When he released his “Simple Life” album, John Thibodeaux was charting singles in Texas and gaining a strong following in Texas and beyond.
Just as he was gaining this traction, Thibodeaux was deployed to Afghanistan in 2015. Though this temporarily put his music career on hold, it allowed him the opportunity to record his debut full-length project, “Moments Like This.”
With a mix of sounds that range from Mark Chesnutt to Jo-El Sonnier, Thibodeaux is back in a big way with “Moments Like This,” which has earned him nominations at the Texas Country Music Awards in October.
Read below to learn about some of the songs on the album, his deployment, and some of the major songwriters on this project!
Justin Loretangeli: Who were some of your biggest musical influences growing up?
John Thibodeaux: Country side: George Strait, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Radney Foster, Steve Earle
Cajun Side: Wayne Toups, Jo-El Sonnier
JL: Was there a specific moment you knew you wanted to make music for a living?
JT: It’s always been in my blood and family. Dad played music, a lot of my family on dad’s side played music. But I guess the first time I sang on stage at about 9 years old and people cheered and clapped, I was hooked.
JL: On your first record, “Simple Life” you had a few songs chart on the Texas Country charts. What kind of validation is it for you as an artist to receive that kind of success with your first record?
JT: I guess it means I’m doing something right and should keep on. It gives me motivation to keep going.
JL: After the “Simple Life” album, you were deployed to Afghanistan. Was it hard to put your music career aside for that time. Did you find yourself thinking a lot about your career while you were deployed?
JT: Yes, it was hard, but I was in a slump for some time right before deployment. Bad relationship. But I am glad I got deployed because it afforded me the opportunity to pay to have the new album recorded (Moments Like This).
JL: You are also a great accordion player, which is featured on the “Moments Like This” record. The accordion is really underused and underappreciated instrument in country music. When did you pick it up, and do you feel it helps make your sound unique?
JT: I started playing Cajun accordion when I was bout 15, my dad played and tried to get me interested but it wasn’t until I heard Wayne Toups that I was interested, and then I was hooked. I feel it does make my sound somewhat unique. There’s no one else really doing country with Cajun-sound accordion in it. One of my influences, Jo-El Sonnier, was successful at melding the two genres in the 80’s, so figured I’d bring a little of that back.
JL: You wrote 7 of the 11 songs on the “Moments Like This” album. How important was it for you to get as much of “yourself” into your debut full-length record as possible?
JT: It was very important. I wanted to write all the songs on the album, but when it comes to writing songs, I’m more of a balladeer, and sometimes I find it hard to write fast tunes. Plus I was running out of time to write songs for the album, so I recorded songs by some of my favorite artists and songwriters.
JL: Of the outside songs you cut for the project, songwriters include Travis Tritt and Tracy Byrd. How cool is it for you to be able to record songs written by country music legends?
JT: It was really cool since Tracy Byrd lives right down the street. Always been a fan of Travis Tritt. And my favorite songwriter, Jeffery Steele, wrote “Just the Way We Do It.” That man can write. He has had more hit songs on the radio than anyone currently writing I believe.
JL: Your first radio single from the new album is “Buzzed on Loving You,” and it’s seeing some chart action. Can you talk a little about that song?
Yes, I wrote “Buzzed on Loving You” for my fiancé. Again, this song comes from a real place; having met a great girl and realizing it’s possible to find love again. The song is doing well and debuted on the charts at 105 after a week of release, and now it’s at 63 on the Top 75 chart and moving up!
JL: Having been in the Army yourself, “Thank a Solider,” comes off as a really personal song. How important for you was it to write a song about this subject matter?
JT: “Thank a Soldier” was important for me to pay tribute to my fellow brothers in arms. Many had it a lot worse than I did on my deployment, but it was also to pay homage to the past vets that gave their lives.
JL: “Favorite Waste of Time” is one of the real standout tracks on the new record. Was this one of the songs you wrote? If so, can you talk a little about the writing process and the feel you were shooting for with the recording?
JT: “Favorite Waste of Time” is one of mine. It comes from a real place in my life; that bad relationship I was talking about. I was so hurt when she didn’t want me around and we broke up. Instead of moving on and doing the things I liked as far as pastimes go, I would stupidly sit there and see what she was doing on Facebook; if she had another man, calling her mom to see what was up, driving by her place to see if she was alone, etc. So that song was from a real-life place.
JL: You’ve opened for a lot of big names in your career, such as T. Graham Brown and Jo-El Sonnier. Have you learned anything from those experiences that you try to incorporate into your own show/career?
JT: Somewhat, just trying to make a more professional show and seeing how they performed on stage and how polished their shows were. One song right after the other, no dead space between songs unless they were talking to the crowd. I’m getting there, working on it.
JL: How have you grown as an artist and/or songwriter since the release of your “Simple Life” album?
JT: I’ve grown as an artist from “Simple Life” album to now in the area of songwriting the most. I lived a lot in between both albums, more wise, more experiences; so I wrote about them. I’ve also learned to listen more to the music to be a better singer.
(Preview the songs from “Simple Life”: https://www.johnthibodeaux.net/media)
JL: What is next for you and your career?
JT: Just pushing my music and trying to release more singles from this album and get them on the charts and radio airplay. It’s constant work getting yourself out there to the people. Maybe some music videos and guest spots on TV shows, and more writing for the next album.
JL: Additional comments:
JT: Thanks for contacting me, appreciate you spending the word about the album! Stream those songs on Spotify and tell your friends (laughs).
*Images courtesy of John Thibodeaux and John Thibodeaux Band Facebook Page*