Casey James is a Texan musician that played local venues for 11 years before he was ‘discovered’ on American Idol. After placing 3rd on the once popular television show, he was signed to Sony Music Nashville, and co-produced his debut album which landed at #2 on the US country chart. His first single went top 20 on the country charts, and his follow up single went top 15. While touring extensively on his own, Casey also landed the opening slot for Sugarlands’ “Incredible Machine” tour, Alan Jackson, and Taylor Swifts’ “Red” tour. He released “Fall Apart” as a lead single to a new record that Sony would later decide not to release. Shortly afterward, Casey and Sony split ways. Now an independent artist, Casey is looking to record, release and tour with his latest and most uninhibited music yet.
“Everything has it's time and place. I couldn’t have made this record 6 years ago. I couldn't have made this record even 2 years ago. The timing is right, and I'm just excited to share where I'm at musically with everyone."
“My initial goal is set very low. That seems crazy when trying to raise thirty thousand dollars, but I will explain why it's not. It's not as easy as walking into a studio and playing some music (though it would be nice if that were the case). There are quite a few costs, and if you try to cut corners, it will be VERY apparent in the outcome of the music. Here are some of the initial cost that are a big portion of the budget when making a record… The studio… I recorded my tracks in a wonderful room at a place called Sound Stage on Music Row in Nashville TN. The cost of the Producer…. I think we covered that Tom Hambridge is worth paying for. The cost of the musicians, which is probably the most obvious of places that you wouldn’t want to cut costs. Then you have a budget for any additional instrumentation (horns, background vocals, etc.) that the music calls for, as well as overdubs. Overdubs are where a lot of trickery and “fixing” happen. There will be a negligible amount of that in this record, as a lot of it is live (I'll discuss that later) but it is still a cost. Then there is the mixing, and mastering of the record. Once that is done you have to have imaging (pictures, art, and what-not) for your album cover, and you have to actually have physical copies of the music produced, such as CD's and Vinyl Records (If we get there...).
This doesn’t begin to even consider promoting the music, which simply means trying to spread the word and share the music on a larger level. As an artist that has done this with a label previously, I can tell you for certain that I’m asking for about a tenth of what I paid for the previous record (though the label paid up front for these costs, and I paid them back through sales). All cards on the table and swallowing my pride, I will share with you that I've invested as much as I can afford to. Without being able to tour and bring in a paycheck, and having a wife and child to support, I have to leave enough money to pay the bills till things get going again. And I BELIEVE without reservation that this music can do that for me. I just need the initial push. So my hope is to raise enough money to cover the costs of the making of the record, as well as the physical copies, and if we are being very optimistic, some marketing and promotion for the new music. If I’m dreaming, I might as well dream big right?”
“This record is a new chapter for me. A new chapter as an artist, and as a human. The last 7 years of my life have been full of many amazing experiences, but have also been a bit crazy as well. I think that it will be an ongoing journey for the rest of my life, but I do feel much more centered then I have been since my last record was written and produced. I feel as though I've come full circle back to who I was when I first entered the public eye. And whether by coincidence or by design, my circumstances are closer to what they were at that time as well. I've always tried to do the best with the opportunities that I’ve been afforded, and I am proud of my accomplishments, but this record will be different for me in many ways. This project is PASSION based. There is no thought to anything other than the music itself. The meaning of the lyric, the soul of the song, the truth in the delivery, and the pure joy in the performing of this record is all that exists. Allowing myself to express who I am right now, and what I want to say right now. There isn’t a marketing and promo team deciding what is best for me, or the record. The people involved in the making of this record are only involved because they truly believe in it and are passionate about it coming to life. And that includes YOU. With the exception of the birth of my baby girl, I have never been more excited, at peace, and proud of anything in my entire life. This music is who I am today, with no exceptions, concessions, excuses or interruptions.
As I write this, I have recorded 16 tracks with Tom and the band. As I have explained in a short video (below here) on the site, we have started but not finished. Cutting the songs in the studio is just step one. There is still a lot to do. Mixing, mastering, fabrication and duplication are just a few of those things that still remain. I dont know what will end up happening to be fully clear. It all depends on where we land with this Kickstarter event. I would love to have a record with at least 12 songs on it. The good news, is that since I own the music and the rights to releasing it, the others will most likely be released down the line somewhere as bonus tracks or under some other form.
What's it sound like?…. This is always a tough question. I will just give you information and let you decide what you think it will sound like. I'm playing, singing, and writing these songs. “Didn’t you do that on your first record as well?” you might ask… Yes, I did, but the difference is that I am now the one choosing what will actually go on the record. Meaning, if I write 100 songs and I let ten different people pick ten different songs, you might come out with 10 very different sounding records. While I love every song, I might not feel that it's the best representation of what it is that I want to express and share at that time. I can’t imagine anyone that liked my first record not liking this record, but at the same time, I have no doubt that this record will also appeal to an entirely new demographic of listeners. Mainly people that grew up listening to a lot of the artists that I listen to and respect. In short, blues lovers, and people that love Texas music. The most important thing to know regarding this record is that it's the CORE of who I am musically. Not to say that anything I’ve ever done in the past or will do in the future isn’t me.
I will always be proud of the music I make at each stage of my life. It's more like understanding the heart of where someone is coming from, and always seeing anything they do in that light. That's the light that I want to shine. In a perfect world, I would have given you that light with the very first opportunity I had, but I'm thankful to have the chance to expand what it is that the world knows about me and what I want to say musically.”
Tom Hambridge has been nominated for 5 Grammy Awards, and has a Grammy win for producing Buddy Guy’s Album ‘LIVING PROOF’. He has also worked with Delbert McClinton, ZZ Top, Hank Williams Jr., BB King, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Billy Ray Cyrus, Meat Loaf, Rascal Flatts, Johnny Winter, Rodney Atkins, George Thorogood, Keith Anderson, and Susan Tedeschi. The list goes on…
“I met Tom through a friend and we immediately hit it off. I knew of him from listening to some of the records he had produced, and was already a fan of his work. But I didn’t realize how great of a writer he was until we actually sat down to write a song. We ended up writing a great tune, and it will be on the record for you all to hear. The whole story is so real and organic, but the moral of it is that it just felt right to have Tom produce this record. I'm following my heart no matter where it leads me. My belief is that, if I stick to that plan, this project will succeed."
“Part of working with a great producer is the fact that he is able to help get the right musicians together to play the songs and help create the sound that an artist is shooting for. Tom absolutely nailed it with this group of guys. These musicians are the glue that binds me and these songs into a cohesive unit. Or better yet, they allowed ME to be the glue. I could not have been more happy with the amazing choices these guys made while making this record. Allowing me to just be me, sing and play these songs as I wrote them, as well as add their personal choices musically was exactly the thing I needed. The passion and talent that they brought was above and beyond the call of duty, and the fact that they are a fun group of guys to hang with was just a bonus. Feel free to look them up and have your minds blown at the artists they have worked with, as well as the solo projects they have created. I'm honored to now be on that list. A very special thanks to Tom Hambridge (Drums), Pat Buchanan and Rob McNelley (guitars), Tommy McDonald (Bass), and Kevin Mckendree (Keys).”
“This is a huge issue that is just as huge of a part of my goal here. In short YES, if we succeed here, I will be touring. Playing music in a live setting is one of the most rewarding things that this life can bring me, and I would absolutely love to be on the road as much as possible. The problem is that without a new record to share and promote, it leaves me largely unable to get gigs and play shows. To travel and pay a band what they deserve isn’t cheap, so I have to be able to make enough money to afford touring. Being able to sell a record at the live shows, as well as have folks show up excited to see me and hear the new music should allow that to happen. This Kickstarter is about the entirety of my music, and that means that part of the goal is to be able to tour and share this music with you all live. Making this record is the first on my to do list, and the second is coming to your town to play it for you live.”
With the exception of #1 and #10 which were my own personal clothes at the time, everything else here was bought for me while I was on the show. There were several people involved in the clothes that each contestant wore throughout my season of American Idol. Part of the show was making sure that everyone “looked the part”, and as crazy as it sounds, some of my dearest memories from the show revolve around the time spent dealing with wardrobe. I ended up just throwing each outfit in my bag at the end of the night, and when I got back home after the show was over, I threw most of them in a box and forgot I had them. In some cases, I continued to wear them to red carpets and industry events.
Lets Don’t Call It A Night was my first single, my first music video, and my first top 20 radio success. I had a blast on the set, and I loved the outcome of our work. I ended up wearing one of my favorite shirts for the video, and wore it so much afterward, that I had to retire it. I could never bring myself to throw it away just because it felt right to keep it, and now Im glad I did. The guitar strap was hand made for me by Red Monkey while I was on idol. I had asked for something with a Texas Star on it in blue, and they did a great job. I used it for the American Idol tour as well, and for many gigs and tours afterwards.
This was the music video for my last single with Sony Music Nashville. I had a ton of fun working on it. Even though its a very small clip in the video, I got to smash a guitar which is not something I do everyday. I kept the smashed and un-smashed versions of the guitars when the shoot was finished. I picked May 25th for the date on the watch, because it holds a special meaning for me.
This was the video from my most successful single. I actually spent some time with an acting coach because I wanted to capture the emotion of this song with the visual as well. I kept the shirt, the boots, and the jewelry after the video. I ended up wearing them at quite a few live shows afterwards.
This is one of two custom made Tradition Guitars that I own and play. This one is just amazingly beautiful, and sounds just as good. I have always been blown away with the sound that this guitar produces, and it will be missed. But nothing worth having ever came free, and this record is worth seeing her go.
Here is the second custom Tradition Guitar that was made for me. I loved the red one so much, that I had another one built with the addition of a humbucker pickup in the bridge position. Technical talk, I know... It just means that it sounds a bit different than the red one. Pictures can't capture the depth of the color.
This guitar is what got me into the top ten on American Idol. I won't ever forget playing slide guitar and singing "It's All Over Now" on the show. I played this guitar in my live show for years after Idol. I took it on the road with me when I landed the Sugarland Incredible Machine tour, and for another few hundred shows after that as well. I hope that it can bring someone else as much good fortune and as many good memories as it has for me.
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk for me has been to stay independent and make this record on my own. To be true to who I am no matter what the cost. This entire Kickstarter event is evidence of that risk. Dealing with a private investor that ended up not being able to fund this project has led me to here, which is really where I should have started. But I needed to understand how much fans want to see this happen, and how many people respect the decision to be true to yourself even when it is scary. If this Kickstarter Event is successful, then the biggest risk will have already passed.
The challenges are to succeed with my end goal, which is just to do what I do. Play music for you live and create a quality studio recording of the music Im so very proud of and excited to share. To continue doing these things as I move forward in life, and support my family while doing so. I don't live extravagantly, and I don't require much. I also know from experience that no amount of money can replace the joy of following your heart.
It really just boils down to getting a little kickstart (pun intended) to allow the machine to fuel itself. I believe FULLY, that it will do so.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)