Josh Abbott Band have been a staple in the Texas country music scene for nearly a decade and their fourth independent release, Front Row Seat, is giving the band the national attention they’ve deserved for years.
Released last year, Front Row Seat follows the span of a relationship in the form of five acts and 16 tracks. Inspired by the start and end of Abbott’s marriage, the songs are at times uncomfortably honest and the frontman says he wouldn’t have it any other way. As Abbott explains, he believes that being vulnerable and honest in your songwriting is what makes a great songwriter.
“If you’re writing songs from the heart based on true experiences, whether they’re painful or good, there’s such a realness to it that even though it’s authentic and unique it’s relatable because people share the same experiences in life,” Abbott tells Sounds Like Nashville over the phone from a recent tour stop in Ohio. “We all have those shared experiences and dreams. I’m not the only one who goes through heartbreak.”
Abbott say that putting himself out there is his responsibility as a songwriter. His openness can be heard on songs like “Anonymity” and “Ghosts,” the latter of which he admits to breaking down and crying during the recording session. He recalls asking his producer Dwight Baker for another take but Baker refused.
“He was like, ‘I’m not letting you rerecord that. You might record a better vocal take but you won’t record a take that feels more real than that and your fans will hear that and feel that,'” Abbott recalls.
Josh Abbott Band’s latest single is the feel-good “Wasn’t That Drunk” which features Carly Pearce. A song that details the transition from friends into lovers, “Wasn’t That Drunk” was written by Emily Weisband, Neil Medley and Matthew McGinn. Abbott says he knew the band had to record the song the moment he heard it while sitting in his truck where he listened to it seven times in a row.
The Texas group has been working for years to find the right song that translates nationally but as Abbott explains, they’ve fallen short every time. He’s certain they finally have the song to help them gain traction with “Wasn’t That Drunk.”
“We’re independent, we’re not on a label. It’s not your typical two superstars doing a duet,” he notes. “This is two independent artists that found a song that sounds amazing and should find some sort of room at the table. That’s what we’re hoping for.”
One of Abbott’s favorite lines in the song is, “That smile I missed / Damn it’s good to see you again.” He said it’s about two friends who never crossed the line and then finally do, but the next morning, there is no regret.
“I haven’t heard a song about two friends lowering their guard and getting physical and it ended up being this great start to a relationship,” he says. “A song like that in my mind hasn’t happened in a while in country music and it’s really hard to find a song that the thesis of it hasn’t been overdone to country radio. I really loved that.”
While Josh Abbott Band continue to tour in support of their album Front Row Seat, Abbott says he’s not sure if he’ll write another concept album. He’s certain Josh Abbott Band will have more albums and hints that he’ll likely release a side project at some point, but he fully believes that Front Row Seat will stand the test of time for the band.
He adds that Front Row Seat is Josh Abbott Band’s “most superior product to date” in terms of writing, creativity and instrumentation and admits that he doesn’t know if they’ll ever make a better record.
“Hopefully we’ll have some great albums down the road and we’ll have some singles that go Top 20 on the charts and do well for us. I think that in 20 years if somebody’s looking back on our career that this will have been our Abbey Road so to speak,” he concedes. “This will be the album that people will remember our band in terms of legacy. It is exactly what you want to accomplish as an artist because it means something. It tells a story and it has a little bit of that commercial appeal that can drive it to some of the masses. It’s such a great balance to find as an artist.”