Austin Webb is currently making waves with his inspirational song "Slip On By." A track about not taking life for granted, Austin goes against the grain of what is currently being marketed by country music's leading men. The sweeping ode is the lead-in to a full-length album, for possible release early 2014. The singer-songwriter, who actually did not have a hand in writing the song, is currently out on the road on a nationwide radio tour to promote the new single and forthcoming project.
Nashville Gab had the opportunity to speak with the singer about the song, as well as how the album is coming along and how he plans on changing the world. He also shared an emotional story about meeting an autistic child years ago and how he learned to be compassionate.
Also find out his favorite Halloween candy, movies and his favorite costumes as a kid.
NashvilleGab: You’re currently out on your radio tour. How is that going so far?
Austin Webb: It’s going pretty good. I’m in Hollywood right now. I already had breakfast and saw Newman from “Seinfeld” just now, about five minutes ago.
NG: Your current single “Slip On By” has such a different vibe than what was most male singers are releasing these days. What drew you to the song?
AW: I’m really, really happy to put it out. I think there is a time and a place for all the songs going on right now, you know? I really like the party songs. I like the fun, have-a-good-time songs, but I think we’re also in need right now for the songs like this. I’m very fortunate to be able to put it out.
NG: What is it about the song that drew you in?
AW: Well, you know, I’ve written every single song that I’ve ever record in my life. or played basically, except for this one. I actually heard this one on Christian radio about five months ago. Being a songwriter and hearing it, it hit with me as a country listener. I’m a country fan, and it hit me just as I was a country listener to the radio. It hit all the aspects of people I know, what I know about the same kind of people that listen to country music. I knew that if it affected me so much, it would affect country music fans the same way. It hits every single level.
NG: Do you have a personal story that connects with the song?
AW: I do when it comes to…I think of my dad and my mom [in the line] “in the tears of a young bride.” I think of my mom whenever my grandmother died. I know veterans who have died as well, and nothing has hit me exactly personally. The metaphors in the song hit me personally, because even if it’s not your mom that dies or it’s not your song that went off to war, everybody [can relate]. It hit me like that.
NG: In another interview that you did, you mention that you heard the song in your car and you had to pull over because you were crying. Does music usually move you that much?
AW: Yea, it hit me so hard that I literally had tears in my eyes. Not very many songs do that, especially being someone who pays attention to songs.
NG: What is it about country music and its storytelling that makes it so special for you?
AW: Well, country music is the most honest there is. Country music fans are basically the most honest, and it’s real. It’s all stories about real life, you know? Nothing is really too exaggerated. The reason I love country music so much is it speaks the truth. It talks to people without having to be pretentious. Just say what you mean to say. You can just say things for the common man and common woman that feel the same way you feel.
NG: Last time we talked, we touched on your upcoming album. How is that coming along?
AW: Well, the album now is almost completely done. I’m going into the studio probably one more time. I have 12 songs finished now, and the rest of the album will be done [soon]. In January or February of next year, we’ll probably release it. Once “Slip On By” gets a little more traction, we’ll end up releasing the album.
NG: Has the direction of the album changed at all over this past year?
AW: Well, the direction we were going with in the first place was very introductory and fresh at the same time being one the same level and caliber of what’s going on now and what the popular artists are doing. I think we’re in the same track like we were. There’s nothing bu progression right now. We’re pushing forward with a whole album full of hits.
NG: Out on your radio tour, do you have any favorite cities you’ve visited?
AW: Oh yea. I just got back from Seattle last night. Seattle is one of my favorite cities. Austin, Texas is cool. Portland, Oregon, too. I love San Jose, California. I love New York City. All of it. It’s so interesting. I’m so very blessed and grateful to be able to travel around the country anyway.
NG: When you go to a city, do you get to time to explore the culture there?
AW: Sometimes there’s that in and out. Sometimes I do have time. Today, we didn’t get a whole lot of time, but we got to go by the movie studios and all that stuff. The other day I was in New York City for a brief moment, and I went to Times Square. My [team] is really good about letting me see the places we go to. Everybody tries to make time to hang out.
NG: Recently, you partnered with Autism Speaks!. How did the recent event go?
AW: It went great. I’m actually wearing my autism pin right now. I’ve been begging everyone at AristoMedia PR to get me something with autism awareness. I’ve been into that my whole life. It was such a privilege and honor to be at that event with Gloriana and Bucky [Covington] and some other people. It was just nice to be there. I was happy that I could actually show and sing some songs for the cause.
NG: A few years ago, you actually met an autistic child during one of your previous odd jobs, right?
AW: Yea. I was about 17 years old, and you know how most people get behind causes like cancer because it’s a personal thing in your life? But what’s so [interesting] about autism awareness for me is I was cleaning carpet [at the time], and I went into this one house and there was this 6-year-old child. She had black hair, dark blue eyes, and this room had stains of all kinds all over the floor. The wallpaper was ripped off the walls basically. There was one teeny, tiny bed a couple toys. There were bars on the window with broken glass behind plexiglass. This girl lived in this horrible environment and was not really taken care of very well and was not looked after or sought after. It hurt my heart so bad because to know that she wasn’t [being taken care of]. I didn’t know exactly what was going on. I knew it wasn’t right. I wanted to help. I asked the family what the deal was, and they said she was autistic. But it didn’t seem like they did a whole lot to help her. Since, I haven’t met any other autistic children that have been in such extreme conditions. Ever since then, I wanted to do something about it and help.
[Adding:] What I tell people is autism is not a disease. I don’t think it’s necessarily something that is wrong with you. The beauty in autism is that the main goal for people to know is to understand and be compassionate. They handle social [situations] and environments differently. Their minds are so creative. They have so much to offer the world. All they ask for in return is understanding and compassion. If we provide the compassion, we can do that for people who aren’t autistic. It breeds love.
NG: Over the years, you had nearly 25 odd jobs. What were some of those?
AW: Welding. Construction. Cleaning carpet. I worked at CVS for a little while. I built cars for BMW. My gosh, I don’t even know. [laughs] There was just so many. I can’t even think of them all. I worked in a tate plant. Let’s see. A lot of different construction [companies]. Just crazy labor stuff. Whatever people needed me to do, I put on overalls and got greased up.
NG: Do you keep in contact with your former employers?
AW: Absolutely. I keep in touch with all of them. I try to. I talked to my old boss the other day. I had to go be in my friend’s wedding, and he and I worked at the same place. So, I went home for the wedding. They’re all proud and happy for me. It’s no big deal. I’m not too cool to talk to anybody. [laughs] I talk to them all the time.
NG: Do you have a bucket list, like skydiving?
AW: No way. I saw Brett Eldredge just went skydiving. I could not. There’s no way in hell I’d go skydiving. The last thing I want to do is jump out of a plane, you know? I’m already afraid of heights. Well, I’m not afraid of heights. I’m afraid of falling and dying. The things I want to do in my life are things like wanting to feed the entire world. It sounds so cliche but there’s things that are self-sustaining ecosystems that could feed 4,000 people for the rest of their lives. Their about $250,000 each. I want to make enough money where I can provide the whole world with that. I think that it’s horrible that we live in a society with such technological advancements that there people that are starving out there. It’s unbelievable to me. I can not believe it. I want to be able to help people that need food and help autistic children. All my goals have to do with [helping people].
NG: You moved to Nashville on a random road trip, right?
AW: That’s true. I did. Well, I had the random road trip about a year beforehand. I drove to Nashville in the middle of the night from South Carolina, about eight hours. I got there about 4 o’clock in the morning to play the guitar at Johnny Cash’s grave and headed home. I stopped in Manchester, Tennessee, slept in a little cheap hotel. The next morning I woke up and went to the waffle house, put Patsy Cline on the 45 jukebox and I started talking to this old man. He end up being Charlie Louvin of the Louvin Brothers. We talked for a long time, and he told me I reminded him of Kris Kristofferson. Kris Kristofferson is my idol, and Charlie Louvin was the first guy to ever cut a Kris Kristofferson song. So, this was a huge moment for me. He invited me to come to his show that night in Monteagle, Tennessee, and I opened for him that night. About a year later, I moved to Nashville. It was crazy.
[Adding:] It’s a big thing in my life that I still think about all the time. I actually have this on a record of Charlie Louvin and Kris Kristofferson’s phone conversation about a couple years before he died.
NG: Halloween is around the corner. Do you celebrate it?
AW: Are you kidding? Hell yes I celebrate Halloween. I love it.
NG: Do you have any plans to dress up this year?
AW: Yea, I have plans, but I don’t know what I’m going to be though. I looked up all kinds of crazy stuff.
NG: What are some of your favorite costumes growing up?
AW: Man, I was David Bowie one year! Can you believe that? I was Ziggy Stardust. My brother went as Forest Gump. My mom decorated for Halloween and stuff. I was the blue power ranger one year. I was an army soldier. I was a pirate several times. I was phantom of the opera once because I didn’t have any money for a costume. So I painted my fave white. One year, I dressed up as a cowboy but I dressed up like I was a boy dressed up as a cow. [laughs]
NG: Favorite candy?
AW: My favorite candy is reese cups, if I can get my hands on it.
NG: Favorite scary movie?
AW: Oh man, I hate scary movies. They scare the hell out of me. I don’t like ‘em. But I like the thrillers. I watched all the Friday the 13th growing up.
Photo courtesy of Streamsound Records