After 15 years as a band, The Cadillac Three headed into the writing of their fourth album with just one simple goal.
“We wanted to write the craziest sh** we could possibly write,” says Jaren Johnston during a pre-quarantine interview with American Songwriter about the release of their fourth album Country Fuzz. “We wrote as wild as possible. We sang anything that came to mind. We tried stuff no one else would.”
And then Johnston snickers, that sort of snicker that makes it seem like he’s about to drop something heavy.
“When you find yourself in Nashville, you sometimes find yourself in the game and thinking about a lyric so hard and you are thinking things like…’oh (Tim) McGraw or (Jason) Aldean wouldn’t sing this,’” Johnston recalled. “Those were the moments we were like, ‘fu** that. We were out to write the best song and fight people for the others.”
And that down and dirty strategy worked marvelously.
Alongside TC3 bandmates Neil Mason and Kelby Ray, Johnston created a transformative album back in February that has effectively served as the most perfect of salves for their coronavirus-starved fandom right now, a fandom using the backbeat of “Country Fuzz” as the perfect excuse to rock out a few of their frustrations out on their collective dashboards.
And while the band collectively wishes that they were out on the road pounding out songs such as “The Jam” or turning the sexy up with songs such as “Heat,” the pandemic had other plans for them and just about every other touring artist out there.
But they ain’t sulking.
The COVID-19 quarantine had TC3 spending more nights together than apart. They continue to record their weekly Country Fuzz Radio episodes. They created custom #STAYHOME merchandise like t-shirts and posters to help financially support their road team during this still somewhat unfathomable break.
And on Friday (May 29,) TC3’s collaboration “Fast Left Hand” with the iconic Ray Wylie Hubbard was released to fans, and will be included on Hubbard’s forthcoming album Co-Starring on July 10. On the same day, TC3 also released a more amplified, rock-heavy version of “The Jam (+ FUZZ.)
And oh, by the way, they have also been busy growing up.
Mason just announced that he and wife Chelsea Eager are expecting their first child, and it’s a girl. Johnston and his wife Evyn welcomed their son Jude Daniel back in 2017 and has been busy spending their quarantine watching their little boy show off some of the music skills he seems to have inherited from his talented daddy.
These are sweet times indeed.
Because, now more than ever before, the men of The Cadillac Three are trusting their gut, both professionally and personally.
“We have done really well by not chasing things,” states Johnston, who set the internet aflame over quarantine when they released their stripped down version of Post Malone’s hit “Circles.” “And the times when I thought we were chasing something more than I was comfortable with, it didn’t work out for us as well as it has the other way.”
Of course, when the chase ends, the process of creation slows down a tad. Having produced 15 of the 16 tracks on Country Fuzz with the legendary Dann Huff, TC3 took two and a half years to complete the album in full.
And that was completely fine by them.
“We have never spent so much time on one album, but it was worth it,” says Johnston of the album mostly recorded from the back of the band’s tour bus with the generator buzzing. “We didn’t want to stick with the same old bull sh**. We stumbled on a funkier vibe that took us back to when we were learning to play and listening to everything from the Dave Matthews Band to Nirvana. It was interesting to come back to that and then add this really cool flair that made it all fit together in a weird way. It was a labor of love.”
And during that labor of love, they dug deeper and found themselves. They proved once again they don’t need a hit single or radio support to emerge as one of music’s most influential bands. Heck, they don’t even need to be held down by the parameters of a genre.
They simply have to continue…being themselves.
“With every record, we become less of the underdog, and that’s an exciting place for us to be.”