Sometimes the best stories are the ones that force readers and listeners to scratch beneath the surface to find their true meaning. Seth Jones not only writes with that intent, but after the successful release of his album Puzzle Man, listeners came to expect more on its follow up, Whiskey Attitude, and Jones once again delivered.
Whiskey Attitude delivers an impressive number of tracks, 16, but not lost is the substance; Jones still has a lot to say, and he does a damn good job saying it. More impressive is that each track was penned solely by Jones, something that was important to him in preparation of the album because of his admiration for artists who do the same.
We caught up with Jones to talk about following up Puzzle Man, many of the songs on Whiskey Attitude, what he hopes listeners take away from it, his big plans for new music this year and more!
PC: You released your debut album, Puzzle Man, in December of 2019. What has the response from family, friends and fans since its release meant to you?
SJ: It means everything to me. In a practical sense, it confirms that I put together something that people truly enjoy. I’ve released music in the past that garnered a low quantity of responses, which I believe was in part due to the lack of quality. Not only have family and friends responded positively to Puzzle Man, but they told others to listen, which is the best way to gain fans.
PC: You’ve said that your new album, Whiskey Attitude follows in the same thematic vein as Puzzle Man. Is there a level of pressure you were feeling, internally or externally, to match the response you got from Puzzle Man with Whiskey Attitude?
SJ: I honestly felt no pressure in regards to the response I would get from Whiskey Attitude. In a weird way, I just wanted to release it and move onto the next project! 16 songs is a lot, and it added so much more work that I started regretting the volume of songs! When I released Whiskey Attitude, my mindset was, “I know these songs are good and I’ll at LEAST be accepted by those who enjoyed Puzzle Man,” and I believe that has been the case.
PC: “Whiskey Attitude” is one of our favorite songs on its album. What went into the decision to have it serve as the title track?
SJ: I didn’t know what I’d call the album until close to the end of the production. Initially, it was going to be called “These Dreams” with a dirtied up Waylone-esque style picture of me playing my guitar, but that plan obviously changed. “Puzzle Man” really set the stage for the entire Puzzle Man album. I don’t feel like Whiskey Attitude did that AS MUCH. I thought the song had a great sound, and also lyrically brought elements of regret, hope, dreams, reconciliation, self-defilement and other elements present throughout the album.
PC: Kat Hasty sings background vocals on several songs on Whiskey Attitude, but is featured in the duet “Know What I Mean.” How did you discover Kat and why did you feel she would be a good fit for not only this song, but lending her voice to several on the album?
SJ: Me and Kat were social media buddies for years before she released Drowning In Dreams. She was kinda goofy online, and so was I, so I liked her. I didn’t really know she was serious about music for a long time, but I knew her voice was awesome. After she started releasing her songs, I thought, “Wow, she is legit!” I quickly asked her to do a duet with me. She said yes immediately, fortunately! I didn’t even have a duet for her when I asked her. One night I got drunk wrote “Know What I Mean” and “Break Our Love” in an hour. The next day I played them again and thought “Know What I Mean” is a cool song that would work as a duet. Kat did great, of course, and it’s a fun song. I love playing it even acoustically by myself.
PC: “These Dreams” is the top-streamed song on Whiskey Attitude so far. What do you think it is about the song that has allowed it to connect with listeners the way it has?
SJ: You know, it has a bit of a Cody Jinks sound to it, and people like when I lean that way. “Seven Deadly” had a Jinks sound, and that’s a favorite of many people I know. It also helps that it was added to some of the more popular Texas music playlists.
PC: “When I Can’t Pretend” is our favorite track on Whiskey Attitude. Can you talk about the inspiration behind the song?
SJ: I’m glad y’all like it because it might be my favorite too. It’s obviously out of the box in its delivery with the talking parts and whatnot. Lyrically, it’s pretty typical Seth Jones in that it is a tortured mind and guilt associated with being with someone who you feel would have a better life without you. It touches on suicidal thoughts as well, which I write about way more often than people realize. Oftentimes it’s hidden in the prose.
PC: Several artists have told us that the last song on an album is one of the most important. Why did you decide to close Whiskey Attitude with “Tumble Down”? Is sequencing something you pay a lot of attention to?
SJ: I honestly think “Tumble Down” is the best love song I’ve ever written, because those are all stories, and they are also really weird! I’ve been with my wife since we were 14, and we really did plan a picnic and make a bunch of sandwiches, and then we saw my mom driving up and we hid it all without ever saying a word. We just KNEW we’d be embarrassed if she knew what we were doing. It’s just a personal song in that regard and I think it’s the first song I wrote that brought my wife to heavy tears. I wrote it several years ago.
PC: Whiskey Attitude was named in OK Country’s top 10 albums of 2020, and you were nominated for Country Underdog’s Emerging Artist of the Year and Album of the year. What has the support and response to Whiskey Attitude meant to you in just a few months since its release? How validating is that recognition?
SJ: I am extremely grateful for the support I get. I love OK Country, I love Country Underdog, I love Pro Country, and I love all of the other blogs and podcasts I’ve been a part of. Those people are the ones who really make me seem more legitimate to music listeners.
And I honestly don’t seek validation as much as I seek support in general. I am very confident in my songwriting. I write more than anyone I know. I have written so many bad songs to get to the good ones. I don’t feel like validation does much for my psyche, but SUPPORT from people always makes me so happy. When people choose to make my music part of their life in some way, it blows my mind.
PC: Do you have a favorite song on Whiskey Attitude? If so, why is it so special to you?
SJ: As I mentioned earlier, “When I Can’t Pretend” is probably my favorite. I also love “Lonely, Lonely Self” because it makes me think of an Old 97s song. “Better Off Alone” makes me think of a Bayside song due to the extreme spite in the lyrics. And I love “Oh My Dog” because I love my dogs!
PC: You were a solo writer on all 16 songs on Whiskey Attitude. How important is it for you to get as much of “yourself” into your music as possible and to tell your stories from your perspective?
SJ: I could do an entire interview on this subject alone, but I’ll keep it short! I love songwriters who write songs by themselves. Those songs aren’t just truly personal, but they add specific situations and quirks to their songs. Rhett Miller, Jason Isbell and Tyler Childers are just three examples that quickly come to my mind. You can tell the lyrics are from their brain. Their unique brain constructed this song from start to finish. I love writing songs like that because I know that nobody else could have written the song that I wrote because nobody has lived my life or has my weird brain.
Full disclosure: I plan to do more co-writing in 2021, for various reasons, but I will always be a big time solo writer. I love it.
PC: What do you hope listeners take away from Whiskey Attitude after listening all the way through?
SJ: I hope they identify with some of it and I hope they enjoy the music. But most of all, I hope they spent some effort listening to the lyrics, thinking about them deeply and trying to decipher things a bit. My lyrics are layered by nature. I don’t write many background music songs. I want people to really dive in DEEP! There are so many songs written for surface level listening. I write deep. I want people to dive deep and give these songs proper thought.
PC: You mentioned on social media at the end of last year that you began work on your third album in December. What information can you give about the new music you’re working on? What can listeners expect to hear?
SJ: Well I EXPECT it to be an 8 tracks album. So, half the size of Whiskey Attitude. But the songs are good! Also, I will have TWO duets with Hannah Hokit. She is amazing, very talented and a really cool, funny person. We had fun in the studio. I love Hannah Hokit! I joked to her that it’s almost her album since 1/4th of the songs are gonna be duets with her! I do plan on doing an acoustic album as well. Also, I do have fans in my FiddlePunk music, so I plan to make another FiddlePunk album, which a handful of people are very excited about. There is also a CHANCE for a rock and roll side project album. We’ll see. I’m hustling this year. I don’t think I have many years left, so I wanna make them count.
PC: With live music being largely canceled, what has the adjustment been like for you? How have you stayed busy?
SJ: Wanna hear something wild? I’ve played more shows during COVID than I did pre-COVID. I’m not sure why, but I have. As far as staying busy, I work in physical therapy as a day job and I work HARD to get the money to make this music. I also write plenty. So between my influx of shows, my writing and medical field work, and my constant networking efforts, I am definitely not bored.
PC: Of the things you can control, what are your plans for 2021?
SJ: Keep writing, release multiple albums and grow my fan base!
PC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
SJ: Pro Country is so thorough and awesome! I mean it when I say y’all are top notch at what you do and I feel very blessed to be involved. Thank you so much and thanks to my supporters. I’m nothing without y’all.
*Seth’s music is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*
Whiskey attitude and Puzzle Man’s lyrics are incredibly relatable. My favorite songwriter.