Drew Six: In His Own Words

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Photo: Nick Aholt photography

In Part 1, Drew Six talked about how he got his start in the music business, his live show and more. Today, we publish the rest of our interview, “Drew Six: In His Own Words.”

Do you consider yourself more of an artist or a songwriter?

“I was an artist first. I was fortunate to be one of those people who always knew what I wanted to do. For as long as I can remember, I was singing. And also at a very early time in my life, I realized if I wanted to be a big artist – and be an artist on my terms – that writing songs was part of that. I think my favorite artists are the kind of artists who do a little bit of both, where the best song wins. Meaning, if you wrote the best song it ends up on the record. But if there’s something better, then you go with that song. So there’s a little bit of both in me. I do enjoy the writing, but I’m certainly an artist first.

Talk about your new single, “Learning to Drive.”

“Some songs happen really quickly. ‘Learning to Drive’ was with me for a long time. I had the idea for it – and frankly it had been sitting there for a number of years – and I came back to it because I thought it was a good hook and a good idea. Basically what that song is about is, as you go through life and through different stages you start to think you’ve figured some things out. You know, teenagers think they know it all. Then you move forward a little bit more and throughout life you think… it might be a week later, month later, years later you look back and say, ‘Man I didn’t know anything.’

“To me, that’s living life. You don’t want to be flat-line, you want to be expanding and learning and starting over in a way throughout your life. But you’re not actually starting over. You’ve built the base of experience and you’re constantly moving forward and learning new things and that’s the metaphor in “Learning to Drive.” And  the flip side to that is just the rush that you get. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, and unfortunately a lot of people have to have things happen in their lives – and sometimes they are bad things – to really open their eyes and appreciate life and feel life, and it shouldn’t be that way. But that’s what I’m talking about when I’m talking about that first-time feeling. It’s not the same after the first time, you can only have the first time once, then you have to have a new first-time experience. Then you’re constantly evolving and learning. And that’s the idea behind ‘Learning to Drive.’”

cd-4.75inx4.75in-single-frontWhy do you release singles instead of albums?

“Because frankly that’s what major label artists are doing too. So, I have more traction if I keep things going. The first single off of this group was ‘We Choose Living.’ ‘The Bull,’ I’ve been holding back. It’s certainly something that has branded us a bit. We have the bull logo and I think it’s a really fun live song. I kind of want to do a remix of it just for fun for some of the DJs who are working in a lot of the country bars especially where they have a mechanical bull. So ‘Learning to Drive,’ we’re still riding that one out. It’s doing well.”

“We Choose Living” was a hit from its first day. Talk about that.

“With ‘We Choose Living,’ I had the sales records right off on that one. And we had a PR campaign because it was surrounding Variety Children’s Charity. And that one outsold Taylor Swift on the first day, on the country chart of iTunes, so we had bragging rights on that deal. It was one day, but we moved some singles.”

Talk about your affiliation with the Variety Children’s Charity.

“Variety is a children’s charity that helps bridge the gap with insurance companies to help provide mobility equipment for special-needs kids. The woman, Debra, who heads up the charity in Kansas City, approached me basically to perform at some of their charity gala events; and, she’s a very hard person to say no to. And to be completely honest I didn’t know anything about the charity when she approached me. It started out (with me) doing a couple of performances, then she approached me about singing with Danielle who I had not met. (Danielle is living with Cerebral Palsy.) And again, just being completely honest, there was not something personal in my life when I first got involved. But it changed over time.”

Tell us about Danielle and about how the song came to be.

“Danielle is truly inspirational because she’s someone they said would never walk. And not only does she walk, she snowboards and skydives. One of her passions is acting, and they have adaptive equipment for her to use, and she does acting and singing. And they wanted me to sing a song with her, and I was honored that they would approach me for the opportunity, and I said yes, absolutely. And she said, ‘You can choose the song,’ and I said, ‘I want to write something, because I want it to be something very specific.’ They gave me complete creative freedom, and it was one of the hardest songs that I have ever written, because I wanted to approach it in a dignified manner. So I wrote for months, and it came to my deadline (before I was finished).”

What was your take-away from being around the kids?

“I realized that most of these kids just want to be like everybody else. They want to be treated like everybody else. And I think all of us are a little guilty, growing up, if someone is a little different not staring at them. Then you find yourself isolating yourself from someone who’s different which is completely the wrong way to be. My comfort zone certainly changed, and I started having friendships with a lot of the kids and specifically Danielle. We talked back and forth about the song, and I realized we had a lot in common because basically they all want to follow their dreams. They don’t want people telling them they can’t do it, especially when they’re living with a difficult body and special needs. We found some common ground there then everything worked and so she had a lot of personal input on what she liked and what she didn’t like. And I always joked with everyone if I forgot the words I could look to her because she knew the song better than I did. That was a very, very cool experience as an artist and as a human being. Thankfully it’s a song that stuck with me. It stuck with my fans, and I play that song almost every night. We also donated the proceeds back from the iTunes sale of the song, and that was cool. Once a year do a big event, and that was the event I actually sang it the first time.”

You call yourself a shy person. We don’t believe it.

“People have trouble believing I’m shy by nature, because I don’t come across that way. But I’ve learned the business side, you know, I’ve learned to get out there and network, and those are things I had to develop. To whereas the thing on stage, you develop that, too. But some of it you have or you don’t have. So that was my place to reach people, especially at a young age. Then over time you really, truly have to love the experience you have to love the music.”

Why do you do it, night after night?

“You can’t do it for money, you can’t do it to meet girls. You’ve got to do it because it’s a part of who you are no matter what. And I’m a big believer in, ‘If you follow what you love, that the other things have a way of working out.’ And I like to call money abundance because I think things come into your life that you need, and it’s not always necessarily cash. It’s people who help you, and any time you do something good for people, you know it truly does come back to you. And I think everything great thing that’s ever happened in my career as I move forward started from being in a place of gratitude and trying to help other people. And it’s just about energy, good energy.”

You have chosen a tough path.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you there aren’t days all the time when I think maybe I should’ve done something else. I think we all go through that. I think the greatest artists – the most and rich and famous artists you can think of – go through those same kind of doubts from time to time, because once you get there, what seems to be on top then you’re just trying to stay there all the time. And I realize the more people I meet that are people I look up to, it’s really not so different. They’re in a different place but they’re doing some of the same things on a larger scale.”

Final thoughts.

“I still want a label deal, but I’m willing to think outside the box. Really, the goal is not to get a record deal, though. The goal is to be playing arenas, touring, being on television, reaching more people — doing what I’m doing on a larger scale. If I won the lottery today I would do exactly what I’m doing, and I think that’s a good sign that I’m doing something I love, I just want to do it on a larger scale.”

 

Drew Six Still Causing a Commotion

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Drew Six opens for Darius Rucker and Luke Bryan (Photo courtesy of Nate Aholt Photography)

First of a two-part series

Drew Six’s stage show has been causing a ruckus as long as he can remember.

“When I was in grade school,” he recalled, “I had an uncle who played guitar in a country band. I was way out in this rural town and they let me come up and sing. I remember I sang ‘Johnny Be Good’, and a fight broke out in the bar and they started throwing chairs in the middle of my song and I was like, ‘Hey, this is for me.’”

Despite the possibility of being hit by flying furniture, Drew new he had found his calling.  “So here I was,” he said, “I was literally a kid in grade school up there rocking out with the band. To get up on stage with a real band was pretty darn cool, you know. This was a lot more fun than an office would ever be – just a different kind of office.”

Now, Drew fronts his own band full time. And, the Kansas City, Mo., native still loves clocking in for work each day. “I enjoy the live performance the most,” he told us recently. “I like connecting with people, and even when I’m writing songs I’m thinking about how I’m going to connect with people in a live setting.

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“I’m blessed that I do music as a career. It’s my full-time job. I’d like to say one day I won’t do quite so many shows – because I do over 260 shows a year – but once again I’m very fortunate to do what I love. And some of those are acoustic and some of those are with the band. I enjoy the bigger production shows more, but I would probably miss the intimate acoustic shows if they weren’t a part of my regular booking.”

drew six beaverdamusa.comDrew — who splits time between KC and Nashville — works at a frenetic pace. And when he isn’t working, he is still a music fan. “Every time I go to a concert – it doesn’t matter who it is – it’s a spiritual experience for me. It’s moving,” he said. “And whenever I forget, or I get down about the struggle of making it in the music business, all it takes is to be at a concert and realize how much it’s who I am and how much I love it and how much it moves me.”

He added, “And looking at a great artist and the effect they have on the people when you’re in the crowd – and especially when you’re on stage – you can tell that there’s just no other feeling like that.”

Drew has made serious inroads in the music business already, despite the fact that he is an independent musician. “We get to open up for a lot of national acts, so we play 20,000 seat outdoor arenas,” he said, “And for me it’s the rush of the performance. Those are the ones I like the most.

But playing clubs is close to his heart, also. “That’s my life day-to-day most of the time,” he said. “That energy is very primal. It’s right there in your face. The crowd – you can reach out there and touch them. And I’ve played large-scale venues where the front row is back farther than the entire club. Bur for now I really enjoy being a front guy and moving around and putting on the show. That’s a big part of what I do, and the high energy that goes into that.”

Like all artists, Drew is a free spirit, which helps him embrace the changing face of his music. “One of the things I love about country music is there’s really no rules, and the genre is constantly expanding and changing. You know there’s always traditional country as a part of that. And I look at myself as someone who grew up in the Midwest and that’s always going to be who I am; that’s my background,” he said. “And there’s country in there, and there’s soul in there, and country and soul are close cousins because they’re stories about people and feelings and living and that comes through in all my music.

He added, “I love commercial music. I love popular country. I love Nashville Country, lots of different artists. Honestly if I put on a what I would call a pop country station I’m going to love a little of that music. It’s not going to be all the kind of music that I do. Then I might change over to an electronic dance station on the radio and enjoy that, too. So all these influences are kind of coming into my music.”

When it comes to Drew’s music, though, seeing is believing. “I always try to tell people before they focus on anything that they have to see us, and I think that’s the intangible part of an artist,” he said. “You’ve got to be there. You kind of can’t see it on video. You’ve got to be in he house.

“I’m all about production,” Drew added. “You know, building the excitement, running on stage. Getting the crowd into it and making them a part of it. When people come to our shows, people are on their feet the whole time and most of the time dancing, and they’re a part of the show. That has certainly come into play (for me) as a songwriter, because I write songs for these kind of venues, and I think that’s an advantage because I’m out there every night, as opposed to guessing what people are going to react to. I’m always testing it to know what works to get a crowd excited live.”

Next week: Drew talks about his new single, “Learning to Drive,” his work with Variety Children’s Charity, and more.

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