Randy Montana Talks Songwriting, Heroes and His Debut Album
Randy Montana's been making waves at country radio with a pair of hit singles, 'Ain't Much Left of Loving You' and '1,000 Faces,' so we decided to sit down with the young singer-songwriter and learn his story.
We found out all about Montana's experience growing up as the son of a successful songwriter, his recent experiences opening for Sugarland and Little Big Town, which artists he most looks up to, and all the hard work that's gone into his full-length debut album so far.
Your songs 'Ain't Much Left of Loving You' and '1,000 Faces,' have been released. Is there a name for your debut album yet, and what else have you been up to?
Yeah, we put 'Ain't' out last March, and then '1,000 Faces' just came out this January. Even though 'Ain't' only broke the Top 40, it had a long chart life. It took a while to get up there. I did a lot of touring last summer. I was out with Sugarland, then I went out again with Little Big Town. It was a matter of setting things up, and making sure that everything was right. We wanted the right video. We wanted the right time for everything to be able to match up, to give us the best shot at success.
We turned in the first five [songs], with 'Ain't' and some others, in November 2009. We went back in late February or March to cut the rest of the album, including '1,000 Faces.' We don't have a title yet. I think the record's gonna be out around June.
You mentioned the big tours you were on. How fun and/or nerveracking were those?
It was really cool. I've never done any amphitheater shows or anything like that, so it took me a while to get my feet wet in front of as many people as that. It was a great experience and I learned a lot and got a lot better through the whole thing.
What was it like working with your dad [noted songwriter Billy Montana]?
All the songs that him and I are writers on, we had a third party there as well. Those three-ways are great -- you got three people bouncing ideas of each other. It's great he got some tracks on there.
Is is true that Emmylou Harris is on one of your songs ['Last Horse,' from the '1,000 Faces' EP]?
Yeah, that's on the EP. It was cool, man. Me and Jay Joyce, who produced the record, we were shooting the s----, talking about getting a female vocalist on this thing, we were kind of throwing around ideas. He said, "What about Emmylou?" and I said [laughs], "Yeah, I'll believe it when I hear it!" You know, "If she can do it, that'd be incredible." Well, turns out we already had the track done, we sent it to her, she emailed right back, and three days later she was in the studio singing. It was amazing.
[Montana fiddles with his wedding ring.] Did you just get married?
I got married. It'll be three years in May. How many times have you been in a restaurant like this and had it go off and roll under someone else's table? I never had a high school ring before, maybe that's why.
Who are your all-time favorites?
I'm a diehard Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fan. He was at Bonnaroo, four or five years ago -- he was headlining one of the nights -- it was so cool. I grew up listening to singer-songwriters: Tom, Bruce and Jackson Browne. I love the Wallflowers' stuff.
Even though your dad was in country? Wasn't that all around?
We listened to rock, things like that, but it was always country. My dad's been in the country music industry since before I was born. We used to listen to a lot of Alabama. My dad said he used to be able to play a game with me, when I was 3-years-old, where he could name one of their songs and I'd start singing the chorus.
So were you just rebelling by listening to the rock 'n' roll?
[Laughs] No! Not in the least bit! Regardless of "genre," it's always been the singer-songwriter for me that's really intriguing. I want to hear a guy that wrote a song, why he wrote it, and his delivery of it. And that's the cool thing about Nashville -- you go to these songwriter nights, and you listen to these songwriters, who a lot of them are great singers and are trying to be artists, or were trying to be at one time. You hear them sing their song that you've heard on the radio sung by someone else. It's a completely different delivery because it's their song, it's their feeling and their emotion. That kind of stuff is really cool to me. I like hearing that version of the song better than the radio edit.
OK, so who are your all-time favorite country singers?
George Jones -- his singing, and those songs are great. I was always a fan of Willie [Nelson] and Kris [Kristofferson], those guys that were at the forefront of the Highwaymen. It was cool. They were buddies, they'd run together, they hung together, they played together and sung together. That whole idea just really intrigues me.
Watch the Randy Montana '1,000 Faces' Video