The last two years have been kind to the Davisson Brothers Band.
With a nod from Rolling Stone, millions of streams/views across media platforms, a continuously growing and passionate fanbase under their belts, it’s hard to deny that they’re a band on the rise.
Those two years have also brought forth sonic experimentation that sees the band getting “outside of the box,” as they’ve tapped into bluegrass and straight ahead country, all the while, coming back to the badass, country rocking sound that they’re known and loved for with their newest single, “Pond Fishing.”
We chatted with Chris and Donnie Davisson about those two years of success, the music they’ve released in that span, how they’ve adjusted to an empty performance schedule, staying creative and more!
PC: Prior to the release of your sophomore album, Fighter, Rolling Stone named you one of 10 New Country Artists to Watch. How validating was that recognition, and how important was gaining that momentum going into the release?
Davisson Brothers Band: It was great. Growing up, Rolling Stone was our source of all the new music. It’s a very respectable magazine, so to be included on that list did a lot for our career. It was very humbling to get acknowledged for the hard work we were putting in and to get a pat on the back from them. It doesn’t get any better than that. We’ve worked our entire lives in the music industry, and coming out of West Virginia, it was so hard to get into Nashville. To get that nod, it validated everything we did. It teaches our nephews that hard work pays off. When we go back to our home town, they have that article hanging in the gas stations [laughs].
PC: You had your greatest streaming success with your last album, Fighter, in 2018. What did being able to tangibly see the success of songs like “Po’ Boyz,” “Didn’t Come Here to Leave” and “Black Like Cash” mean to you?
DBB: We would show up to cities we had never played in, and the entire crowd would be singing our songs back to us. It was amazing! We’ve always done “Country Roads” because it’s the West Virginia anthem, but “Po’ Boyz” started getting more momentum from the audience than “Country Roads.” After we released that record, things really changed. The fan base got bigger and stronger, the best feeling you can have is an artist is having 20,000 fans singing your song back to you like that.
PC: Fighter was produced by Keith Stegall (Alan Jackson, Zac Brown Band). What was it like to be in the studio with Keith?
DBB: He’s a genius. For us, the studio is all about the atmosphere and getting chemistry in the room, and the first day we met Keith, he made it so much easier and better with his knowledge. He’s a legend, he’s done it in his entire life, and he’s also an awesome singer, songwriter, artist and musician on top of being an amazing producer. It was a breath of fresh air to work with somebody with his knowledge. He hears things that I don’t normally hear, and makes songs so much better. It doesn’t get much better than that.
PC: When it came time to release new music after the success of Fighter, is there a level of pressure you felt, internally or externally, to match or surpass that success with upcoming releases?
DBB: Oh yeah, you have to work twice as hard to try to beat it [laughs]. With every song you write, you’re trying to beat the song before it. I think the music we’ve been putting out is just true and honest to the Davisson Brothers. You just try to write about what’s happening with you and what people will like. I love to see people smile at our shows having a good time and dancing along. You just have to keep working hard at it and digging a little deeper each time, and I think it naturally goes with the flow in the direction that it’s supposed to go.
PC: To your point of that internal competition, how encouraging was the success of “Unbreak You” on the heels of Fighter?
DBB: It was great! We wrote that song with Dan Smiley and James LeBlanc. Keith had set up some writes for us, and we knew Dan as a friend, but we had never written with him before. We decided to go somewhere we’d never been before, and I had that melody and guitar part in my head, and they brought a different approach to it. It got us out of the box. It hit people with emotions that we hadn’t really dug into before, and it was a totally different song for the Davisson Brothers. It was really neat to watch it and see how it worked. We were a little nervous about it because it was different from what we normally put out, but it ended up turning up great, and Keith did an awesome job on the production!
PC: “Dark as a Dungeon” is quite different than many of the songs you’d previously released, featuring an acoustic, harmony-driven melody. How much pride do you take in having a diverse sound, keeping in touch with your influences and staying true to yourselves as artists?
DBB: We were in Australia on stage in front of 70,000 fans; we were the international headliner at a festival, and we stripped down the set in the middle of our big, rockin’ show. We were looking at each other trying to figure out what we were going to play, and that was a song we’ve been singing since we were kids. We used to do a lot of Bluegrass festivals when we were younger, and we heard that song from my family. One of our reps from Sony in Australia said that they wanted to record the song, so we got back to Nashville, got in the studio, and Keith said that we should do it stripped down with just a guitar, upright bass and a fiddle, and we were all about it. We cut it the same session we did “Unbreak You,” so we had two different versions of the Davisson Brothers in one session [laughs]. It was amazing for “Dark As a Dungeon” to come out, and then we started getting some feedback from people in the Bluegrass community giving us a nod. We’ve been in that world our whole lives, but we’d never recorded anything like that, so it was a great night of respect from some of our musical heroes.
PC: Your single, “Greatest Show on Earth,” was a duet with Australian singer/songwriter Amber Lawrence. How did you hook up with Amber, and what was the experience like of writing the song on Zoom and seeing it come to fruition?
DBB: We met Amber the first time we were in Australia. “Po’ Boyz” was climbing the charts over there, and they invited us for the CMC Rocks Festival, which is a huge Festival over there. The first night we got there, we went to the Awards Show, and Amber was the first person we met when we got out of the vehicle. We walked the red carpet, and she was a sweetheart. She was the sweetest person you could meet, and she kind of just took us under her wing. She also has her own syndicated iHeartRadio show, so she was doubling up as an artist and doing interviews on the red carpet. The next night when we were doing the festival, we were backstage getting ready to go on, and we asked Amber if she’d like to come out and sing with us, and we asked if she knew “Country Roads” [laughs]. She came out on stage and sang it with us, and we hit it off with her; we’ve been best friends since then. We did an interview on Amber’s show, and she grabbed the guitar and played “Po’ Boyz,” so when we got done with the interview, we were thinking that we should write a song with Amber. We set up that Zoom write with her and Rob Snyder, and that was our first ever Zoom write. Amber had the idea of “Greatest Show on Earth,” and we all thought that nobody was going to beat that title. It didn’t take much time to write it because it was just so good. When you’re in the moment and you’re feeling it, the lyrics and melodies just keep coming. It just clicked; that’s the magic of writing a good song. I think it had a lot to do with what’s going on in the world; everybody’s looking forward to the greatest show on Earth when all of this is over.
PC: Why did you feel that your newest single, “Pond Fishing,” was the right follow up to “Greatest Show on Earth”?
DBB: “Pond Fishing” earned its release. We wrote that song a little while back, and normally, the procedure would be to go demo something, mess with it in a rehearsal room, and then maybe record it. When we wrote “Pond Fishing,” it was in our live show the next week. We put it at the beginning of the show, and then we decided to close the show with it because it’s so powerful. When we had it in the beginning, we had to come back with a slow song right after because it was just so in your face [laughs]. Within two weeks, it was our show closer, we toured with it for a year, and when we went back to Nashville, we knew we had to record it because of the response it was getting. Keith took us in and we recorded it, and we’re so happy that we did! It has so much traction coming out of the gates; it’s been our best release ever in the first couple of weeks. It’s been very successful for us! It’s just been a different song for us. We live and breathe every note and lyric of that song.
PC: “Pond Fishing,” is a good timing, country rocking song. Can you talk about the inspiration behind the song? What was it like seeing it come to life in your live shows?
DBB: We had been on the road touring for several months. We usually try to get some down time around hunting and fishing season back in West Virginia to spend with our family. Once you’re out in the touring world doing radio, interviews and meeting people after shows, you end up getting in a rut where you go to bed about four in the morning, then back on the road again and in some other town at 10am. We had come off the road, and we had gotten to West Virginia the night before. We got our hunting clothes out in a hurry, because I had to meet my buddy at five in the morning. We got to the property we were hunting on, and I reached in my pocket and realized I left my phone in the truck, but I told him I’d get it later. A snow storm hit us, so the hunting was just about over. The only thing I could see was a pond down in a holler at the bottom of the meadow, and the song and melody just hit me. Normally, I would have my phone where I could hum a melody or write some lyrics, so for about four hours, I sat and hummed and repeated the song in my head [laughs]. When my buddy showed up, I said that we had to get back to my phone, and he couldn’t talk to me until I got back there so I could remember the song. For about 20 minutes, we didn’t talk, and then I got to my phone and called Donnie, and we put the rest of the lyrics to it. Within a week, we were playing it live.
PC: Touring has largely been put on hold given the current circumstances of the world. As a band that tours well upwards of 200 dates per year, how have you been able to keep busy, and what has the adjustment been like for you?
DBB: It hit us so hard. Because we tour non-stop, it was like a train putting the brakes on. We played our last show on St Patrick’s Day, and we had no idea what was going to happen. When we played that show, we had a weird sense of wondering when we were going to play the next one. At first, we thought it would just be a month or two, but it was any immediate screeching halt. We usually miss out on so much family stuff and spending time in the woods doing outdoor stuff that we like to do, so the first thing we did was getting in the woods and did some trout fishing and turkey hunting. After about a month of that every day, you start going a little mad [laughs]. It’s been nice, but we’re ready to get back on the highway!
PC: Of the things you can control, what are your plans for the rest of the year and going into 2021?
DBB: We’re getting ready to get back in the studio. We’ve been writing a lot. This down time has given us an opportunity to get creative in different ways, and do a lot of things we normally wouldn’t do. We’re going to go into the studio and lay some stuff down. We’ve been collaborating with a lot of artist buddies who aren’t touring either, so we’re getting to see a lot of those guys, when usually, the only time we get to see them is at a festival. We’re getting to do some things with people outside of the box. We may end up recording something with them or we may not, but it’s been a good thing for us creatively.
PC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
DBB: There’s an online fishing derby going on right now for “Pond Fishing” where you can win a bunch of prizes and a bunch of our merch! All you have to do is use #PondFishingDerby and tag us, @DavissonBros, and @PlanoFishing!
*Feature image by Justin Mayotte*
**Find Davisson Brothers Band music featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!**
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