For some, years of struggle, hard work, and paying their dues actually becomes that success story that everyone loves. For Caleb Caudle, it seems like 2016 might just be his time. At least by the standards of a success story in today’s finicky music industry.
A singer songwriter that’s been at it for years, releasing 7 albums before he’s 30 and touring like a madman for years, Caleb’s sober these days, in love, and moved back to his hometown of Winston-Salem, NC. Plus that seventh album, Carolina Ghost, was just released on February 26th via This Is American Music to much critical acclaim. Glide Magazine, American Songwriter, Pure Volume, Yahoo Music, No Depression, and countless others have praised Carolina Ghost, an album that finds the Americana artist going further towards pure, real country music. Heck, the Huffington Post called Caudle the next Jason Isbell. And for good reason. It’s Caleb’s honest songwriting, boisterous and soulful voice that immediately catches audiences.
No, it’s not so bad being Caleb Caudle in 2016. This is still just the beginning though. Caudle isn’t going to rest on his laurels, and there’s no doubt that Caleb will keep pounding. The arrow is skyrocketing upward for Caleb Caudle, and tonight at Venkman’s in Atlanta, he kicks off another round of touring with full band and Cicada Rhythm to complete the evening.
To kick things off, we caught up with Caleb for a Q&A:
5 Questions with Caleb Caudle:
OE: With your latest album Carolina Ghost released a few weeks ago, it seems you’ve earned a ton of praise from the press and have even hit #1 on best seller lists such as Amazon’s Alt-country and Americana.You’ve been doing this for years, how’s it feeling today to have reached this point in your career?
CC: It feels good is the most simple answer I could give. It feels like a decade of hard work is starting to pay off. I’m just trying to take it in stride and not worry too much about things. It’s been cool to see folks connecting with the record in a way that I hoped they would. I wouldn’t be doing what I do without that human connection. It’s really important to me.
OE: On Carolina Ghost it seems you’ve veered from the so called Americana roots into more full blown country. Was this just a natural progression?
CC: Yea, I think I was just listening to a ton of Merle haggard and Keith Whitley. I think there’s a few songs that could have lived on the last record but we certainly added a lot more pedal steel to this one. Country music and soul music are the things that get me excited. They are very similar in a lot of ways. I really like the way Ray Charles and Percy sledge kind of blurred those lines. It’s all gospel in the end.
OE: This tour you are taking a full band with you, what musician’s are playing with you? How does this change the dynamic of touring for you with a full band as opposed to solo?
CC: It’s the guys from the last 2 records. They kill it every single time. Those dudes know what I’m looking for and they are just so tasteful. It’s honestly more fun with the band. It just allows the songs to go places that I can’t take them solo. I did just do a solo run of the northeast and the crowds were so attentive and that was really fun too. I don’t have to write out a set list. I just do whatever I’m feeling. I even broke out a Smiths song in DC.
OE: Your record label, This Is American Music, appears to be a little tight knit family that really supports each other, from the good folks that run it, to the bands on the label, and even the label’s customers, how has this environment of the label impacted your career?
CC: I think more than anything it’s really helped me grow. They really care about the ins and outs of everything. It’s been great getting to know those guys and just see the hard work they are putting in. I don’t really ever wanna work with folks who aren’t working as hard as me. So it’s a great fit.
OE: You’ve been a big fan of The Bitter Southerner and were recently featured in the publication for a long piece by former SPIN magazine editor Charles Aaron. As a southerner, what does The Bitter Southerner mean to you as a site that has come onto the scene the last few years, giving a voice to the South, the real South?
CC: I think what they are doing really aligns with my thoughts on the South (do I capitalize south?? I’ve never known). There’s some truly disgraceful history here. I know a lot of folks are working hard to make things right and we are still so far from it. I like that they realize that and don’t shy away from it. They are some of the most thoughtful and accepting people I’ve had the pleasure to meet. I’m way into southern food. I can’t get halfway through one of their pieces on food without breaking for lunch. I swear in another life me and Chuck Reece are somehow related. He sent me this New Yorker article on Haggard that was probably my favorite read of all time.
OE: What’s your favorite song you’ve ever written?
CC: Usually the last one.
OE: What’s one song you wish you had written?
CC: Man, Aaron Lee Tasjan sent me some demos of a few new songs and there’s this one on there called “someone get this guy a cape” or at least that’s the working title and that thing blew me away. I remember just thinking he got to that one first. There’s probably about 20 more of his tunes I wish I’d written as well.
OE: Who’s your favorite current pro athlete?
CC: LUUUUUUUUKE (Kuechly) #59 keep pounding!
OE: What similarities do you see between yourself and that athlete?
CC: That dude is a total leader. I like to think I have a few traits that are similar.
OE: When you aren’t playing a gig, what do you do for fun on tour?
CC: I think my favorite thing about tour outside of playing is getting to see folks I only see a couple times a year. I like driving on back roads I’ve never been on before and I like eating good food.
OE: What is Caleb Caudle listening to on tour?
CC: Right now I’m super hooked on the first few Emmylou records. I really love all the musicians on those and her voice is heaven.
OE: Any advice you’d give to a musician starting out, trying to make it in this industry?
CC: Be yourself. Don’t stop doing that. Don’t compare your success to others. If you hear a sound in your head chase it down no matter what anyone else says. Get that sound. Cause that’s yours and people will catch up to you. Don’t give up. Lots of people do. You don’t hear about those people. Have fun. You got this one life. Do things your way.
Catch Caleb Caudle live: