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{20 Questions} Bleu Edmondson 2nd Edition

Bleu Edmondson first ran through my Twenty Questions three years ago.  A lot has changed since then; both with the musical landscape and his own personal voyage.  He’s experienced many ups and downs and comes clean in one of the most candid interviews I’ve ever done.  Check out Bleu in this round of 20 Questions, 2nd. Ed.

1.  We did our first edition of 20 Questions with you back in 2004.  So much has changed since then.  What is new and exciting in your world these days?

Lots of changes it seems. Most exciting at the moment is the new record Lost Boy. I’m very proud of it and ready for it to be released!

2.  Lost Boy has been in the works for quite a long time.  Describe your frustrations with everything you’ve had to go through to get this record out.

Well, it’s been in development for a good, long time, true, but most of that is my fault. We have been touring so much in the last couple years that it was hard for me to really sit down and write like I should. So, I kept a bunch of notebooks and jotted things down as they came to me. A line, a thought, whatever it was, and just toward the end of last year and the beginning of this year, I was able to sit down and try and put it all together.

We got in the studio on the first of January and haven’t looked back. The frustration of it all is definitely pointed inward at me. But, to be honest, I’m really happy with the way it all turned out. Hopefully it will all be worth it!

3.  Name association:

-Randy Rogers- A friend, cool voice, good county music writer, and helluva band!

-Doug Moreland-He always makes me laugh.  Great spirit, known him for a long time, had some of my greatest hill country memories with him.

-Mike Eli – Mike and I have only become friends in the past couple years, because we hadn’t really been able to hang out much. But, he has always been a stand-up guy with me. I like him a lot. He puts on a really good show and I definitely respect him as a man.

-Wade Bowen – Long time friend.  He has been a part of some of the greatest memories I’ve ever had. Good golf partner, and a great sense of humor.  Tenacious.

-Jason Boland-Country.  Deep, philosophical. And, always been there in some capacity for me. I respect him a whole lot.

-Pat Green – Great live show!  Lightning rod for accolades and controversy.  The controversy I’ve never understood. I’ve followed his career for many years, even before I played music, and honestly have always been a fan. He’s a good guy and a good family man.

-Stoney LaRue-Along with Wade, he has been a big part of my life, especially the early years of playing music. He always makes me laugh and has one helluva voice. Life of the party.

-Ray Wylie Hubbard-He’s a guru. A really cool man in every sense of the word. He has seen a lot and has written some classics. He never projects an air of superiority though, and he very well could if he wanted. I like Ray a lot and thank him dearly for allowing me to write with him and making me feel worthy.

-Cory Morrow – Cory and I haven’t hung out a whole lot, but he has always been a presence. He has been through some really hard times and tough tests it seems, and come out on the other side okay.  In the few times we have been able to hang, he has been a good guy and very personable. He’s got a lot of passion and it shows.

-Jackson Taylor-Jackson is a really good guy with a reputation that belies his true personality, and I can relate (laughs).   He has been a friend since the first time I met him and one of our biggest supporters. He plays good honky-tonk music and will fight to the death for his friends. You can’t ask for much more out of any man.

-Willy Braun – I have always been a fan of Willy Braun from way back. His voice, writing style, and musical chops have always turned me on. I love Reckless Kelly and am constantly frustrated that I can’t write and perform like them! (laughs) Willy has been nothing but nice to me in the times we have played together and for that I am extremely thankful.

4.  The tunes on Lost Boy seem much more personal than on previous records.  Was your process different with these songs?  Or were the inspirations more varied?

I don’t think the process was a whole lot different with Lost Boy but I have grown up a whole lot. I think with this record I wanted to try and be as honest as I could, and lay it all out there. It’s a hard thing to open yourself up to anyone, much less the entire world, but I believe to be successful, and true to yourself, and the people that like the music, it’s important.

There will be people that reject what is on this album and people that love it. Anyone can sit back and say what they will, but no one will ever be able to say it’s not honest. It’s scary for me a little bit, but the last four years have been scary. A lot of ups and downs, a lot of growing up, and a lot of changes. I’m just a person on this planet trying to make his own way just like anyone else and sometimes it works…sometimes it doesn’t.

-And the inspirations?

As for inspirations, they have always been the same. I want to try to make music that is different than what you would usually hear but still with an air of familiarity so that it resonates. For me people like Springsteen do that better than most. I’ve always listened to him and guys like Tom Waits, Greg Allman, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Ronnie Van Zandt,  Dylan and all that stuff, the same as most people I suppose. And all I want is to connect on some level, and let people from all walks of life know that, at their worst, they are not alone. The times are uncertain and it’s an exciting, scary, confusing time to be alive.

There will always be better writers, musicians, poets and whatever out there. I don’t deny that others can probably put it in better terms and connect, but I won’t stop trying!

Writing gets rid of a lot of baggage for me. So I bet I have at least another 10 records in me! (laughs)  Hopefully each one gets better as I grow and are able to articulate better what I’m feeling and become better at what it is I do.

That’s the journey. Very few writers start out perfect with their first attempt, or even second or third.

5.  You’ve had several shake-ups within the band since you last released an album. Talk about the changes within the band and how that helped shape the sound you have now.

There have been some shake-ups for sure. Not as many as some bands, more than others. It’s about finding a balance…a balance of personalities and abilities. It’s a lot like a relationship with a woman and it’s hard. Especially when, unlike some bands throughout history, I didn’t grow up with the guys, and haven’t known the guys in my band for many, many years.

I’m happy and proud to have known and been able to play with the guys that have been in this band, and it’s tough to make changes. I like the balance and vibe of what we have now and it’s a great mix. Luckily, most of the changes have been nothing but amicable. That doesn’t make it any easier but still (pauses)

As for the sound of the band, it is always evolving and that’s what is exciting. Sometimes it’s more rock, sometimes it’s more country, sometimes its more songwriting based and half the time I don’tt even know what’s going to come out and that’s fine with me.

6.  You’ve had some incredible moments during your career.  What is your defining moment?  The moment that if everything had to stop there, that would be the freeze-frame you’d pick.

I get asked this question every now and again, and I never know how to answer it. There have been some incredible highs but I think to raise one above the others, in some way diminishes the ones I didn’t pick. Plus, depending on what happens in the future, I don’t want to be accused of lying down the road! Maybe on my deathbed I’ll let you know. (laughs)

7.   How did you come up with the title, Lost Boy, for this record?

The title was pretty easy to come up with and it pretty much sums up my life in the last four or five years. Looking for something, everyone is I think whether it’s spiritually, personally, whatever. I’ve made my mistakes, but always tried to be a good guy. It’s not always easy and I know that. I’ve not always succeeded and I know that too!  It’s also a lyric in the song “American Saint.” I talk about the lost boys and the rejects…” I think most feel like that at some point in their lives. As do I, and I like to champion the underdogs.  It’s my thing! (laughs)

8.  There is a heavy Bruce Springsteen/Tom Petty vibe permeating throughout the entire album.  Were you listening to them a lot while writing and recording?  And if not, what were your main influences on this record?

Yeah, I’ve always listened to Springsteen. He’s the one guy that I can always listen to. His music has gotten me through a lot of trials in my life. I really tried to give it that kind of vibe, because those records mean so much to me and I want to do that to other people too. On my best day, I can’t write or perform anywhere near Springsteen on his worst. But ideally, that is the kind of music I want to make. It’s going take years and years, and I may never get there, but to me it’s the brass ring. True American rock music and influenced by many, many genres and I like that. It’s like music for regular folks. Rock music with country lyrics. That’s cool to me.

9.  You were still a rising star in the Texas Music scene the first time we talked.  You’re now an established veteran.  What do you see as the best trend in Texas Music?  And the worst?

Ahh…the best trend is probably that it is diversifying more and more. Still not enough to my liking, but it’s getting there for sure. You’ve got bands playing all sorts of music, which is good for everyone. This whole scene is supposed to be about playing music that is unique to the artist, not about being in a scene. The “scene” to me, has always been about the fans and the band camaraderie, not the music. Hopefully we can get that back instead of having people getting trashed for not being “country” enough, or “selling out” or having “too much production” or “not enough production.” It’s silly, you know?. Passion is a good thing, conformity is not.

-I couldn’t have said it better myself, and the worst trend?

(pauses)

The worst trend is, and always has been, radio. There are some phenomenal radio people out there that truly believe in this music, this scene and good, local music in general. There are many that do not, many that dismiss it. I understand it’s a business and don’t necessarily blame them. I would just like to see a little bit more of an open mind when it comes to local music. Whatever genre or band it might be. Just because some bands can’t put 300, 500, or 5000 people in a place doesn’t mean they aren’t any good or aren’t contributing!

There are a lot of bands out there that don’t make good music, there are a lot that make very good music. It’s always been that way.

10.  Stories behind the following songs:

-“Last Call”- This was an idea I got one night when I just wanted to be alone and have a beer in a dark, non-descript bar somewhere. I walked in and after about an hour realized that most of the people there on that particular Tuesday night were there for the same reason I was!  Just down and out for different reasons. I wanted to tap into that, and I love the way the song came out.

-“American Saint” – I just wanted to write a song about us and the people that come out to our shows and a few of the characters I’ve run into over the years. I wanted it to be fast and sort of cinematic sounding. I always picture a truck flying down a paved FM road at dusk when I hear that song.

-“You Call It Trouble”- This is a modern throwback song to me. The sound of it is kind of old school to me but the idea came out of talking to a friend of mine who said that musicians are nothing but trouble, and I thought to myself, “we cant really choose what we want to do if you really love your job.” For all the stories about musicians always getting the girl, it’s not always true. And because of our job, it’s harder to convince the opposite sex, that the reputation isn’t always accurate.

-“Maybe Tonight “- One of the few true love songs I’ve ever written. It’s a true story. I’ll leave it at that.

-“Jesus Is Cryin'”- This and “Maybe Tonight” are probably my two favorite songs on the record at the moment. This song sums up a lot of things just the way I wanted it to. I figure there is a general outline for our lives, but that it’s easy to alter that outline. I’ve made a lot of choices that didn’t work out for me…and a lot that did. However, in terms of my personal life, I have always chosen selfishly. That’s my fault. The chorus sums up how I think it happens after I make one of those selfish choices.

-“Resurrection”- Listen to it. You don’t need me to explain. It’s all there! (laughs)

11.  Over the course of your career you’ve had the opportunity to share the stage with several great acts.  Who are your favorite bands to share a bill with?

Umm, wow…that’s a really tough question.  (long pause)   Playing with my friends is probably going to always be the best. Still waiting on Springsteen and Madison Square Garden to call though. I won’t hold my breath (laughs)

12.  Last time we did this interview, I asked you who you had yet to work with that you would like to and your answers were Jack Ingram and Reckless Kelly.  What new acts coming up would you like to write and/or work with?

I’d like to write a good western story song with Ryan Bingham.

13.  You’ve enjoyed the opportunity to tour extensively outside the state since the last time we talked.  What is your favorite thing about reaching new audiences in new places?

My favorite thing about playing so far away from home is the excitement it creates. To see people get so excited that we are actually playing in their town is amazing. For so long, they were only able to get our music on the internet, or from friends and they think we are rockstars! If they only knew! (laughs)  But, it’s like it was in the very beginning. You get a rush to see people you’ve never seen, in a place you’ve never been to, so far from home, validating what you do.

14.  What is your favorite vintage clothes store?

I don’t shop a lot…I should, but I don’t. I guess probably Goodwill in New Braunfels.

15.  You’ve always leaned more to a rock sound than country.  Is it the attitude and spirit you enjoy the most?  Or the freedom not to be stuck inside a certain box?

I like honest rock music. Without the pomp and circumstance…kind of that blue-collar ethic. It’s very liberating and free. I adore country music and always have. It’s the most honest music ever invented, in my opinion. I want to write country lyrics with a rock-ish sound. American rock so to speak. But, ultimately, if you are true to yourself and the song, no one will ever be able to put you in a box. People get mad that they can’t put a genre on you, but it’s their problem, not mine. If you like solid music that is true to it’s word, then come see us and we’ll do our best.

16.  Time for a cliche question.  Where do you see yourself in five years?

Doing the exact same thing and turning more people on…just on a bigger stage.  I hope and pray that more people doing this thing of ours get recognized and rewarded for their hard work.

17.  What’s your favorite thing about being a professional musician?  Your least favorite?

My favorite thing is not actually working…meaning not having a boss or rules.

And, my least favorite is being scared of not touring. I’m always afraid that if we take time off, people will forget about us and we will have to start over from the beginning. I would like to spend time with my loved ones for more than a day or two at a time.

18.  Rapid fire:

-Tony Romo or Carrie Underwood?

Romo.

-Favorite restaurant?

Mi Cocina in Dallas, or anywhere that serves huge, fresh crawfish.

-Favorite dive bar?

Adair’s in the old days, Jay’s Bistro in San Marcos, Black Cat in Austin, George’s Majestic in Fayettville.  There are too many to mention, I’m an expert. (laughs)

19.  Usually, I’d ask what your favorite George Strait song is in this slot, but since you’ve already done that, I’ll ask what your favorite Bruce Springsteen song is?

Promiseland, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Philadelphia, Jersey Girl, his live version, although Tom Waits is hard to beat.  Badlands, The River, State Trooper, Johnny 99, Born To Run, Jungleland, Youngstown I could go on. (laughs)

20.  In what ways is Lost Boy different that your previous efforts, and in what ways is it the same?

It’s different in that I’ve grown up and am able to reflect a little more. I had more of a goal in my mind when we went into the studio and I think we did it right this time with the right producer, Dwight Baker.  We had the right tools in place.

It’s the same in that I have always tried to be honest and tell a story to the best of my ability.

At the end of the day, that’s all I can do.

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