As a child growing up, Drake White spent a lot of time riding around in the back of his mom’s SUV. It was on those long rides that she imparted a life lesson that would stick with him forever, “Only boring people are bored.” This lesson has followed White throughout his life, influencing his musical journey in many ways.
Late last year, he performed at Live in the Vineyard, sponsored by Enterprise as part of the company’s effort to deepen customer connections by an expanding presence in areas they are passionate about, such as music and sports. White described the experience as “magical,” saying, “To experience Napa is one thing, but to experience it while getting to meet all these folks with phenomenal imaginations and just, I love to be around dreamers and people that dream and bring things to life. To be able to do that in a place that has the landscapes of Napa and the history of Napa, it was pretty special. There’s not a more beautiful place than Napa.”
As part of the event, White brought his unique style to a special performance …in a moving vehicle.
It was a little different for me, but I’ll kind of elaborate on where that comes from…We grew up in the back of an SUV going from place to place, we were very active and we lived right on the river and we were always going and doing. My mom, when we would complain about being bored in the car, she would say, ‘You know what, only boring people are bored. Make something up.’ She would start singing a melody and we’d have to rhyme, so that kind of banter would go on and I developed this …an ability to do stream of consciousness. That developed into my writing style and really, ‘Do you want to be funny? Do you want to be serious?’ That’s all going through your head, and really, what I’m doing in the Enterprise video is what I do going down the road all the time with the band, and that’s…whether there’s a hawk flying in the Western sky or there’s a cornfield I’m passing or if the traffic’s bad and the truck driver’s got a bad attitude beside us blowing that horn… and it just kinda rolls and that’s what I did with Enterprise”
Drake White is currently riding high in his career, having released his debut album, Spark, to a wide range of critical acclaim. While some would view that as a negative pressure, White welcomes it. “Pressure is something that produces diamonds, so at the end of the day, it’s good to have a little bit of pressure on your back, but I don’t think about that. That album is a direct reflection of a labor of love and a lot of years of going out there and writing and it’s a direct reflection of a bunch of different people: my band, my producers, the current state of the Union if you will. My mentality that I try and wake up with everyday is to give people hope and passion and love. That’s what made that record and I’m very, very proud of it. We’re just kind of at the tip of the iceberg with Spark. I really think Spark has a lot of life left in it.”
It would be impossible to discuss Spark or Drake White without mentioning his unique, yet innate, sound, which he admits is something that he just can’t control. “It’s just me. I think that I was always raised to be myself and be proud of that, and be proud of your flaws and that failure is part of life. We don’t really fail, we just learn.”
That’s what we do so I don’t know any other way. Why would you come out here and try to bend yourself? I mean, don’t get me wrong, you’ve gotta play the game, but for me, there’s no other way to live. I wouldn’t do this – I’d be a woodworker or a landscaper or an engineer – if I had to go out here and be something that I’m not. At the end of the day, when people people are gathered around at my funeral, I don’t want to go to the big light in the sky knowing that I had one idea that I didn’t get out. I feel like that’s a common answer, but the proof is in the pudding, the proof is in the record, the proof is in the way it sounds. You can tell I’m not trying to bend, the band’s not trying to bend and I’ve put people around me that are going to call me out and are going to be like ‘what the hell? this isn’t us.” I’m a big proponent of writing down your mission statement. That mission statement is “Follow your true heart’s bliss creating art that leaves people with hope, passion and faith.”
As White looks forward to 2017, he’s most excited for his headlining tour and the opportunity it presents to influence and interact with his new and old fans.
I’m excited to get into this crazy world and make experiences with old fans and new fans and continue to build that brand. We want to continue to build that army of positivity and let people know that there are passionate folks out there that believe in the right things and that there are more good people than bad. We want to spread the good word that there are good people out there and that this is an ever-changing world, but we’re living in the best times. And last but not least, to have hope that there is a better tomorrow for our kids. There’s cleaner rivers, there’s cleaner air coming… I’m not just saying this because I know what’s going on on TV, but we have a voice. We have an obligation as entertainers and as creators of art to put that out there. What I’m looking forward to is furthering that brand for the sake of furthering good throughout the world with the platform I have. It’s really like…people at our shows are going to leave better than they came in. I want to leave them with something to grasp onto and we want to communicate with each and every fan. We want to help people through addictions and hurts and habits and pain. We want to help people get to where they want to get health-wise… We want to come in and establish a culture of sitting around a campfire and being healthy and excited about tomorrow coming. It’s a good day. Our ancestors were dodging arrows and dodging bullets half the time, we’ve got it pretty good. What are we going to do with the day we have, that we’re so blessed with?”
We’ve only got about eighty years on this Earth if you roll some pretty good dice, so for me, I’m going to spend my eighty years influencing people to go and climb the damn tree or climb the mountain and have fun while doing it and let all the other stuff go. Who wants to live in that hurt? Everyone’s got it but it’s time to let it go and rock and roll and have a good time.”
In addition to releasing his album last year, White spend the majority of the last two years opening for the Zac Brown Band. When asked the best piece of advice he ever received from Brown, he admits that it was to “not look at Michael Phelps.” Simply put, Brown advised him to not look at others and compare himself to them, and that it was more important for him to be authentic.
I’ve got this Appalachian, soul-funk, Muscle Shoals, get down, fried chicken in a damn old pan…that’s what I do, that’s my thing. It’s a Gospel organ, like let’s get down and help people and praise, ‘Hallelujah’, that’s me, that’s my thing. The spastic, stomping Joe Cocker thing that I do, just embrace it and just go for it. Go for it every day. Zac didn’t just say ‘be yourself.’ He said ‘Create what you see when you close your eyes, create it, take chances, spend the money, answer the email, rest, make love to your wife, have your kids, build your Utopia. Build it and do it and don’t compare yourself to other people and get caught up in the game with the Instagram, the Facebook…all that shit, that’s a highlight reel. Don’t look at it.”
Just as White received words of wisdom from Brown, he also sends a message to music fans and people in general. “We’re in some volatile times in the music industry where it’s hard to make a living off records and it’s hard to pay for gas. Go out and support your favorite live bands, go see them, tell other people to see them. Share. Share their videos, share their music. Buy the records, but more than anything, be kind to other people because you never know what they’re going through.”
When it comes to his bucket list, Drake White has huge goals that involve tours and charity and so much that he’s bursting at the seams with creativity. Yet, put simply, his goal is to do what he loves and to inspire while doing so.
At the end of the day, the mission statement is the goal. I’d like to go pack out arenas and do all that stuff, but ultimately, when I die, I want people to look at my life, and our band’s legacy and my family, as a guy who gave it all back, a guy that was not afraid to go and stand for something. A guy that loved God and loved Jesus and a guy that was also understanding of other cultures and other religions and other music and received that. Just a well-rounded dude that was passionate and wasn’t afraid to hit you in the face if you were wrong either. It’s to make music, to answer that question, it’s to make music for the rest of my life that leaves people with hope, faith and passion.”
Watch an exclusive performance of Drake White’s “Makin’ Me Look Good Again” from Enterprise below: