Talk Music: Aaron Watson talks passion in music
Jan. 1, 2014 at midnight
Updated Dec. 31, 2013 at 7:01 p.m.
If your New Year's resolution is to get out more, start 2014 off right with the Aaron Watson show at Schroeder Hall on Saturday.
With a nickname like "Honky Tonk Kid," Watson, a staple in Texas country, has carved out a niche for himself and his faith.
Watson caught up with Get Out to talk about the power in his songs, why he'd rather be a missionary in the bar than a preacher behind the pulpit and just what exactly qualifies as "real music."
People often talk about music having power. What power do you see in your songs?
I think music can be a powerful tool. A lot of people sometimes will get very political. For me, the biggest thing in my life is my faith in Jesus and my family. I sing about those kinds of things.
I don't want to be a negative influence on anybody. There's enough negativity in this world alone; it doesn't need any more. I try to be a positive form of music, whether it's talking about Jesus or about how much I love my wife. ... I mean every word I say.
Given that your faith plays such a large role in your music, how does that balance with the honky tonks and bar scenes?
You could look at it that Jesus calls us to go out into this world and spread his message.
Nothing against preachers preaching on Sunday morning, but if you got up for church at 8 on Sunday morning, you want to be there.
My deal is it's no different from any other mission field. People go into Africa, these third-world countries where they put their life in danger to try to spread the message that Jesus spread.
I stand up there in front of all those people, and I tell them about Jesus just like if I were standing up in front of the church.
Jesus ministers to the folks who need it the most. He didn't come for the healthy; he came to heal the sick.
Not everyone at a bar or dance hall is some jacked-up, messed-up individual, and we're all messed up in one way or another.
There are also people at those bars who are looking for something. Maybe they don't have much of a family or many friends or have lost loved ones. That's a great opportunity for me. I absolutely love it.
Some of the most real, genuine people I've met have been in a dance hall.
If Jesus would have come back and step foot on this Earth today, I don't think he would be at church on Sunday at 8 a.m.; he would probably be sleeping in because he was out all night helping the sinners who needed him the most.
I feel that's what I've been called to do, and it's been a ton of fun.
But your shows aren't all sermons. "Hey Y'all" is a hysterical song.
We have fun; that's the thing. It is fun.
You don't have to be a rowdy, drinking, womanizing band to have fun. That's what kills me. People think that if you're not up there getting smashed, you're not having fun.
What's more fun than getting to make music on a stage in front of all these people? What's better than that?
Guys play in their garage for free; here I am getting to do it for a living.
Even with "Hey Y'all," I have even twists in there. I just put in little fun things like the line "I've been saved from sin, can I get an amen?"
There's no reason why you have to get smashed or act like an idiot to entertain a crowd. You don't have to raise a beer up and say, "Can I get a hell yeah?"
You have to pour your heart and soul into it.
You've called your music "real music." What makes that different from some of the other stuff out in the pop-country genres?
I write my songs, so I'm not saying that if a guy doesn't write a song then it's not real. But I've always gravitated toward the songwriter and the guy who writes about his life. I rarely sit down and say I want to write a song that goes along with the masses or goes after this genre or this demographic.
I could write those kinds of songs you're hearing on the radio; it's not rocket science.
That's kind of what I did with "Hey Y'all." I can write one of these songs. It's funny. I talk about Johnny Cash and Grandmaster Flash. Then Luke Bryan comes along and sings about Conway and T-Pain. I guess I'm ahead of my time.
You can hear it in your lyrics - the songs are genuine.
At the end of the day, I'm not trying to win awards. I'm a dad, I'm a husband, and this is my business.
Music lovers, fans, they know what's real, and they know what's not real.
I'm not saying pop music isn't real. I'm sure there is a lot of pop music that's heartfelt and straight from the soul, but what makes me love traditional country music is the songwriting aspect of it.
Country and folk songs have always been the best kinds of songs.
I love Led Zeppelin, but tell me one song that makes sense to you.
That goes for a lot of the rock bands; it's a different style. I would never put down anything that any of these guys are doing. I wish Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan and all these guys all the best.
At the end of the day, they're just trying to make a living for their family. I don't dislike them, but I'm not going to be in their fan club. All I can be is me.
Why did you start making music in the first place and how has your motivation changed?
I just love music. I have to write songs. There's just something inside me; I have something to say. It's no different than why do you show up to do your job.
There's something you love about it; it's also how you keep the lights on at the house. Originally, I made music because I loved making music.
When I was 19 and 20, maybe I liked it because girls liked it; I don't remember.
Now, I do it because it's my job; it enables me to make a good living for my wife and my kids.
You want an honest answer? What drives me is paying off my wife's credit card every month.
Thanks for being honest. So what's up for 2014?
We have a new album coming out in the back half of 2014; it's called "The Underdog," and I'm super excited.
I'm working with Keith Stegall - he has produced all of Allen Jackson's records, the last two Zac Brown Band records. He's from Wichita Falls, and he was an accomplished artist in the 1980s and a monster songwriter during the past 30 years. We brought him on board to help me raise the bar.
He's pushing me to write better songs, pushing me to work on my melodies.
I think it's going to be our best project to date. We're going to keep working hard and touring extensively, anywhere and everywhere across the road singing songs about family and Jesus and the country way of life.