Hailing from West Allenhurst, NJ, singer/songwriter Quincy Mumford and his band The Reason Why are taking the nation by storm this summer. Mumford and I spoke during the band's drive to the first stop of their U.S. tour (you can see all dates at www.facebook.com/quincymumford) to talk about their new record It's Only Change , his musical background, and much more. Check out the interview below, and go check out It's Only Change on iTunes! (This album is seriously great. Very laid back and fun to listen to.)
When did you first begin playing music?
I grew up listening to a lot of music in the house. My family is very music oriented, so I grew up listening to a lot of reggae, and classic rock. I guess that I was nine years old, and my parents bought me my first guitar. I started playing then. It wasn’t really until I was about thirteen years old that I realized that I could somewhat carry a note. Then I started singing and writing at that time. From there, I just kept writing and I put out my first record at fifteen or sixteen. That’s when I really started taking it seriously.
What does the album title “It’s Only Change” mean? Or represent?
This album was really the first time that I created an album that felt like a complete piece of work. It wasn’t so much of putting a bunch of songs in a certain order on a disc, but actually creating a constant scene that goes throughout all of the songs. So it really feels like a story and a collective for the first time. “It’s Only Change” is kind of a crazy thing to say because change is such a big thing. It happens everyday in everyone’s life. So the concept behind the album is that change is a hard thing to go through, but we all go through it, and we need to embrace it rather than let it overcome us. Each song goes through different changes in different ways, whether they’re positive or negative. It all goes back to the same thing.
What kind of process was it like recording the album with producer Ken Coomer?
I actually found out about Ken because I entered a songwriting contest a year or two ago. Ken was one of the judges. I didn’t win the contest, but he loved the song so much that he found a way to get ahold of me. He said “I’d love to make a record with you sometime,” so we Skyped and I flew out to Nashville to meet him. We hit it off, and then a few months later I ended up going to Nashville to record for ten days. The process was amazing; I ended up playing with a lot of really awesome and collective musicians from Nashville, and guys that I really respect and grew up listening to. Ken himself is just a really really awesome guy. He’s very creative and a very talented drummer (who played on the record as well). It was a very exciting process.
I’ve worked with producers in the past, and I know how producers can be; they can be very, like, headstrong and want to pursue their vision. What Ken did was saw my vision and what I wanted to accomplish. He guided me through it and helped me do it cohesively. He really helped me make the record that I wanted to. That’s the best part about this record.
This album definitely has a really nice laid back vibe to it. Who would you cite as some of your main musical influences? I hear a little bit of John Mayer, if that’s a correct statement.
I have a lot of influences, and I’m constantly listening to new music and different music. At the moment, I’d say John Legend is a big influence of mine. John Mayer is a huge inspiration of mine. Anybody who has great songs and is soulful and can touch the audience. Like you said, [the record] has a lot of different influences. That’s a result of me listening to all different types of music and being able to kind of channel that into my own way and blending them, where it’s not too obscure, but fun for someone to go through the album and hear all the different sides of it.
In 2012, you released “Live At The Saint”, your live album/DVD. How different was it recording a live album as opposed to a studio album, specifically? What were some of the biggest challenges?
I’d say that with the live record, you need to be extremely prepared. You only have one chance to make a great sounding record. We had to make sure that everything sounded the way we wanted it to before we pressed record and jumped onstage. There’s a lot of different things you’re focusing on at the same time. You’ve got to make sure that people are going to want to listen to two, three, one hundred times. With the studio, we have a bit more time to prepare for it. We can go back and fix mistakes, do another take, so it was definitely challenging making a live record. I’d say that this past record was the closest thing that we had to doing something live, because we only had ten days to record. Whereas with past studio records, we’ve done it over the course of months.
After doing this live record, though, I’ve had experience in being under that type of pressure, so it made it a little bit easier, but it came out the way that I wanted it to.
Would you say that one day you might look at doing a live studio record?
Yeah! I think about that quite often, actually. Maybe not doing it to the extent of making a full documentary and DVD [with it], but just making more live records. Once in awhile, we’ll try and record a live show that we think sounds really good, and we’ll post it on archive or let fans download it for free. I’m always trying to update that, and I think about it quite often. We definitely will.
On a different note, where would you say that you take inspiration from lyrically?
It really comes from everywhere, and there’s no one specific place that I draw inspiration from. It comes from my everyday life, my everyday experiences. Love, loss, troubles, struggles, happy times, good memories, friends, family. It comes from everywhere. It comes from being in new places and experiencing new things. It can draw from everywhere. That’s what I love about writing, because it can be very sporadic. It’s my favorite thing to do. The inspiration draws from my everyday life.
What kind of message would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
Specific to this new record, I’d like people to walk away feeling liberated, feeling good about themselves and about life. I’ve heard from a lot of people, at live shows, that people walk away in tears after hearing certain songs. My goal really is for people is to really help them through what they’re going through. Music is a really powerful thing because it plays on peoples’ emotions. I’m just hoping that when people hear our music, they walk away feeling liberated, changed and excited. I think that’s the point of music, too. When you listen to it, you’re not in any kind of headspace; you’re in a whole other world. You’re in the moment, so you kind of want to let loose and not be yourself for a moment.
What does music mean to you?
Everything. (laughs). It’s my life. Like I said, I’ve grown up playing and listening to music, and I’m completely engulfed in it. Without music, I definitely wouldn’t be the same person. I’d probably be a lot more grouchy or grumpy if I didn’t listen to as much music as I did.
What are the future plans for you right now?
We’re on tour right now, so a lot more tour dates will be coming out! You can see us on the road for the rest of the summer and through the fall. Right now, I’m actually driving in the van to our first stop on this tour. There will probably be some new videos as well. We recorded a live arrangement of our old songs and new songs, and applied them to acoustic styles. We did it live in the studio, and we had a studio audience, so you can definitely look out for some new music and videos from that. There’s always new stuff we’re trying to put out there to keep the listeners interested and excited about what’s to come from us, and from our live shows.
You can keep up-to-date on all of the latest music news from Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why at www.facebook.com/quincymumford and www.quincymumford.com.
It's Only Change, the newest record from the band, is available now!