know when the other ones might need a little bit of space. We used to all live together, but now we kind of have our separate houses when we're at home. We definitely have it down to a science. We share hotel rooms when we're out on the road, so we share a lot of clothes, but sometimes that can cause disagreements. I know a lot of people are like, "No way!" but we really do get along.
How has your latest single, 'A Little Less Comfortable,' been received?
It's been great. Fans really can connect to this song because it's so relatable, and that's what we wanted it to be when we wrote it. Being about a relationship that has gone a little stale and the passion has kind of left, and talking about getting back to the basics of life when things were a little less comfortable. You know, getting up and being excited and in love. We think it's easy for people to relate to getting into a routine of life and having the excitement and fireworks kind of drain from it.
We have encouraged fans to send in stories about how they're living life a little less comfortable, and how their relationships are growing. We feel like we've gotten some great stories and great response from fans.
Tell us a little bit about your new EP, 'Wild Together.' What was the writing/recording process like?
It was amazing. We kind of took the past year, year and a half to kind of just hone in on our sound and what we really want Carter's Chord to be about. We are writers on every one of the six songs, whether it's co-writing two of us with someone else, all of us together, or one of us by ourselves.
It was really fun to work with Mark Wright in the studio. On our last project, Toby and our dad actually produced it, and that was really cool. On this project, Mark and Toby produced it together, so it was neat to bring Mark's brain. It was just a lot of fun, just getting all of the different musicians in on it, and you could just kind of see all of the songs evolve and morph into what they are. We're so proud of it.
What do you want people to get from it?
We've been taking so much time to develop the last couple of years, and just to hone in on our songwriting craft. Our goal is to write songs that are about real life and real people that relate to the real world. Our hope is that fans will take this EP and this will be music that they'll want to listen to when they're sad, or when they're happy. Stuff that will be a soundtrack to their life, because music plays such a huge role and is that for us. For us to create music that has that kind of affect on people as well, that's our ultimate goal.
Are you guys talking about a full-length record?
You know, we're not sure! It's funny, we've been in the studio and we were working towards a full-length project. We got to talking about it and we've got these six songs that are just awesome, and our label is like, "Let's go ahead and put the product out there!" And we jumped at the chance. We want to be able to give our fans the chance to go to our shows and buy a CD and get some new music, because it's been a while since we had new music out there. It's a different world now with the internet and people buying more singles than albums, so we figure rather than wait on putting an entire album together, let's go ahead and get some music out there now.
What is the most helpful piece of advice you've been given about your careers?
We've gotten a lot of advice throughout the years, from Waylon to our parents to Toby. We think it's been great because we've really learned a lot ourselves, being out there and being on this journey. The best advice has been to keep a sense of humor and to enjoy what you're doing, because it's easy to get tired when you're on the road, it's easy to be dragged down. You know, things don't always work out the way you want them to in certain situations, but if you keep a sense a humor about things it definitely makes all the difference. When you can look back and enjoy the things that you're doing, that's a huge thing that we try to remember -- and to just be true to yourself.
The example that our parents set and the whole Waylon generation set is to just do music that you're proud of and that you feel that you've really accomplished something great. And, to stay true to who you are and the kind of music that you want to do and be proud of it.
Watch the Carter's Chord 'A Little Less Comfortable' Video