Josh Abbott Gets Honest About Love and Divorce on ‘Front Row Seat’ Album
It takes only one listen of Josh Abbott Band's forthcoming Front Row Seat album to realize the Texas country act is evolving, and they have a lot to say. The new music is a brutally honest representation of universal themes like love, heartbreak and divorce. It's somewhat of a musical movie in that it's a journey from start to finish, and has the ability to make one emotional if they've experienced similar.
But the only emotion filling the room on the day we sat down with Josh Abbott Band to talk about the upcoming album was excitement. It was the same day they'd premiered the album's first single, "Amnesia," and the announcement of the album was less than two day away. They each spoke of eagerness for things to come, but the decision to introduce fans to the music with "Amnesia" wasn't unanimous.
"I think everyone thought it should be a different single," JAB drummer Eddie Villanueva says. Indeed, several of the band members felt "Leave It While You Got It" should be the first foot forward, while others believed in "Wasn't That Drunk," a duet with Carly Pearce.
"There were some people telling us it should be the first single, but I didn’t want to push the first single as a duet — I thought that would be a weird representation of what the album is, ‘cause the album is really supposed to be the showcase of our band, right?" Josh Abbott recalls, "So I thought, ‘Let’s throw them a curveball and let’s do ‘Amnesia.’ That was my personal favorite on the album."
The frontman continues, "This is a breakup song and we haven’t put one of those to radio in a long time, maybe ever. I just thought that was a really cool song for fans to hear and go ‘This is different. I like it. It’s different. They’ve grown up a little bit'.”
The band from Lubbock, Texas have certainly grown up. They've evolved. They've gotten better, and this record is a direct representation of that growth as they begin their quest into new waters. Front Row Seat leaves "college-y" themes behind for more adult conversations. You'll find a little of that, Abbott assures us, but the album progresses quickly from there.
“It’s on purpose," he says definitively. "It’s to show that our band is progressing and moving away and trying to find a more mature sound … I think our sound will evolve two or three times.”
We named the album 'Front Row Seat' because it’s a front row seat to our band and really it’s a front row seat to this story of love and divorce," Abbott explains. "I guess it’s a story of whatever would be the opposite of love. It’s a story about my life.
The Front Row Seat story is divided into five acts, with each act having three songs. They begin with the Exposition, or introduction of characters, which happens in the first three songs, followed by the Incitation, which draws the listener in. Then there is Intimacy, where the characters fall in love, before coming to a Dissolution of the relationship. Lastly, the have the Dénouement, which shows the characters moving on.
The story ends with the last song, "Anonymity," which is the only acoustic track on Front Row Seat. They thought the ending was perfect, as it's incredibly powerful.
“When you go through this process of what this story tells of dissolution and moving on with your life after breaking up with someone you were so in love with and it doesn’t work out, for whatever reasons, whether it’s your fault or theirs, you’re still alone," Abbott says. "I thought it was just a great way to end this album — a subtle hint of, this is me kind of by myself trying to figure out the next step is and wishing I could go back and start the whole thing over again and maybe do it different.”
“It’s a personal album for us. These are my guys … They saw the whole story unfold,” Abbott relates, alluding to the infidelity and alcohol abuse that fueled his divorce. Writing the album was cathartic for the country singer. He even broke down while recording one, but his producer refused to let him sing it again, despite its imperfections, because it was (as the entire album is) authentic.
“Living these songs again when you’re in the studio it’s a good thing, but they bring back all these emotions that I’d kind of already gotten over, to be honest," Abbott explains. "It really hit me like a brick all over again, and I mean it really wasn’t intentional. I was singing these lyrics and I was thinking about the past and I just started literally crying. I don’t know why, but I kept singing it.”
His hope is that listening to the album will be cathartic for fans facing similar hardships.
Josh Abbott Band is made up of road warriors, but 2016 will find them on tour with this new material. They're excited to play these heart-on-the-sleeve tracks for fans live, but want to give listeners a chance to digest the studio album first.
“I feel like we’ve made an exceptional album. I think it’s by far the best thing we’ve ever done," Abbott gushes, adding, "That’s not to discount what we’ve done previously. It’s just the way things progress naturally.”
Front Row Seat will be released on Nov. 6. The first single, "Amnesia," is now available on iTunes.