Denver singer songwriter Tony Meade tapped into '90s alt-country legends like Uncle Tupelo and its spinoffs Wilco and Son Volt for his latest single, “It’s Alright,” a different sound all together from his usual power-pop songwriting.
“It’s a departure for me personally,” he says of the new single. “I’m from West Virginia. I grew up on country. My parents listened to Conway Twitty and George Jones, Willie Nelson, all that stuff. It was a chance to sort of indulge that.”
The new song, Meade says, celebrates “the joy of leaving bad times and bad people behind and moving on to greener pastures.”
“I had left behind basically my entire social circle and just kind of cut the cord with everyone,” he says. “It’s really just about escaping a relationship, a place that is very toxic. Yes, it’s painful, but there is a sense of relief when you leave that behind.”
The single, the second of four he plans on releasing this year, is his second amble into the alt-country realm, following his 2014 original Christmas song, “A Dive Bar Christmas,” based on a classic Colfax venue.
“That was the story of my first Christmas in Colorado,” he says. “And the bar in question was the Lion's Lair. The Lion's Lair on Christmas Eve.”
Meade has released several albums of songs over the past few years, including a set of reimagined Christmas standards as well as lyrical tributes to Game of Thrones, George Lucas, J.K. Rowling and J.R.R Tolkien.
“I’m an uber nerd,” he says. “I do talks on Tolkien at Denver Comic Con and things like that. I’m that kind of person.”
Although he is poking around in country music, Meade says one of his biggest influences is mid-career U2. His favorite album of all time is Achtung Baby. He sees the album as a bridge of sorts between the early post-punk sounds of the Irish quartet and the bombastic pop music they switched to in the 1980s.
“It’s just something about that album,” he says. “It’s a weird crossroads between the sort of Joshua Tree stuff and what came later on with the electronics and experimentation and stuff like that.”
Meade says he plans on releasing two more singles this year instead of an entire album, and he wants to explore different musical styles. What that means remains to be seen, but he has some demos he has recorded, and he is currently fleshing out some ideas. He says he came up with the chord progression while watching Taylor Swift Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions.”
“I know the next one is likely going to be a duet with a female singer-songwriter I know,” he says. “That will probably be something more like Taylor Swift, more pop influenced, but definitely a ballad. It’s something I haven’t really done before.”
He’s not settled on the final song of the year, but says it might have some electronic influences.
“I’ve always wanted to dip my toe in the dance world,” he says.
Meade played his first gigs in more than a year at the Boulder International Film Festival in June.
“It was great getting to play in front of other humans,” he says. "I’ve done some live streams over the previous nine months, probably a half dozen or so. It was cool, but the main thing that’s weird about it is there is no applause. That’s not an ego thing. It’s just part of the ritual. It lets you know people are there.”
Over the past few months, he has been trying to collaborate more, having recorded all the musical parts on most of his previous output with an occasional guest player. “It’s Alright” includes guess musicians from as far away as Rome.
“You can impress people at parties,” he says. “But there is a ceiling. You can’t be good at everything. You can’t be amazing at everything.”
“It’s Alright” is available at Tony Meade's website.
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