Q&A with Drake White

Q&A with Drake White
Photo courtesy of Drake White

Drake White and the Big Fire belongs less to any single genre and more to an energy that surrounds them. Their music style is most accurately described as some mix between country and soul, but as far as the artist is concerned, it is just an extension of living and savoring his life. The audience at his show at Druid City Music Hall on Wednesday night weren't just going to watch a country concert, but to watch an artist play country because it is a part of him, just like soul, like relaxing, like his wife and like the Alabama in which he grew up. 

A few minutes into the interview, Drake White asked if he could do some business things and call back when he could talk for longer. When he called back, he was in the studio. “Hey dude, sorry, busy day. Rock-n-roll.”

You're from Alabama, right? 

Gadsden, yeah. 

You a Bama fan? 

Yeah, I went to Auburn, graduated from there, and remained a Bama fan. 

Interviewer: When did you form your first interest in music?

From church when I was fourteen. We went to a small baptist church and I just always love the choir—the music. Then I went to a Pearl Jam concert, and from there it was over. 

Musical influences? 

Jerry Reed, Ray Charles, the Muscle Shoals sound, and the funky, Appalachian groove.

Did you ever intend to make a career out of it? 

Yeah. I mean I’m always out here having fun. I say I never work a day in my life—I have a good time doing this, but yes I definitely had the intention of doing it for my career. 

When did music change your life—when did you really get into it and start playing shows?

It changed my life in college when people started packing the bar out and covering songs. That’s when we started having a good time and learning how to entertain. 

First gig? 

In a cul-de-sac in Auburn. Set up a couple speakers and played an acoustic set with my friend. Cops showed up and told us there was a bar downtown whose band cancelled on them, and told us we should go replace them. 

Favorite gig? 

There’s been so many. Probably in Fenway Park with Zac Brown. 

Worst gig?  

Too many to count. I once played a set next to the drink machine in Domino’s Pizza. 

What do you want people to take away from your music? 

Faith, hope and passion. Faith that there’s good things happening out there. Hope that there’ll be a better tomorrow. Passion for anything that you go for, whether it be a love or basket-weaving. 

How long did it take you to make this album, ‘Spark’?

Oh man. It’s a first album. I’m thirty-two years old, so I like to say thirty-two years. 

How would you describe your music? 

South Appalachian Country Soul.

Do you ever worry that you will stop being inspired?

Not really. I live my life and get the ideas from living my life. I just got back from hiking and elk hunting in Oregon, and I got a bunch of song ideas off that. I work and play and come back with ideas. 

Does the song come from an idea, or a lyric, or a sound, or does it come from all of them at different times? 

It comes from all of them. You just gotta be open to it. You gotta be open to new people, new conversations, and new sounds. 

Who do you owe most for who you are right now? 

My mom and dad, for letting me be me, for letting me get a motorcycle when I was fourteen, for letting me listen to Guns N’ Roses and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. In a very small conservative town, they convinced me to be rebellious. 

I’m not a big country music fan, but I listened to your music this morning and I actually liked it.

I’m kindof the same way. I grew up and loved Ben Harper, Jack Johnson—my dad was a Grateful Dead guy—classic rock, Steely Dan, Allman Brothers… That’s how I grew up. I grew up on country singers too, but as far as saying, 'Hey, I’m a notified country guy, and that’s the kind of music I’m gonna make,' that’s not what I did at all.

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