Josiah Spicer Leans into Genuine Country and Western Sound on Debut, Self-Titled EP

It’s often said that you have to look back to go forward, and if recent trends in country music are any indication, more and more artists are harkening back to the songs and artists of yesteryear that made the genre great in the first place.

Josiah Spicer spent his upbringing loving many of those songs and artists; the way artists we know on a last name basis: Haggard, Jones, Owens and more presented songs that made listeners feel them, and the stone-cold country instrumentation they used to present them was the icing on the cake.

Five years removed from the Marine Corps, Spicer is showcasing his love for those artists and their true country music sound with his debut, self-titled EP, comprised of five songs dripping with fiddle and steel guitar that tell stories from the most recent stages of his life.

We chatted with Spicer all about his EP, as well as his country and western influences, songwriting, new music and more!

Pro Country: Your bio mentions drawing influence from artists like Merle Haggard, Buck Owens and George Jones, among others, on your songwriting and sound. What was it about their way of telling stories and presenting songs that connects with you?

Josiah Spicer: These artists, among others, have a way of drawing you into a song and making you feel a part of the story being told, whether they wrote the song or just sang it. I have always wanted to not just tell a story, but to write something that resonates with people on a personal level and make them feel as connected to the songs as I am. I am still working at it! 

PC: You were discharged from the Marine Corps in 2018. After your time serving, what was it about music that lead you down a path of making it on your own and pursuing it as a career? 

JS: At the time I got out of the Marines, I had been playing guitar for almost ten years. I attempted to write earlier on, but nothing seemed to click for me. Once I was out, I really dove into the kind of country and western music I grew up listening to and started to draw on those influences. I would write a verse or two here and there, or maybe a chorus, but little by little, I got better at piecing together what I was trying to communicate through song. I have written far worse songs than I have good ones, but every day, I have grown more and more as a writer, and am still trying to figure it out along the way. 

Since I picked up the guitar now over thirteen years ago, music is always something I have wanted to do. Whether that means making a living or not, music has been and will always be my dream. If I never make a penny writing songs that resonate with me, I would still be fulfilled. 

PC: The same year you got out of the Marines, you released your debut single, “The Road.” What emotions were you feeling as you were releasing music for the first time and having that song out into the world? 

JS: “The Road” represents the beginning of my songwriting journey, as it is the first complete song I had written. I had been a fan of the Steeldrivers bluegrass band since I had discovered them in 2015, and it was that same year that Chris Stapleton released his first solo record. My wife, parents and I went to a show of his in Anaheim when I got out of the Marines in August of 2018, and I was truly inspired. Marty Stuart opened the show, and seeing him perform live reminded me of all the songs of his I had heard and loved growing up. The morning after the concert, I wrote “The Road.” It isn’t the best song, but I felt good about it after many attempts at songwriting. I showed the song to a family friend of mine, who is also a producer, and he thought we should record it. 

I really admire Chris Stapleton as a songwriter, so seeing him live was instrumental in me getting started as a songwriter. 

PC: Last November, you released “Don’t Bury Me (In California),” which served as the first single from your new, self-titled EP. What drew you to have that song serve as the lead single and introduction to the project? 

JS: I think what drove me to release this song first was how fresh it was. My family and I moved from California to Arkansas in January of 2021, and I wrote “Don’t Bury Me (In California)” later that year. This song represents in a nutshell a little about where I came from and why we left in the first place. I love the state of California: its geography, scenery, and specifically, what it has done historically for country/western music, but it has become increasingly harder and harder to raise a young family there. My wife and I had both of our children there, and we just weren’t in agreement with being told how to raise our kids and live our lives. It has nothing against people still living there or really the state itself, it is just a song about my opinion and perspective as someone who lived there the majority of my life. This song also seems to resonate with most people when I play it live. 

PC: As lovers of rodeo songs and two-steppers, “See Ya In Tulsa” is our favorite song on your EP. Can you take us in your head and tell us how the song came together?

JS: After I was born, my parents moved our family to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma (right outside Tulsa) where they attended Rhema Bible Training College. While they were going to school, my dad also worked at a car dealership that would sponsor local rodeos where they would drive a truck in the center of the arena in between events. At a few of those rodeos, my dad would have me in the front seat of the truck with my cowboy boots on as he drove it around in circles. I was very young, but I have faint memories of that place, and I have always looked back fondly on that time. 

When I was a junior in high school, I joined the High School Rodeo Association and rode bulls for a season. This season was short-lived as I wasn’t the best at it and didn’t want to end up hurting myself and becoming ineligible to join the Marine Corps. Still, I loved rodeo and everything it entailed. These two different seasons of my life inspired me to write the song about a rodeo cowboy who had given up the love of a woman to his love of rodeo. 

PC: You’ve mentioned on social media that you wrote “Your Embrace” about your wife. In the time since the song has been written, and now recorded and released, what has that song meant to both of you? 

JS: I wrote this song back in 2020 during Covid and was inspired to write something to her that explained that nothing I have ever done in my life could amount to the unconditional love she has for me. There is no amount of drug, drink or any other thing that could love me the way my wife and Jesus do. This unconditional love looks past flaws and mistakes and takes you for who you are. There is so much power in this realization, and I wanted to communicate that to her. 

PC: As we write this, your EP has been out for three weeks, and you’ve mentioned the positive response it has earned on social media. What has the response from your friends, family and fans meant to you over the last three weeks? 

JS: It has been seeing a good response so far, but the most important response to me is that of my family and friends. Everyone seems to enjoy it as much as I do, and mostly everyone has different favorites, which is so cool because it goes to show how much is up for interpretation by different listeners. All the feedback since the release of the EP has been encouraging to say the least, and it excites me to release more music. 

PC: What do you hope listeners take away from your EP after listening all the way through?

JS: After listening to the project all the way through, my main hope is that people would appreciate the traditional country elements in the songs. Even if someone listens through entirely and hates my voice or my writing, I would hope that they enjoyed listening to the pedal steel guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo etc. and simply appreciate the musicianship of those on the record as much as I do. I would hope that folks would feel like they listened to a genuine country/western project. 

PC: With your EP now out into the world, what do you have planned for the rest of 2023?

JS: As for the rest of 2023, I plan on releasing as much music as possible, whether that means singles, another EP, or a full-length record. I am going to be working extremely hard to put out as much genuine country/western music as I possibly can for fans of country and western music and for myself.

*Josiah’s EP is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*


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