I am very excited to share this interview with Bo Armstrong. It has been a long time coming. Today is also the release day for his album “Chasing Ballads”, a strong collection of songs that definitively come from a place of honesty and vulnerability (two topics Bo addresses in this interview). I personally enjoy listening to these songs and I think anyone can relate to at least one lyric or song. “Chasing Ballads” is soft when it needs to be and strong when it has to be. Is that a reflection of this artist? Continue reading to “meet” Bo and then listen to the album and see for yourself!
What’s your favorite kind of sandwich?
Best question ever, though almost impossible to answer. My list of favorite sandwiches is a mile long, so I’m gonna give you a lame answer. My favorite “you can get it almost anywhere” sandwich would be a #11 (mike’s way, add pickles) from Jersey Mike’s.
The Beatles or Elvis? Why?
Want to say Elvis because he’s a Mississippi boy and I dug into him a bit when writing Meet Me in Memphis, but I should probably say the Beatles because they changed everything. But I’m actually gonna say neither because *hot take* I’ve never really done a deep dive on either. Yikes!
Lyrics to live by?
Show a little passion, baby; show a little style. And show the knack for knowing when and the gift for knowing how…-Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Hard Way
Favorite album of all time?
Albums are like sandwiches —I love them but this is almost impossible for me to answer…so here’s five in no particular order:
Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen), The Road to Ensenada (Lyle Lovett), Trouble (Ray Lamontagne), Ropin’ the Wind (Garth Brooks), Come on Come On (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
What country music artists do you listen to the most?
Right now I’m loving the Hill Country album…
How would you describe your “sound”?
Texas-bent folk rock
Where do you see your musical career in 5 years?
A few more albums deep and a handful of cuts by other artists, I hope!
Are there any instruments you don’t play but wish you did? Why?
Piano, and I’m working on it. I love the weight of the piano’s sound, and I think a working knowledge of chords on piano would make me a better songwriter.
What was the best advice you have received?
Keep it honest.
What advice would you give to yourself at the start of your musical career?
Keep it honest.
Since you are not just a performer but a songwriter, what keeps you going?
Sometimes to stay motivated I have to tell myself I’m writing songs not for millions of listeners but the one listener who is looking for that particular song but doesn’t know it yet.
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement in your musical career so far?
Committing myself to a full length album in the digital age.
You have a new album coming out on November 24th. Tell me about the songs on album.
Chasing Ballads is about finding love you believe in and going after it. It’s about acknowledging your past and letting it motivate your future. It’s about finding the courage to live in the moment without throwing caution to the wind, and learning that so little in life can be accomplished on your own, even if the road you’re on is sometimes a lonely one.
What song on the album do you most wish you were out there performing live right now?
Here’s Looking at You, Kid —that song rocks.
Who co-wrote “You Know What I Look Like in The Dark” and where did those lyrics come from?
I wrote YKWILLITD with my friend and producer Brian Douglas Phillips and it came from a willingness to be vulnerable. Not every single line in that song is something I’ve lived first hand, but I can certainly relate to it all by imagining myself in every one of those situations. I think one of the more chilling lines is “you watched me crumble when we buried my old man.” Both Brian and I still have our fathers, but when we stumbled into that line, my heart was ripped out of my chest for a moment because I imagined for a split second what that was going to feel like…and the song continued to grow out of that feeling. I try to bring a healthy dose of empathy to every song I write.