Jason Aldean’s Band Tells the Story of Production Team New Voice Entertainment
If you’ve been around the Nashville music business long enough, you are quite familiar with Rich Redmond, Kurt Allison and Tully Kennedy. Once known as the Three Kings, the three top-notch players have lent their talents to many sessions over the years and are most recently recognized as the band behind multi-platinum selling artist Jason Aldean. Redmond, Allison and Kennedy have been with Aldean since the beginning and have helped shape the superstar’s unique sound and style, as they are not only his road band but his studio band as well.
In recent years, the Three Kings have once again impressed Music City by forming one of the hottest production companies in town, New Voice Entertainment, along with their new partner, David Fanning. New Voice Entertainment are working with a handful of new artists on the rise, and they’re the team responsible for bringing Thompson Square to the top. Taste of Country recently visited with the four members of New Voice Entertainment to discuss the beginnings of their careers, their current projects in the works and what is to come next for their successful endeavors in the music business.
Kurt, Tully and Rich — you guys have a long history together. Talk about how the three of you met.
Rich Redmond: Kurt, Tully and myself have been playing on and off — pretty much on — since ’99, like nonstop. We survived countless demo sessions, showcases, [former country band] Rushlow, and helped forge the career of an unknown singer-songwriter named Jason Aldean.
Kurt Allison: Tully and Jason met in ’98, and then Rich, Tully and I all met outside of that in 1998 and 1999. Tully met Jason, and he was looking to put together a band.
Tully Kennedy: I met Kurt when we were playing with a local girl in town at the Wildhorse. We were putting this band together for Jason, and me and Kurt really hit it off. He goes, “I know a drummer named Rich Redmond.” Rich came in and put the downbeat of everything. It was very evident that it was magic, honestly. From that point on, in ’99, it’s been me, Kurt, Rich and Jason, as far as Jason goes.
At what point did you decide that you wanted to venture into a company together?
Redmond: After playing all these years in the music business together, we decided that we wanted to start producing because we worked on so many sessions together. We said, “Let’s start getting into this production game.” So the first thing you do when you want to do something is you just say we’re going to do this. And then you start doing it. It’s very simple. People think it’s some kind of ridiculous, hard thing. You just say you’re going to do it, and you do it.
Kennedy: One thing we decided years ago when we first met, even when we were doing Rushlow and the early days with Jason, no matter how much success we had, it wasn’t going to stop there. That’s when we started producing, because that was the next logical step: to take a more hands on approach and break artists who we believe in. It was just the next logical thing to keep the ball in the court.
How did David Fanning become a partner in New Voice Entertainment?
Redmond: Kevin Neal, Jason’s booking agent at Buddy Lee Attractions, brought David to our attention. He was 21-years-old, and he was this great rock artist and great singer. We started cutting sides on him. We realized not only was he a great singer and entertainer, but he also has other amazing skills.
Allison: There have been a lot of people who have wanted to be a part of what we do just because there’s a loyalty factor and a friendship where people know that we work hard and we’re out to always do the best we can. When we met David, we knew not only he would be someone we would be able to work with, but to quote [the movie] ‘Jerry Maguire,’ he completed us. We needed that fourth piece to make us New Voice.
Redmond: Everybody brings their strengths to the table. We have eight arms, so one person can be writing a song, one person can be wrangling more clients, one person can be taking care of business, one person can be doing editing … it’s fantastic.
David, what role do play in New Voice Entertainment?
Fanning: I’m kind of the guy who sits back and takes it all in [laughs].
Redmond: The great thing about David is if we work 20 hours in the studio, he’ll match that 20 hours after that. We’re all in the studio together, and then the three of us have to hit the road with Jason. So when we’re on the road, he’s overseeing mixes, double checking mastering sessions, packaging, editing … the guy takes care of a lot of stuff!
What kind of individual strengths do each of you bring to the table to complete New Voice Entertainment?
Fanning: The fact that they’re the best players not just in town, but the best players in the world! You’ve got Rich, who is an awesome drummer … it’s ridiculous. You got Tully, who has some of the most fresh and amazing sounding bass. I’ve got to be honest … before this group, I never really sat there and thought about the bass and what it meant to a song. After a few years of doing all this, Tully adds an element that is out of this world. Then Rich is out here wrangling clients and doing all the things he does. Then you’ve got Tully and Kurt who go out and do a lot of the massive meetings and all that stuff. It just drives. If somebody isn’t there, the other person picks up, you know?
Allison: Each of us pull our weight.
Talk about the significance of the name New Voice Entertainment.
Redmond: When we started this production company [we] went round and around about the title, until we settled on New Voice. If you just use the N and V, it’s like “envy.” It’s kind of fun and tongue and cheek. That’s how things kind of started.
Besides Thompson Square, who are some of the other artists New Voice Entertainment work with?
Redmond: Obviously we just had the big No. 1 (‘Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not’) with Thompson Square. They have their second single out now, and their third single is getting ready to drop. Blake Wise had a couple of songs out, and now we’re pushing the new single, which is ‘Can’t Live Without.’ We’re in the studio now with Kristy Lee Cook. We’ve found some really unique songs for her. We’re going to launch her next year. We just signed a girl named Lindsay Ell, so we’re finding and writing the best songs for her right now. Then we’re getting ready to launch Parmalee. They’re basically going to be the Motley Crue of country music. They have the same kind of brotherhood and the all for one, one for all attitude that we have. It’s two brothers, a cousin and a family friend. We’re really, really excited about them.
What do you look for when wanting to work with new artists?
Fanning: We love finding and developing new artists. That’s the one thing that makes us a little different. We don’t just stay in Nashville and find out who the best person is who plays at Tootsie’s. We’re out looking all the time.
Redmond: We’ve produced rappers, Canadians, New Jersy-ians … whoever has the passion. We see that passion, and we want to work with them.
Fanning: We want to create a sound for that person, because otherwise you’re just another person in the middle of a million other talented people.
How did your involvement with Thompson Square surface?
Kennedy: In ’97 I had just moved here, and I was playing on Broadway trying to make money. I ended up playing with Keifer [Thompson] in a band for a year. He was a singer and wore a cowboy hat and a belt buckle! We played like Merle Haggard to Dwight Yoakam to Bob Wills. For a year we were kind of inseparable, then things started happening for me in a different way. We kind of split ways. We didn’t see each other at all. I think I saw him twice over a 10-year period, randomly downtown. A couple of years ago, Broken Bow Records came to us and said they had this duo they wanted us to check out. They played us an acoustic worktape of them, and it was amazing. When we had a meeting and the door opened up, in walked Keifer and Shawna. I had no idea it was Keifer and Shawna. When I was playing with Keifer, Shawna would get up and sing once or twice a night. I didn’t know she was a singer. It’s very neat how the roads kind of circled back around after we went our separate way for a decade. It’s been great to reconnect.
In addition to playing on all the tracks for the artists you work for, do you also get involved with any songwriting?
Redmond: We have a publishing deal with Magic Mustang Publishing, which is Broken Bow’s sister publishing company. They have invested and believe in championing us as songwriters. We are writing together and with all of Nashville’s celebrity songwriters. We are doing co-writes with them to get songs for our artists. We are very excited.
Allison: We are co-writing with our artists, which is really the whole point in creating a sound and developing a sound. Being part of writing that music with your artist is a better way to get to know each other … it’s a better way to find out who that artist really wants to be. There is no better way to define an artist than to be a part of writing what you want to say, where we’re all a part of that vision.
What is the next step for New Voice Entertainment?
Redmond: We’re always trying to push the gambit forward. Life is about a string of experiences. When we’re in the studio with a new artist, we want to make that very memorable to them and for us. We dig deep to give them all a sound and a brand. We’re trying to do that for all of our clients that we have.
Allison: Producing was the ultimate goal. There are things on top of that that we still strive to do.
Redmond: Labels, publishing companies … we want to take over the world.
Allison: I think this is just the beginning.