Josh Thompson recently released his second solo album Turn It Up, which he says is all about having a good time. He’s currently out on the road promoting the album and his new single “Wanted Me Gone.” He spoke to us about his favorite lyrics, Merle Haggard, the word he hates, and more.
How would you describe Turn It Up?
I would describe it as a party – a good time waiting to happen.
How would you compare it to your last album?
Compared to my last album, this one is on steroids. We named it after a track on the album called “Turn It Up,” which felt appropriate. Not only turn up this record, but turn up the way you live your life, turn up the crazy, turn up the feel-good, turn up the don’t-give-a-you-know-what. It fits the album perfectly.
How often do you play for fun, just for yourself? What sort of stuff do you play when you do?
I play for myself on a pretty regular basis really, and I tend to play a lot of older songs: Haggard, Jones, and also bluegrass. I also just write songs off the cuff, most of it’s pretty inappropriate – Haha!
How did you learn how to play guitar?
I took lessons for about seven months from a guy who used to work with my mother. Once I learned chords, I started playing by ear and writing so I stopped the lessons. I never had the patience to learn to read music.
Who are your songwriting heroes?
Merle Haggard is my favorite singer/ songwriter. Harlan Howard is my favorite songwriter.
What was the first song you ever wrote? Tell us about it.
It was a song called “Pull You Through” and from what I remember it wasn’t really good. It was about a girlfriend I had at the time who was going through a rough patch.
What’s the last song you wrote or started?
Yesterday I wrote a song called “Any Ol’ Barstool.”
What’s the best song you ever wrote?
That’s a good question. I guess for me, personally, it would be a song called “Damn The Things.”
How do you go about writing songs?
I don’t really have a set way. Sometimes I start humming a melody, or I have a great line, hook, or idea. Sometimes a song comes out of nowhere. My favorites are the ones that get me out of bed at 3am running for a guitar and something to record on.
What is your approach to writing lyrics?
Lyrics are the reason I fell in love with songs and music in general, so my approach is to keep them real and simple, but strong.
What sort of things inspire you to write?
Conversations I have or overhear, movies, other songs, and life in general. How I’m feeling has a lot to do with the songs I write.
What’s a song on Turn It Up you’re particularly proud of and why?
“A Little Memory.” I just love the approach, and the hook fits the melody perfectly. The idea of love being able to change you even after it’s over. I just love it.
What’s a lyric or verse from the album you’re a fan of?
From my new single “Wanted Me Gone” – “I put the good in front of bye y’all, put a hole in the drywall, put the pedal to the firewall, and I was gone.”
Are there any words you love or hate?
I love the word “love” and hate the word “can’t.”
What’s a song of yours that’s really touched people?
A song called “Sinner” gets a lot of reaction from people. I’ve received a lot of messages and letters from people that were touched by that song.
Do you ever do any other kinds of writing?
Haha! I did write a children’s book recently, at least I think I did.
If you could co-write with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
The Hag for sure.
Who do you consider an underrated songwriter?
Really nobody comes to mind right now.
What do you consider to be the perfect song, and why?
“Little Past Little Rock.” It’s so well written and maybe I think it’s perfect because it fit a time in my life to a T.