“I don’t trust anyone who can’t laugh at themselves at least a little,” says Wild Earp. “I take songwriting and making music very seriously, but I’m not afraid to have fun and take a jab at myself every once in a while.”
With a new song called “Ain’t It a Shame (When Your Horse Goes Lame),” Earp and his trusty Free for Alls poke fun at the ego with a boot-scootin’ jam ripe for a little line dancing. Bandmate Jed Taylor, known as Valentine onstage, took to “singing what eventually became the chorus for this song during a sound check at our longtime residency at The California Clipper,” Earp tells American Songwriter. “I jumped in on harmonies, along with backup singer Tara Smith, and we sort of wrote the song on the spot. I took the idea home and worked it a little bit with a list of some recent misfortunes and came back with a full song for our next rehearsal.”
Out of Chicago, Earp owes his first piano teacher Mrs. Light for inspiring him to pursue music in the first place. “[She] taught me at 5 years old that songwriting was equally as important as learning other people’s songs,” he offers. And he’s certainly taken that to heart. Over the years, from the band’s first record, a self-titled release in 2018, to the new project, Earp has remained focused and intentional in his songwriting.
“Sometimes if you’ve got the right phrase, the song writes itself. Sometimes a song takes years of manipulation, but when you’re done, you’ve got something to share,” he says. “I enjoy the songwriting process, but I’m happiest when I can give legs to a song and others can hear it and respond to it.”
He takes a moment to offer up one piece of songwriting advice he’s pick up in his travels. “Surround yourself with good musicians with creative ideas. There are many more dimensions to a song beyond the melody and lyrics, and a good backing band can provide life to your songs in ways that you may have not been able to see before.
Self-described as “old school, new-fangled, funky country-western, rock’n’rollabilly,” Wild Earp and the Free for Alls certainly know how to get the feet moving. “Ain’t It a Shame (When Your Horse Goes Lame)” samples a new record, titled Dyin’ for Easy Livin’ (out everywhere July 9).
In addition to the band work, Earp also “recorded the base tracks for a full length spaghetti western/dark folk concept album of Greek myths that I hope to finish this year,” he teases. He has plans for a Christmas album, a full-length album of “harmony-heavy cowboy tunes” with Babe-alon 5, and a “wild west radio serial podcast.”