After spending more than a decade in Central America, Grant Peeples returned to the States to record his record Pawnshop, an alt-country album that he’s selling on the “trust system” which means listeners send him $15 after they receive their copy from his website.
He recently took a few minutes to answer some of our questions by email about his music and inspiration.
Q: Can you give our readers a short bio?
A: I’m a self-described LeftNeck, whose muse is the scrubland of the Florida Panhandle. That land; those people. I wrote a song one time called Liberal With A Gun. That’s pretty much me. I’m a tree hugger that’ll take a swing at you, a vegetarian that watches NASCAR. I lived on an island off the Coast of Nicaragua for eleven years. I grew up on country music, and can’t stand the crap that’s called contemporary country music today.
Q: What’s on your mix tape?
A: Sam Baker, Greg Brown and Mary Gauthier. And Dylan, of course. Lefty Frizzell and Lucinda Williams. Ray Wiley Hubbard. And the latest from Son Volt and Leonard Cohen.
Q: Besides your instruments, what are the top 5 things that you must have while on the road?
A: In my Honda Fit I carry a small propane coffee maker and a half dozen flashlights. I have no idea how Columbus found the New World without a GPS. There’s my laptop with my life on it. And…don’t tell anybody but I always travel with my own pillow. I can sleep anywhere if I have my $100 pillow.
Q: Any stories about your first or favorite instrument?
A :My first instrument was a Yamaha guitar. In 1979 I was at the Grand Ole Opry with Jeannie Sealy and Jack Green. I lugged the guitar backstage and got Loretta Lynn to sign it. She gave me a hug. She smelled really, really good.
Q: How do you come up with ideas and new songs.
A: I wait and watch and listen and…ignore.
Q: How has your music and style evolved over the years you’ve been performing?
A: I’ve learned to let the song breathe, to sing left and right of the beat, instead of riding it like a hobby horse. I don’t let melody get in the way of phrasing. I finally got that thing about the notes you don’t play being as important as the ones you do. I’ve never quit going back to songs, never look at them as finished, even after they’ve been recorded. I’d give you 10 adjectives for the right verb ANY day. Adjectives are for losers.
Q: Are you a full time musician or do you have a side gig
A: This is it. But I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to hold out.
Q: If you could sit down for an hour and play with any musician who would it be and what would you ask them?
A: That’s easy. Merle Haggard. There’s five things in this business: writing, playing, singing, performing, and taking other people’s material and making it yours. Nobody else has nailed all five like Haggard. I’d ask him to sing “Valentine,” which Willie wrote, but that Haggard sings like Louis Armstrong sings “Wonderful World.” I’d want to hear some Lefty Frizzell stories, too.
Q: Is there anything people listening to your music need to know about you?
A: Yea. I don’t make this shit up.
Q: What is your favorite meal on the road?
A: I eat at Moe’s at lot. I love how all the employees shout “WELCOME TO MOE’S!!!!” when you walk in. And then there’s the bean burritos. I am physically no longer able to walk into a Waffle House or a Subway. They are in my past. I eat a lot of peanuts, make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I could live off cereal, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, easy. Food really isn’t that important to me.
Q: What was the first concert you attended?
A: Roger Miller at Tully Gym in Tallahassee, around 1967. My parents had every one of his records. His were my first songs. It’s amazing to me that nobody covers his songs today. Roger Miller was a genius. He could go from funny to sad in three minutes like nobody else. “You Can’t Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd” to “One Dying and A Burying.”
Q: How did you decide to become a musician? Did you ever consider another career path?
A: You don’t decide on this career like you do law or real estate or welding. That said, there WAS a moment when I just said…. “I’m going to do this thing.” I had been messing around in the studio for a couple of years recording stuff. But I was working on a new record at Gatorbone Studio.
We recorded a song called “I Am Empty Now,” and Lisa Williamson had produced it and sang harmony on some tracks. When I was riding home from the studio I put the rough-mixed song in and listened to it. About five times. And then I said to myself then: “Okay, I can do this.” That’s when I forsook everything else for music. Nothing has been the same since.
Q: What have you always wanted to learn how to do?
A: Control my emotions.