Steel Magnolia Interview: Hot New Country Duo Releases Debut Album
Country music duo Steel Magnolia consists of 25-year-old Louisiana native Meghan Linsey and her boyfriend Joshua Scott Jones. Linsey spent her childhood in New Orleans, then her family moved to nearby Ponchatoula, just north of Lake Pontchartrain. Jones, 28, was born in Houston but raised by an adoptive family in rural Charleston, Illinois.
A chance meeting at a karaoke bar in Nashville’s Printers Alley in 2006 led Linsey and Jones to form Steel Magnolia. The duo won season two of the television talent show Can You Duet and signed a recording contract with Big Machine Records to release their debut single, “Keep On Lovin’ You,” in August 2009. The song became a Top 5 hit on the Billboard country chart. A second single, “Just By Being You (Halo and Wings),” followed in July 2010
“I was really nervous because the Opry is just an institution. The Opry is in its own league so to go in the place for the first time you feel like there are just so many great people who have played there. It’s almost like you need to wear some sort of a magical cloak when you walk in the building. You don’t know really how to act and I didn’t at first.”
Steel Magnolia’s self-titled debut album will be released on January 11, 2011, having been delayed from last September. It features the hit “Keep On Lovin’ You,” “Just By Being You (Halo and Wings),” as well as the current single “Last Night Again” written by Linsey, Jones, and Hillary Lindsey. The duo wrote or co-wrote an additional six songs on the album as well and recorded a song penned by Keith Urban entitled “Homespun Love.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Hey guys, great album! There is definitely as much pop as traditional country. Was that intentional?
Meghan Linsey: I think it definitely wasn’t intentional. We went in with the idea that the front half would be a little more of the newer country sound and for the back half we were going to try to make it a little more traditional. We wanted to pay homage to our country roots because we actually both have pretty deep country roots from a young age. That’s how the record worked out.
I think the last couple of songs of the record are pretty country. “Glass Houses” and “Homespun Love” are probably the most country things on the record. I think for the next record we’d like to take it a little deeper and maybe do a little more traditional.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I hear some reggae, even a little calypso in the song “Rainbow.”
Meghan Linsey: Definitely yeah. We actually co-wrote that with Tommy Henriksen who’s a pop producer and Chioma Eze who’s an R&B singer from South Africa. We wrote the song with the intention of pitching it to maybe a pop act or something and then Scott Borchetta from the record label liked it and wanted us to cut the song so we did.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Have you written many songs for other country artists?
Joshua Scott Jones: Oh yeah, we’ve written a lot of songs for the country artists. We just have to get them to cut them (laughs).
Meghan Linsey: Yeah, we feel like we have anyways (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Both of you began performing at an early age. Josh, when did your interest in music begin?
Joshua Scott Jones: I think I was always involved from the time I could … from ever since I can remember. I would try to show off for the family. My brother used to make me fake guitars just out of a broomstick. He’d put a string on it like a strap and put a magazine over the bottom of it to make it look like the shape of a guitar. I’d go around and sing songs. I always felt like I was trying to entertain and sing and do all that from a very young age.
I think it gets to a point where it just develops and develops until you get to a certain point when you keep that on the forefront of your mind. Even now where we are we want to … you eventually just want to do it all. I think that you’re never really satisfied. You always want to write a better song or put on another great show or whatever it is. I think you finally get to the level where, especially since the album’s coming out, that people will at least have a chance to hear your music.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Who are your influences, Josh?
Joshua Scott Jones: My influences from a very early age were classic country music, late 70s rock and roll, and early 80s rock and roll. My parents listened to classic country. I would wear out Patsy Cline records, Conway Twitty records, listening to old outlaw country like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. My brother was always listening to the late 70s rock and early 80s stuff. That was my first thing. I think that it’s funny because when you watch our live show a lot of that comes through and it has kind of come full circle.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Meghan, who are your musical influences?
Meghan Linsey: Yep, some country for sure. Tanya Tucker and Dolly Parton were two really big ones. My dad listened to a lot of late 70s rock. I have a soul influence, too, like Aretha Franklin, Susan Tedeschi, Bonnie Raitt, just anyone who could make you feel a song. That’s what I gravitated toward as a kid.
Joshua Scott Jones: When I met Meghan I wasn’t doing your middle of the road country stuff and she was. Meghan has a great country voice. She can sound like Loretta Lynn.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You two met at a karaoke bar in Nashville?
Meghan Linsey: Yeah, I did the karaoke jockey thing for like five years (laughs).
Joshua Scott Jones: I had just moved to town and had taken a job at a radio station selling advertising. I came into the bar and had just gotten off work. I was going out every night just to see Nashville and have fun because I was new to town and was just looking for a good time. Meghan and I happened to meet and we’ve pretty much been hanging out ever since.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You two won the second season of the TV talent show Can You Duet and you sang “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”
Meghan Linsey: Yeah, we did that song and kind of put our own version to it. We thought that was a risk at the time. It was kind of scary to take such a classic like that and put your own spin on it, but it seemed like the judges liked it so we kept doing it (laughs).
Joshua Scott Jones: It paid off and it was the first time that I’d sung harmony with Meghan. She was the lead and I sang harmony so I was nervous about that. I think that people really like that song. It’s such a great song and the lyrics are so poetic. It’s an amazing American classic.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Absolutely. Hank Williams was one of the greatest country songwriters.
Joshua Scott Jones: That’s another thing. Hank broke the doors wide open for country. He made it popular and was kind of the Elvis of that genre. He just had so much soul and feeling when he sang. No matter who you are, when you listen to those songs they are such undeniable words and music.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Okay, which one comes up with the lyrics and who comes up with the music? Do you argue during the songwriting process?
Joshua Scott Jones: All of that (laughs).
Meghan Linsey: Yeah (laughs). It’s always different I think. Obviously Josh is the guitar player so he’s always coming up with guitar melodies and stuff. Sometimes I’ll start singing or he’ll have a melody and we’ll just start writing lyrics. It just really depends on the song. We definitely fight (laughs). It’s not easy always writing together. We have different ideas and stuff, you know?
Joshua Scott Jones: Yeah, sometimes I’d rather shave my head with a cheese grater.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Thanks Josh, I will now have that image in my head for the next few minutes. I read that you wrote “Without You” after an argument. Is that accurate?
Joshua Scott Jones: Yeah it is.
Meghan Linsey: He started it (laughs).
Joshua Scott Jones: Yeah, well, I started the argument.
Meghan Linsey: He started the argument and the song.
Joshua Scott Jones: Well, I wrote the verses in about ten minutes. It just kind of came right out and then when I did it, I snagged the chorus of the song that Meghan and I and Van Preston had written together and inserted that into the song. I said that I’d just ask for forgiveness later. That’s kind of what happened there because it just fit too nicely and maybe I was being a little lazy so …
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What are the greatest problems you face working together all of the time?
Joshua Scott Jones: I think the problem is that we don’t have time to worry about our problems because we are staying so busy right now and I think we realize what’s important. Being so busy you have to learn to pick your battles and realize what is important and what needs to be argued about and what doesn’t need to be argued about. I think at the end of the day we’re very like-minded, Meghan and I, and we get along really well.
We have the same values and traditions. At the end of the day we really like each other and get along and we don’t hold grudges. That is not in our nature. Not only that, but we just get along. When we do argue or fight it lasts in the moment and then it’s over and never brought up again.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is that how you feel, Meghan?
Meghan Linsey: For the most part. I don’t know that we really fight all that much as we just have really quick arguments and then they’re over.
Joshua Scott Jones: I think we would be comfortable just going to the Elks Lodge every night for dinner and coming home to watch The Lawrence Welk Show.
Meghan Linsey: That’s true (laughs). We’ve talked about that.
Joshua Scott Jones: We’re just content, you know? We’re content around each other.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Would marriage make that situation better or worse?
Joshua Scott Jones: I think everything is just fine.
Meghan Linsey: Uh huh. We’ll get married when we feel like it I guess. I don’t know.
Joshua Scott Jones: We are married to our music.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What was the experience like singing at the Grand Ole Opry?
Joshua Scott Jones: I was really nervous because the Opry is just an institution. The Opry is in its own league so to go in the place for the first time you feel like there are just so many great people who have played there. It’s almost like you need to wear some sort of a magical cloak when you walk in the building. You don’t know really how to act and I didn’t at first. I feel like the people who played there paid so many dues. It was just a real magical feeling the first time we played there.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How does it feel to be nominated for another Country Music Award?
Meghan Linsey: It feels good. It’s funny because you work so hard and you’re on the road constantly and doing radio and playing shows and just going and going and then you get a call that you’re nominated for an award. You kind of get a little extra boost.
Joshua Scott Jones: It’s like a B-12 shot right in your rear.
Meghan Linsey: Nice (laughs).
Meghan Linsey: Definitely yeah. It’s our second year there, but we’re not as scared this time. I think last year was just nerve racking even to get out of the car and walk the red carpet, much less to be nominated. But, to know what to expect is nice.
Joshua Scott Jones: I agree. It’s fun. I think we’d be more nervous now at this point if we won because we’ve been to award shows a few times now.
Meghan Linsey: We’ve never written an acceptance speech and haven’t won yet. I’m wondering if we should write one just to think that we will win.
Joshua Scott Jones: We’re just happy to be a part of the show and be there among the people we look up to and have a lot of respect for. It’s a great feeling.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Who came up with the name of the group?
Meghan Linsey: Oh that was me.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I ask because “steel magnolia” traditionally means a strong southern woman.
Joshua Scott Jones: Thank you.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Funny Josh. How did that come about?
Joshua Scott Jones: We were playing out enough as a duo that it finally became time to think of a name. Meghan said, “Steel Magnolia.” I said, “Well, we’ll just change that later.” But, I guess my procrastination didn’t pay off.
Meghan Linsey: That’s true (laughs).
Joshua Scott Jones: That’s the same way I procrastinate certain things sometimes. But the name fits now and that’s the thing. I think it says a lot about us.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you ever compared to Sugarland?
Joshua Scott Jones: Occasionally, but I think being a new group you’re always going to be compared to somebody because you’re new.
Meghan Linsey: We get compared to Lady Antebellum and Sugarland a lot. I think that’s a great compliment. Both are really good so we’ll take it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What’s new other than the album?
Meghan Linsey: We’re just trying to get our show together. We’ve had rehearsals the last three days with the band. We expanded our team and band and we’re just trying to get it all really tight.
We’re going out with Blake Shelton on the road coming up so we’ve been planning for that. We have a couple of things in the works that really haven’t been announced yet. We’re just working on figuring it all out and taking it as it comes.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): New music coming up?
Meghan Linsey: Eventually. We haven’t really thought about it or had any talks about it. We write constantly so we have some material.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): This CD is released on January 11, 2011. Does that date have some particular significance for you?
Meghan Linsey: Kind of (laughs).
Joshua Scott Jones: We’re not really that superstitious. It just happened to fall on that date.
Meghan Linsey: Well, we were trying to figure out a date to move it to because we couldn’t release the record in September as there were 15 superstar acts coming out with records in that same corridor and we didn’t want to get lost in the mix.
We weren’t real crazy about moving the record to be quite honest but someone said, “How about January 11?” I told Josh, “That’s 1-11-11.” That 11 thing has kind of followed us around throughout our career so we were like, “Hmm, that might be a sign. Maybe we should move it to that date.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I hope that is a sign. Continued success you two on the new album and the career!
Meghan Linsey: Thank you very much.
Joshua Scott Jones: Thank you sweet doll.
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