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article imageInterview with country singer John Slaughter Special

By Adrian Peel     Nov 6, 2014 in Music
The stetson-wearing Texan, a multi-talented individual, has made one of 2014's best country albums. Digital Journal chatted to him about it.
John Slaughter released his second album, Meet in the Middle, last month, the long-awaited follow up to 2011's Stay for a While. Happily, this sophomore effort finds the unassuming 33-year-old making the most of everything he learned as a member of fellow-Texan Roger Creager's backing band (more on that later).
The affable young man is understandably proud of his new CD and this quickly became evident during our conversation. "We just released this new record October 16th and we put a lot of time and effort and creative energy into it," he enthuses, "and it's been a rewarding experience.
"I feel it's the best work that I've ever done in the studio as a singer, a writer and as a musician and we're really excited about it, and hopefully the fans can perceive it for what it is. We've also been playing a ton of shows - we do about 150 shows a year."
"I recorded my record in two parts," he continues. "I recorded the first five songs back in December and I went back and recorded the last five in September, so we just finished it.
"When I record half of a record, I like to listen to those songs and see what type of songs I need to finish the album because my number one goal is that someone can listen to a record and listen to tracks one through ten and hopefully not have to skip to the next one.
"'Meet In The Middle' was one of the last songs I'd written, with a great singer-songwriter friend of mine from Texas, Mr. Bart Alan Woytek. I fell in love with the song and when we recorded it, it turned out to be something special and I think that it has a lot to say.
"It talks about two people that are complete opposites but meet in the middle to kinda go through life. I think that's a very strong statement and I think that the record is too because if you listen to it all the way through, there's some edgier songs, there's some swing country songs...
"I think it's eclectic and it covers a lot of ground. It's not one hundred percent Western Swing traditional country and it's not one hundred percent what you would consider mainstream pop country. It's kind of in the middle and that's the way we like to keep it."
Discussing his musical style, the Houston-born star states, "The music we're making in Texas is a lot like gumbo - it's a little bit of everything. It's a little rock, it's a little country, it's a little swing. It really just depends on where you live...
"I feel that if you listen to my record, it's neotraditional country music with modern tones. The guitars are a little edgier than what you would have heard in the '80s and '90s, but I think it's good country songwriting, with musicianship.
"I think that it appeals to those fans that really like that country from the '90s that was more of a lyric-based, storyteller country where people want to go to a dance hall and have a good time."
The album's first single, "Ghost Town," hit number one on the Texas Regional Radio Report back in June and I wondered which of the other tracks stood out for the hardworking entertainer, who reveals he would love to cut a song with Patty Loveless someday.
"I love every one of those songs like a child, I would say," he replies. "I write the majority of my material and we don't know what we're putting out as our next single, but there are some very special songs on there, I believe.
"I reached out to some great singer-songwriters that are friends of mine and if I was to say one that's really sticking out right now on the iTunes Country Chart it's a song called 'You Kiss Like Whiskey' and I did it as a duet with a young lady by the name of Presley Lewis.
"She's a great singer and has a gift to be able to take a lyric and make it her own. I've known for Presley for quite a few years and felt it was fitting that I could get her on that track, and I'm thankful that I did."
"You Kiss Like Whiskey" is not the only collaboration on Meet in the Middle. Track eight, "Memories For Burnin'," is one of the album's strongest tunes and features great vocal work from Josh Ward and Jody Booth.
"Josh is one of my best friends from Texas and Jody Booth is actually my cousin. He's a wonderful talent, a great singer-songwriter from the state of Texas as well.
"I wrote that song with Bart Alan Woytek and Patrick Murphy and when I wanted the two other guys to sing on it, I had no other choice than to put Jody Booth and Josh Ward on there because all three of us grew up listening to George Jones, Merle Haggard, George Strait and Johnny Paycheck.
"Those guys have a love for traditional country music and I thought it paid homage to our heroes and our influences growing up, so that's kind of why we did that. That song's a lot of fun to play..."
As touched on earlier, the blue-eyed vocalist got his start in the business as a member of Roger Creager's band, where he played fiddle, mandolin and sang harmony vocals.
John later co-wrote his mentor's number one hit, "I Love Being Lonesome," as well as Cody Johnson's "Pray For Rain," another chart-topper. How did he end up being recruited by Creager and what did he learn from him?
"While I was in college, I had the opportunity to audition for his band and I toured with him for a little over six years. I learned some valuable lessons about the music business, kind of what to do and what not to do on stage, and also learned a lot about the business itself.
"Roger was a great boss and a wonderful entertainer and I can see why he's been as successful as he has been. He brings an energy to every show and whether there's 40, 400 or 4000, they're gonna get the same show because they've still paid their hard-earned money.
"People love to be entertained and I've adopted that philosophy with my band and I think it's worked really well for us. People want to get away and forget something, or just have a good time, and if they've spent their money for a concert ticket, I want to give them every bit of the dollar that they've spent - and more - so they can hopefully get their money's worth. Roger was instrumental in teaching me that."
Meet in the Middle is out now.
For more information, visit John Slaughter's official website.
More about john slaughter, texas country music, Country music, roger creager, cody johnson