Josh Abbott Band Make Their ‘Small Town Family Dream’ a Reality With Release of New Album
This week, fans of Texas-based hitmakers the Josh Abbott Band were made happy campers, as they were finally able to get their hands on the band’s new album, ‘Small Town Family Dream.’ The release is the band’s fourth record, one which found them returning to doing things their way — with no label or Nashville politics involved.
‘Small Town Family Dream’ is pure Josh Abbott Band, but even better, if you can believe it. The 12-track album is loaded down with tunes penned by Abbott, as well as amazing musicianship from the band’s other five members: Preston Wait, Austin Davis, Edward Villanueva, James Hertless and Caleb Keeter.
‘Touch,’ the current single from the April 24 release, is already a hit at mainstream country radio, where it’s sitting just shy of the Top 40 on the country singles chart. The emotional music video has been turning heads and tugging on the heartstrings of viewers since its debut, which only helps to continue a boost in sales of the single — and now album — on iTunes.
Taste of Country recently caught up with the Josh Abbott Band guys to chat about their exciting new project, the new video reel, potential next singles and what’s on the horizon for this uniquely talented bunch of guys from the Lone Star State.
Talk about ‘Small Town Family Dream’ in comparison to your previous albums … how do you feel things have evolved with the band between projects?
Preston Wait: We added a few new band members, and I just think musically we’ve just gotten a lot better from the last album to this one. I think Josh’s songwriting from the last one to this one has gotten better. I’m just proud of everybody.
Austin Davis: Pretty much on every other album and project I’ve worked on, I usually do mainly electric banjo or acoustic guitar. On this album, I got to do strictly acoustic banjo, which I never thought that I would be allowed to do full on acoustic banjo on a whole record. Our producer was really good about making it work with it not being too bluegrassy or cheesy. He came up with some really neat parts that aren’t typically played on a banjo. It was a really cool experience.
Josh Abbott: I think it was great work for his playing style. It’s more along the Bela Fleck style, but it has the roots of traditional banjo. It was awesome. We actually did a banjo solo on two or three of the songs. It’s funny because country music has gotten so pop or rock that when people hear we have a banjo or a fiddle on the album, they go, “Oh, you guys are bluegrass?” It’s like, “No, dadummit! We’re country! What happened to country music?!” [laughs]
Did you have a hand in writing many of the tracks on ‘Small Town Family Dream’?
Abbott: There are 12 tracks on the album, and then there’s a bonus track on iTunes. Out of the 12 songs on the actual album, I wrote or co-wrote nine of them. One of them that I didn’t write was an Adam Hood and Brian Keane song called ‘I’ll Sing About Mine.’ Brian Keane had already released it to Texas radio a few years ago, and Adam Hood recorded it on his last album that came out in the fall. It may be our next national single. We love it. It’s a great song. It really resonates with the theme of the album. The next two we recorded [that I didn’t write], we had to record both because they go together. They are songs by Terry Allen who is a Texas country music singer. He was real big in the 70s and 80s. He was part of a band called the Flatlanders. They were like the Beatles of west Texas in the 70s and 80s. His roots were from Lubbock, which is where we all met. There’s a lot of roots there in music. So he wrote these songs called ‘FFA’ and ‘Flatland Farmer.’ At the end of ‘FAA,’ it transitions into ‘Flatland Farmer.’ You could do ‘Flatland Farmer’ without it, but I was like no, we’re going to do it right … we’re going to do both songs. We thought that was cool. So those are the three that we didn’t write or co-write.
The music video for ‘Touch’ has a very moving storyline that we’re sure is hitting home with many people who have loved ones overseas fighting for our country.
Abbott: That is one thing we are really proud of is that video. We put a lot of effort into that. I think that’s the best thing we’ve ever done. I just think that music video is so above its expectations. I think the album is about where it needed to be, because people were expecting us to make a good quality album with some songs about Texas and some songs about love. That’s kind of the normal thing we do. We didn’t really stray away from what we do. The video, though, blew people away … people who I really respect in music were texting me or emailing me saying, “Dude, your video blew me away.” That makes us feel really good, knowing that we did something that big. So many people and families in the military are really impacted by it. They were like, “Thank you for doing that.” Some of them were really honest, saying it was a really hard video for them to watch because their husband is overseas right now, but thanked us for making a video that is about the families that are left here waiting and anticipating being left behind. That’s real pain right there.
[The woman in the video] has to fall in love with someone after her husband dies. These people have to go on with the rest of their lives. How in the hell do you do that? I can’t imagine. That’s what we wanted to do when we made this video … make something that was real that will impact people. We are really proud of that video.
Do you have a heavy touring schedule set for this year with the release of the new album?
Abbott: We’re definitely playing shows in the 160-175 area, so we’re gone quite a bit. But we also do a good job at taking time off. We try to take off Easter weekend, we try to take off one week in the summer – either in July or August, we’re always off Thanksgiving, we’re always off Christmas, and sometimes we’ll be off a couple of weeks in December as well. Right now we’re just so busy because this album just came out. No one sits at home when you have an album coming out! If you are, your manager or your publicist doesn’t like you [laughs]! Starting in the next couple of weeks, we’ll start flying all over the country to do radio visits.
We’re not on a label, as of now, but we’re acting like we are. We have a radio team, and we’re going to go visit some radio stations. We’re going to the Southeast in a couple of weeks, and then we’re going to the west coast two weeks after that. If you factor in all the radio touring with the media with all the shows, it can get pretty hectic out there on the road.
You guys recently made your debut on the Grand Ole Opry. How was that experience as a whole?
Abbott: You don’t see the cloud underneath us [laughs]? I think in one word, it could be summarized with awesome. It was overwhelming in a great way. The only thing I can compare it to is when I got married. It happened so fast. You have the buildup and the anticipation and pressure, and then it’s over with! It’s like, “Whoa, what just happened?” [looks at wedding band] How did that get on my hand? [laughs] It was like, “We just played the Opry!” It was amazing. Just getting to share the stage with Bill Anderson, Darius Rucker, Martina McBride, Aaron Tippin and Diamond Rio, and that’s not including all the house musicians, and that was just that night! There were fans there that had never heard of us who were there from all over the country – California, Missouri, Virginia and Texas. They came to the Opry on a Tuesday night, and they got to hear a band that they probably have never heard of. We got some great applause and response.
Davis: You could tell we were the new guys though … all these other bands, they roll in like 10 minutes before their stage time. We were there like two hours early taking pictures [laughs]! The security guy was like, “I don’t mean to be rude, but you and your families have got to go!” [laughs]
Abbott: We were like kids in a candy store because we were like man, what if they never invite us back? We’ve got to get our pictures in now [laughs]!