1. Can you describe the brand of country music that people are going to hear when they hit play on your debut album, “Neon Halo”?
Fun country, down-home country.
2. With so many bands playing a similar style right now, what one thing is it about Austin Law that is going to separate you from the pack?
The music on the album is all different; there’s something for everybody. You can listen to the record and go from one extreme to the next, with a rockin’ country song like “Stomp” to a “Friend of Sinners” that might have more of a Bible-belt gospel kind of sound to it.
3. You hooked up with producer Eddie Gore for the recording of the album. What input did Eddie bring into the studio that helped you ultimately shape the sound of the album?
Eddie’s a slave driver! (laughing). Eddie’s the kind of producer that isn’t gonna be satisfied until he hears out of you what he thinks the project should sound like. He’s been pretty successful finding my sound and making sure the music matches my voice and the delivery is an honest performance. If it isn’t an honest performance, he’ll either sit back and tell you that you’ve got another one in you or he’ll scrap it altogether. I have total faith in the fact that he can figure out the good from the bad.
4. Though a lot of your album has a rock based country feel to it, you chose the slower paced “Neon Halo” as the lead single. Why was this song chosen and what are you hoping for as far as mainstream attention?
The song was picked – it was one of my favorites from the first time I heard it and it almost didn’t make the record. I refer to it as “the little engine that could.” It just kept growing in popularity among the band and throughout management and the more we tested it, it was a song that everyone can identify with. Everyone has been out somewhere and seen the gal that doesn’t look like she belongs in a certain situation or you judge a book by its cover too soon and you never know what you’re gonna get. I think the song has a good message that you can’t always do that. It’s a good story song and like I said, there’s something on the record for everyone and we just thought this would be a good introduction to Austin Law.
5. Other than the single, which song from the album is your favorite and why?
“Friend of Sinners.” When we first heard the song, we were sitting over at Harlan Howard’s office, and I have a real big respect for Harlan Howard and just the knowledge that he had, the catalog that he maintained and the Number Ones that were scored out of that whole genre. Sitting with Melanie Howard in his office, you get that feeling that you’re in the presence of greatness, and Melanie actually had one of the writers of that song – Travis Meadows –play it live, and I was just so impressed with his performance that I knew it was a song that I could deliver. We came back to Nashville to set it all up and Eddie and I decided that we were gonna do that song first… We didn’t hit the song for six days! I just wasn’t successful in pulling that performance.
So, it was a Sunday morning, and we were leaving the next day and already resigned to the fact that we were gonna have to come back to finish that song, when Eddie called me and asked if I wanted to give it one more shot before I left. It was kind of a rainy morning, kind of dismal outside, and when I got to the studio Eddie had candles burning in the booth and I just walked over to the microphone, put on the headset… what you hear on the record is one solid take from start to finish, which really doesn’t happen a lot anymore with Pro Tools. “Friend of Sinners” is not fixed in any way - it’s one solid take from beginning to end, and we both looked at each other and knew we had the performance that we wanted and just left it at that – we called it our divine intervention song!
6. The songwriters on this album read like a “Who’s Who” in country music ranging from John Rich to Randy Houser to John Mabe. How did these songs find their ways to you and how did you select which ones to use?
That’s the best part about this whole thing… we always refer to Nashville as being a big family atmosphere. We want to be a part of this city and want to be a part of this industry and everything that it has to offer. So what I did was, I came back and did a little three-song demo with Eddie, and he went out to the publishers and said, ‘This is my artist, this is what he sounds like, do you have anything for him?’ I was pleased as punch to find out that they thought enough of the vocals to give it serious consideration so that by the time we came back for the pitch meetings, we were getting everybody’s top stuff. When I heard about the writers that actually pitched songs to this project I was in awe, because when you work with guys like John Rich, John Mabe and Randy Houser, who’s been a friend of mine since the day that I met him, these are guys that are at the top of their game right now and they had the faith in me to deliver the performances. Everybody calls songs their children back here (in Nashville), so we raised some pretty good kids!
7. With the album out now, what are your plans for the immediate future as far as promoting it and your music?
We lay our fate in the hands of the fans and the great people we work with and the relationships we have here in Nashville. We’ve got a great team behind the song right now, the song is charting and the fans are speaking out – they’re really letting us know that they like “Neon Halo.” Internet sales are doing really well, keeping us employed and doing what we love to do. We’d love to break out on a good spring or summer tour next year and meet everybody across the nation. You get in this business to go out and meet people and share what you have to offer with everybody, so that’s really what we’re looking forward to.
8. You have a personal history that includes being a part of the Airforce and now you are a deputy sheriff for the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department. How did these aspects of the real world prepare you the most for the music business?
Ohhh, man! Always watch your back!... It’s funny, if you’re walking around a corner, chasing a suspect, you’re gonna peek around the corner first. I’ve learned to peek around the corner in the music business. The unfortunate circumstance in any business is that there is some smoke and mirrors involved with what’s going on, but this time around we feel more accepted. It’s like you get a hug from this city, and all we wanna do is just hug it back! We’re not feeling in any way like the step kid, we feel like part of the family now, and that’s great for us.
9. Though you’ve worked with Nashville songwriters on your debut effort, how did playing shows around California influence you early on that if you had lived anywhere else may not have?
I don’t know if this is from my experience, but what I’ve always heard is that California is a tough market for country music. But I’ve found that it’s thriving just like the Midwest and everywhere else. You just have to find it. And once you find it, you start playing your music and getting a feel for what everybody likes. It’s a good gauge, I guess, for what the rest of the world is thinking about where Country is going. I enjoy the California audiences, just like I enjoy every audience that we play in front of. I do know that they’re a little more harsh if you do something they don’t like and they’ll let you know, but fortunately we haven’t had too many of those!
10. What piece of advice can you offer to someone that is looking to break into the music industry right now?
Well, the old cliché is that if you want it bad enough you’ll keep chasing your dream, but my advice is to learn from everybody else. Talk to people that are in the industry – from people that are just breaking in, to somebody that’s been there, if you can get a minute of their time. The music business is a constant learning experience for everybody involved in it, a constant growing pattern - where the music’s going, how the fans are reacting… Get with people that have been around a little while, learn the dos and don’ts. And the most important thing is to be humble. You’ve got to be humble enough to not only say, “Am I good enough to be here?” but to admit that you’ve still got work to do. And you’ve gotta put in that work if you want it.