Q&A with Kelby Ray Caldwell of The Cadillac Three
TFM - You talked a while ago about getting an 8 string lap steel, did you ever get it and how does it differ to play compared to your normal 6 strings and what tuning do you use?
KRC - Yep I got one custom made from McLane Guitars, like I have for my 6 strings. It was definitely a challenge coming up with a tuning that worked in our live set. I tried a low A tuning but it was almost TOO low! I’ve been experimenting with some different tunings, I like making up my own by trial and error. I think right now I have sort of a high strung E9 type tuning, but it’s at home right now, im always experimenting! And tougher to play cause you know, too many strings! Haha
TFM - How many lap steels do you now own, and do you play them all?
KRC - I think I own 8 or 9, and I don’t play them all, mainly just 2 live with 2 different tunings. I keep some at home for session work as well.
TFM - You are without doubt one of the most sociable musicians I have ever met. You always have time for your fans. Is it important to you to have that relationship with the fans?
KRC - If there’s no fans then there’s no band! If people quit showing up at shows then we’d have to stay at home, and nobody wants that! I think its important to have relationships with fans, even just showing the smallest appreciation I think goes a long way.
TFM - You probably have one of the most unique pedal board set ups in music today. You had to be an innovator to be able to create the way you use your lap steel to play both steel and bass parts in the band. The sound created is amazing. How long did it take to work it all out, and are you always still fine tuning your set up?
KRC - Thanks. It came about after a lot of trial and error over many years now, but we’ve got it pretty much set in its ways. But as soon as I say that I'm sure Brandon (our guitar tech / monitor soundman) will have some suggestion on how to make it better. Basically I just plugged in an octave pedal one day and voila! But I’ve definitely been tweaking at it for a long time. Its fun to do something unique like that.
TFM - When you are not touring or recording with The Cadillac Three, are you doing anything else in the world of music, like session work, writing etc?
KRC - I do a bit of session work when I'm home, playing lap steel, or electric or acoustic guitar or bass. I came up as a lead guitarist, so its fun to be able to flex that muscle now and then. I write here and there, when the inspiration strikes!
TFM - When you are on stage with Jaren and Neil, you always look like you are having such a good time. It's very hard to fake that, the fans notice. Have there been any shows where you got on stage and just thought 'I'm not feeling it today'?
KRC - Sure there’s nights when it’s the fifth show in a row and you might be tired, but after a couple beers and the first cheers from the crowd the energy just seems to replenish itself and you remember that it’s just all about having fun and being in the moment. We don’t script anything, as fans of ours know haha, and I think that comes across on stage and people enjoy seeing that.
TFM - You put in the hard work to get known in the UK and Europe by coming over multiple times a year for a few years to build up that fan base to the point of sell out shows in 2500 capacity venues on a regular basis now. Is it starting to go that way in the US or are you still working to get your name out there?
KRC - It’s harder in the US I think because there's so much more ground to cover. We’re still building up quite a buzz over here and it just takes more time because it’s so massive! Without too much help from radio we just do what we do best and stay out almost every weekend playing in all the different corners of the world that we can!
TFM - You've had some amazing support acts you've brought over, especially in the UK and Europe with the likes of Whiskey Myers, Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown and Brothers Osborne to name but a few. These are big names in their own right, and every night they really do put on one hell of a show. A lot of acts would be too scared to have such amazing bands open for them with fear of being overshadowed by them. All it seems to do is make The Cadillac Three push performances through the roof. Do you all like a challenge to bring your A+++++ game every night on stage?
KRC - We know to bring our A game every night regardless of the situation. That's what’s gotten us to where we are now over the years. Opening for everyone under the sun, we’ve always brought our A game and I think we still go into every show with that mindset. If we come off stage and it wasn’t the best we could have done, we talk out what we could have done better and strive for that the next night!
TFM - We have radio stations in the UK that absolutely love you guys, Planet Rock being one, and Bob Harris show on BBC Radio Two being another. These two stations alone capture a large part of the UK's audience. It must give you a real buzz to know your music will always have a voice over here, and not just for a 'radio friendly' song, but any song you choose to release?
KRC - Its tough to get played on the radio and we know that. So to have that support in the UK its an amazing feeling. I think it has a lot to do with helping us play those size venues in the UK as well, so yes it’s definitely awesome to have that kind of support!
The Cadillac Three
TFM - The Cadillac Three are going from strength to strength and seem to be finally getting the recognition y'all deserve. Is it still as exciting as ever now you are playing to bigger and bigger crowds and in larger venues?
KRC - Absolutely. if it wasn’t we would hang it up! haha.
TFM - You got married last year. Is it important to have a solid relationship and home life as you are away touring so much?
KRC - Absolutely. If you're a touring musician you have to be with someone who is ok with that schedule. Lucky for us we are usually only gone for 3-4 days at a time so it's not that bad.
TFM - Last year(2017) in the UK and Europe you played Download Festival, predominantly a heavy rock festival. How cool was it to share the stage with some of Rocks biggest bands and especially in the UK playing an amazing set on the main stage at Donnington Park?
KRC - It was incredibly awesome. Definitely the most people we’ve ever played in front of, and being able to say we got to open for AEROSMITH!!! How crazy is that?
TFM - How is the new album coming along and can we expect another August release?
KRC - We recorded a few songs in December when we were off the road. As far as getting back in we just have to find the time, but we will! As far as when it will come out its too early to tell. But you know we’re always writing new stuff!
TFM - Any plans for another UK/European tour this year as it was such a huge success last year with most shows sold out, and any plans for a return further afield to Australia or even to visit the Far East at some point?
KRC - UK/Europe is for sure on the horizon for later in the year, we love coming back and the shows are getting huge! Australia would be great to go to again but we just have to figure out the right scenario since its so expensive to get there. Same with Asia, but id love to vacation there!
TFM - You have been doing a new YouTube series called 'Cookin' with Kelby'. How did that come about, because you are a natural in front of the camera?
KRC - Haha. It started as a joke with me and my wife at dinner. “I should have my own cooking show!” And recorded the jingle right after dinner. I like being in the kitchen second to being on stage, so why not? And its easy in front of the camera when I'm in control of the whole thing, and its fun! Who knows, it could be a hit! Dumber things have become hits on YouTube haha!
TFM - Because of your love of food, where is your favourite restaurant and what is your favourite dish?
KRC - Well what type of food!? Honestly my favourite food is something I’ve never tried before. But the salsa at Las Palmas in Nashville is the best in the world.
TFM - You obviously really love tattoos, do you have any idea how many you have now and are you planning any more?
KRC - Hmm how many is tough because a lot of them run together. Ive probably been tattooed 20 times or so, and sure, I’ll get one today on a dare probably!
TFM - Sticking with tattoos, do you have any that you now regret getting?
KRC - Regrets? No. But would I go back and redo a couple from scratch? Probably.
TFM - What music are you listening to at the moment and are there any bands that you would recommend we give a listen to that maybe we haven't heard of before?
KRC - Check out my profile on Spotify @kelbyray. I've got a run of playlists from NEW 1 to NEW 8, kinda going off the “NOW That’s What I Call Music” series. You’ll probably be surprised! But Greta Van Fleet is one of my new rock favs.
TFM - What are your plans for the rest of 2018?
KRC - More touring, more recording, more Cookin’ With Kelby, and who knows what else!
Thank you to Kelby Ray Caldwell for taking the time to answer a few questions for Two Finger Media.
Don't forget to check out Kelby's Spotify Playlist. Here is the link to New 8