We spoke with Andrew Combs before the release of his third record, Canyons of My Mind.
You've just announced your newest record, Canyons of My Mind, out April 7 on New West. What's different or special about this record? Is it a move to a new genre or style of songwriting?
I definitely tried to stretch myself musically with this record. I honed in on the melody side of songwriting more than ever. Whether or not that translates to me exploring other genres is for the audience to decide. I've said this again and again in interviews, but one of my main goals as an artist is to never make the same record twice. I'm sure there will always be consistencies between my albums, especially with lyrical ideas, but I think change is a great tool in an artist's career. Also, staying on the same track seems so boring.
What was going on personally to influence the creation of the record?
In general, I guess I just grew up. This past year my wife and I got married, bought a house, and are now expecting a child. All these events add up to myself entering a totally different headspace towards my career than before. You could say I am more focused.
It seems like you're really growing and forging your own style of songwriting and sound. How has getting older and time in general impacted your work?
Yes, as I alluded to with the last question, growing older and taking on new responsibilities have made me approach a creative career from a different, more serious angle. I am now more interested in the idea of being a sustainable artist, rather than just putting records out or touring non-stop. How do I reach a core audience again and again while still doing what I want to do? What are other creative outlets I can utilize besides music to make a little dough? How do you play the long game in art without becoming jaded and/or aggravated? These are questions I ask myself daily.
The singles from the record we've heard so far sound like there was much more of an emphasis and focus on production for this record. What was the production side of things like for Canyons of My Mind?
Well, I don't know about that. I enlisted Jordan Lehning and Skylar Wilson as producers again on this project, so you definitely do hear their influence. But my thought with this batch of tunes was to tone down the production, let the songs speak for themselves a little more. Thinking about it now, maybe the production was just not as premeditated as my last record. It seemed like with Canyons we went with our first instincts, and moved forward from there. It's definitely not a stripped down or acoustic album at all, but I think it is a bit more raw and in the moment than All These Dreams.
Nashville has such a stable and consistent country music scene, but also seems to be adapting and transforming in a way with a new class of artists. What's your take on Nashville, the new trends in country music or singer-songwriter music, and the role and influence of traditional Nashville in today's stuff?
I'm not too sure what the current trends are. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I don't pay enough attention to what is happening in the scene. What I do know is that Nashville has had and still has the best musicians in the world and some of the best songwriters as well. I couldn't think of a better town to live in at this stage in my career. It keeps me on my toes.
How has your live show changed throughout your career?
I've become more comfortable on stage. Hopefully that shows.
How do you think the "dream career" for a Nashville musician has changed over the year?
I think the "dream career" for any musician, anywhere has changed significantly. There isn't as much money in the business, so artists are finding unique ways to survive and keep putting out records. It's an interesting time in the industry for sure.