Jaren Johnston, (seen here in the centre), lead vocalist with The Cadillac Three, chats with Kevin Cooper about recording at the famous Abbey Road Studios, appearing on the TV show Nashville, their latest album Legacy and their forthcoming tour of the UK.

Jaren Johnston is the lead vocalist with American southern rock band, The Cadillac Three. The other members are bass guitarist Kelby Ray and drummer Neil Mason.

Before forming the band the three members were in a group called American Bang but went onto form The Cadillac Black, but for business reasons had to change their name to The Cadillac Three. They released their debut self titled album in 2012 and in 2013 released their debut single, The South. They were later to play that song in 2014 on an episode of the TV programme, Nashville.

The band’s second album, Bury Me In My Boots, was released in 2016 and it debuted at number five on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, selling 11,000 in the first week. They released their third album, Legacy, in August 2017.

Whilst busy rehearsing for their forthcoming tour, Jaren took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Hi Jaren.

Hey Kevin how are you doing buddy?

I’m very well thank you how are you today?

I have to tell you that I am good man.

Just before we move on let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

It’s no problem. Thanks for wanting to speak to me.

And just how is life treating you at this moment in time?

Life at the moment is good. Right now I am speaking to you from Columbia, Missouri as we are playing here tonight at The Blue Note. Everything is good and we are having a blast.

I hear that there has been a recent addition to the Johnston family?

That’s right I have just had a baby boy who is coming up to six months old and life is good.

So being out on the road you are avoiding the sleepless nights (laughter).

(Laughter) yes that right, I am. I had to leave last night on the tour bus at around midnight but I have just spoken to my wife who informs me that he slept for seven straight hours which is like a record for him, so that’s great (laughter).

Be warned, he is saving up all of the sleepless nights for when dad gets home.

(Laughter) exactly, as soon as I get home he won’t sleep for the rest of the year.

Swiftly moving on to the new album Legacy, I have been playing it for a couple of weeks now and I think that it is a fantastic piece of work.

Thank you man, thank you.

It is the infamously difficult third album so I have to ask you how was it writing and recording it.

Man, I have to say that we had a blast making the record and we are really proud of it. We did most of the work for this album almost immediately after the last album Bury Me In My Boots came out. We all felt that it had taken way too long to get that record out and we didn’t want to find ourselves in that position again. We had a whole load of songs already piled up which we were just dying to get out there so literally the day that Bury Me In My Boots came out we started working on Legacy. We did it all ourselves; wrote it and produced it and I sang most of the vocals on the back of the bus again so it was a lot of fun man.

So just how long did it take you to write and record Legacy?

To be honest with you there were two or three of those songs that were a little older but the rest of them were all new, so I think that it was probably two or three recording sessions and then three weeks of fine tuning everything.

And you are obviously very pleased with the final product?

Yes we are; we love it. So far everyone has been really excited about it. That is always a lot of fun when you put all of that work into something that you are doing yourself and you see the people that you admire together with the people who are critically important to like the record actually liking the record.

I have been reading some of the reviews this morning and people really have warmed to the album haven’t they?

Yes they have, and let me tell you it’s been awesome (laughter).

Well I have to say that the two standout tracks for me on the album are Long Hair Don’t Care and Love Me Like Liquor.

That’s cool man, thank you. Love Me Like Liquor is quite different to anything that we have done before. I was really into that song and Neil (Mason) our drummer really pressured me to listen to it in the vein of us, The Cadillac Three but I wanted to take it more in the Pink Floyd kind of direction, that dark, ominous kind of thing but with an almost country lyric. I thought that it would fit really well for us and be a nice step for us to take.

And what about Long Hair Don’t Care?

(Laughter) man that is hilarious; I have had that title on my phone for about two years now. We had four songs left to cut for the new record and so we wrote five songs that weekend and that was one of them. It was just a lot of fun; we have wanted to write that song for such a long time now as it suits us pretty well (laughter).

You have mentioned how quickly you set about writing Legacy are you already thinking about the next album?

(Laughter) oh yes we have already dipped into the next album a little bit. We haven’t started recording anything yet but we have sessions planned for when we get back from the Long Hair Don’t Care tour in November.

Are you looking forward to touring the UK?

Yes we are and hopefully this tour is going to be the biggest and best one yet. We are bringing over with us some buddies of ours called the Brothers Osborne to open a lot of the dates and then Broken Witt Rebels will be opening the rest. So it really is going to be a lot of fun and it is just so exciting for us just how fast and how big everything is growing for us over there in the UK. So we really are looking forward to it. We are getting some great critical praise from over there which is exciting.

Do you enjoy your time spent here in the UK?

I love it man; it’s so different over there and it is a different kind of thing with the UK fans. All of the fans over here in the USA are so excited about what we are doing and sing along with us but over there in the UK there is this thing that you can’t explain and we love that.

So the UK fans get what it is that you are trying to do?

Yes they do, I really think that they do. Ever since the very first time that we came over to the UK and played a sold-out show at The Barfly in Camden Town we had barely at that point sold out any shows over here in the USA. So it was very exciting from the beginning going over there and after that first show we knew that the UK was going to be a home for us. The UK fans were very accepting of us and very rabid as far as being excited about having us come over as much as possible. We lost our ass the first three or four times moneywise but we knew that it was going to be so much fun that it was all worth it. Since then we have put in the work over there and we are now having a blast with it.

And I understand that you are a bit of a foodie?

(Laughter) just who in the hell has told you that (laughter). Yes it’s true; I am a bit of a food guy and love trying all kinds of different foods whenever I get the time. I also love all of the different scenery which we get to see whenever we are touring the UK.

So you like the food but what about the warm beer (laughter).

(Laughter) we have been over there enough now to know how to navigate my way around the situation and manage to get my cold beer (laughter). However, sometimes it is still difficult to find ice (laughter). But we have figured it out now.

This will be your first time playing Rock City. Are you excited at that prospect?

(Laughter) well I have to be honest with you and say that when you are on tour most of the places all tend to blur together a little bit. What I will say is that whenever we are playing and travelling through the UK it is always great to see the size of some of the bands who have previously played those places. They are really big and here we are selling the same amount of tickets as those guys. Whenever I see some of the legendary bands who have passed through those places, I’m like ‘what the shit man’ (laughter).

As you well know the British music press love to pigeonhole everyone so how would you describe your sound to me?

I honestly don’t know. I really do hope that it is difficult for the music press over there in the UK to pigeonhole us simply because the amount of country that it is there. There probably are not a lot of bands coming over there that are doing that kind of heavy country thing. However, if I had to pigeonhole us I would have to say Black Sabbath on cornbread or perhaps Metallica and Hank Williams Senior had a baby (laughter). Does that work?

That works very well for me (laughter). You changed the name of the band from The Cadillac Black to The Cadillac Three. What was the rationale behind that?

There was a band in Knoxville, Tennessee called The Black Cadillac and we had got to a point where we were getting pretty big and we were doing a lot of TV stuff. We were about to do the Nashville TV show and we all thought let’s just call a spade a spade. We had a business name but we couldn’t own the trademark so we simply decided to change the name (laughter). We went ahead and bit the bullet and changed it. It made much more sense for us to do it that way.

You have mentioned Nashville, how was it appearing on the show?

It was cool man but I have to say that they were really long days. We did season one and season two and let me tell you it is fifteen hours of just waiting around. You are waiting around for them to use you for the three minutes that they need you. The second time that we appeared on the show we just basically sat on our bus and drank cold beer all day. However, the first time that we did the show we just hung out at Legends on Broadway in Nashville and as you can imagine we were all pretty loopy by the time that they came to get us and you can kind of see that on the TV but it was a lot of fun (laughter). We got to hang out with a lot of actors and stuff.

I recently photographed the Nashville tour here in the UK and what surprised me was the fact that those guys can really do it.

Oh yes they are all very talented people man. Some of those guys are really good friends of mine; we all write songs together and let me tell you, it’s a lot of fun.

Who has musically inspired you?

I think that the one thing that me, Neil (Mason) and Kelby (Ray) can all fall together on is that we were all huge Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers fans. That was a big deal for us and when I found out I thought ‘this is how you do it’. But man I have to tell you that I grew up on a lot of different things; early country with the likes of Garth Brookes who was big in the late 80s and early 90s. I loved Metallica, Rage Against The Machine and Nirvana when I was growing up, those kind of things were big. And then it was the Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, stuff like that. Then obviously I found Lynyrd Skynyrd and other stuff like that.

You recorded your live album at the infamous Abbey Road Studios here in London. How did that feel?

Oh man that was great. I had never been there before so when we got there the crew had already loaded in so before we even hit a note we were all like teared up and looking around the place. It felt crazy that we were there and even more so that we were going to record there. When we started playing, the sound of us was bouncing off the walls that held the sounds of so many amazing recordings that had gone before us. So all in all it was a great day. We had a blast and we are so glad that it happened.

Who is currently on your playlist?

I know that I have mentioned them earlier but I really do like what Brothers Osborne are currently doing. I really do think that they are great and believe that they are going to do really well over there in the UK. I listened to the new Foo Fighters album last night and let me tell you, that is pretty fucking awesome (laughter). I suggest that you check that out when you have a minute. On the tour bus we are still rocking a lot of the old ZZ Top stuff.

What was the first record that you bought?

That was Without A Sound by Dinosaur Jr.

Who did you first see performing live in concert?

(Laughter) that was the Toadies back in 1994 at the Memorial Hall in Nashville, Tennessee.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

It was a song by local songwriter Tony Lane and it was called I Need You.

And after the UK tour what next for Jaren Johnston?

Well at the moment after the tour the three of us are intending to be taking six weeks off. However, I am assuming that during that period we will at some stage be recording. I will be spending some time with my wife and son and we will maybe go on a couple of beach trips and live it up.

On that note Jaren let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been a pleasure. Good luck with the tour and I will see you at Rock City.

Awesome Kevin, you take care and I will see you in Nottingham. Bye for now.