I'm still learning a lot as a songwriter. I try to write down and make a note of ideas that I cross paths with on a day-to-day basis, whether it be a conversation or something I hear on the radio, seeing a movie, or just thoughts in my head as I'm walking down the street.
You want to stand out and be unique and do something different. I always try to zig when they zag - I guess it's a football term, but it applies to a lot of different areas of life.
A lot of the lessons that are taught in football will promote success in anything you get into after football; for me, it just happens to be music. Being disciplined. Good character. Trying to do the right thing, and working hard.
I do think I'm country, but your definition of that word might be different from my definition. In my opinion, country music, the sound of country, has always evolved. But the one thing that has not changed is the story element. And I think country songs are truthful songs about life written by country people.
When somebody's never heard you, that's the way to do it: Just give them music for free and let them decide for themselves if they like it or not.
I drove right into the music with the same sort of attitude as I went into the football stuff with. Just found a routine and hard work, and it helped me progress a lot faster.
I had some interesting costumes... the one that I remember right offhand is Zorro when I was a lot younger. I was a big time Zorro fan. My mom helped me make it, and I remember having a big issue with the fact that she wouldn't let me carry around a real metal sword; it just had to be plastic.
I don't know where my fashion sense comes from, exactly. I've always been interested in, not necessarily being unique, but not necessarily sticking to the preexisting paradigm - whether it be clothes or music or whatever.
I like to come up with lots of different sounds. So the final version of a song might have been 10 completely different songs before we finally got it right.
I've had a lot of folks tell me that my songs weren't quite country because they didn't really sound like anybody that had come along and done it before me. I felt a little out of place for a while.
I'm not trying to become a pop artist, and I'm not trying to make sure I stay a country artist. I'm just trying to make sure I make the best music I can, according to my way.
The money factor had been kind of my excuse as to why I hadn't put out any music. So I just found the cheapest way to make music and get it to people, and that was via the Internet.
When I graduated high school, I bought a guitar and, at first, didn't really think I'd get into the songwriting thing as much as I did. But after learning a few songs of other people's to play on the guitar, I got bored with that and just started writing songs on my own, and that's kinda how it came about.
Within the songwriting community, there are these unwritten rules for the way that a song should be written in country music, and I think that those rules are constantly being broken over the years, and the molds change and the process is evolving.