If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times; at its core, country music is about three chords and the truth, and with his sophomore album, Kyle Fields made it a point to showcase that.
Though they may not all be his personal truths, Fields delivered a “real” album that came from true places and tells stories that listeners can relate to, and it is already paying its dividends.
The two singles released before the album earned more than 40,000 streams on Spotify combined, and the rest of the album is already receiving great praise from his supporters.
We caught up with Kyle to talk all about the album, many of the songs on it, what he hopes listeners take away from it and more!
Pro Country: In our last interview, you mentioned that you had a more clear idea of the sound you wanted with The Dues Are Paid. Can you talk about the sonic goals you had for this album as you were going in to record it, and how the presence of producer Buddy Hyatt and guitar legend Brent Mason allowed you to tap in to that sound?
Kyle Fields: Brent is a pickin’ machine. It definitely wouldn’t have been possible without both of those guys and the other musicians on the album. I wanted this album to sound like a 90s country album, and those guys played on a majority of that stuff. They got the sound I wanted and took it to a different level. Buddy is truly great at what he does as both a producer and a musician. He’s also a good friend; I already can’t wait to get back in the studio and start on the next one [laughs].
PC: Did the success of “Big Memories” and “My Appalachian Lady” before the release of The Dues Are Paid give you a level of confidence about how listeners were reacting to the sound that you had identified for the album?
KF: Yeah, both of those songs got nothing but great feedback, and the streaming numbers were higher on those two songs than anything else I had out there previously, so it definitely made me feel good and encouraged. Everyone seems to enjoy the album so far, I just wish it could be heard by more people. It’s a country album, so you know they won’t play it on the “country” radio stations [laughs].
PC: “The Dues Are Paid” kicks off its album with a song that paints a picture of your artistic journey and the road to success. Why did you decide to lead the album off with that song and have it serve as the title track?
KF: I just love that track and the way it kicks in at the chorus. I thought it would be a badass way to open up the album. I guess also because that may be the most personal song on the album for me; almost everything in there is true. The part about “almost every stage across the bluegrass state” is a little far-fetched, but still true; I’ve played bar stages all over the state of Kentucky. The playing for “tips and empty chairs “ is definitely still true today during winter time here in Nashville, a lot of times I’m just sitting there singing to the bartenders and the chairs [laughs], but it’s still fun.
PC: “The Walls” is one of our favorite songs on The Dues Are Paid. Can you talk about the inspiration behind that song?
KF: I wrote that with my buddy Adam Foit four or five years ago. I think we really just had a good buzz and wanted to write a really sad country song. Mission accomplished [laughs]. I just love sad tunes, man. They make you feel the lyrics.
PC: “Line” talks about needing to make a change in life. Is there an autobiographical aspect to that song at all? If so, what brought about that revelation?
KF: I wrote that song with my buddy Coleman Saunders, but yes, I believe in God and have felt like a lot of times in my life, I wasn’t living the best life and was making bad choices. I used to drink a lot and do a lot of stupid stuff, so there’s definitely a lot of relation to it on my end. I had a health scare last month and spent seven days in ICU. It was definitely a wakeup call. It made me realize how lucky I am, how precious life is and that I needed to take better care of myself. That wasn’t what inspired the song; it was written before that and it’s not really about me directly, but looking back after that, it’s almost like I was living that song. Overall, I think the message of the song is something a lot of people can relate to because we all sin every day and we all know that we need to improve ourselves in one way or another, no matter it be: religion, health, addiction; it’s a thin line
PC: “Wilder Days” immediately follows “Line” and talks about having no regrets. Why did you decide to have those songs follow one another?
KF: I did that on purpose. I thought it would be cool to put those two songs in direct order [laughs]. This song is saying “I used to be rowdy, now I’ve calmed down a lot more, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing along the way.”
PC: “Leaving Pike County” has been a song that a lot of listeners have called their favorite on the album. What do you think it is about that song that is allowing it to connect with listeners?
KF: I’m born and raised in Greenup County, Kentucky, but my dad’s side of the family is originally from Pike County, Kentucky. I’ve spent a lot of time down there working in that area; not just in Pike County, but Floyd, Magoffin, and also Knott County were also all part of my areas that I covered at my old job at Cintas. I was down there four days a week every week for about two years. I used to go around and deliver uniforms to a lot of the coal mines down that way, and a lot of those mines are completely shut down now, putting lots of folks out of work. I think the people from that area feel a connection to it because we are all kind of living it. For the people of eastern Kentucky, West Virginia and parts of southern Ohio, jobs are few and far between. A lot of times, people have to leave their homes and head north to find work. I can give you a great example of the type of stuff I’m talking about: we are facing a opioid epidemic like nowhere else in the world; people are dying from it every day. We are also the “cancer capital” of the world, and a couple weeks ago they announced they were shutting down Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Greenup County that employees a lot of people in our area. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, and no matter if it’s a Republican or Democrat in office, it seems like “Washington don’t give a damn” because there’s a lot of people in that tri-state area that are struggling. Nothing ever gets solved; the jobs get taken from them and they don’t get replaced with anything else. The people of Appalachia are always forgotten about. Sorry, I get fired up about it and go on rants sometimes [laughs].
PC: What do you hope listeners take away from The Dues Are Paid after listening all the way through?
KF: Just something real. Country music is about life, and I think this album is about life. Not every song on this album is about me; most of them are, but even if they aren’t, they still come from a real place.
PC: Along with promoting The Dues Are Paid, what are your plans for 2020?
KF: No big plans yet. I definitely want to do a little traveling this year. I’d like to take a trip out west to Wyoming, Montana and Colorado. I’d also like to get down to Texas sometime this year and check it out. Other than that, I’ll probably just be playing country music or somewhere spending time with my friends and family!
*Images courtesy of Kyle Fields*