Steel Magnolia will perform their brand of country music Saturday night, September 14th, at the Gracie Theater at Husson University, right here in Bangor, Maine. Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott Jones make up the power house vocals and harmonies behind Steel Magnolia, and you certainly do remember them as the winners of the CMT reality singing competition, “Can You Duet.” This will be one show for country fans not to miss! Click here to purchase tickets.
Maine Music News had the chance to catch up with Meghan Linsey this week, and we really enjoyed the conversation. Interviews like this one make what we do worth it! Here it is:
MMN – Have you played in Maine before?
ML – I am sure we have. We had a crazy couple of years where I have no idea where we were. It was such a whirl wind. I know we have played in Maine.
MMN – Have you had a heavy touring schedule over the last few years or are you just getting started?
ML – We have. We took about a 6 month break between 2011 and 2012. We started touring again in 2012, and we have pretty much been consistently touring 2-4 days a week since 2012. Before that we were going out for 40 days at a time and coming home to wash our clothes and go back out. Pretty much since 2009, we have not stopped.
MMN – What sort of reception are you getting on the road?
ML – I feel like in this business you have big ups and big downs. Things jump all over the place. We have a really loyal fan base, and we even have a couple of fans that follow us everywhere. I don’t know if they will make it up to Bangor, Maine, as that is a little far, even for them. It has been good. Our fans have been good to us, they allow us to continue to tour even though we don’t have a single out on the radio.
MMN – It does seem like you have had a bit of a roller coaster ride over the past few years.
ML – I think a lot of it was that we lost ourselves in the process. We had a million people controlling us and telling us what music to put out even though we knew the second single was the wrong choice. When you are on a major label like we were you can get swallowed up and nobody listens to you. We had a lot to say about that second single, and it just was not heard. It didn’t matter how hard we worked, if it wasn’t right, it wasn’t right. That was a lot of it. Now we are trying to pick up the pieces and figure out what is next.
MMN – I read that you are working on a new Steel Magnolias EP right now.
You decided to release the EP independently instead of working with a label. How did that decision come about?
ML – To be honest with you, we are both working on solo projects. We were together personally for 6 years and then broke up. That was the six month hiatus where we were not touring. We were trying to figure out if we even wanted to tour. It really came down to the fans. They have been so good to us. So we both decided that we need to put some new music out there.
We have been working on the new music. I know it will at least be an EP but it could turn into a full record. We are both working at it seeing just how far we can get. So far it is looking like an EP. We just want to put something out there for the fans – a lot of that decision is not having someone breathing down our necks telling us what to do. It’s really nice having the creative say on how we are doing things. We are actually using a couple new up-and-coming guys in town that are producing the album.
MMN – Can you talk about the thought process that went into deciding to release an EP instead of a full length album?
ML – Our situation right now is us getting along long enough to get stuff recorded. We have 5 or 6 songs that are almost done so we can put that out. If we can finish the album, then we will.
MMN – So how does that work out when you are touring? You both were in a relationship and now you are not. How does that work on the tour bus?
ML – We are weird. Honestly we were together for so long, and we still care about each other very much. We are like family – you can’t not be after being with someone for that long – especially working with and being with them 24/7 and sharing this dream. There is so much that goes into it. I feel like our relationship has morphed into more of a family. It is weird to say, but it has almost turned into this brother and sister type relationship – I love you, but I want to kill you, but I love you. It has happened before – look at the White Stripes. They were married, and now they call each other brother and sister. It has happened before. I think Sonny and Cher had a similar vibe when they broke up. At the end of the day, we make good music together.
MMN – When will the EP be released?
ML – We are thinking in January of 2014.
MMN – What can your fans expect with the new EP? Tell me where your songs are headed musically.
ML – I think they are really honest. I think there is a lot of honesty going on with the writing. We have been through so much the last couple of years personally and professionally. It feels like we have been through the wringer. It has made for some honest song writing.
MMN – Now all of your fans know that you guys won the second season of the CMT reality singing competition “Can You Duet.” How has that experience shaped your career so far?
ML – It was a great platform. It got us off to a great start. It provided a fan base. We were really allowed with that show, which I don’t think happens in a lot of shows, to really be ourselves and to pick the songs that we sang and to make them our own. I think that is the reason that we won and the reason that we were able to shine – we were ourselves. I know that beyond that we had to work extremely hard. Big Machine Records put a lot into us as well. It is still an uphill climb even with that push. It was definitely a great thing to get us started.
MMN – Would you recommend that route to a music career?
ML – In this day and age, yes. It is really hard to break out. You almost need that TV exposure to make something happen. I will say the contracts suck. Getting out of that contract was crazy. It seems very unfair when you are out there working so hard and everybody else is getting paid – except for you. You are sick as a dog and have to still perform. It can be miserable. I do think you have to pay a price for everything.
MMN – I recently read an article about this band that had over 100 million plays on Spotify and received a paycheck of less than $10,000. Now doing the math – with 10 songs on an album that would equate to 10 million albums worth of music played – that is 10 times platinum for less than $10,000. What is wrong with this system?
ML – Everything! At the end of the day, the music industry, especially in Country, is not progressing and moving forward. Everything is driven by the Internet now. As an artist you really have to find your voice online and on social media. You see your income come from touring. You have to get your stage show together and tour. It’s sad, I don’t like it, but that is where it is going.
MMN – Artists from all genres are saying exactly what you are saying.
ML – Exactly. People think you are rich because you are on the radio.
MMN – You are going to be staring in a new reality show. What can you tell us about the show?
ML – I can say that we are staring in a new TV show that is going to be a pretty honest telling of what it is like to be an artist trying to make it in Nashville.
MMN – Are you concerned about getting involved in another reality show after being on one already or are you hoping this will help get you more exposure?
ML – There are several shows that have approached us. I think it is because our story is crazy – we dated, we are not dating, we are on tour together, he has a girl friend, I have a boy friend, and sometimes they come on the road. I think our story is interesting. TV is king. At the end of the day, people watch TV. I think if you can capture that audience it is a really good thing.
We are in a different place now as well. We have been successful, we can make our own terms, and now we are not in a position where we don’t have give in and sign whatever that is put in front of us. It was a good deal for us, and I think it will be great to get back out in front of our fans and hopefully make some new ones.
MMN – You are a very busy lady. Along with the new TV show, and a new EP, you have been working on a solo album as well. Can you talk about that album?
ML – I am really excited about it. It’s nice. I have been in Nashville since 2004 and was traveling to Nashville since I was 14, so for a total of 13 years. Not to mention, I have been in this duo for the last 8 years. It’s nice to get back to doing what I was doing when I moved here. Really, at this point, I am 27. I have been through a lot. I finally figured out who I am as a person and as an artist. I don’t have everything figured out, but I have a really solid idea of who I am. Which I think is a big accomplishment. I feel really good about it. I am in the process of making a record that is really the most honest thing I have ever done.
MMN – How is your solo sound different from your duet work?
ML – I am a little more free to just sing. People have heard the produced music with Steel Magnolia and then they hear me live and they comment that I can really belt like a soul singer from New Orleans. I get to be really soulful and I don’t have anyone to tell me to tone it down. I can be myself and sing how I want to and really put it all out there. It is very soulful and the songs are honest. I wrote a lot of them through the break up and leaving the label. After going through so much and taking 6 months off – sitting down to write songs was a really good thing for me.
MMN – You must be excited to think about being on your own since that is only natural. Of your solo material what are you most eager to get in front of fans?
ML – This is gonna be the most cliché thing I have ever said, but they are all like my babies.
MMN – You did not just say that!
ML – It is! I can’t pick one. I do have a song that I definitely want to put out on radio because it sounds like a first single to me, but I am just as excited about the obscure, edgy song I wrote called “Cocaine and Jesus.” It may never be a single. I am excited about every one of them. There are a few that I am more excited about. I am really excited about the single and there are a couple others as well. I am 4 tracks away from having it completed.
MMN – When do you think you will release it?
ML – Sometime next year – maybe Spring or Summer.
MMN – With a new solo album, you will more than likely have a solo tour to help promote it.
ML – Hopefully. I am trying to work it all out. With the music industry, you can’t plan too far ahead. You just have to take it as it comes.
MMN – Meghan, thank you so much for your time. This was a lot of fun and I am really looking forward to your show on Saturday night.
ML – Great! Thank you and it was good talking to you.