Tom Mackell makes music that is comfortable. Hear a song of his, and it seems that maybe you've heard it before -- not in the sense that it is derivative, but in that way that good music feels familiar and easy to hear. His songs are the kind that inspire love at first listen. He just released a brand new single, "Maybe Tonight," and it's a dreamy, hopeful Americana nod to the power of optimism in relationships and in life. Roughstock sat down with Mackell to talk about "Maybe Tonight," what made him write this song with friend (and "The Voice" alum) Tony Lucca, how he came to hone the Tom Mackell sound, and what's next.
Roughstock: Hi Tom! Thanks for joining us today. We love your new song, "Maybe Tonight." What is the story behind this song? Why did you write it?
Tom Mackell: Thank you! “Maybe Tonight” began as a message to myself. The initial idea started while I was making the drive from Charleston to Nashville. I was thinking about my relationships while contemplating walking the line between remembering the past and continuing to look forward. The song is inspired by love and the feeling of starting something new. I wanted to capture the energy, excitement, and hesitation of it as well — not knowing whether or not things will work out, but hoping that they do.
Roughstock: What kind of a vibe were you going for on this song when you recorded it? Do you think you ended up with a song that sounds like you expected it to sound? If so, how so, and if not, what's different about it?
Tom Mackell: When I first sat down to write the song with my friend Tony Lucca, the process began with an acoustic guitar and piano. The original tempo was a lot slower, but once I brought it to my producer in the studio, he suggested that we speed up the tempo and focus more on the energy in the groove. When we brought the demo to the band, the song immediately took on a much bigger, anthem-like vibe. The final recording turned out better than I expected.
Roughstock: How does "Maybe Tonight" fit into the overall vibe and themes of your music in general?
Tom Mackell: “Maybe Tonight” is a powerful blend of Americana, pop, and rock. This style of music has inspired me tremendously over the years. The song is thoughtful, introspective, and hopeful in its lyrical content. I try to build on these themes with every new song I release.
Roughstock: Was this a music-first or a lyrics-first song for you? Which way do you tend to write in general, music or lyrics first?
Tom Mackell: We played around with a few different chord progressions and vocal melodies before the chorus was written. The music and melody usually come before the lyrics when I sit down to write a song.
Roughstock: You have a cohesion to your sound that is so organic and natural. How did you settle upon the Tom Mackell "sound"? For the Roughstock readers who are just meeting you for the first time now, how do you describe your music to people who haven't heard it before?
Tom Mackell: Thank you. Something I admire about artists today is that there is so much genre-defying music. I enjoy making art that has no guidelines and is just a pure human expression. In releasing this new song, I wanted to touch upon the fact that my influences range from soul and pop to folk and rock. I would describe my music as a soulful blend of Americana, pop, and folk-rock. Some people may say I sound country and I am perfectly ok with that, too.
Roughstock: How have you been connecting with fans during the pandemic?
Tom Mackell: In 2020, we did a bunch of livestreams and socially distanced outdoor shows. I released a couple of music videos as well. When outdoor shows slowed down over the winter, I began releasing new music and video content. I traveled further south and played a few safe shows in Florida as well. I look forward to more livestreams and socially distanced concerts.
Roughstock: What's up next for you?
Tom Mackell: Writing, recording, livestreams, and hopefully touring. As the weather continues to get nicer, I’m hopeful that more outdoor performance opportunities will arise. I’m working on releasing some new songs soon so look out for those as well. You can keep up with my socials at: