Talking Perspective and Passion with Joey + Rory
Maintaining passion–and a perspective–for what you believe to be important in life seems to be a common theme for the husband and wife duo, Joey + Rory.
Certainly the dynamics of a marriage create the boundaries for a passionate and loving relationship–and certainly that is the foundation from which the music is born. But in talking with Joey Martin and Rory Lee Feek, you get the sense that they recognize that they’re going about the whole Nashville music business thing in a way that’s different from everyone else. And that’s perfectly okay.
It started out fairly unconventional, with Joey earning and then losing a record deal as a solo artist before a third place finish on CMT’s Can You Duet propelled them as a couple onto the country music charts with “Cheater Cheater.” That led to near universal critical success with their debut album, The Life of a Song.
This month, the 2010 Academy of Country Music Award for Top New Vocal Duo winners release their sophomore album, appropriately titled Album Number Two. The 9513 had an opportunity to catch the couple in between touring and promotional appearances to talk about the new album and what motivates them in song and sound.
Ken Morton, Jr.: Which is going better, the family restaurant business at Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse or the record business as Joey + Rory?
Joey Martin Feek: Both businesses are going really well. We have great folks working with us and are surrounded by some really wonderful people…customers and fans. Both businesses are labors of love. You really have to love what you do and put that love and dedication towards the art, whether that’s making bread and desserts or a new album and performing.
Congratulations on the new album. From the artist’s perspective, how would you describe it?
Rory Lee Feek: Our new album, Album Number Two, is filled with great songwriting, incredible musicianship, production and heart. We spent a lot of time looking for the songs and knew we wanted to re-create the sounds and feel of or debut album, The Life of a Song. Just like the debut, we really focus on traditional, acoustic sounding music and hope that we don’t let anyone down with this sophomore record.
After listening to it, I thought the common theme running through it was “perspective”–whether it’s the title of the album, fun lyrics showing that you’re not too big for your britches or reminders of keeping what’s important in life the focus. Was that a conscious decision or a byproduct of your personalities?
JMF: It’s a little bit of both. Everything we do, we do on purpose. We strive everyday to remember what’s most important in life. The simple things that we take for granted everyday, we want to remember. We try not to take ourselves too seriously. Rory makes me laugh, and that’s a huge quality in him that I fell in love with early on. His personality is all over this album. Our faith is ultra important so we wanted to make sure we had a faith-filled song included. The cowboy way of life is interesting to me and very important that we covered that too.
Any favorite tracks for each of you?
RLF: Our favorite track is “That’s Important To Me.” We feel this is the cornerstone of our life, relationship and faith.
Rory gets to showcase his vocals a little bit more on this one.
JMF: While choosing songs to record, I came to Rory and asked that he sing lead on something. He didn’t have any interest in doing it at first, but I kept on him and telling him how important is was to have his voice stand out. Being the writer of “My Ol’ Man,” no one can sing it better with more emotion than him. He has several songs that I feel this way about, so there will be more of Rory to come. I really love the duets that we performed together on too.
Joey had an indie solo release, what does all of this mean to you having success as a couple?
JMF: Singing with my husband has been the greatest gift in this whole music career we’ve been given. It’s been such a joy singing with him and sharing the stage each night. We get to travel together and experience it all first hand. I wouldn’t want to do another solo record. Our voices blend really well together.
What are the positives and negatives from working together as a couple?
RLF: There have been no negatives in working together. All the positives include traveling, eating at new places, being together and sharing all the new experiences first hand.
From the outside looking in, Sugar Hill Records looks like they’ve allowed you to really helm the direction on both your first two albums. Is that correct?
RLF: Vanguard/Sugar Hill is our label and they have been so supportive of our creative decisions. They’ve allowed us the freedom to make the records we want to make, choose the songs we want to record, use the producer we want to use, look the way we do, and just be who we are. That’s saying a lot for a record label. We feel extremely blessed to have them and for them to believe is us the way they do.
How was life on the road with Zac Brown Band?
JMF: This spring and summer we were out on the Southern Ground Tour with the Zac Brown Band. It was a really great experience–from meeting all their band, crew, videographers, chefs, drivers and family. They made us feel we were part of their big family. Up until then, Rory and I didn’t have a band, so it was just the two of us. We were able to see first hand what it felt like to have a great group of people out on the road and something to work towards in choosing our own band. The food, fellowship, writing, musicianship and friendship were truly amazing.
What is country music to each of you?
JMF: We both think so much alike and have the same feelings about what country music is to us. Country music is about real life.
- Leeann Ward: Thanks, NM. I like a good pop hook, to be honest. So, maybe I need to try it again.
- Barry Mazor: OK, Jim Z. That changes everything. I surrender.
- Jim Z: to call the Dirty River Boys an "Austin area band" is still incorrect. They are based in El Paso.
- nm: Leeann, you and I often have similar tastes in more-traditional country. And, to my ears, Sam Hunt's voice and lyrics …
- Barry Mazor: Matter of fact, as always--I did. The notes say the album was recorded & mixed by and at "The …
- Roger: Looking forward to picking up the Jamey Johnson Christmas EP - love all of those songs and can't wait for …
- Jim Z: that record was recorded in El Paso. (you could look it up) and other than appearing in Austin once in …
- Leeann Ward: Yes, I can always use more dobro in my life! Thanks for the Phil Leadbetter tip! I haven't been able to …
- Barry Mazor: OK, Jim. The record's more or less out of Austin. But I'm sure they're also good in El Paso...
- Jim Z: Dirty River Boys are from El Paso, Texas.