Q&A with Kendell Marvel
Already an award-winning songwriter, having written hits for Chris Stapleton, George Strait, Jamey Johnson and Jake Owen, Kendell Marvel makes his solo debut with Lowdown & Lonesome, a concept album that blends his musical down home country and rock & roll roots.
Having written 9 out of 10 tracks on the album, Marvel flexes his writing chops and invites listeners on the familiar journey of heartbreak, vices and all points in between. “Gypsy Woman” paints the picture of a love that’s not chasing back while on the title track "Lowdown & Lonesome” Marvel sings about hitting rock bottom and drinking about it. Lowdown & Lonesome is reminiscent of classical country greats Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Jr. combined with the southern rock edge of the Allman Brothers and ZZ Top. “I wrote the song “Lowdown & Lonesome” with Keith Gattis and Randy Houser a few years back and we based the whole album around that track. The songs are real, they’re gritty- a combination of hurt-like-hell heartache and rowdy rebellion.”
TFM - You were born and raised in Southern Illinois, what made it the right time to move to Nashville, and was it the most obvious choice for your writing career?
KM - I was 28 years old and it was do or die time, and Nashville was the only place to go to do what I wanted to do.
TFM - You've been in Nashville 20 years now, how has the writing ethos changed in Music City over that time, if at all?
KM - It has changed dramatically! It went from being lyrically good to very mediocre. It seems like most of the songs sound just like the rest. No originality in ’em.
TFM - Do you write solo, or is it a more collaborative effort with a regular group of writers?
KM - I would rather collaborate personally.
TFM - As an in demand writer, is it a nice relief to be able to just go out and play your songs rather than penning them for someone else all the time?
KM - Very much so. I kinda have the best of both worlds. I go perform my songs and still write with the Chris Stapleton’s and Bros Osborne’s of the world.
TFM - Lowdown & Lonesome is you debut album and was released last year stateside and has been re-released here via Spinefarm Records. How exciting is it to have a second album release in a new country?
KM - It is super exciting! Being exposed to a whole different set of fans who really dig lyrically good songs is truly a huge deal for me.
TFM - You recently supported Brothers Osborne on their UK tour. I see you have co-written a few of the songs on their album Port Saint Joe. How cool is it to hear them played night after night, knowing you had a part in them?
KM - Yes, that tour was a big boost for me. It took my credibility as an artist to a different level. I have been writing with those guys since before they got signed to a label, so to see how far they’ve come and have a hand in writing some of their songs is an honour! Not to mention, I really think it is gonna be album of the year over here in the states. Exciting stuff.
TFM - You performed a one man acoustic show supporting Brothers Osborne, which do you prefer, acoustic solo or full band?
KM - I am good with either, but if I had my say I would have a band, especially with rockers like the Bros.
TFM - In Nashville you have a residency at the Exit/In called the Honky Tonk Experience. How important as an artist is it to have a place where you can just play your stuff and just enjoy playing music?
KM - It has been a great residency for me. It has made folks in Nashville see me as an artist and not just a songwriter. And it’s a hell of a lot of fun to have all my pals come and jam with me on a regular basis.
TFM - You have written for many of the top Country artists out there, is there anyone that you haven't written with yet that is on your bucket list, Country or otherwise?
KM - I have been lucky enough to write with some great artists, but would love to write with old school legends such as Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. Guys that I admire as writers as much as I do as artists.
TFM - Are you looking at coming back to the UK in the future for a headline tour of your own?
KM - Yes, I am absolutely looking to come back! Not sure if I will headline yet, but will definitely be back this year either on a tour with someone or maybe doing some small venues on my own. Love the fans over there, they get it!
Two Finger Media would like to thank Kendell Marvel for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. It was a pleasure seeing him play live, and the new album Lowdown & Lonesome is excellent and a must buy, and is available now at all the usual outlets via Spinefarm Records.