For Bo Bice, his new album See The Light is his coming out party. While many music fans were introduced to Bo through American Idol and his follow up debut release The Real Thing, that was just a preview of things to come for this Southern born rocker. Describing the writing process for See The Light as a pure sense of freedom, Bice was compelled to write a diverse set of tunes that really gets down to his roots. He felt free to experiment with a broad range of sounds and styles without feeling any pressure from the powers that be, the album is 100 percent Bo Bice from start to finish.
Released on his own label (Sugar Money/StratArt Records) Bice is definitely putting it all out there. He realizes the benefit of the exposure that American Idol brought him but the rest of his success he had to chase on his own. Luckily for him, music is what comes naturally. While the album definitely gets down to basics and draws from his influences of classic rock, it also boasts of some funk, some soul and of course good ole fashioned Rock n Roll, more than anything else you can tell that Bice loved writing this record and when you can permeate that kind of feeling through song, you’ve successed.
Bo Bice recently took some time to talk to TWRY staffer Stacie about the album, about his journey getting to this point and about his life outside of music…
Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty | May 2008
On your latest release “See the Light” you claim that this is the genuine Bo, or the REAL Bo. While I totally understand what you mean by this, explain to our readers in your own words what you mean by that, and what this album means to you.
The latest release “See the Light” is a genuine Bo Bice record. I had a great time making “The Real Thing” it was a wonderful record. We did great with sales. We worked with wonderful producers; you know Clive Davis and RCA. But, it was more of a pop oriented record. “See The Light” is more of the root-sy, back to basics thing that people recognize from Idol that I did, that southern rock style more than anything. Really it’s an accumulation of everything I’ve listened to from Allman Bros, to Lynard Skynard, Black Crowes and Jimmy Hendrix and Jim Croce. It’s a melting pot of those influences, that really over the years, these songs have just kind of were acquire because a lot of those folks. I felt like getting back to the more genuine side of what I do.
It’s no secret that you were sort of bound by RCA and Clive Davis on your first album. I don’t want you to think I’m looking for you to bash either, but I’d like you to comment what it’s like being an artist and having others try to fit you into a mold of sorts.
Right, I think for the most part it’s no secret that that isn’t the album that I would have made, but I think also when you get into the music business you give up some control to people who at times might have more knowledge than you. Clive Davis is great at creating acts and creating hits on the radio, and knowing the write song writers and producers to use. I definitely wouldn’t consider the time I spent with RCA a battle or anything, I was very happy. I learned a lot from the producers I was able to work with like Desmond Child, Marty Fredrickson, Cliff Magnus, Chad Kroeger, Josh Hanks and all these folks. I learned a lot from that. There is a lot of things you give up when you are signed to a major label if you are a creative writing artist. I think if you want to have hits, and have somebody guide you through your career then that is a great avenue. I definitely would never bash them, because they’ve made great hits. I haven’t been around for decades making hit records and Clive Davis has been responsible for several different avenues for people’s careers.
My favorite CD review quote from Blogcritics.com: “A little Lenny Kravitz, a little Lynyrd Skynyrd and oh what the heck, throw in a little Bon Jovi for good measure. Stir in a pinch of southern fried chicken and a shot of Jack Daniels and voila, you’ve got yourself a fresh serving of steaming hot Bo Bice.” – Clever eh?
That is pretty clever. Not a bad review, I don’t mind stuff like that! There has been a lot of influences over the years on me, and I don’t take credit for any one sounds or movement… it’s just hearing what I love. I just amazing that I get to work at my dream every day! It’s a blessing and I’m blessed to have great fans that make comments.
Purchase Bo’s Album now here
Speaking of reviews, everyone has their opinion… but, I’m wondering if you read the reviews, and if so how do you take the good and bad and keep yourself from gauging your own eyes out? Do you get caught up in it, or do you try to stay away from it?
I try not to read too many reviews. I see them on my website. On bobice.com we’ve got a pretty open fan base and we’ve got an interactive site. They get up and post the reviews, the good and the bad, and for the most part the worst review that we’ve gotten was a guy that compared me to all these acts that I’ve loved, like the Black Crowes and Lenny Kravitz and Jimmy Hendrix, and Bad Company. So at the end of the day I think he was trying to do a bad review but it was really more of a compliment.
I was gonna say yeah… how can you take that as bad?
*laughing* to even be put in that caliber with those acts… I try to take everything as constructive criticism. It doesn’t mean you start changing the way you do things cause you get criticized a certain way and say I’m not going to do that again. I think it makes you more mindful of how to be tactful with people when you say or do certain things. At the end of the day you don’t have to be PC all the time. Last time I checked we lived in a free country, so there are good and bad reviews and at the same time I try not to put too much weight on the good ones or the bad ones. When you start believing in your own press, that’s your own downfall. Pay attention to what the fans want and what the people who buy your records and support you at your shows and things like that. Those are the people that count more than myself or anybody else.
There are music critics and fans out there, who might judge you based on the fact that you were on American Idol, which is more of a pop artist machine of sorts. Or might judge you based on your first CD. What do you have to say about that?
I think one of the cool things is that adversity is what drives us as artists. That doesn’t mean shoving something down someone’s throat or to take retaliation towards people. I don’t run from Idol because I’m proud of it and it gave me a career. Do I want people to recognize Bo Bice for what he does? Yes, every artist does. Part of having a music career…If the Lord blesses me enough to have a long career in music…there will be plenty of time for people to find out what I’m about. I think if I were to run from it, it’s be bite the hand that feeds you, cause a lot of the people who watched it and got me here, still admire that show. I credit them for giving me my career and getting me to this level. Yeah, I want to try to win people over with my new music but for the most part I’m proud to be part of the alumni of American Idol. I think once people get to know Bo for what he really is… just like the other week when I performed on Idol… it was the first time I’ve been able to go back and do one of my originals. They invited me back and gave me the pulpit for a minute to show the same Americans, who got me where I am, the new side of Bo Bice. Some might look at it as a double edged sword, I just look at it as positive environment when I get to go back and see my family there at Idol, cause they are, they are like family.
Sugar Money is your own label in partnership with Strategic Artist Management. What is it like running your own label, how has it helped you in your musical endeavors? You know, regarding time constraints, paying artists, studio time, creativity… I would assume it opened up more freedom.
Sugar Money is my label; I don’t have any partners… I did partner up with Strat Art to do the last album “See the Light”. I have an independent label that I run. We’re not a huge Fortune 500 company; we’re grassroots as it can be. I own my own studio now, Rockhound Studios. I’m able to write the music I want, record the music I want, produce. Those aspects of owning your own label are great. There was time that I caught flack from people who said “This is never going to work!” or “You’re doing to much!” For me, just having the freedom to be a dad and a husband, and make the music I want… it’s been liberating! I think it shines through on “See the Light”. Hopefully on the next project, which I plan on putting out through my own label also, I’ll be able to revisit that kind of freedom. I would like to delve into different aspect that I haven’t touched yet, like maybe, some acoustic album stuff or throw a couple of covers on there. Do things that I really want to do and the only person that I really have to convince at the end of the day is the guy with the pocket book. So that is when we have relationships with other labels, marketing places, distribution deals, and licensing deals to where they want you to either invest in Bo Bice as the product has been handed to them or they don’t. So when you get someone to invest in your album or license it, they’re interest is vested in you. That is better than someone handing you a paycheck and saying “Here’s your chunk of money!” There is more of a risk that you take financially, but the pay off outweighs the risk. Once you start chasing the dollar the artistic side of this really goes out the window anyway. The greatest thing to me is having that flexibility to now turn down or accept certain things.
Being that you wanted this last album to be more you, are you taking that notion as sort of your future mission regarding other artists you may come to work with? Have you worked with other artists helping them produce and record their OWN music? Helping them stay true to their selves and talents?
Yeah it is something that I’ve entertained. I’m kind of using myself as the guinea pig, trying to find that template through what I do. To make sure that is going to be a successful venue for artists that I come to work with. I don’t really have the mindset like some of the labels… you find an act…the best song, or the best act, or the best thing… and then you throw it up against the wall and whatever sticks you say “Give me three more!” My mindset has been more towards putting out quality music, like Black Crowes, like Willy Nelson, like Lynard Skynard when yes, you are putting out good music, but your fans are going to come back cause they loved YOU. Once you have that kind of impact on people then you are truly able to live out your dreams. SO, I would want to pass that concept down to any artist that I work with, that it’s about staying genuine, working hard, creative artist development that really don’t even get dealt with anymore. It’s like a one or two record deal and your gone. So yeah once I’ve got this figured out on myself and we’ve got a good track record, then yeah we’ll bring on other acts, and teach them how to survive in the music industry.
Ok so years ago you used to hear about artists moving to L.A., nowadays we are hearing about Nashville. Bon Jovi tripped to Nashville to write and record their last album too. Tell us about the music scene there, and why you chose it.
Well it’s a great music scene. I came up to Nashville from Alabama because it was as far north and west as they’ll ever pull me. Being from Alabama, I’m a southern boy! I was here over a decade ago trying to make it as a songwriter and lived in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, so this is really home town turf in a sense to me. The music industry here (I’m just going to use the word industry) has changed here so much. You’ve got television and film here. Most videos that Nashville folk shoot are done here in Nashville. Writers. Producers. It’s always been a great haven for great players. I think it’s really had it’s moment to shine in country music but now it’s cross pollinating into things like Rock and Roll, some really heavy rockers are here and Hip Hop folks. It used to be L.A., New York and Atlanta… now it’s L.A., New York, Atlanta and Nashville. It’s a nice place to be and a friendly environment for artists, producers, players, to all mingle and pick each other’s brains without having an outside project that’s been put together by an outside entity and then say see you later. It’s more of a relationship based thing around here. You make friends and you help each other out on projects. So that is more of the vibe in Nashville.
Ever go online to wikipedia.com?
I’m not as computer savvy as I should be. I’ve gotten good at doing video for my website… I can google. *laughing* I’m kind of LOST!
*laugh* So you’re not Geek Squad like me?
I hit on it while doing my research and that site has every little fart you’ve ever made! I’m surprised your address and phone number isn’t on there! Do you ever feel invaded by all the information that is out there about you?
I’m not surprised! There are positives and negatives in the business about that. I guess I don’t feel too invaded. You set yourself up, by being in the public eye. The best you can do is grin and bear it. The part that gets me is that I’ve lived a colorful life. I haven’t always been the greatest guy and I’ve definitely never been an angel. SO there is a good and the bad and it all sort of lives out on some computer screen somewhere. I guess the only part that I don’t dig is something that I did years ago that people find out about. It made me who I am. You run across folks that want to dirve that stuff into the ground with you… but other than that to be honest it’s pretty freeing. It’s cool that people know everything about me. A lot of times I find out more about what I’m doing through my fans!
You’ve been involved in quite a bit of charity over the past few years. You have an appearance coming up with Ride for a Cure benefit; tell me how you choose what charities you will be involved in, because I’m sure you must get asked with great frequency. Is it something that has to hit on a personal level or is it more of a time allotment?
It has to do with a little bit of both. Some things are personal. I always try to do things with St. Jude’s and cancer research in general, the Autism Society, the Safe House, Women’s Shelter… different things that I hold to my heart. Then there are other things like this ride and a bowling tournament coming up, we do those because it is more of the time allotment and what I can do when I’m not doing a show or traveling, or doing press. When I can fit it in, I try to do it because I feel like I’m lucky to have the popularity that I’ve got, and if we can use that to further the cause of any of those charities, awesome. It’s the best way I can give back, with my money and my time. The Lord blesses me with a great career and it’s time for me to give back.
We wish you all the best in your musical career and your family. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today! We’ll have to come check you out when you are up this way in CT in July!
I’d love to see ya’ll there! You stay warm up there!