Travis Feutz love country music. He appreciate the three chords and the truth motto the genre’s greats lived by, even if their truths didn’t tie a bow on everything happily. It’s that same real, raw honesty that he’s injected into his debut EP, Country Music Forever.
Comprised of six original tracks and a cover of George Jones’ “Choices,” Country Music Forever is a strong introduction for the Missouri native, and as he says on the spoken word title track, Feutz did his part to keep the circle unbroken with the EP.
We chatted with Feutz about falling in love with country music, his heroes, many of the songs on Country Music Forever, what he hopes listeners take away from the EP and more!
Pro Country: Your bio mentions seeking honest and sincere songs similar to those of your heroes. Who are some of those heroes and songs that have had an impact on you?
Travis Feutz: I think I have always been drawn to artists who aren’t perfect; artists who take the longer road because it allows them to make the art they choose to make. I think of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson as being strong inspirations. Not just for the songs they have written, but how they made their own way. They knew that the only thing that really mattered was the song. Everything else was just window dressing. I believe country music is so powerful because it doesn’t sugarcoat anything. There may not be a happy ending, but, we find comfort in those sad songs because they let us know that we aren’t the only ones going through hard times.
PC: What went into the decision to release “Missouri Line” as the lead single from your debut EP, Country Music Forever?
TF: I knew pretty early on during pre-production that “Missouri Line” was going to be first single off of my EP. Once we were done tracking the song, I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that it should be the lead single. I discussed with my team the possibility of other options, but they all agreed that it should be “Missouri Line.”
PC: “Missouri Line” features rising artist Crystal Leigh. How did Crystal become involved with the track and why was she the right choice for the song?
TF: I met Crystal back in 2018 I believe. I was heading home from Nashville, but a major snow storm up north kept me in town for a couple extra days. My producer, who also producers Crystal, invited me to her show at Douglas Corner. I remember being blown away by her performance. Her songwriting was superb and her voice was heavenly. Fast forward to 2020, during pre-production, I presented “Missouri Line” to my producer, Stephen. I mentioned to him I would really like to ask Crystal to sing on it. He said he would reach out, but no promises because of scheduling conflicts. I didn’t press it, but I knew she would be perfect for the song. We started production in August 2020. When I arrived at the studio, he gave me the schedule for the week, and Crystal was on the list to do vocals for “Missouri Line.” I was so pumped! It was amazing watching her work in the studio. I think she nailed it on the first take.
PC: “Country Music Forever” opens out its EP with a spoken word appreciation of country music. Why was it important to you to include a track of that nature on the EP and to have it lead off its EP?
TF: The idea for “Country Music Forever” came at the very end of the process. I felt like we were missing something. I wanted to set the stage for what the album was about, but more importantly, my thoughts on country music, so I had the idea of doing a spoken word. It took me a couple hours to write it out and come up with the music. Once the project was complete, I knew that “Country Music Forever” would be the album title.
PC: “Life Without Parole” is serving as the second single from Country Music Forever, and is our favorite song on the EP which likens being a traditional country music artist and prisoners. Can you talk about the inspiration behind that song?
TF: Well, thank you for saying that. I really appreciate the kind words. “Life Without Parole” was the last song written for the project. I read Merle Haggard’s autobiography, and there was a line from the book that always stuck with me. He was talking about touring and the price of fame. He was talking about living in his tour bus nonstop and how he basically traded “one prison for another.” That idea always stuck with me. It gave me the idea to write a song about how the life of a country singer can feel like a prison. Instead of doing the obvious, I tried to get creative with it and use a lot of word play. It always felt like a single to me.
PC: You included a cover of George Jones’ “Choices” as the closing track on Country Music Forever. What went into the decision to cut “Choices,” and is there a level of pressure you feel when tackling such a monumental song by a monumental artist like George Jones to do justice to the song?
TF: Absolutely. I was very hesitant to sing a George Jones song. There’s a famous quote that I’ll probably botch, but people used to say, “when George sings a song, it stays sung.” My producer and I discussed doing a cover song. He thought it might be a good idea. I knew if I did, I needed the right song. I think I came to the studio ready to do a Haggard song. We worked it up and it just wasn’t feeling right. The next morning, I brought a Waylon song to the table and he looked at me and said, “that’s not right either.” He said I needed pick a song that I wished I would have written. “Choices” was the first song that popped into my head. He liked the song and thought it would be a good fit, and we were off and running. I knew we were never going to top what George did with that song, so we focused on making it my own. I’m very happy with how it turned out.
PC: What do you hope listeners take away from Country Music Forever after listening all the way through?
TF: I hope people hear an honest country record. We didn’t want any bells or whistles. We want the music and lyrics to stand on their own.
PC: Along with promoting Country Music Forever, what are your plans for the rest of 2021 and going into 2022?
TF: It will be more for 2022, but in the process of booking shows and possible tours. Also, begin writing for my next project.
*Travis’s music is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*