Had the chance to talk to Russell Howard about his music and new album City Heart; check out the quick interview below.
When did you first decide you wanted a career in performing music?
Both of my parents are symphony musicians, so I started on violin in second grade. Playing classical music never really inspired me, but it was excellent training and made music-making an everyday activity. I got my hands on a ukulele in high school and, for the first time, had the ability to create music from the ground up, not just play what was on the page. I switched to guitar soon thereafter and just kept writing. I played a lot of gigs in college and, by the time graduation rolled around, I knew I couldn't not go for it.
"Home Sweet Home" is the most popular single from City Heart; where did the inspiration for the song come from?
"Home Sweet Home" was an accident, really. I was up all night working on a demo of "You, Me & Someday" and I took a break to watch some musical guests on old Letterman episodes. I was kind of half heartedly playing along on an out of tune guitar and this two chord simple song just kind of poured out of me. It was a true story that was in motion but hadn't happened yet. I wrote it in May and, as it says in the song - "she moved there last September". By the time we recorded it, the timeline had worked itself out.
Which song from City Heart, or any of your albums, are you most proud of and what was the inspiration behind it?
I think the acoustic version of "Won't Get to Sleep" might be my favorite. When we recorded the original version we tried to put harmonies on it, but it ended up sounding very, very country - and not in a good way - so we just left them off. On the acoustic version we tried again and nailed it, so I love hearing that song. As far as my old record, I love "Time and Trouble" and "Anna's Waltz" as songs, but the performances, tempos, arrangements, etc. are all wanting. These two are on the table for my next record because they deserve another look now that I know what I'm doing!
What's something you want your listeners to take away from your music?
I'm going to merge the inspiration part of the last question with the answer for this one. My songs are all either based on a true story or have grown out of an internal question or emotion in my life. They're also pretty straight forward lyrically, so there's not much mystery as to their origins. My hope is that people will connect with the music or the words and come along with me for the ride. It will either speak to you or it won't.
Have you started work on anything new?
Oh yeah. I'm writing towards a full length debut at the moment and it's going great. I have the bones of a lot of songs, now it's time to roll up my sleeves and flesh it all out.