Austin Meade

By: Lori Smerilson Carson

When you combine your prior career with your current career, amazing creativity can happen. Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist Austin Meade displays this example perfectly on his second outstanding album ABSTRACT ART OF AN UNSTABLE MIND. His debut album Black Sheep released in 2020 cemented his place in the music industry with his variety of rock music styles. Now, along with his writing partner Guitarist David Willie, Drummer Aaron Hernandez and Bassist Jordan Pena, these extraordinarily talented musicians will be taking their latest live show on the road with additional songs from the new LP, and South Florida fans will be able to see this phenomenon on April 12th at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach, FL and on April 15th at Hooch & Hive in Tampa, FL.

Catching up with Meade just prior to his tour, he revealed some details about the new record, the tour, his past, and what fans can look forward to.

SFL Music: What inspired ABSTRACT ART OF AN UNSTABLE MIND? I like how you have the LMAM’s, and is it a theme of songs?
Austin Meade: Yeah. It’s supposed to be like my own radio station. I used to work in. So, LMAM is loser mentality Austin Meade or it could be loser mentality on the AM radio. That’s why I would say 1390 the loser. You know how radio stations have like calling points or like a name for the station? So, it was 1390 the loser. The record was originally gonna be called Loser Mentality, but as I wrote more songs, I felt like ABSTRACT ART OF AN UNSTABLE MIND was more fitting. So, that’s kind of how it evolved, but I still really like the LMAM and the whole radio thing. That’s why about half-way through the record, that kind of stopped and it gets more into like a darker, more serious type of vibe. So yeah, that’s kind of where that started. I feel like it could have been two records instead of one, but I just shoved them together anyway.

SFL Music: Some of the songs almost connected like “Late Night Letdown” and “Queen of the Letdown”. How did those come about? Was that an on-purpose thing?
Meade: Yeah, it was on purpose. So, a lot of the songs, there’s like repetitive characters that I set in my head. Basically, I wrote all these songs to be like a movie or like about episodes of a series, so there’s a lot of repetitive characters. “Queen of the Letdown” is the same girl that I’m talking about in “Red Roof Estates” when I’m like (he sang) “hey, such a pretty face.” I’m describing the way she’s walking. I’m also describing that woman in “Rain Dancin” during the chorus. It’s (he sang) da dada da da, “dancin anyway that you like,” and that’s just about how the whole room is like looking at her. I mean, the big picture is there’s a handful of characters in there and I was taking like a personal journey in my brain to be the director, but also connected to the characters in kind of exploring what their life might have been like from you know, graduating high school or getting into college into maybe like their early thirties or whatever you want call it. Like early adulthood. The real world I guess you could say.

SFL Music: “Violation Delight” was about a fair?
Meade: Yeah, that one’s about the fair. I went to some county fairs growing up, was always my thing like small town Texas. So, that was a funny personal story that I felt fit with the characters. It reminded me of that time in my life growing up. Yeah, the fair, it was a thing I did growing up in high school and so I wanted to kind of start the record with that. I also thought it was very interesting to start with such a weird song name. Like that thing all happened because the two words violation delight. I had never heard those before together in one sentence. So, I thought that was kind of a really interesting use of words.

SFL Music: Would you say coming from Texas or a small town in Texas influenced your musical style or to become a musician? What would you say?
Meade: Yeah, I love Texas. I was born and raised, probably will live here forever, but I do love traveling too. Being in Texas, I grew up listening to my dad’s heavier rock music and stuff. I went to school in like a really small country town. I say really small, it’s really not that small, but it was like a 3A or 4A high school which is not huge as compared to going to school in L.A. or Pittsburgh or something like that. So, we would always hang out and do pasture parties and shit you know, where you drive all your trucks in somebody’s yard, their pasture and that’s kind of where the parties were. It wasn’t like going to the clubs. It was like, you go to people’s houses and kind of hang out there and so, I got introduced to a lot of Texas music and songwriters from that. Then I felt like there was certain songwriters in between there that kind of bridged the gap between it. You know, between country and rock, and for me those were like Tom Petty and some Bryan Adams. So, I was into that for a while. I love hair metal. That’s like my thing. Big Whitesnake fan, but I was also growing up right whenever pop-punk was like super popular and just taking off. So, like Fall Out Boy and Paramore were huge for me in junior high and early high school, and then I already knew about Incubus from my dad. So, that was a big band for me. Then I guess like as I got into college, that’s whenever more of the country or songwriter stuff started to pop up and I don’t know, I felt like I could do something that kind of was still a songwriter fun journey, but just had all, like the feeling in the music. I guess like the balls from rock and pop-punk that I felt some of the songwriter music didn’t necessarily worry about or try to have.

SFL Music: Did you study music in school? Your voice, you have a great range.
Meade: Thanks, No I didn’t. I actually played drums in junior high and high school and then I just learned to play guitar through, I had to play at church growing up ‘cause my dad was the pastor and they needed somebody to play guitar kind of a thing. And then I ended up loving it, so that was great. I definitely don’t consider myself and amazing guitar player by any means, but I can do some things that sound cool.

SFL Music: Sounds like it and then you have your writing buddy.
Meade: Yeah, yeah, always. I like to simplify things, right? So, like every time we’re writing a song, I’m like ok, does this make my head bob? Am I already going like this (bobs his head) when I’m listening to it or gonna get my head in it. If I’m doing that, then I feel like we’re off on the right track to do something cool. That’s really where I started most of the last two records was like that feeling. Yeah, David Willie is one of my best friends and I’m actually at his house right now. Surprise! This is his amps (he motioned to). Yeah, we’ve been jamming together for probably like six years now. He came from the metal world and so it was a totally new world to him to learn about songwriters and Texas music and that kind of a thing. We listened to totally different stuff growing up, so it was cool to combine the brains of us on the last two records. Yeah, he’ll bring me something he’s been working on or I’ll have my own thing, and for Abstract Art, he’d usually come over to my house and we would just start writing around like I don’t know, 9 or 10 PM and just write until like probably 3 or 4 in the morning. A lot of it was fun. So, I was trying to like get creative I guess you would say. Like I would come up with a funny story in my head. Maybe I already had it from another night or something, and then I would just throw lines out kind of like dude, what if the character did this? What about this line? It’s one of those things where when you’re sitting in the room with people, if they laugh at it or they’re like ooh, that was good. Then I feel like that was a good direction to go and we keep that line. If I say a line and I don’t necessarily see like a spark in somebody else’s eyes, then I might keep looking for something unless I’m like super, just dead set on that lyric line, but one of the things that I do take pride in is really trying to not be lazy with any lyric on the record. It doesn’t mean every song has to be serious. It doesn’t mean every song has to be like the deepest thing in the world, but I think it does have to be a song or the story. Like I said, I was kind of writing movies in my head. It’s definitely a blurry world up there, so I just had fun exploring it, I guess.

SFL Music: You were quoted in your bio saying that you were a big fan of a great T.V. show with characters you follow. People you feel like you could become friends with. Was that your thought process writing the music?
Meade: Yeah, I found myself, really in college, I really started to love different like T.V. shows and series and that was right when Breaking Bad was coming out. Then later on it was Ozark and I’ve always talked about those over the last couple records, but I love a really well-done series. Like you can tell that the director meant everything that he did. Like the lighting is on point. The story line makes sense. There’s not missing holes in the story and so, I want to do that in music. There’re songwriters that have already done that a lot. Like I always mention Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys). He really paints a picture with words. I’ve loved to do that since I was younger and I just have really enjoyed doing that with like bad ass guitars and bad ass drums over the last decade. I don’t know, I guess when we started, people thought we were like a country band, but I never really saw it as that. We just kind of played regionally, and then the last couple years we’ve had the opportunity to go all over the country which has been so awesome. So, I’m really thankful for like new states and new towns giving us the shot to come in and play. It’s crazy to be able to play music that like I said, we just wrote it at the house. There wasn’t some big gathering of all these elites or radio people or label people like, we need to get you in the room with so and so or so and so. It was just me and Willie just writing at my house, and we’ll go to a place two thousand miles away and somehow people will know the songs. It blows my mind every time.

SFL Music: They are catchy and the intros were varied with some psychedelic or acoustic or heavier rock. What can people look forward to with the show?
Meade: I think that this show will be a lot bigger than the last one because we’ve got a lot of new songs off this new record. About half the set list is from the new record. That’s really exciting for me to be able to play this new stuff and finally see people’s response like if they know it or not. It’s one of those things where you’re like standing on the edge of the cliff. You’re like, ah I’m gonna sing it. Is somebody gonna catch me? There are a lot of new songs in the setlist. There’s some new production going on and if you’re a fan of our last two records, you’ll definitely get your fill.

SFL Music: There’s a video trio out, right?
Meade: There’s “Varsity Type”, “Red Roof Estates” and “Rose Romance”. It’s like three videos that all go together. It has the same characters in it like I was mentioning with my songwriting, where they kind of pop back up through different story lines. So, we purposely used a lot of the same actors and folks just in those three videos to kind of make it feel like you’re getting to know those folks, and that was an entire journey. That was like a summer’s worth of work right there you know, putting together three videos with a big crew and everything, while touring. It was pretty nuts.

SFL Music: Are there going to be any more videos coming out for fans to look forward to?
Meade: Yeah, we’re definitely working on a lot of new music. I’m working on some videos too, but we stay busy. So, I leave tomorrow. I was counting the days last week. I think I’m gonna be at home for two days over the next eight weeks. I’ll be on the road almost every day for the next couple of months which is gonna be fun. We do the entire east coast from Vermont all the way down through southern Florida.

SFL Music: You mentioned that you played drums. You taught drums as well, right?
Meade: Yeah, and guitar. I did that and I feel like that I definitely felt the smoothest at my instruments when I was teaching them. I feel like I learn the best by teaching somebody else what I know. I kind of retain it a little better then. I did that for a couple years, but then we just got so dang busy touring that I just you know, just focus on this now pretty much.

SFL Music: Is there anything in particular you would recommend to a new band or up and coming artist?
Meade: I mean, I’ve always lived by just touring all the time, like really road doggin it and just staying in a band. I think a lot of people get offered a lot of fancy, flashy things and people can get worried about the wrong things. Like I don’t know, whatever it is. Having a tour bus all the time or having like the newest flashiest, fanciest gear, but I don’t think that shit really matters if your songs suck. So, you gotta really focus on the creation of whatever is it. Whatever your art is and whatever makes you unique because it doesn’t matter how much shit you have or show up with, or how much you buy, if nobody wants to be a part of your community or hear what you have to say. I also think it’s important to realize that not every song has to be like the greatest, deepest thing you ever heard in your life. Like I find a lot of fun in writing songs about short themes lately and that’s evolved over the last ten years, but I’m a decade into this thing, so it’s come in different waves. when I first started songwriting, I only wrote about the things that I knew. Like what was tangible in front of me, but to me that’s not always fun after you’ve been doing that, right? I’m like, who cares what you’ve experienced over the last, you know. Everybody’s been hearing you sing about yourself for a long time, so why wouldn’t you give them something cooler or something? No rules, right? I mean, I’m talking out of my ass. I’m just telling you what I do, but there are really no rules.

SFL Music: That is good advice. Was there anything else you want to add for fans to know about the tour?
Meade: If there’s something else cool going on in town, I’m definitely gonna try to check it out. It’s the best part of traveling. We see the windshield all the time, so when I go to a town, I want to find like the best local spots to eat and all the cool little music stores and everything. So, I try to enjoy the travel as much as I do the show.

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