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Brandy Clark and Old Dominion Laugh About Haters and Hot Rollers

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Old Dominion: Whit Sellers, Brad Tursi, Matthew Ramsey, Geoff Sprung, Trevor Rosen

Sprung: So you did the whole album without a label. What do you think would've been different if you'd had a big label on board?

Clark: Creatively, we were just told to make the record we wanted to make. And I think that would've been different. I do have a label now, Slate Creek Records, but they're small and have that independent spirit of, 'Make the music you want to make, and we'll figure out what to do with it.' But honestly, I don't think my record would've been as successful with a major label involved.

Ramsey: Was there one song that you built the album around?

Clark: Yes, "Pray to Jesus." But then as we were making the album, it became "Take a Little Pill," which leads nicely into [current single] "Hungover." What about y'all? Is there one song you all agree is Old Dominion?

Ramsey: As writers, you spend so long trying to build your cred as a writer, and then everything comes together at the same time: your artist career happens when your songwriter career is, too. So you have a song you love, but someone else wants to cut it, and you have to let it go. "Wake Up Loving You" was our flag for a while, but then Craig Morgan wanted to cut it. It was a big decision and, ultimately, we said, 'That's not the last Craig Morgan song we can write.'

Tursi: The songs that we do keep have a certain swagger. We know if a song is a band song.

Clark: Like "Dirt on a Road."

Rosen: When do you know that a song you've written is a Brandy Clark song?

Clark: Usually when no one else will cut it!

[Laughter]

Clark: It's my job to cut the songs that other people are too scared to cut. Songs like "Take a Little Pill." There are songs I’m hanging onto right now, because I'm working on another project. But most of the time, it just doesn't work for anyone else. If a song is going to work for Miranda [Lambert], like "Mama's Broken Heart," I would have never cut that. If that works for her, it doesn't work for me. We already have Miranda. I can't compete with her!

Clark: So, you guys have told me before about haters, and I think it's great that you laugh at them. I can't do that.

Ramsey: Because you don't have any!

[Laughter]

Clark: No, I do! And the ones I have are pretty strong. Some guy posted the other day, "Country radio, please play Brandy Clark. She's the savior of country music." And another guy wrote, "Your savior is my Satan." So yeah, I have haters.

Clark: "Dirt on a Road" is a huge hit on [Sirius XM's] the Highway. I'd love to hear what that did in terms of ticket sales, and also in terms of the haters y'all have told me about.

Ramsey: It did a lot; no one knew who we were before that song. It's a polarizing song, so we knew that — out of the gate — a song like that would stir attention. So, we welcome the haters because it means people are talking about us! And it didn't hurt our feelings at all. Berate it all you want, you're still putting our name out there. We'd been playing for a long time for empty rooms. Then that song became a hit on the Highway, and that helped our shows.

Clark: You guys are doing all these shows traveling in a van. What's that like?

Rosen: Not as glamorous as you'd think! [Laughs] It's dirty. Stuff's everywhere, and we step on each other.

Ramsey: I can't imagine being a girl out there on the road. We can throw a hat on and stink. Girls have to do their hair. Well, Trevor does, too. But…

Clark: That is true! I've recently discovered hot rollers. I'd been on this planet a long time and did not know about hot rollers.

Rosen: That sounds like a good band name, Brandy and the Hot Rollers.

Clark: Y'all are playing with a lot of big names this summer. Who are you most excited about?

Tursi: We have a show with Alabama…. I mean, we're not on the bill or anything, but… [laughter]

Ramsey: We're the opening band, and a lot of times no one cares. But we have some shows with Jake Owen and Eli Young Band, and those fans will care. By the time we get about three songs into our set, those are the people who always realize we're not a crappy band. We're real. I get excited about a crowd that likes our kind of music.

Clark: And you are a real band. You actually play on your record.

Sprung: We've had people tell us, "I really liked your show. You guys sound like a band." In Nashville, that's not a given.

Ramsey: It's five personalities working together, and the more we play together, the more that grows.

Tursi: And sometimes being not as good [as studio musicians] is actually better!  

Clark: I envy what y'all have, because you're a team. I'm sure there are times when you get on each other's nerves, but there's a lot of time when I'm sitting alone in my dressing room thinking how nice it would be to have someone doing this with me.

Ramsey: How come you wrote "Better Dig Two" with Trevor, and where were you when I was single?

[Laughter]

Clark: It was the first time I met Trevor. He started playing the opening to it, and we wrote it from the top down.

Rosen: We didn't finish the song that day. It was a year later at a writing trip, and we pulled it back up and realized we needed to finish it.

Ramsey: We were at a cabin at Center Hill Lake, and they went upstairs to write their song and me and Josh Osborne and Matt Jenkins wrote another song. At the end of the day, we were like, "We just wrote an awesome song." And we played it for y'all and you were like, "Yeah, that's awesome but…" And then you played "Better Dig Two."

Clark: Believe me, I understand! Luke Laird and I wrote a song called "I Drink to Get Drunk" on the same day "Merry Go Round" was written, so I've had my moments!

Rosen: And now we have another song by Craig Morgan coming out. 

Ramsey: So together, we are simultaneously saving country music and killing country music!

[Laughter]

Clark: Well, in your defense, one man's savior is another man's Satan.

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