He's one of my favorite independent - and often one of the most underrated - artists in music today. I describe him as a musical prodigy when telling folks of his live performance. And now, for those that haven't yet seen the wonders of Josiah Leming live, he's hitting the road for the biggest tour - and first national headlining tour - of his career. Stopping in more than 75 cities, Leming will be surely be coming to a city near you in 2013 (see a full list of dates here). As he was gearing up for his trek, I got to chat it up with my talented friend to find out what's on his mind before hitting the road.
Interview with Josiah Leming
Chris Vetrano: My readers are already familiar with your music and your background (from these previous posts), but tell me what you've been up to the past few months and what you've got coming up musically. Are their new tunes on the way?
Josiah Leming: New music, it's all about the new music. You know... before a singer, a performer, a piano-player, or a recording artist, I am a writer. It never stops. It's my one way of dealing with the world. I've been working on new music in and out of the studio, and setting up this big long tour. I was in NYC, working on music and it just hit me that I wanted to be on the road. So I relocated back to LA in January to work on some content for this next release and to set up this tour. I'm so excited to get some face time with my fans.
Chris: Yeah, so you're about to hit the road on a huge nationwide tour. Tell me a little bit about it.
Josiah: Man, it's exciting. I feel more alive than I have in a while. I see it like this....if someone asks me what I'm doing, and then they ask me what I'd like to be doing, those answers should be the same, you know? This is what I want, what I love. And the big thing here is that I'm headlining. No bullshit deals, no skipping cities because of money/routing reasons, no 20 minute sets on the corners of stages, this one is mine. My way, I'm the boss. That's my style. We're going all out, and doing this one right. I've been on too many bad tours to put myself or my fans through that again. Listen Close is the name of the tour. It goes out to the fans, to the haters, to everyone in earshot. It's from a song off my last full length record.
Chris: Are their any cities (other than hanging with me in Nashville, of course) that you're most excited to play?
Josiah: I'm stoked for the whole thing, but especially the places I haven't hit in a while. Florida, I've never been there. I'm doing something like 7 shows, just because I kept getting messages and tweets and stuff. I love that stuff, and I wanted to do a tour that hit literally everywhere there's someone who wants to see the show. Most people give up when it's not easy to book a show in an area, but I've put a no excuses rule for everyone working on this tour. We make it happen, no matter how hard. Also, the midwest. God those fans are rowdy, and then the Northwest where I haven't been in a while.
Chris: Are fans going to be hearing new music on this tour?
Josiah: This is something that's a pretty big decision for me, I don't plan on playing brand new music on this tour. This is my first legitimate headlining tour, and I have so much music out, ya know? I really want to give the fans a chance to connect with the songs they have on their iPods, the songs they've lived with and know the words and melodies to. I've never had the chance to play through a full set of my songs for a whole tour. I'm so excited and I've been working on all the older songs, even back to before I was signed. New versions, but close and true to the way that people know them. I want to give the absolute best fan experience for this tour. I love playing new songs, I'm sure a couple will leak out here and there, but I'm making a conscious decision not to go off into Josiah-bored-land - my ADD addiction [laughs]. It's been really cool going back and learning the older stuff.
Chris: So in order to get the best fan experience, you have VIP opportunities for fans as well. Where can fans get ticket and VIP information?
Josiah: All the info for the tour is at on my tour website - shows, dates, VIP info. The cities we still are determining the venues in can be clicked on, and there's a form that fans can fill out so we notify them the minute tickets are on sale.
Chris: Awesome! So when it comes to being on the road or being in a studio recording, what do you prefer?
Josiah: The road. The studio experience can be amazing and life changing, but day to day, moment to moment, the road is my home. I love the earth, the trees, the white lines flying by. That makes me feel more alive than anything else. I was put in this body to move, to explore, to discover, to unravel things. The road is full of scattered pieces of energy from all different kinds of people that I can just pick up as I drive by. It's like a mind massage.
Chris: Very poetic man! I bet you get quite inspired on the road for new song ideas. When is the next set of JL tunes set to drop?
Josiah: I can't say right now. I'm getting more patient as I get a little older, and I have a strong vision for this next release that I have to see through. It could be late 2013, could be late 2014. I try not to make time period music. What I release should be relevant no matter when it's released. Good songs don't age poorly. It's important to get it just right.
Chris: I agree! There seems to be a surge of music that has a timeless feel to it and artists are starting to go back to some of the 'let's make a record with meaning' vibe. Are you feeling any new songs and/or artists this year?
Josiah: You know, I'm still exploring older music. I'm not too up to date with newer music, so I couldn't say quite yet. There's a lot of fun music going on right now, which is real cool but I try to limit my intake of that stuff. I prefer the real stimulating stuff. New to me would be Elliot Smith, that's blowing my mind. Also Van Morrison, I'm getting into him. Lots of older stuff.
Chris: Have those artists influenced your creative process when working on new stuff?
Josiah: You know, I think it takes a while. What's affecting me the most right now would be Ryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen ... stuff that I got into last year that are finally sinking in fully. It takes a while.
Chris: Well you'll have plenty of time to let it sink in this year on the road.
Be sure to pick up all of Josiah's music on iTunes (seriously, get it all) and get tickets to see him at a city near you on the Listen Close Tour. Plus check back soon for your opportunity to meet Josiah in your town.
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