Kendell Marvel on the Triumph & Tragedy Behind His New Album – Billboard


When Kendell Marvel moved to Nashville in 1998, his intention was to be an artist. “99% of songwriters need to be singers,” he tells Billboard.

Nevertheless, on his first day in Music Metropolis, Marvel wrote what would grow to be a high 5 hit for Gary Allan on Billboard‘s Country Songs chart, “Proper The place I Must Be,” and it was quick obvious that he certainly possessed the writing chops to be hit songwriter. He earned hits for George Strait (“Twang”) and Jake Owen (“Don’t Assume I Can’t Love You”) and singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton grew to become a gradual collaborator. A father to younger children on the time, Marvel wrote off his artist ambitions.



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“I used to be carried out with making an attempt to be an artist,” Marvel tells Billboard. “I acquired to remain house and lift my children, watch them play sports activities, all of the issues that if I had been an artist, I wouldn’t get to do as a lot.”

Illinois native Kendell grew up soaking within the ‘70s nation sounds of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings alongside the hard-hitting Southern rock of The Allman Brothers Band, and people influences bled into the type of songs he needed to craft.

However as nation music tred deeper into the hip-hop and pop-infused “bro nation” within the 2010s, Marvel says, “As a workers songwriter, your job is to get songs on the radio and earn cash for everyone. Personally, I simply couldn’t write these songs and stroll into the [acclaimed songwriter watering hole] Bluebird Café and play them for folks.”

Then, in 2015, Marvel watched as his pal and collaborator Stapleton carried out on the CMA Awards, singing the Dean Dillon/Linda Hargrove-penned basic “Tennessee Whiskey” alongside Justin Timberlake, adopted by Timberlake’s “Drink You Away”—and noticed Stapleton ascend from an ace songwriter with a gold-dusted voice largely lauded solely in Nashville’s business circles, to an arena-level touring artist.

“I informed my spouse that night time, ‘I’m gonna go make a file.’ I referred to as [producer] Keith Gattis the subsequent day, and we lower a file a number of months later.”

That file was Marvel’s 2017 debut Lowdown & Lonesome, which was adopted by the Dan Auerbach-produced Stable Gold Sounds in 2019. Aligned with Purple Mild Administration and with Harmony Music Publishing, Marvel will situation his third studio album, Come On Sunshine, on Friday (Sept. 23).

In June 2021, Marvel decamped to Dallas to file at Fashionable Electrical Sound Recorders (MESR), a studio with origins relationship again to the Nineteen Sixties. Producer Beau Bedford and engineer/guitarist/MESR proprietor Jeffrey Saenz helped craft the 10-song album, increasing upon Marvel’s earlier rough-hewn, tell-it-like-it-is model of Seventies country-tinged music. Marvel additionally labored with an eclectic group of writing collaborators together with Stapleton, Devon Gilfillian, Waylon Payne, Dee White, Kolby Cooper and Auerbach.

For Kendell, the studio’s historic and inventive vibe, mixture of classic and cutting-edge gear, and partitions full of classic posters and vibrant artwork (“Loads of studios are so hospital-like, white partitions,” Marvel says), enhanced the recording course of, as did the truth that the musicians at Electrical Studios have been additionally road-tested musicians.

Bedford additionally contributed acoustic guitar to the file. In response to Marvel, the one acoustic guitar used on the file was a L-OO Gibson, which Marvel was informed belonged to Tom Petty: “Supposedly, it’s the guitar they performed ‘Runnin’ Down a Dream’ on and it sounded so good that I went out after and located a classic L-OO and acquired one.”

Nevertheless, a tragedy that occurred after the primary day of recording almost derailed your complete undertaking. After the periods, Saenz went house and suffered a critical electrical accident.

“He acquired caught up in {an electrical} wire that had fallen from a phone pole in his yard. It electrocuted him, and so they needed to take each of his arms. This was the final file that he turned knobs on along with his precise arms,” Marvel remembers. “He’s recovered and again to work. He rode bikes and was an amazing guitar participant, too. They acquired him the prosthetics he wanted to have the ability to return to work. He’s one robust son of a bi—h, is all I can say.”

The morning after the accident, Marvel gathered with the remainder of the album’s musicians and recording crew.

“Everybody is absolutely shut with him. It was like, ‘Do we have to go house? Ought to we reschedule?’” he remembers. “However they performed, and it modified every thing about the best way they performed. There was much more ardour, prefer it was one thing they only wanted to get out. I believe that made the file magical.”

The album launches with a double-shot of defiance within the songs “Don’t Inform Me Learn how to Drink” and “Hold Doing Your Factor.” The previous, which Marvel wrote with Stapleton, additionally options Stapleton’s burly vocals. He additionally reaches deep into his tune catalog for “By no means Lovin’ You,” one other Stapleton co-write, which was created over a decade in the past and beforehand recorded on Blake Shelton’s 2008 album Startin’ Fires.

Within the video “Don’t Inform Me Learn how to Drink,” helmed by Jace Kartye, and filmed in a single take at Fran’s East Aspect bar in Nashville, Marvel is saddled as much as the bar’s edge, singing instantly into the digicam as he downs libation after libation. Although the completed product incorporates a lightning-fast footage, it took slowing the tune significantly to get the impact.

“We filmed that at 9 within the morning and Jace slowed every thing all the way down to the place it took like 14 minutes for me to sing the tune,” Marvel says. “In order that was sort of tough to do, and the clearly there was loads of consuming filmed for the video. Individuals ask me what I used to be consuming, however I simply depart that as much as them,” estimating that he downed about two gallons of liquid throughout the shoot.

One other standout on the album is “Idiot Like Me,” written with Payne. “I’m pleased with the entire album, however that tune and the best way we tracked it was nice,” he raves. “Beau had a Wurlitzer there and he performs all of the acoustic components. I mentioned, ‘Let’s undergo it on a Wurly and see what it seems like.’ So we didn’t find yourself placing any acoustics on it and it simply sounded so good, like an outdated Willie Nelson tune.”

At the moment, Marvel is balancing releasing his personal music and touring (he’s presently out on his Don’t Inform Me Learn how to Drink Tour) along with his continued success as a songwriter (his co-written songs have contributed to Grammy wins for Stapleton and Brothers Osborne lately). Since 2017, he’s additionally spearheaded his month-to-month Honky Tonk Expertise at celebrated Nashville rock membership Exit/In, which turned 50 years outdated final yr. The freewheeling exhibits have featured Stapleton, Alison Krauss, Ashley McBryde and Foo Fighters’ Chris Shiflett.

Marvel says it’s the unpretentious, off-the-clock environment that retains artists coming again: “They’re so used to having to exit and do their very own songs — so for a lot of of them, it’s likelihood to return out and do a Haggard tune or a Lynyrd Skynyrd tune. That’s why we name it the ‘expertise’ — it’s rock, it’s bone-a— nation, no matter it’s — and folks have actually supported it.”

The following Honky Tonk Expertise is about for Oct. 18 at Exit/In. Nevertheless, Marvel is unsure how lengthy the beloved Expertise will proceed, given the battles the honored membership has been by means of to attempt to keep open and unbiased. Final yr, resort developer AJ Capital Companions acquired the constructing that homes Exit/In, sparking backlash from Nashville musicians and politicians.

“We’re sort of frightened,” Marvel says. “I actually don’t need to have the Honky Tonk Expertise anyplace else, until anyone else takes over that place and we are able to proceed to have it there, or if we are able to discover a actually cool rock n’ roll-feeling joint. However I simply can’t see us transferring it to a different on a regular basis membership in Nashville.”

Marvel beforehand opened exhibits on Stapleton’s All-American Street Present tour, and says he’s hopeful to rejoin Stapleton on tour once more quickly.

“I all the time hope so. I imply, that’s the tour all people needs, and so they have been so tremendous supportive of me and different artists. It’s like a giant household on the market. I’ll drop something I’m doing at any time to go on the street with them, as a result of they’re simply salt of the earth folks.”

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