The positive, inspirational message of Joey Stuckey may be the thing that draws you in, but the music will keep you hanging out, All Night Long!
Thank you for this interview opportunity, please share with us how you developed your unique jazz/blues/rock sound and when did you become an official band?
Thanks for having me and allowing me to share my music and story. As a full time producer, I am laser focused on what my artists need to be the best them they can be. From a music business standpoint, the more narrowly focused you are on a genre the easier it is to find your target audience and share your music with those people. When I am in artist mode, however, my eclectic nature really comes out and I just play the things that excite me musically. This is a bit of a challenge from the music business perspective but I have found that always being authentic and true to who you are is the only real way to connect with people that will love your music. I have discovered that the right path for me is to leave my brand broad and eclectic but to carefully target each album. I love the passion and soul of blues and roots music, the energy of rock, and the complex harmonic and melodic structures of jazz. Combining these disparate elements comes very naturally to me and reflects my great joy in life and all its wondrous aspects.
I’ve been getting paid to perform since I was 19 years old and I made my first record when I was 21. I am now 40-ish (lol) so I’ve been doing this for a minute ;-).
How do you balance a touring rock lifestyle with a regular life as an emerging artist?
The most important thing in anyone’s life, regardless of what their career entails, is balance. I am a strong advocate for artists to make sure they take care of their health, to get proper rest, eat well, stay hydrated, etc. It is a challenge to say “No” when people love your music and want you to perform, speak, or otherwise engage with fans but sometimes you have to turn things down. We have seen over the last few years incredible artists, like Megan Trainor and Adele, cancel important performances due to extreme fatigue or exhaustion, so I work hard to mitigate those factors. As a blind, brain tumor survivor, I have an additional set of challenges to overcome daily and I have to make sure that I protect my well being and not take on too much. This is a real difficult choice for me as I love life and want to be everywhere and do everything. It’s also important that for me music has always been enough. I am extremely antithetical to the “rock and roll lifestyle”. I don’t drink, smoke or take drugs of any kind except the ones that keep me alive (lol). My idea of a party is a good conversation, bad jokes, and music—not necessarily in that order. The bulk of my career is made as a recording engineer, producer and educator which means that at times my own music and touring have to take a temporary back seat while I accomplish those other tasks. Essentially, the secret to making it all work is to love what you do, take care of your health, surround yourself with positive and talented people, and be organized.
If you had to describe your sound with only one song of yours, which one would you choose?
That’s a tricky question so I will confine it to a song off the current 2019 album “In The Shadow Of The Sun”—my song “Truth Is A Misty Mountain”.
Favorites from your current album?
Each track on “In The Shadow Of The Sun” has its own special place in my heart. I really like my guitar solos and the organ solo from Randall Bramblett on “Troubles Come In Threes”. Lyrically, I am most fond of “Truth Is A Misty Mountain”. I think you get a true glimpse into the kind of band we are by listening to “Whippin’ Post”—which is only available on the vinyl or CD versions of the record. For pop sensibilities, I think the “hookiest” song is “You’re So Wrong”, which is the single from the album. Another cover song, “Good Time Charlie”, probably pays the best homage to the space where we recorded the basic tracks which was Sun Studio in Memphis. Finally, I am proud to say that the song that seems to resonate the most with music fans of all stripes is the original composition “Ain’t It Good To Be In Love” which was co-written by my dear friend Charlie Hoskyns. Charlie was a UK producer I met while I was on tour there in 2015 and he sadly passed away in 2017. I’m so excited that our song makes people feel good. I’m also very proud of the special guests that grace this recording including a 30-voice middle school show choir and my friend Al Chez from Tower of Power providing some amazing horns.
If you had the opportunity to meet one band or artist who would you choose and why?
LOL—were it possible, I would have to say the Beatles but bringing reality into the picture that isn’t going to happen. This is so hard because I am inspired by so many different artists. I really would love to collaborate with Erykah Badu, Neil Finn, Bono, David Pack, Aimee Mann, and Van Morrison. See what I mean about being eclectic. LOL
How do you feel the independent music scene is evolving and do you like where it’s headed?
Interestingly, every time there’s been a paradigm shift in the music industry, there have been those who have proclaimed the death of music as we know it—from the invention of the phonograph to mechanical music rolls for player pianos to the advent of the MP3. Like it or not, the fact is that the world changes and you have to change with it. In the last year or so we have seen the first decrease in download sales but also significant growth in the music industry primary driven by streaming revenues. The good things about our industry are that artists have more control over their careers than ever before and that an independent artist can be extremely successful without signing all of their rights away. The bad news is that musical talent is not being cultivated as much as it should be because people are using technology to compensate for extreme deficits in musical excellence. I have no problem with pitch correcting or quantizing a note or two here or there, but when you have to spend hundreds of hours doing it on every single song for an artist, in my view it is a disingenuous experience for the producer and the music fan alike. The musical talent should never be supplanted by the ability to use computer software. The other critical flaws in our industry are: (1) streaming royalty rates are too low and need to be increased and (2) the US needs to join the rest of western civilization and pay royalties to both the recording artist and songwriter for radio play. Currently, only the songwriter gets compensated.
We all have “aha” moments that help us continue on our journey. What have been your “aha” moments in the music industry?
Too many to relate them all here so please come see a show or one of my inspirational talks and I will expound in great detail! I think the single most impactful moment that encapsulates my core beliefs and philosophy happened at a gig I was doing in my hometown of Macon, Georgia, when I was in my mid-20s. I was very frustrated because one of my band members had forgotten that we were playing that night and didn’t show up for the gig. On top of that, I had a terrible cold and was running a fever. And to add insult to injury, somehow my drummer managed to get extremely drunk during one of our 10 minute breaks. I was determined that this was going to be my last show and I had had enough foolishness to last a lifetime. It came time for us to play our closing song but my voice just wasn’t up to it and I had the crazy compulsion to play “Amazing Grace”—something one does not typically hear in a bar. 🙂
The band thought I was nuts but I reminded them that it was my band and not a democracy (lol) and that “Amazing Grace” would be our final song of the evening. We played it and I got off stage just wanting to go home and lay down. Suddenly, a woman from the audience ran up to me, threw her arms around my neck and started crying. Unsure of what else to do, I hugged her back and asked if she was okay. She explained to me that she was in Macon for a funeral and that her uncle had been a gospel singer and his favorite song was “Amazing Grace”. They were supposed to have played it at his service that day but they didn’t and she had been upset and feeling like her uncle wasn’t properly honored. When we played the song that night, she and her husband felt like her uncle was properly honored and they drew a great sense of comfort and peace from our performance. It made me realize that the one thing I really wanted was to create positive change through music and that I would be content to do so one song at a time, one person at a time.
What does 2020 have in store for you?
Quite a bit actually. We are creating a new studio space adjacent to my current facility and, if I say so myself, it is going to be an impressive destination for anyone who is serious about recording. It’s going to be focused on creativity, positivity, and the best tools money can buy. It is also going to be a place where serious students can come to be nurtured and flourish. There’s a massive amount of work to do so that the new facility will be open around this time next year. I don’t want to give away too much, but some of the people involved in creating the space have worked on projects like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and with artists such as Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Bruce Springsteen, Dr. Dre, and many others. We will continue promoting the new album “In The Shadow of the Sun” album and start work on my next album at some point next year. I have lots of projects in various states of completion so it will be interesting to see which one ends up falling into place to be completed first. I am also working hard with my agent, Birdee Bow, to set up some great performance and speaking events for next year. Please visitwww.joeystuckey.com and www.shadowsoundstudio.com to keep up with all we are doing.
End of Interview