Josh Thompson’s “Way Out Here” may be my favorite album, except for maybe his second album, “Turn It Up,” which released (finally!!!) about a year ago. It was a long four years between albums for his fans, The Chrome Bullet Crew, and for the singer/songwriter himself.
I caught up with Josh by phone in Nashville, one of those days at home but still working writing songs and getting into the studio “to create some kind of magic out of it,” he said. He’s working on another album but doesn’t have a release date for it yet. A new single from that album could be out soon, he said.
In the mean time, he and his record label, Show Dog-Universal Music, are considering some options with what I call “the missing link” album, the one he was working on when his former label went through some changes and they mutually parted ways with Josh in possession of that album’s masters. “Change” and
“Comin’ Around” were two songs slated for that album.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be a full-length album, since (“Turn It Up”) just came out last year; possibly as an EP, or maybe the full album next year,” he said. “That’s actually what the debate is now.” (We, of the Crew, do want to hear it all, ya know!)
The songs on the unreleased album were more reflective than “Way Out Here,” but “still very me, still very country,” Josh said.
So is “Turn It Up,” which has produced two singles, “Cold Beer With Your Name On It” (the only song on the project he didn’t write) and “Wanted Me Gone.”
The album turns it up with the opening “Down For a Get Down,” a clanging Friday night anthem, and includes the solid country “Cold Beer With Your Name On It” and “A Little Memory,” which possesses the adult self-reflection of a life-changing break up, that includes those famous words of realization, “I made my bed now I’m lyin’ here in it.”
While “Firebird” features the freedom of hitting the road in this classic car, it’s overriding message is about the freedom of just getting away. Having owned a Firebird or two back in the day, the music captures the feel of riding in that “wide-track Pontiac.”
“That’s the feel we were going for,” said Josh, who didn’t own a Firebird. “I was hoping that song would write me one,” he said with a laugh.
“Hillbilly Limo” is one of those fun songs “just describing what a hillbilly limo is,” he said. “It’s fun to do live.”
His favorite song on the album: “A Little Memory.” His favorite song he has written, to date: “Sinner,” featured on his debut album.
Josh is an avid outdoorsman and part of NRA Country. He will be one of the country artists performing Feb. 14 at the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Fall, he said, when the colors start to change, is perhaps his favorite time of year, he said. Turning up the outdoors and hunting helps him turn off the business of music.
“I am able to turn it off. That’s a perfect on/off switch,” he said. “I have come up with some great ideas out there, but it’s where I turn off the cell phone and just watch the world go by. It resets my soul.”
Now is the time of year when he has to plan his schedule for the year, being sure to block time to do those outdoor sports he thrives on.
Now that he’s a dad (daughter Josie turns 2 in May), weeks away from home are not so appealing.
“There’s a need to be home,” Josh said. “I hate to be gone three weeks at a time anymore. She changes so much. There’s a longing to get home and hang out with the little one.”
He looks forward to sharing with her his love for camping, shooting (sports), fishing … “just kind of showing her the things I love to do, but not being too pushy with it, and hoping she will love them, and have a love of nature and music.”
How has fatherhood impacted his songwriting? I asked.
“I think anything that comes in your life and changes your perception and has some impact it changes your songwriting,” Josh said. And, yep, he has written a couple of songs for Josie, but they “are for her and I,” not for recording.
Where’s your favorite vacation spot? I asked. (It was a blue-sky day and I was thinking about my vacation plans while waiting for his call.)
“Probably more mountain than beach,” Josh said. “But I do enjoy both. Anyplace that’s got something to do. I enjoy the water, kayaking, fishing anything.”
How do you stay in shape out on the road?
“I really just try to eat right and not just sit on the bus all day,” Josh said.
Is there one thing you would like to do but haven’t yet?
“I’ve been fishing in Alaska. I would like to hunt there,” he said. Josh studied forest and fish and wildlife management in college and took a wilderness guide course that had him living with a small group of people off the grid in the Alaska wilderness.
Music is his focus now, but he keeps in touch with his off-the-grid side by tuning in to Discovery’s “Alaska: The Last Frontier” and the Brown family’s adventures in “Alaskan Bush People.”
Last question: It’s been about a year since you got your hair cut short. Long or short?
“I’m still loving it,” he said of the short hair. When he cut his long ponytail last year, he donated it to Locks of Love. It was an event that was covered by Country Weekly magazine.
“I haven’t gotten a hair cut in a long time. I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. “It’s definitely less care. Of course, I’m a dude, too. Not a whole lot to taking care of it.”
You can read more of my interview with Josh Thompson in the Feb. 12 issue of 72 Hours, the entertainment guide inside The Frederick News-Post and atfrederickplaylist.com.