I think this is one of the BIGGEST opportunities I’ve had yet when it comes to interviewing artists, songwriters, producers, etc. This band, is one of a kind! I kid you not. I’m just stunned by their responses to the interview questions. I feel so honored to have been given this chance to interview Highway 55! 🙂 I hope y’all enjoy reading this as much as I did. Highway 55 ROCKS! Enjoy!
Q: Would you like to give our viewers a short bio of each member of this band?
A: R. Scott Ricks is the creative force behind Highway 55 and the sole or partial writer on all songs that the band has released so far. An attorney by education, Scott began writing music for fun until some music executives in Nashville heard his songs and encouraged him to do more. Unable to leave his profession as an executive in the construction industry to just “up and move” to Nashville, Scott wanted to start a band to get his music out and see the public’s reaction to his songs. Once he found Cody Smith in 2010, Highway 55 was off and running. Scott’s creative side doesn’t stop with just music as he is a published novelist as well.
Cody Smith is the face and powerful voice of Highway 55. Cody started singing in public around Dawson and Albany at 17 years of age immediately winning awards and winning fans with vocal performances well beyond his years. It was his idea to name the band “Highway 55” in honor of the Georgia highway that had led him to some many good times just outside of Dawson, GA. Scott had been looking for a singer to match his music and finally found that in Cody. Cody’s energy and stage presence, along with his incredible voice, have been vital to Highway 55’s early success. Cody’s first song writing credit was penned on “Southern Nights“. He’ will have even more credits on the next album slated for release in the spring.
Highway 55 has a certain energy level that fans expect and Skyler McCrary is a big reason why we deliver. Skyler is the musician of the group having learned to play the guitar and the piano before the age of ten. Highway 55 isn’t always your typical straightforward country band and that attitude is brought to the stage by Skyler. His musicianship has brought on a whole new approach to our music. Songs are no longer always written by lyrics and melody first. The song “Midnight Baby” set to be on the next album is an example of music written by Skyler without the theme or lyrics coming first. Skyler wrote the music and Scott wrote the lyrics around the music. That’s an example of how his musicianship has added a who new dimension to the creative side of Highway 55.
Q: How long have you been “Highway 55 Music”?
A: We formed in late 2010.
Q: Do you write your own music?
A: We are a singer/songwriter band and write all of our own music. We may write with someone outside the band, but there’s always a current member of Highway 55 taking some part of ownership for a song we release. We wanted to be self-sufficient when it came to music. The song writing, the singing and the music is all us. Some of our early music was recorded in Nashville, but these days we do all of it ourselves in our own studio in Albany, GA. We do occasionally bring in friends for added instruments, different guitar styles, back up vocals, etc., but we believe that our music should in fact be our music. Not saying that we wouldn’t even cover a song written by somebody else, but with several hundred songs in our backlog we don’t expect that to happen anytime soon. We already have a hard enough time picking which songs should be on the next album. After all, music is an expression and we have a lot to say!
Q: Are you currently signed to a Record Label Company?
A: We are not currently signed to a record label and, to be honest, haven’t really pursued that until recently. We wanted to start that endeavor when we felt like we had really come together as a band. Most of our members started in Highway 55 before the age of 21. Our lead singer is still only 21 and it takes hundreds of shows for a band to gel like it needs too. Our recent award as “Georgia Country’s Band of the Year“, the fact that our shows get bigger, our calendar is more full and we increase our digital and CD sales every month have us convinced that we are ready to take that next step and find a label that can help us achieve our goals.
Q: What does a Record label get when they sign Highway 55?
A: I think the biggest thing is the willingness to work hard. There’s a lot of great music out there that never gets heard because the artist isn’t willing to do what it takes to make it happen. It’s hard to break a band no matter how talented they are and we understand that. We have great songs and a great singer, our growth has shown us that, but to get to the next level you must have a label that has the infrastructure to get you there. Labels are in the business to make money and they need partners in their artists that are going to help them do that. We need a label to market for us so we can afford to fill our fans and our own lives with music. That partnership takes a lot of effort on each side. My Grandfather use to say that the biggest compliment you can give a man is that he’ll show up and do his job. We make music, we love it and we work very hard to make sure we can continue to be heard.
TCB: This particular question was added by the band, because it’s a question they get asked frequently. I’m glad they added this question and response. So, credit given to the band for adding it. (I never take credit for something that I didn’t do!) I have to add, that from the music I’ve actually heard from y’all (on your sites), ANY record label would be more than lucky to have y’all. If someone doesn’t want to work with y’all, then I say keep doing what you’re doing. Make your own label lol.
Q: What inspired you boys to pursue a career in the music business?
A: That’s easy. Music! We are all music junkies and we listen to EVERYTHING. All different genres and all kinds of artist. We are classified as a country band, and we are, but there’s a different style to it because of our personal listening habits. We never write based on trying to make something sound a certain way, and I think that’s reflected in our album. If it sounds good to us we put it on there. But, we’re mostly a bunch of country boys so it comes out that way. At the end of the day, though, all music is played on the same 12 notes no matter what kind of music you are playing. So we just look at all of it, regardless of the genre, as music. You’ve got to love music if you want to get into the music business. Regardless of your talent level the chances of being a big success are slim to none so you’ve got to do it because you love playing the game, not because you want to hold up a trophy at the end.
Q: Do you have a Music Producer that you work with?
A: We don’t. We currently produce all of our own music. We have a sound that we like and we don’t want to stray from that. If we did find a producer to work with we would want him or her to show us how to get more of that sound.
Q: What kind of “scene” do y’all usually perform at?
A: We play any where we can afford to play. It’s typically clubs, festivals and private parties. We want to get in front of as many people as we can so we have a saying that if it doesn’t cost us money then we’ll go. If we weren’t playing a show we’d be sitting around our studio playing for free anyway so we might as well go make some new friends. The last six months have been really good for us because the crowds have gotten bigger and our venue partners can afford to pay us more, which we put back into our shows and our music. So that’s very exciting.
Q: Have you gentlemen traveled outside of the U.S. to perform? If not, what country would you like to perform for?
A: Not yet, but if you can get us a gig booked in Paris we’ll go!
Q: What is the best advice you can give a new band that is just starting their career in the music industry?
A: A few things. The first is to play. Every chance you get, play in front of somebody. You are not as good as you think you are so make sure you get plenty of practice on stage in front of people. Secondly would be to stay humble. You can get carried away when the entire crowd knows your song word for word. We get that a lot with our songs and it feels incredible, but you’ve got to remember that no matter how big you get it’s all been done before and there will be a lot of great artists that come after you that do the same thing. If you are fortunate enough to make a living with music then consider it a gift and remember that it’s the folks that you talk to at shows who allow you to do it. Third, I’d say to remember that music is a big responsibility. It’s something that brings us all together and it’s important to make it the best that you can. Songs that speak to you will speak to somebody else so take them seriously, even if they are a non serious song.
TCB: Great Advice! Very well said.
Q: In 2012, you were given an amazing award, can you tell us a little bit about that?
A: We were awarded “Georgia Country’s Band of the Year“. That’s really a credit to our fans and especially the ones on social media outlets. It was a big validation for us. For a band that had only been around for 24 months I think that shows that we are doing something that people enjoy. We have fun doing it and that comes across in our shows. We’ve won several “battle of the band” events, but a state-wide award was a big deal. There’s no where hotter than Georgia right now for music . We just hope that this is a stepping stone to being the next in line from here. It’s something that, no matter what happens, we’ll always have that accomplishment.
TCB: Congratulations on your award as well as your battle of the band wins!
Q: What would you say has made your band a successful band?
A: Great songs and a great voice to sing them. You have to love your own music for the crowd to feel it and we do. If we didn’t feel like our songs were great we wouldn’t perform them. That translates into a great live show for people to come and have a good time. We’re a good time party band. When we show up it’s gonna get loud and it’s gonna get loose. We have songs that would be considered edgy for country music and we have a softer side too, but we make no apologies about who we are. When we get on that stage it’s gonna rock.
TCB: You should never have to apologize for who you are! Apparently being “you” seems to have gotten you where you are today! So, I say “Keep it up, you must be doing something right.”
Q: How many hours a week would you say that you boys “practice”?
A: Our schedule is filling up pretty good these days. Our practice is mostly playing shows and learning new covers between the sound check and the show starting. We are also spending a lot more time in the studio so we play together a lot there tweaking our song ideas. As a band we are pretty good at picking up songs in a hurry and since we all listen to so much music we tend to learn a lot. Some one ask us when booking a gig once if we knew another band that could come play because they needed to fill six hours of music. We told them to just pay us twice, that we could fill six hours of music and they did!
TCB: Wonderful, at least you were able to say you were prepared to fill six hours of music time and come through with it. Congrats!
Q: If you could open for 1 artist/band/group, etc. who would it be and why?
A: I don’t think we could ever get a consensus on that. We love to many of them! Zac Brown, ACDC, Luke Bryan, Toby Keith, Bruce Springsteen, Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, Dave Mathews, Eric Church, Lady A, Coldplay, The Script, Plain White Ts, Bob Seger, Jimmy Buffett, Alan Jackson, The Black-Eyed Peas, Widespread Panic, Maroon 5, George Strait, Reba, Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert…do we have to keep going? Maybe The Rolling Stones. I think there are a few Stadiums out there full of people who need to hear Highway 55.
TCB: I couldn’t agree more! Y’all would be a great opening act for all of the above and MANY MORE! (If you ever come to Arkansas, I expect backstage passes lol.)
Q: Where can our viewers find you boys on the Web?
A: Website: www.highway55music.com
Contact Name & Number: Austin McAlpin, J.A.R. Productions, 229-921-0012
TCB: You can click on the direct links above to get to the sites listed. I have connected them directly to the pages.
And there you have it folks, a very successful interview with The Band: Highway 55
I’m glad to see that they were VERY detailed with their responses. They were very open about NOT changing who they are for anyone. Any record label would be extremely lucky to have these boys!
This band appears to be very level-headed. They know exactly what they want and they are doing just that: Going for what they want and what they know is right for them! Any record label that doesn’t want to agree to Highway 55’s terms, obviously doesn’t know real talent when they see it. These boys (guys) know their stuff. It’s obvious in this interview that they know what they need to know and then some!
I hope some of you other artists can learn something from this Band. If you own a Record Label, and you are willing to work with this band on THEIR terms, you better get in touch with them quick. If you don’t, someone else just may get to them before you can.
I’d like to say Thank You Highway 55 for this opportunity. I enjoyed reading your responses, and writing this article. But most importantly, I feel EXTREMELY honored to have had this chance. Please keep in touch so I can keep our readers updated with new happenings. And I’m excited to continue this journey with your band.
Good luck in 2013 and the years to come!