Drew Holcomb Interview: New Album, New Tour, Sage Insights

Last month Drew Holcomb oversaw the release of his band’s ninth album, called Strangers No More. Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors have been hitting the road with a seemingly endless series of dates, many opening for Darius Rucker. I had a chance to chat with Drew, catching up since our last meeting.

In that Drew has opened for an impressive list of artists (including Susan Tedeschi, Ryan Adams, Los Lobos, The Avett Brothers, Robert Earl Keen), as well as delivering some sterling headlining gigs, I started by asking how the pairing with Rucker came together.

It evolves that Drew met Rucker through various charity golf tournaments. Drew is friendly with the booking agent, and it all came together rather seamlessly.

That segued into a discussion about how Drew always advises young musicians to “do good work, be nice and stay in touch and good things will happen.” He also advises that “no talent and a great work ethic will get you nowhere, and a great work ethic and no talent will likewise get you to that same place of nowhere, but a combination of talent and work ethic could very well deliver good results.”

Another example of that philosophy bringing good results is Drew’s recent announcement that he will tour in the fall with The Head And The Heart, an excellent band he met while curating his own festival in Chattanooga, called The Moon River Festival.

I asked Drew about my favorite song “Gratitude” from the new album and he admitted it is a good lens through which to see his life since 2017. It turns out the song reflects what we had already been talking about. In 2016 he had meningitis and was facing some big questions, “some meta anxieties around fatherhood, finances and the like.” One morning he was dropping off his kids at school and bumped into Ketch Secor from Old Crow Medicine Show who was doing likewise. Secor asked him what he was up to Drew said he was headed to his office to get some paperwork done and Secor said let’s go write a song instead. “Gratitude” was the sterling result.

“The song encourage us to focus intentionally on that for which we are grateful,” says Drew. “But we shouldn’t hide from the hard stuff. We should recognize that life is fragile and good.”

Drew’s philosophy has rewarded him with a slew of accolades, in 2019 Rolling Stone Country proclaimed Drew as one of Americana’s Most Popular Stars.

We wrapped up our discussion about his nearly two decades in Nashville and the changes in that vibrant city. The city is certainly expanding, but having lived in the same historic neighborhood all that time Drew is grateful for the roots he has developed. He says the city has a creative energy coupled with the highest per capita number of self-employed adults. He loves traveling around the country and seeing its expanse and diversity, but certainly loves coming back to family and friends in Nashville.

His band’s name is a reference to the members’ same zip code.

He chuckled when we discussed the famous marshmallow test, whereby young kids were offered the choice of either one marshmallow now or a couple if they wait. When studied longitudinally over the decades, those that took the quick hit of the marshmallow were found nowhere near as happy or successful as those kids who understood the idea of patience and waiting for something good.

That is certainly the hallmark of Drew Holcomb‘s career and wonderful songbook to date.

Regional gigs:

Aug. 18 in Irvine, CA @ FivePoint Amphitheatre
Aug. 19 in Stateline, NV @ Lake Tahoe Harveys Outdoor Arena
Aug. 23 in Los Angeles, CA @ The Greek Theatre
Aug. 25 in San Diego, CA @ Gallagher Square at Petco Park

Superb Authorized Live Bootleg Recording from The Belly Up Available here.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.