It is often said that to move forward, you must remember where you came from. Louisiana native, Nashville living singer/songwriter Will Payne Harrison highlights the best of both worlds on his album Living With Ghosts, set for release on September 6.
Harrison is already seeing results, as the albums lead single, “Jacqueline,” is now his most streamed song on Spotify.
As release day for Living With Ghosts quickly approaches, hear from Harrison about his classic influences, injecting themes into his music, what he hopes listeners take away from Living With Ghosts, and more!
Pro Country: Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
Will Payne Harrison: My first memory of music was listening to the Oldies station in my mom’s car. So it was lots of Motown, 50s and 60s pop, such as Elvis, The Beach Boys and of course The Beatles. My parents owned a record player with Sgt. Peppers, Creedence Clearwater Revival Live, and an insane amount of jazz and blues from my dad. The first guitar parts that I remember trying to learn was “Day Tripper” by The Beatles and “Down on the Corner” by CCR.
PC: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
WPH: As a sideman, I decided that in 2004. I’ve toured extensively as a bassist and guitarist for other people since then. It was almost 10 years later in 2014 when I decided that I wanted to make a career out of being an artist and songwriter, and started to pursue that path.
PC: What emotions were you feeling when you were preparing to release music for the first time with your East Nashville Blues album?
WPH: Mainly gratitude. That was my first full-length official studio album with all Nashville professionals, and I was grateful to be able to work with such talented musicians. I was blown away when the album reached the top 200 on the Americana Radio Charts. I think that album will continue to hold up very well over the years to come, and I’m very proud of it!
PC: Your most recent EP Blue features a handful of cover songs with the common theme of “blue.” Why did you decide to put a record like that together, and what went in to the song choices for the EP?
WPH: I really like the idea of themes in music. For me, I wanted to honor some of my songwriting heroes, and after picking two or three songs with “Blue” in the title, it just made sense to me.
PC: Why did you decide to release “Jacqueline” as the lead single from your upcoming Living With Ghosts album?
WPH: I have been playing “Jacqueline” live basically since I wrote it, and it has always gotten a great response from audiences. They would come up to me after the show singing the song back to me, so I knew it had to be on the record. I think the main reason that I picked it first is because I am notorious for writing sad songs, and I wanted to get a happy one out there!
PC: In just over two weeks since its release, “Jacqueline” is close to being your most streamed song on Spotify. Is there a certain level of validation/confirmation that comes with have that level of success on your most recent single?
WPH: It has exceeded my expectations, honestly. I understand that careers grow and obviously Spotify has also become even more popular since my last release, but it definitely gives me a certain level of validation! Here’s hoping for the same with the next single.
PC: “Anne Marie” is the second song released from Living With Ghosts. Why did you decide to have that song follow “Jaqueline”? Can you talk about the inspiration behind “Anne Marie”?
WPH: Speaking of themes! “Anne Marie” is probably one of the most radio friendly songs on the record. I wasn’t sure about putting it on the record initially because I felt like it might not fit with the rest of the songs, but my producer Brett Stewart saw the vision clearer than I did. The inspiration came from a girl I met in Kentucky who I ended up becoming very close with, but she refused to date me because of long-distance. So I wrote this song to try to convince her to move to Nashville.
PC: On your last album East Nashville Blues, you had several top-notch Nashville musicians playing on the album. On Living With Ghosts, you have several top Louisiana musicians playing. What went into that decision, and how did it influence the sound on the album?
WPH: I’m originally from Louisiana and came up playing music with a band called The Rayo Brothers out of Lafayette. Touring with a band is expensive, and the guys knew my music well from sharing so many bills, so I began asking them to back me up on Gulf Coast runs. Living With Ghosts is really about the ghosts of the past and I really wanted to incorporate my Louisiana Roots on this record, so it was a no brainer to ask them to join me. Jim McGee is a South Louisiana guitarist who plays on the record as well. Fats Kaplin from John Prine’s band also joined on pedal steel, fiddle, accordion and theremin (yes theremin!).
PC: What can listeners expect to hear on the Living With Ghosts album?
WPH: A little bit of Nashville and a little bit of Louisiana mixed in with sad songs and playful lyrics. My hope is to make you laugh, cry and click repeat.
PC: What are your plans for the rest of 2019 and beyond?
WPH: Lots of touring and radio visits. The music video for “Jacqueline” releases in August and I will be hitting the road to promote the album with stops all over the South and beyond. I’m also recording another music video and releasing a few more singles! The best way to stay up to date and see where I’m playing is to visit www.willpayneharrison.com!
*Images courtesy of Will Payne Harrison Facebook page*