Can't remember? That's what motivated singer-songwriter Ben Rector to make his sixth studio album, Brand New. "I wanted to make a record that felt like a first record," the 28-year-old told us. "It gets harder to find that same head space because all of a sudden you have something to lose." The Oklahoma native had a lot to say about how he got to where he is today.
C: We love your style! Who inspires you musically?
BR: "I grew up listening to a station in Tulsa, it was oldies. I didn't pay super close attention when I was younger, but as I got older, I really liked singer-songwriters like Billy Joel, James Taylor, The Beatles as a band and individually. Also, I love pop music, like Dr. Luke's stuff."
C: You look like a guy who would have a Plan B. Are we right?
BR: "Totally. Nobody in my family does music, that wasn't on the radar at all. I liked guitar and started playing and writing songs in high school, but it's not practical so I wasn't like 'I'm just going to do this.' My parents are really kind, smart and great, but they're not just like 'Do whatever! Chase your dreams!' They're practical. I graduated college - I got a business degree from the University of Arkansas."
C: Was there a certain point where you (and your parents) realized this could be a successful career?
BR: "It wasn't like 'I can't do this cause mom and dad don't want me to.' It was more like I didn't know how it worked. I was in college and the only people that knew I played music were my friends. I did shows and they were there, but then I started realizing people I didn't know who seemed genuinely excited. I was like 'That's weird. They don't have any reasons to like this.' That kept happening in different cities. I'm a pretty pessimistic guy as far as what I think is going to happen, I was the last guy who was like 'I'm going to see my name in lights!'"
C: We bet you've seen your name in lights now! How does something like touring feel to you?
BR: "I'll be really honest - it's a super odd and weird thing. It feels like an alternate universe! When I'm home, I don't get notifications when people are listening to my music. But on tour you get in the bus, wake up somewhere and all of a sudden there is a room full of people who are really excited. I'm so thankful any amount of people are interested in the music I've made, but it's like 'Wow, these are real people and I don't know any of them!'"
C: Asking a musician what their favorite song is off their album is like asking a parent who their favorite child is. So, who's your favorite child?
BR: "I think your analogy is accurate. I like 'Men That Drive Me Places,' it's a thing I really wanted to say and I feel like it came out and said it well. I like 'Brand New' because it's a real energetic fun song and I like 'Paris,' which is young and vibrant."
C: We know this isn't your first time at the rodeo. What does your sixth album mean to you?
BR: "When you write a first record, for the most part it's just a dream. For this, I wanted to make another first record. Something that was vibrant. 'Brand New' the song feels like that to me. What I'm saying in the song is what I wanted the album to feel like. Getting back to music being a gift and a passion, something that I love."
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