We’ll go ahead and say it now; remember the name Jamie Baxter. If you’re not on the bandwagon yet, there’s no better time than now to jump on.
With the release of his debut EP Memories Don’t Fade Here, Baxter is making waves. The EP, which features Baxter’s vocal exploding through the speakers throughout the five-song release, debuted at number 8 on the iTunes country chart. At its peak, Memories Don’t Fade Here sat above Chris Stapleton’s Traveler and Tyler Childers’ Country Squire.
Read along as Baxter describes sticking to his traditional country guns on Memories Don’t Fade Here, all of the songs on the EP, his plans for 2020 and more!
Pro Country: Who were some of your biggest musical influences that have shaped your sound?
Jamie Baxter: My favorite artist of all time is Merle Haggard. Other than country, guys like Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin were big influences. That’s what my dad listened to a lot. My grandpa was in a barbershop quartet, so that’s how I got introduced to that kind of music. When I got into country music, it was Keith Whitley, Merle Haggard, Shenandoah, and Restless Heart; I really liked that sound and style of music.
PC: When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?
JB: There was never really a moment. I always liked entertaining. I was in drama class in high school. I started playing the guitar and writing songs after high school. When I was 21, I made my first trip to Nashville, and I fell in love with the city. I knew I wanted to move here at some point. It took me four or five years to get down here, but I’ve been down gere ever since.
PC: Your first single “Redneck Action Hero” features a more country rocking sound, while your next EP Memories Don’t Fade Here leans much more traditional in sound. Was that intentional, or something that happened naturally when you were recording the EP?
JB: “Redneck Action Hero” was really cool. I recorded that song and released it a few years ago. I love that song, but after I released it and got to talking to my producer, I decided I wanted to do an EP with a more traditional sound and a 90s country vibe. We used fiddle and steel on every track, and the band that played on my new EP played on a lot of the hits that I love growing up. We had Brent Mason on guitar, who came up with amazing riffs like “Chattahoochee” and “A Little Past Little Rock,” so that was a great experience.
PC: Why did you decide to release “Get a Lotta Living Done” as the lead single from Memories Don’t Fade Here?
JB: I wanted to record that song first because I always loved it. My buddy Kevin Denney co-wrote that song with Alex Dooley and Tom Botkin, and it’s just a great story song, and I wanted to get something out there of that quality. I thought that song would build some excitement for the rest of the EP.
PC: “Memories Don’t Fade Here” is one of our favorite songs on its EP. Why did you decide to name the EP after that song?
JB: That’s a song I wrote about my hometown, and a lot of people said that they were really loving that song. I honestly didn’t think anything about it; I wrote that song about 6 years ago, and people were telling me that I needed to record it. After we finished the record and got the track back, I loved the way it sounded, and I knew wanted to do a music video for it. The town where I’m from is called Coal Grove, Ohio. There’s never been a music video shot there, so it was pretty cool experience [laughs].
PC: “Neon Grave” is our favorite song on the EP. How important was it for you to stand up for the traditional country music sound with that song?
JB: I’ve always loved that song. It’s really important to me. It’s just who I am, I love the traditional country music sound. A lot of the new stuff is what it is; it’s commercial. We need it all, but I just wanted to stick to the traditional sound. That song paints a picture of me if I was in a bar and the country music I would want to hear.
PC: “She Settled For a Cowboy” was a song written by David Norris. What was it about that song that drew you to record it?
JB: David’s a guy I write with. We wrote “Bar Room Halo” together. He pitched that song to me, and I told him that it was the countriest song I had heard in a long time. It reminded me of something that Chris LeDoux or Garth Brooks would have recorded in the early 90s. I love the vocal range on it too, so I knew I really wanted to cut that song.
PC: Sonically, “Bar Room Halo” sounds like a mix of a Travis Tritt sound with the red dirt sound of Cody Johnson. Can you talk about the sonic inspiration you drew from with that song?
JB: That song is probably the one that’s a little different than the rest. When I came up with the melody for that song, I probably had someone like Travis Tritt or Charlie Daniels in mind with the whiskey-soaked melody. The harmonica that you hear on there was played by Charlie McCoy; the same guy that played on Elvis records and on “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”. My producer said he was going to bring him in the play on it, and it was awesome! He nailed it.
PC: Memories Don’t Fade Here debuted at number 8 on the iTunes country charts. What did it mean to you as an independent artist to receive that level of support from your fans and supporters?
JB: It was unreal. I didn’t think it would chart that high. I don’t have any radio play or support other than just social media and the people that have been following me forever, so to chart in the top 10, that was a big deal. It stayed on the charts for five days, so it was really cool to see my name up there with people that I admire so much.
PC: What do you hope listeners take away from the Memories Don’t Fade Here EP after listening all the way through?
JB: I hope they take away that I’m serious about country music and its roots. I want to release country music that I love. I don’t ever want to pander to any kind of commercial sound, because I want people to know that I’m real. I want people to believe what I’m singing. I’m not going to cut a song just for notoriety. if it comes back to that, I’ll just go back to being a nurse [laughs].
PC: What are your plans going in to 2020?
JB: I’m going to lay low for the rest of the 2019 and start recording again in February, and have a new project by the end of 2020. I think it’s going to be a full-length album. I’m just going to keep it country and try to make an impact on the business. If we do, that’d be great, if we don’t, I’ll keep at it anyway [laughs].