Essential 8: VOTH
What’s the best advice you have ever gotten from another musician?
- I remember sitting down one night and saying to myself, "I'm going to write a hit." I had the biggest writers block for days and couldn't get anything down worth sharing. I was super bummed about it. So I got on Facebook and was scrolling and stumbled upon an article that interviewed Brent Cobb and he said that when he stopped trying to write a "hit" and truly wrote from the heart, that's when the best songs came out. That night I waited until I was super tired and then thought about what my heart was feeling. A line came to me about love and I wrote it down. It was, "They say that love is a give and take so, take it out on me." I started to think about all of the songs that are written about Hollywood love stories or the songs that are written about horrible breakups. I thought, not many songs are written about the in between - you know the struggle. So "I Choose Us" came out from deciding to write from the heart instead of writing for a hit. So to answer your question, if I was to give one piece of advice, it would be to truly write from the heart.
Please choose one song and tell the story behind it.
- The song, "I Choose Us", was written about a couple that is fighting for their marriage. I was writing what I thought would be a fictitious song and actually titled it, "Take It Out On Me." After I showed it to my siblings, we actually realized that it was very similar to my parents' story. It was kind of an epiphany that I wrote a song subconsciously about my parents' early marriage. They really fought to stay together and later on decided to tell each other - "I Choose Us" on a regular basis to signify their commitment to each other. So we decided to re-title the song, "I Choose Us". It has since been our most successful song.
Do you write about personal experience, the experience of others, observations, made-up stories, something else or a combination?
- We mainly write from personal experiences or personal experiences from people close to us. I never understood how some people could just write complete fiction. There has to be some element of personal experience for us to really get into the song. I believe emotion drives so much of the feel and atmosphere of a song and in order to have emotion, you have to have some attachment. We try to really attach ourselves to our music.
With any particular song, was there an “a-ha” moment when you knew the song was completed and perfect?
- Definitely our song "American Rebels." It actually came about so quickly. I was at the Rodeo Houston with my brother and some friends and the second we walked into the stadium, the lights came on and I had an epiphany that we would be playing there someday. I sat down in the stands among all the noise and chaos, pulled at my phone, turned on the recorder, and wrote the chorus for American Rebels - purposely for a stadium feel. Got back to my buddy's trailer (who was in the rodeo that night), picked up my guitar and finished the song. I looked at him and said, "You'll hear this song someday at Rodeo Houston."
What’s your dream venue and why?
- I think honestly Rodeo Houston. We have grown up such fans of rodeo and Rodeo Houston is one of the largest rodeo's in the nation. There's almost 80,000 people there each night for the different concerts after the rodeo. There have been so many greats to play on that stage. Everyone from Garth Brooks to George Strait. We think it would be the most exhilarating event ever. But outside of country - Coachella. haha
When/where do you do your best writing?
- For me personally (Caleb Voth), I write best on the road when I'm driving. I turn all the music down, no guitar in my hand, and I write melodies for new songs. Once I get at least a verse and a chorus, I put it in on my recorder on my phone then put it down on guitar when I get off the road. There is something beautiful about the quiet and moving road at the same time. It just allows me to pull from a blank canvas things that I'm seeing, experiencing and thinking. Some of my best songs have come out of complete silence on the road.
What’s the best advice to give to a musician just starting out?
- Just start. I think that so many people want to have their ducks in a row (like me) but instead of trying to piece together the beginning and the end, it's so important to just start. Start the writing process, get experience in the studio with demo's, take advantage of small stages to work your craft. Many artists are waiting for the labels to come to them when labels are waiting to see what you are willing to put in first. Never be above the grunt work. Grind it out and learn along the way. Never stop educating yourself on the process. There is always something to learn.
Which song of yours gets the best crowd response?
- Our audiences love "American Rebels". It is just such an anthemic song that people can just scream and jam to. It is kind of our anthem and story as a band. We want to always be rebels. It's important for us to go against the grain and pave our own way. It's also probably one of our favorites to play live. The second we hit the chorus whether the people know the song or not, they somehow seem to sing along - and for us that is always a good sign that it is a catchy song.