Interview with Mack Abernathy

Interview with Mack Abernathy

Ch.L.: Your current single is being played by radio. What do you thing is special about this song that makes people what to hear it?

M.A.: I wrote the song Texas after hearing people talk about Texas who were not from Texas. I wrote it on the back of an empty beer box at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, Texas. It has a true Bob Wills western swing feel to it and paints a really clear picture of life in Texas and it’s music. It stays true to Texas country.

Ch.L.: How much creative control do you have over your music?

M.A.: I guess there are two things that make me independent. One is I was born and raised a cowboy and the other is that I’m a native Texan. I did one recording session where I was not in control. The way I figure it, since I am the one that writes the songs, it is easier for me to tell a session player what I feel and what I want in the song rather than have a producer try to figure it out. Tom Brumley, Buck Owen’s steel guitar player, introduced me to Vic Clay, a record producer in Nashville (Tom Brumley’s father, Albert E. Brumley, wrote I’ll Fly Away and many other gospel standards and had used Vic Clay to record some of his fathers works). Before I record, I make an acoustic version of the song and Vic and I go from there. Sometimes, one of the session players has a great idea and I always listen, but I ultimately am responsible for what my music sounds like. I write most of the music that I record and I own the label and the publishing.

Ch.L.: Who do you look up musically and how deep do your musical roots run?

M.A.: When I was in grade school, the first two acts I ever saw were Hank Thompson and Johnny Gimble. I was impressed with the way a Hank Thompson song had a distinctive melody, unlike anything else. The songwriters that influenced me the most were Hank Thompson, Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, and Jimmy Buffett (yes, Jimmy Buffett for taking an island idea and building a career out of it with great songs that painted vivid pictures). As far as roots, I think every country song should have a thread of continuity from Hank Williams, as his ability made his songs so believable and true to real life.

Ch.L.: As an artist you have to do so many different things such as recording, touring, doing interviews etc. What do you like best, what's your favorite activity?

M.A.: Number one you have to be a people person. I have friends from all walks of life and I enjoy the differences in personalities just like I appreciate other musical genres. I guess the thing that I like the most is with the band on the bus traveling. The bus just seems to put everybody in a good mood and we actually have some good hooks and one-liners for songs and make changes in the show itself as a show is always a work in progress.

Ch.L.: Are you doing anything to take country music beyond it's current borders or are you happy where it is?

M.A.: First of all, I play country music. Time changes everything but every now and then you have to reinvent and reinvigorate your music. But that thread of real country has got to show through in your songs. Willie Nelson is a great example of somebody that has remained true but changes with the times. I play a large motorcycle rally every year. Most bikers are dyed in the wool rock and rollers but when we play country with those twin fiddles and a steel guitar, those bikers get up and start dancing and having a good time. We are always well received and I believe every act should do what they can to expand their audience. I have a large semi rig with a 53 foot hydraulic stage trailer, complete with sound and lights. It sets up in two hours and we are ready for a show. This enables us to bring our music to the people.

Ch.L.: What's unique about you that differentiates you from other artists?

M.A.: I am what I am. I am a cowboy and I have remained true to myself. A leopard cannot change his spots. I write songs from the heart and about what I feel. I do not stick my finger in the air to see which way the musical winds are blowing. I was playing at one of Willie Nelson’s picnics and he told me to never write songs that you don’t know anything about or people will see through you like a phony.

Ch.L.: What can your fans expect to see when they see you in concert?

M.A.: I put alot of variety in our show and I keep the audience involved in the show. Not to be a chatty Cathy, but after we have played three or four songs in a row with kick offs just as soon as one is over and the next begins, it’s time then to talk to the crowd. After a crowd has built up to a really hard-driving, fast song, I like to come back with me starting a slow song acoustically for a verse, and then the band comes in and then we end the song acapella. An audience appreciates an artist standing on that stage with nothing but a guitar in his hand, singing a song he has written, and not being propped up by a kickass band.

Ch.L.: Many music fans today get their information about artists via the internet. Do you have your own website and what will fans find there?

M.A.: My website is Fans will find the latest news, a little about me, our tour info, and a gallery of show pictures and band pictures. I also have my albums available for purchase.

Ch.L.: Fans are always hungry for good road stories. Do you have one you can tell?

M.A.: Years ago, I did a 5 country, 55 city tour of Europe for the Bandag Company (Bandag is an international company that makes retread rubber for truck and bus tires). The band and I would play at the open houses for the dealer’s customers. Bandag had shipped 5 trailer trucks along with Tyrone Malone’s tour bus and my tour bus, from Baltimore, Maryland to Antwerp. From there, we played Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, and Finland. One day traveling in Germany, the entourage of trucks and buses had stopped at a truck stop for fuel. Our bass player said he was staying on the bus and the rest of us got off and went inside. We went around the building when we left to go back to the bus. Little did we know, that the bass player had changed his mind about getting off the bus. 50 kilometers later, the police pulled us over and returned our bass player to us! It was quite comical and the police enjoyed it very much, especially with all of the t-shirts, caps, and cds that we gave them for their trouble. After that, word spread and we were pulled over quite often, because the police wanted to meet us.

Ch.L.: What message would you like to send to your European fans?

M.A.: I remember playing at Nurburgring during a truck race for about 12,000 people in the courtyard. I was amazed at how they knew the country standards and at their enthusiasm. Music is the language of the world and all I can say to my European fans is thank you, thank you, thank you. I appreciate you all.

Christian Lamitschka ( )

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