Charley Crockett Talks New Album, In The Night
Many people see Charley Crockett as the next artist out of Dallas to make it big, and with the release of his sophomore album, In The Night, he certainly makes his case. Crockett often draws comparison to the most recent DFW artist to gain national recognition, Leon Bridges, who sports a similar style and sound. But a deeper look into his career reads almost like the Odyssey, traveling from the streets of New York City, to Europe and Africa, finally making his way back home, ready to take his music to the next level. We caught up with Crockett in the middle of a heavy promotional schedule to talk about his new album, musical background, and future plans.
Last weekend you had your album release party at the Granada Theater. Can you talk about what that show was like and what it means to have so many talented local musicians up on stage supporting you?
Man it felt like I wasn’t awake, like the whole thing was a dream. I just felt really humbled; it was a little overwhelming with all of the different entertainers that came together to help me make it a really special event. I really can’t believe all those guys came and jumped on stage. I'm so grateful to them and so happy that everyone came out—it made my guys jump up about 5 levels in performance energy. There's that certain gear that you can only shift in if the crowd is there to help you go, and half of what we're doing on stage is in the audience participation, so that was the most amazing thing about our performance. Vincent Neil Emerson had people rocking their asses off at 8:30—I couldn't have asked for a better opener. All of those musicians were pouring their heart and soul on the stage, that by the time we went on, the people were so ready all we had to do was be ourselves. But man I just had so much fun.
The new album is called “In The Night,” which is also the first song on the album. Can you talk about the inspiration for that song and why you decided to name the album after it?
It's a long story, but I came up with the hook when I was living in the mountains in Morocco 4-5 years ago and I totally forgot about it. Then, last summer when I released A Stolen Jewel, I was living on my buddies ranch outside of New Braunfels, TX. The floods and rain storms were coming through and this big lightning storm struck in the middle of the night, and the song came back to me out of nowhere. I hadn’t thought about it in years. It just came back to me in that storm and then a new hook came like “In the Night, In the Night, In The Night.” It was like that kind of chant and I combined the two songs with a new progression, and as soon as those two pieces came together I was like, “Oh shit I gotta record this!” I never really thought about naming it anything else with the imagery that goes along with those three words, In The Night. It's like one of those things, you really have to walk through the dark to appreciate when you are in the light—that's a really powerful motif for me that I thought people would relate to.
What was the songwriting process like for this album?
I took 30 songs that were in my head at the time, I wrote them down on a piece of paper, and then went down into the studio. We wanted to commit 14 of them to wax over three days in a row and I kept all 14 we recorded, but there were two versions of the same song, that's why there ended up being 13. I don't really like to shape a song entirely until it really needs to be shaped, so you have that opportunity to capture that magic of that idea that comes to you right in the moment.
Another thing that might be unique in terms of the writing process is that I never write any of the lyrics down or anything it's all memorization. So if my music seems simple, it's because I don't write it down and I have to be able to remember it.
I recently saw a picture you posted of Taylor Lumby from Atlantis Aquarius dressed as Jackie O from the set of your new music video. What can you tell us about that video and when will it be released?
Yea man, I really have an affinity for Jackie O. I thinks she's one of those incredible iconic American figures. I see her like a Marilyn Monroe or a Bette Davis; she really defined an era for women with her whole image. With her association with Dallas, we just really kind of wanted to pay homage to her and wanted to show a unique view of Dallas in a praising way. I can’t tell you much about the video except that it looks really really good. I think the plan is to release it within the next week or two. I’m really proud of it, and I think it will be the strongest visual that I have put up so far in my career.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up that helped shape your sound?
In New Orleans, my uncle was really into that old-school big band swing. He would listen to everything from Louis Armstrong to Bing Crosby. I was really influenced by the big brass street bands that you would hear in New Orleans and all the different street performers who were always around in the French Quarter. When I was in high school, one of the things that probably shaped me the biggest was hip-hop. I was in that culture listening to chopped and screwed music coming out of Houston that was on the radio. That was a really popular thing and we all freestyled to those beats they would have all chopped up on the radio. That really taught me my phrasing and gave me confidence because I was naturally good at that. And as I got older, all of that stuff just drew me back to the roots in which that music is based on, like blues, gospel, old time soul, and honky tonk.
Right now your album is streaming on your website. What are your future plans for how that album will be released? Is there any chance you will be releasing it on vinyl at some point?
The record will be fully available in North America on all the major carriers like iTunes and stuff next week. The vinyl is definitely coming out, it's just going to depend on some of the opportunities we are looking at right now. Im also planning on doing a re-issue of A Stolen Jewel, I really wanna put that on vinyl. In terms of putting out content, I think were gonna be really active and creative coming up in this next season.
One final not so serious question, but there has been a lot said on way you dress drawing comparisons to Leon Bridges...so who has the better style?
(Laughter) Oh man, Leon for sure! That boy, I’m a huge fan of his music and whole thing you know. I love what he does, that boy got style...I’m just trying to keep up.