Meet up-and-coming country singer Ashley Clark. He released earlier this year his debut EP "Greyhound", which was executive produced by the legend that is Mutt Lange (Shania Twain, AC/DC), his manager is the very powerful Simon Fuller and certainly in near future we'll be seeing Ashley selling out venues across the country. With an amazing voice and songwriting skills, good connections (and I'm not talking only about Simon! did you know his cousin is OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder?) and a producer like Mutt backing you, there's just no alternate future, right?
Born in Virginia to a Pentecostal preacher who didn't want his son to become an "entertainer", Ashley fought for what he knew was his right career choice. He started playing gigs at a teenager age, he entered and won FOX's "The Next Great American Band" with two of his brothers, he toured as a member of Carrie Underwood's band for two years, and not very long ago Simon Fuller (who was a producer at the FOX reality show that Ashley won) gave him a ring and told him that his friend Mutt Lange was looking to find a new country artist to work with and that he [Simon] had thought of no one better than him! The rest is history. The highly-recommended 5-song EP "Greyhound" is here, a full-length debut will follow soon, and Ashley's just become overnight a "one to watch" in the country scene.
Check out our EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Ashley below!
1. Your manager is Simon Fuller; you have worked with the legendary Mutt Lange, and your debut solo EP “Greyhound” was released in June backed by the Capitol Records imprint IRS Nashville. How does a new artist take this all in?
You take it in one thing at a time. If you try to take it in all at once it can be a little too overwhelming.
2. You and two of your brothers were in a country-pop group called Sons of Sylvia and you won the Fox reality show “The Next Great American Band” back in 2007 (you won it as The Clark Brothers but later picked Sons of Sylvia as your proper stage name). What made you enter this show in the first place, what did you learn from it and do you think your career would have unfolded different if you hadn’t been in it?
I just had a belief that my brothers and I could win the show. I feel like winning that show opened the door for all these things to happen. I learned that you always gotta believe, never give up and you can reach your goals if you do that.
3. After just one album with Sons of Sylvia (2010’s “Revelation”), the group disbanded and you decided to pursue music in a different way. You toured with Carrie Underwood for two years as a member of her band. What’s your relationship with Carrie nowadays and did those two years served as fuel to reaffirm your passion for music and to keep pushing forward with new projects?
Carrie and I are still friends. I just saw her a few weeks ago at the Opry. We laughed and talked about old times. Touring on the road is always inspiring for creativity. During those two years, I realized that creativity and new ideas comes in waves. Sometimes you just hit a wall and a dry season, but you just gotta wait on it and then it comes crashing on you. You just gotta ride that wave when it comes.
4. You met Simon Fuller back in “The Next Great American Band”, and you definitely must’ve made a good impression on him because when legendary producer Mutt Lange told him he was looking to develop a new country artist, Simon immediately thought of you and here you are now. How would you describe Simon as both a human being and manager?
Simon Fuller is one of the classiest, nicest and most generous men I’ve ever met. He is an all-or-nothing manager. He goes all the way and doesn’t look back. He gives you his best.
5. Mutt Lange produced your entire “Greyhound” EP. How’s Mutt in person, how did the first meeting go, and did it take too long for you two to “connect” musically?
Our first meeting felt like everything was kinda in slow motion. It felt like meeting an old friend. We just started talking and laughing – we talked for 8 hours straight until the sun went down about everything from AC/DC to bluegrass. We started writing right away. We’re still writing. We’ll call each other almost every day with ideas. We inspire each other.
6. What was your favorite song from “Greyhound” to record with Mutt Lange? Any special anecdote from that particular session?
My favorite song to record was “Buy You A Beer.” It felt like time flew by in the studio and everybody was having fun.
7. For those who haven’t heard it yet, how would you describe the overall sound of your “Greyhound” EP and the theme of the songs in it?
The sound is fresh and new, but something that still feels country with a bit of a different vibe.
8. The title track “Greyhound” is amazing. I only recently heard it. What’s the story behind this song? Is it true you wrote it a long time ago?
Yes, my brother, Austin, and I were in a basement in Nashville when we wrote it a while ago. We had a crappy recording of it on a tape recorder. When I was with Mutt recording I knew if he heard it that he could hear something in it. I played it for him and he said we must record this song. He turned it from a crappy demo into a masterpiece.
9. You have a very famous cousin named Ryan Tedder (leader of OneRepublic and a highly-praised record producer). He co-wrote a song with you for the Sons of Sylvia album. Do you keep a regular contact with him? Would you like to record/write with him for your next project or his? I mean, he is one talented guy.
I keep in contact with Ryan and we text each other from time to time. I just saw him a few months ago out in LA with his family. We’ve been friends for a long time. I would love to write and collaborate with Ryan anytime – if he did it for my next project or his. He’s talented.
10. I saw a photo of you ‘taking over’ Shania Twain’s soundcheck before her recent concert in Nashville. If I’m not mistaken, Mutt Lange also worked with her. Did you two share stories about Mutt? haha. Are you ready to fight hard to be the artist selling out Bridgestone Arena soon?
I just told Shania that I loved Mutt, but we didn’t go into details about him. Shania and I got along great! She was very fun and nice. We had a blast. I haven’t even begun the fight to sell out Bridgestone yet, but it’s gonna happen though!
11. What are Ashley Clark’s Top 5 songs of the moment?
“Burning House” by Cam
“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
“Marvin Gaye” by Charlie Puth ft. Meghan Trainor
“Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd
“You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC
12. Thank you for your time, Ashley! Any last thing you’d like to share with our readers at Directlyrics.com?
Keep following your dreams. Never ever give up if you believe something down in your soul and you know it’s true! Do what you love!
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