Imagine, if you will, Route 66 and blue clear skies. There’s a dude in a Silverado convertible with a guitar and his dog, sailing down this long highway. The man behind the wheel of the car would be singer and songwriter Aaron LaCombe (probably wearing shades). That scenario is the essence of who LaCombe is… as an artist. “I don’t disagree with that assessment,” he says. ”It sounds like a perfect day to me.”
Somewhere in his mind, the renegade musician is always driving down that open road. In fact, he’s spending a lot more time traveling these days, as the music side of his career starts to kick into overdrive. “For a long time, I treated music more like a passionate hobby. Now I’m ready to delve into the business side of things and see how big we can build this dream.”
He’s always had a knack for building businesses. LaCombe is what many would describe, as a serial entrepreneur. For example, he successfully started and ran two restaurants, which he eventually sold. He’s had a number of other successful ventures along the way. Now, he’s ready to shift gears once again. “My goal is for music to become the only focus and what I do full time. That’s the direction we’re going.”
While LaCombe was raised in Michigan, he now calls Kerrville, Texas home. He feels like the hill country lends itself to a kind of solitude, which fuels his creativity. The storyteller has got a lot of great songs to prove it. Whether it’s “Dream Along with Me”, “Uncle Carl” (a song that went viral) or “Pictures of Ourselves”… LaCombe’s songs often tell stories that are unique, but also universal. And he’s got more stories to tell with the release of his upcoming album “Breaking Ground”, which, after years of performing, sounds like he’s just started the engine in that old Silverado.
Aaron, you describe this new album as both Americana and Texas Red Dirt. Have these always been your chosen genres?
I definitely leaned more toward rock in my early stuff, but Americana and Country… I’ve found are the best formats in which to tell a story with lyrics. Most of my songs are stories with at least a little bit of truth to them.
You’ve got an album due out on with the first single dropping on Spotify, on June 3rd. Tell us about the project and how it’s developed.
This album was complete departure from my normal process. I have a great home studio and I’m used to doing most of the recording myself, but I wanted to get out of my own head and see what it would be like to let someone else handle the production. I was introduced to the producer, Chad Mauldin through a songwriter competition and we just seemed to be on the same page very early on. Now that I’m hearing the finished product I know I made the right decision.
Which single are you planning on being the first release off the album and why?
It’s called “The Laundry Song”, and it’s just exactly what it sounds like; a song about laundry. Again, it’s a major departure from my normal stuff. It’s quick and fun and the musicians that played on it absolutely knocked it out of the park.
You write all of your own music. What is your songwriting process?
It varies, but my favorite songs come together over several days or even weeks before I actually sit down to write them. I’ll get an idea when I’m on the road, or just going about my daily business and I usually put something about it in the notes app on my phone. If it’s a keeper, it’ll rattle around my head for a few days and I’ll add bits and pieces to it. Eventually it’ll develop a melody, just because I need a way to sing it in my head. When I finally sit down with my guitar, it’s just down to organizing the pieces and filling in between them.
Your song and music video Uncle Carl became very popular. Did you anticipate it would take off the way it did?
I knew I had something special after the first few times I played it for audiences. People would pull me aside after shows to talk about it, often with tears in their eyes. A few people obviously hated it, which I also took as a good sign. It was a really frustrating process getting it out to the world though. We put so much work and heart into the video and it just kind of did nothing for a year or so. The following Christmas though, a couple of LGBTQ publications found it and did stories on it, and it went nuts overnight. I was getting phone calls, and messages, and the comments on the Youtube video were just incredible. It’s been the most rewarding thing I’ve written, for sure.
Of all the places you perform, where do you seem to currently have the most concentrated fan base? Why’s that?
There’s a run that I tour once or twice a year through West Texas, New Mexico, and particularly Colorado where people seem to just really get and appreciate what I do. The audiences show up, and they listen intently to the whole show. They buy the albums and ask questions about the songs and stay in touch on social media. I’m leaving on that tour at the end of May and I look forward to it because it’s a great recharge for the soul.
What artists would you like to be billed with or open for?
There are dozens of songwriters, a lot of them Texans, whose fans show up to hear a person tell their stories and lay their hearts out. Those make for really fun opening slots for me, because the audience is already in the right frame of mind for what I do. Guys like Todd Schneider, Hayes Carll, Radney Foster, Walt Wilkins… I could go on forever. Texas is fertile ground for that sort of thing.
For a long time, I just ignored the “business” part of the music business, because I was just having too much fun writing songs and playing them for people. I’ve got some catching up to do now, so I can play the kind of venues I want to play, and get my songs out to a wider audience. I know I can’t keep up playing 100+ gigs a year forever, but I don’t want to play to fewer people, so I’ve got to be playing larger rooms.
For more information visit: aaronlacombe.com