New Artist Spotlight: Steel Magnolia

Joshua Scott Jones and Meghan Linsey make up the new Big Machine Records duo Steel Magnolia and while originally not planning on entering Can You Duet the duo reconsidered and won the whole thing.  Get to know the couple in this exclusive interview with Roughstock.

The decision to enter a talent contest like CMT's Can You Duet can be tougher than you can imagine.  It's especially tougher for artists who don't really know if they want to subject themselves to the criticism that often comes out of such programs, particularly during the audition rounds. For Steel Magnolia's Joshua Scot Jones and Meghan Linsey, the show wasn't something they naturally wanted to do but after friends 'got them to' the ended up not only making the televised portion of the show but running all the way to the finale of season two where the duo won the whole thing [click to read].  The top prize was a recording contract with major independent label Big Machine Records.  The duo, who are a couple, took out some time from their busy radio touring schedule to talk with Roughstock about their lives, their backgrounds and how they got to where they are now.

Matt Bjorke:  Meghan, When did you know you wanted to be a singer?

Meghan Linsey: Oh man, when I was a kid, probably 5, I’d run out from behind the fireplace and that’s kind of what started it but one Christmas when I was 9 we were listening to a Dolly Parton Christmas album, the one with Hard Candy Christmas on it and my mom went, “oh you’re pretty good” and she bought me a karaoke machine and that’s where it started.  I’ve always wanted to do it.

Matt:  Joshua, same question for you?

Joshua Scott Jones: I’ve known since I was four or five years old probably.  I always had to have the attention [laughs].  I just always entertain people whether it was making them laugh or whatever.  My brother was so heavy into music, and my mom for that matter.  My brother was a teenager when I was a little kid and he was listening to the rock of AC/DC and stuff to the stuff from my mom, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty and all that stuff.  So that’s where it came from.  I’ve known since I was 8 that this is what I wanted to do.

Matt: How did you guys meet?

Joshua: We’ve met in printer’s alley in Nashville, TN and it’s a famous place that’s historical and stuff.  Meghan was working at Miss Kelly’s and I walked in and as I was walking towards the back of the club I heard her singing and I just stopped what I was doing.  I stopped and listened and watched her, which is odd because a great singer in Nashville is like just a stone’s throw away but with her, I could tell immediately that she was a star.  She was great then and she was nice enough to actually talk to me that night [laughs]. Ever since then we’ve been hangin’ out, a lot.

Matt: When did you know you had amazing vocal chemistry?

Meghan: We’d been dating for a few months and wrote a song with our friend Julie Morva called “The Edge of Goodbye” and we were out playing in writer’s rounds and Josh was playing guitar for me at writer’s rounds after playing some of his songs and I played mine, we started to throw this song into our sets and just got a crazy response to the song with friends telling us we should be a duo.

Joshua: That’s the crazy thing too.  As you ask this question, it was crazy because we didn’t really even sing together until after a year of being together.

Meghan: I don’t even think we realized it until those around us did. We started to write songs together and it just happened.

Joshua: The thing was too that she had her own project and I had my own project too.  We wrote that song and she’d come upstairs and crash our band practice and she’d request us to play “Edge of Goodbye” and my band members were wondering why my girlfriend was playing with the band.

Matt: What drew you “Can You Duet?” What made you want to try out?

Meghan:  We had been doing these Monday night writer’s nights with our friend Amanda Williams at Blue Bar (in Nashville) and she called a couple of weeks before the audition and told us “you have to audition” and actually called us the first year and we were like “no, I don’t think so.” Then this year she called us and reminded us again the night before and we’re like “maybe” but she was persistent with it…

Joshua: she was like “Y’all better get your butts up there and audition”

Meghan: we got talked into it and showed up not really expecting anything at all and got through the first round and when we got passed through we thought, well why not keep going, and made it through the second round…

Joshua: We didn’t want to get told ‘no’ that we ‘sucked’ on TV…

Matt: I think some people don’t even know how hard the first rounds of those shows are because sometimes you’re not even in front of the judges on the show and are instead in front of the producers or something to that affect and not the actual judges on the show…

Meghan: That was the part I was dreading because if you can get past the first part into the top 20 or whatever, then it’s great but in those first few rounds you’re in a room with three judges and a big camera crew.  It’s just nerve wracking. 

Matt: And you don’t necessarily know what they’re looking for…

Meghan: And that was another part of our apprehension because we have such an edgy sound and it’s not…

Joshua: …Your garden variety country band…

Meghan:  So going into it we didn’t know what to expect and didn’t think we’d get through the first few rounds; so when we did, it was a pleasant surprise.

Matt: How much fun did you have in the mentoring sessions? 

Meghan: We had a blast.  All of the judges were awesome. We loved Naomi Judd, Big Kenny and obviously Scott Borchetta is now our boss so; They were all great.  All of the contestants were great, too.  We had a blast.  We called it a big summer camp because it was just so fun at the hotel.

Joshua:  We set up a big slip and slide [joking]…

Matt: How nerve racking was it to perform in front of not only the man who would be your future boss but Naomi Judd?

Meghan: It was nerve wracking and Josh has mentioned this before that it was a job interview every time we’d walk in with those three judges and nobody likes a  job interview.  So it was kind of like that and obviously the cameras didn’t help the whole nervousness part, neither did being on national TV but after a few times of being in front of them you start to feel comfortable and getting to the big stage with the band performing felt really comfortable. 

Matt:  I’ve heard other artists who say that the easiest part of their day to day routine is when they go on the stage and perform at night:

Meghan: Yeah, it certainly is a high point of the day. Everything else leads up to that…

Matt: While you obviously hoped to win, it must’ve still had been a surprise to hear “Steel Magnolia” is the winner…

Meghan:  Oh, It was. 

Joshua: It felt real dreamy, like we were dreaming.  If you see the shows you can see our state of shock.

Matt:  When did it sink in that you were actually recording artists for Big Machine Records?

Joshua:  It’s still sinking in, man…

Meghan:  Yeah and I think we didn’t have any time to absorb it because we won a show on a Saturday and on Sunday morning Scott Borchetta was calling us and saying “are you online? Get your Facebook updated!” And then Monday we did a full day of media at CMT and then Tuesday we filmed our music video [watch here] and Wednesday we were out on our radio tour.  And now we’ve been out for seven weeks doing it…

Joshua:  And when you’ve been working toward something for your whole life and dreaming about it for long enough and now you get the chance to do it, it takes time for all of those thoughts and those actions in your mind to catch up to you and we’re just grateful to have the opportunity to be able to have a chance to have a single out and have the tour right now. 

Meghan:  And with a great label too…

Joshua: With a great team working with us.

Matt: How many songs have you written for the album?

Meghan: We’ve had songs ready for this for the last couple of years [laughs] and before we hit the radio tour we’d been writing quite a bit.

Joshua: The good thing is that the label likes what we’ve been writing…

Matt: Always a good thing…

Joshua: So we’re going into the studio with Dann Huff to record some of our songs and one of them is “The Edge of Goodbye,” which we played on the show.   It’s gonna be fun.

Matt: How has your radio tour been going [for single "Keep On Loving You"]?

Meghan: It’s been great.  We’ve gotten a good response and had a quite a few adds [radio stations putting songs into their playlists] and it’s been very good.

Matt: Have you gotten to play any of the songs for audiences yet, I know you did the one for Seattle but I don’t know if it’s a typical radio tour experience?

Joshua: Yeah.  We’ve opened a show in Chicago for Jack Ingram a couple of weeks ago with over 1,000 people in the audience and it was just us and a guitar.

Meghan: We’ve done quite a few of those where we’ve opened for Jack Ingram, Lee Ann Womack where we’ve played with just us and a guitar and we played with maybe a little tambourine and Josh playing a little harmonica solo but they’ve gone well.

Matt: What would you like to say to the fans who supported you on the show and those that may be hearing about you for the first time here?

Joshua: We’d like to say to the fans thank you for taking the time to listen to our music…

Meghan: We’ve had fans write to us on our MySpace and we respond to as much as we can and it’s great because they’ve become friends for us. 

Joshua: The fans can catch up with us there and also on our twitter page…

Meghan: Yes, Josh has become a twittering fool with the twitter page. 

You can support Steel Magnolia and purchase their debut single digitally at iTunes icon| Amazon.