Interview: Gill Landry

It’s been said that old ways won’t open new doors, and sometimes, change is just what we need. “I haven’t really been enjoying the city of Nashville for a while, and I didn’t see why I kept going back,” reflects Gill Landry on his decision to give up his brick and mortar housing to live life on the road. “I can’t really think of anywhere I want to be specifically; I’ve got tours coming up, so I thought I would drift in between to see if something sticks, or doesn’t. It makes it easier for me to be freer creatively,” he adds. “It keeps everything moving forward instead of always going back to some house and pretending that I do something else for a while.”

“I know a lot of great people there, most of them are on the road and coming and going. Mostly, it just got crowded. It’s not the same city I moved to,” he says of Nashville, his home for the last decade, until recently. “I don’t really care about its approach to what it does, it’s not where I’m coming from or where I want to be coming from musically. It didn’t feel like I fit anymore. It’s become a very mediocre, white-people-having-a good-time town. It’s not what I like, I like a little spice, a little hot sauce.” Landry decided that it was time to see what else the world held for him, packing what he needed for work and travel, and getting rid of everything else. “I got five miles out of town, and it felt like the biggest load had been dumped off my shoulders. As soon as I cleared the city limits and it was all forward, I was like ‘Why didn’t I do this sooner?’” he adds with a laugh. “The life I lived there was wonderful, though, and I’m very thankful for everything it gave me and showed me.”

The time-tested troubadour, formerly of famed Americana string band Old Crow Medicine Show, has several solo albums under his musical belt, has had music in his system since he was kid, though he’s not exactly sure where that passion originated. “Not at all,” he says when asked if he grew up in a musical family. “In fact, my father flew in to ride out with me, and it’s amazing, the guy never listens to music at all. It’s amazing,” he laughs. “I actually still have no idea how I got into music. I also didn’t become domesticated until I had a good gig. I was traveling since I was a kid,” he recalls of his love of the wide open road. “I felt like I’d been living two lives—pretending to be domesticated, you’re supposed to have a house and get married and all those things, while I was traveling half the year. There’s a rub there, and I’m happier when I’m traveling.”

Currently, Landry is celebrating the release of his latest album, Love Rides A Dark Horse, out now via ATO Records–nine songs outlining the events which lead to his need for a change, delivered in his signature, grizzled voice. “It was the death of romance,” he says of the album’s inspiration. “I’ve always been a romantic guy, in the sense that I had ideas about what life was supposed to be, all these stories that are basically fiction. That fell away to more realism. It was me processing change and heartbreak. I rented a house in the country and recorded everything myself except what I couldn’t. I can’t play fiddle or horns, so I brought those guys in. That’s one thing about Nashville, there are so many great musicians who can come and smash out their parts on every take. The hardest part was figuring out how to structure the arrangements,” he adds of the album’s tracks. “I didn’t want them all to be ‘sad bastard’ songs. I’m not trying to whine, I was trying to figure out some shit that the old songs weren’t doing for me.”

For now, Landry is soaking up the atmosphere of his surroundings, which changes almost daily, and will include a two-week tour in Europe; while he says he may settle somewhere again in the future, he’s in no rush to put his kickstand down. “I’m much more creative and engaged with life when I’m out of my element, throwing myself into life without destination,” he continues. “I grow more, I give more, I’m a better contributor to life this way. There is a nostalgic sorrow in turning a page, in the not knowing. However, I’m more excited about what I don’t know, than sad about what I do.”


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Susan Hubbard

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