Sat down with James Tucker and talked about his upbringing and how he was introduced to Country Music at an early age while riding in his dad's truck coming back from church. We dive into how his journey with music started by chasing girls in school, to now finding success on Tik Tok and putting his own music out. Get to know James Tucker and his most recent single "This Town".
Get To Know James
"I'm from Yadkin County, North Carolina. I grew up with my dad being a Southern Baptist preacher and a cow farmer. I grew up on a farm and had a great upbringing. I'm from a really small town. I don't think we have a stop light yet, just a caution light. But we did get a Dollar General a few months after I graduated high school and that was a big deal. I loved growing up in a small town and wouldn't change that for anything. I started the music thing in high school. Well, I was in show choir and stuff in high school because there were girls in the class... that was the reason. It was the first time I even thought about music or sang in a structured environment. After that, I got into the youth band in church playing drums and singing. One of my best buds passed away a year after we graduated high school. I had dabbled in guitar and songwriting a little, and this song just came to me. That's what sparked my interest in songwriting. From there I ended up singing the song at his funeral. It was very tough, but a good experience because I had the opportunity to see something that I’d written connect with other folks. From living in Yadkin County, I went on to join the military at 17. I was in the guard, but was put on active duty pretty quickly. I was in the service for two years and then was sent overseas. My mom sent me a guitar and some other people sent me stuff so I could dive back into writing songs and focusing my down time on music. That's when I truly fell in love with songwriting, as I could put my heart to paper. It was a release for me. When I got back, I went to college in North Carolina. At that point I was really able to play shows and focus on music. I started out solo, then got some guys to form a band. That was in my early 20’s but I didn't release a song until I was 24 or 25. The song was my debut single "The Man I Am". I’ve got some family in the industry, so I would come up to Nashville a good bit. My approach was toI take any opportunity I could to play. I still play a lot of dive bars, but we started getting some bigger shows. Then the new wave of social media helped, like posting videos on Tik Tok. Things have been going well. Tik Tok wasn't THE way, but it helped to find a new group of listeners."
An Anthem For Small Town USA
I personally don't like categorizing or comparing “up and comers” to big time artists because they are working their asses off to pave their own path. But James Tucker gives off a strong Zach Bryan and Tyler Childers vibe. The first time I listened to "This Town" I felt it on such a deep level. Each line was genuine and real and wasn't all happy-go-lucky. I come from a big town with 4 high schools, multiple fast food chains scattered everywhere and people everywhere you turn your head. And yet, I can still feel these lyrics. James paints the perfect picture of the bond and camaraderie in a small town. For those who have been missing that raw traditional Country Music, James Tucker is a name to look up.
Inspiration Behind "This Town"
Written By: James Tucker
"The idea for "This Town"; a lot of my process for writing is finding something that I have experienced or felt and how it can be relatable to other people. Last fall, all the music I was listening to was all “peachy” and happy songs about drinking beer with your buddies and having a good time. As much as that is my home town, during high school, and the 3 or 4 years that followed, some pretty tragic events happened. I lost two really good friends in tragic ways. A lot of times it was coming home to memories of them; it was kind of a broken thing. Senior year our quarterback got jacked up and was in a neck halo for a year. There were a lot of things that had this "my hometown is great" kind of feel. I had the idea of "This Town" as a kind of a play on words. As in, it's not always the best thing you want to come back to even though you will always love your hometown. I wrote this one on my own. It actually came together in like 30 minutes. The song may not seem like it, but it was a salute and a thank you to my hometown."
Q & A With James Tucker
Q: What was that "light bulb" moment when you knew you wanted to pursue music?
A: "I have a cousin, Stephen Liles - who's in Love and Theft. The band has had a great career and still does. I remember seeing him play at a county fair. The show was packed and they were headlining. I was very young, but I told myself "when I get older, that's what I want to do. It wasn't necessarily my "light bulb" moment, but it was the spark for my interest in pursuing a music career. Honestly, my "light bulb" moment is so simple. All the folks who send me DM's at 2AM saying "I'm going through this or that and your song is getting me through it or is really relatable. That's more validation, but it keeps my light bulb lit and keeps me pushing."
Q: Who are some of your favorite artists and songwriters that influence your music?
A: "There are so many... but I have always been a big Jason Isbell fan. I have an obsession with his songwriting. Before I even really got into songwriting, he put out songs that made me think. I would also say BJ Barham from American Aquarium; big fan of his songwriting style. I don't want to sound cliche, because I get categorized a lot with artists like these, but I love what Zach Bryan and Tyler Childers are doing. When you find artists like them it feels like, well I've never done hardcore drugs, but I'd assume they would feel like my love for those guys' music. I'm a big Alan Jackson fan and have to give respect to George Strait. I listen to that stuff all the time. The Texas Country scene is outstanding - Cody Johnson, Koe Wetzel, Kolby Cooper, guys like that. Even Death Cab for Cutie ‘cause I don't just listen to Country Music. I love Screamo, Mac Miller, I like everything."
Q: Something that most people don't know about you?
A: "Some of my close family and maybe a handful of my friends would know this, but when I was a kid, I was diagnosed with some kind of syndrome where I would get chronic high fevers. This would happen to me every month on the 28th day of the month. Not even joking. I would have a fever of like 104 or 105, to the point I needed a doctor's note for school. It wasn't contagious or anything, but it went on until I was like 15 years old."
Q: Why is Country Music special to you?
A: "I would say because it brings back so many memories. After church, we would ride and get dinner - usually at Bojangles. We didn't have a ton of money growing up. You don't make a ton of money on a preacher's salary. We would listen to 98.1 which was a Bluegrass station/old Country station. That was the first time music did anything for me. I remember hearing Johnny Cash and Travis Tritt, it really moved me. As I got older, I primarily listened to Country Music. So much of Country Music is putting out relatable music and material that people can feel. That's what Country Music means to me. It just spoke to me."