Everybody Needs A little Play Time: A Conversation with Brady Seals

With multiple hits under his belt as a member of Little Texas and Hot Apple Pie (and as a solo artist) Brady Seals has returned to the airwaves and stores with a fun new album "Play Time." We caught up with Brady to discuss his career and the new album.

Over the course of his career Brady Seals has scored multiple hits as a solo artist, and as a member of Little Texas and Hot Apple Pie.  With Hot Apple Pie on an indefinite hiatus, Brady returned to the studio to record his latest record, “Play Time.”  In this exclusive interview with Roughstock, Brady Seals discusses where he’s at in life and why he ultimately decided to make the record that he made.

Matt Bjorke: When you started out as a young, 20-something artist with Little Texas did you think that you’d recording records nearly 20 years later?

Brady Seals:  Well, you know I had hoped to be but I have been so blessed and thankful for the opportunities that have come by.  I am very, very thankful for Star City Recordings for signing me again and letting me do what I do.  It’s a blessing.

Matt:  How did you get affiliated with Star City?

Brady: well, through a friend of a friend in the business. They had heard my record and sent it over to Star City and Star City dug it.  At first I wondered, ‘well they’re in Pennsylvania, how would they be connected to Nashville and how will this work, and stuff’ but I then found out that they really had been doing a whole lot of work with people here in Nashville on various products, and in the end, it just felt like the right fit for me.

Matt: You’ve recorded records as part of a group in Little Texas and Hot Apple Pie and as a solo artist.  What’s the difference between making records as a solo guy or with a band?

Brady: Well I think there’s a big difference.  I think with a band, you go for a particular sound and sometimes you have to make compromises for the sound.  The difference with being a solo artist is that if a song needs a certain musician, producer or engineer or whatever, you have that freedom to do that as a solo artist but with a band you don’t as you try to keep it in house.

Matt: How has the recording process changed over the years?

Brady: Well I think for one thing that I’ve gotten better at it.  I’ve gotten really comfortable in the studio. It’s become like a second home for me.  When I was younger I would almost pretend that the studio felt comfortable because I wanted it so bad but as you get older and work and go downtown to meet up with musicians you’ve known for years and years.  It really does feel like a family when you go in and record a record.  It feels really natural to me now.  I’ve gotten to work with great musicians here in town and I’m sure you can find great musicians in LA or NY or other places in the country but it is nice to be able to call “A players” and have them come over and play on a record at the drop of a hat.

Matt: Is it more freeing to record a record without worrying what a record label might think, like you did for Play Time?

Brady: Oh, it is so much more freeing.  For me, there have been times in the past when I was recording a record where I tried to appease the record companies that I was working with but I think nowadays, Independence has become a lot more acceptable, when it comes to national labels.  Take a Toby Keith or a Taylor Swift.  They are independent artists but they feel more like majors, so it’s all changing.

Matt: what made you decide to record the record as a “Brady Seals” record instead of a “Hot Apple Pie” record? 

Brady: Well Keith Horne is all over the record playing bass and there are a couple of tracks with them on “Play Time.”  I’m sure we’ll get together and do something down the line.  I just felt it was time for me to do my own thing because after the opportunities for Hot Apple Pie dried out around time, the guys went out on the road, Keith with Luke Bryan, Trey with Chuck Wicks and Sparky with Lynyrd Skynyrd so I thought “well, maybe it’s time to make another solo record” while we waited for some opportunites to come along.  I wasn’t even sure I was gonna finish it or not but, thankfully I didn’t.

Matt: The album artwork is certainly interesting, particularly for a country record, what made you think of getting this creative with the artwork?

Brady: Well I thought it was time.  When making the record, I wanted it to be really fun but not in the sense of what adults think fun is, because it’s a whole different thing.  I wanted to get back to the childish mentality.  Having a baby boy who is 10 months old makes you realize that play time is crucial for everybody’s state of mind. After the record was finished, it felt like we just needed to play.   And my high school friend, Jim Leugers, I just sent him all kinds of classic children’s novels to let him know what I was thinkin’ inside my head and at first we thought, ‘good lord, this is pretty outside the box.’ But in the end, I figured it was time to do something different, because everybody’s seen my mug for years and years and it was just time to do something cooler.  

Matt: How did you come to record the only song you didn’t write on the record, Billy Yates’ “Better Every Beer?”

Brady: I heard the song and loved it and thought it was really cool.  Hot Apple Pie had cut it when Dream Works had merged with Universal.  We cut it with a completely different arrangement.  It’s been recorded twice by me.  I think it’s hilarious and says something semi-complicated in a very simple way.  It’s just a cool tune. 

Matt: The record is quite fun and definitely not something that may mesh with everybody.  Was it a conscious effort to appeal to adults more than to say, the younger audience?

Brady:  Well, I certainly think there are things on the record for everyone.  “Asking Questions” has a techno groove to it while Farm Boy and Bubba’s Pimpin’ Ride have a more urban flair so I think there are songs on there with content that the youth will certainly get and appreciate.  But truthfully, when it comes to writing songs, I don’t make a conscious decision about writing songs the songs except for trying to make it as good as I can make it and hopefully the crowd that it appeals to will get people to buy it or at least smile when they hear it.

Matt: So what are your hopes for “Play Time?”

Brady: Well, we hope to get out on the road and tour behind it and we’re starting to do that. I made a decision after Hot Apple Pie to stay off the road for a while and then my father passed away in 2007 and then we had a baby and I wanted to stay with my wife for as much of the process as possible and now that my little boy is up and moving around, I am able to get back out on the road.  So, touring is one part and for people who don’t know who I am, hopefully they dig the music.

Matt: What has been the audience’s reaction to the new music as you tour behind it?

Brady: Well, so far everybody’s been very receptive to the new songs and the songs, as fun as they are, it’s very easy to put on a rockin’ show to get people feelin’ good and ‘lighter in their shoes.’ That’s 90 percent of it, to make sure the audience has a good time and the other 10 percent is for us to have a good time.

Matt: Do you think that, particularly in this economy, that sometimes that is what is great about music, that it allows us to escape, even for just a little bit?

Brady: Well, I think music affects different aspects of people’s lives and for me “Play Time” really defines where I’m at this moment in time and hopefully people agree that it’s time to play.

Matt: The internet has become a great tool for artists, particularly for independent artists. How has it helped you as you re-launch your solo career?

Brady:  I think it’s very important.  It’s very important to stay with fans and friends because after time that is what they truly become.  On there (Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, etc), they’re able to follow you in almost real-time and it’s really cool to get to talk to your fans whenever you want to.

Matt: What would you like to say to fans who may be hearing about you as a solo artist for the first time?

Brady: I’ll think they’ll dig the record.  It’s the type of record that isn’t taking myself or life too seriously.  With the war going on, the recession and political differences, I think music can serve as a tool to help us set aside those differences for a little bit, even if it’s just a song or the course of a show or album.  I also try to make complete records, not just a few singles with filler. Hopefully they feel that when listening to this record.