LYRICinterviews: American Young On UK Shows, Writing, Healing & The Power Of Music

American Young is an American country music duo signed to Curb Records. The duo is composed of Kristy Osmunson, formerly of the group Bomshel, and songwriter/producer Jon Stone, who writes and produces closely with many other artists, including Lee Brice. They recently toured the UK as support to High Valley and appeared at the Buckle and Boots festival last weekend.

We loved seeing you play with High Valley back in February. There were times during the Birmingham show when you couldn’t sing because you were laughing at each other. Are you always like that on stage?

Jon : If you can’t have some fun when you play live there’s no reason to do it! We can’t wait to come back and have more fun at the Buckle and Boots show.

Kristy: They’re doing this glamping thing this year which sounds awesome. I cannot wait to see what that looks like. All the little tents and trailers and stuff, they do that down in Texas, it’s like everyday living in Idaho but I’m excited to see what the English version is.

You have a strong fanbase in the UK. Was that always the plan or has it happened by accident?

Jon: We’d like to say it was the plan but it was probably more an accident, although we are not complaining at all!!

Kristy: It probably dates back to the C2C Festival last year when we came over. We loved playing at the O2, it’s one of the most amazing structures I’ve ever been in. It was amazing to feel the energy, have the conversations with everyone there. Over here everything is pigeonholed into various genres but the C2C show felt like there was so many different, eclectic genres on offer.

Why do you think Country music is so popular in the UK right now?

Kristy: I feel y’all love the live instruments. Country uses a lot of live instruments and there’s a real thirst for that in the UK right now. Real musicians that play real instruments seem to be very popular. Organic conversations and real musicians. The crowds listen so well in the UK too, there are so many more pin drop moments. The country is also a real melting pot of different styles & historical traditions and I think that’s what Country songwriters here in Nashville are aspiring to.

 

Your debut album has been out for a while now. Have you been pleased with the reception to it?

Jon: The more people that are aware of us the better it seems to get. The challenge is making people aware of us. We spent a lot of time on this record, I wouldn’t change anything about what we’ve done, just maybe that more people need to find us! ‘Soldier’s Wife’ touched a lot of military families and that was a great song to record.

 

We read that Jon’s musical hero’s are Motley Crue! Is that right?

Jon: Oh, man! I was one of those kids that growing up you couldn’t see an inch of bedroom wall for posters from Hit Parader, Circus Magazine. I loved all that rock stuff, I was in a band when I was 12 and my drummer was the world’s biggest Crue fan. I was a mega Metallica fan, although loved Motley Crue too. I got a chance to play and record a version of ‘Home Sweet Home’ for a tribute album, with Chester Bennington from Linkin Park, Desmond Child was there too!

 

Now we’ve dealt with Jon’s past, let’s talk Bomshel, Kristy.

Kristy: I came to Nashville and I wanted to be in a girl band. There weren’t many, if any, girl bands around at the time. No Dixie Chicks, nothing. We settled on a duo. My grandma used to turn old bomb casings into flower pots and my mom and my other grandma opened a flower shop, so the ‘bomb shell’ idea was floating around, making something beautiful out of something not so good. We had a song called ‘Fight Like a Girl’ and we raised a lot of money for cancer research. It was good.

 

If you released ’19 and Crazy’ now it would be a massive hit. It was ahead of it’s time – Country is a much broader church these days than it used to be.

Kristy (laughing): Well, thanks. I appreciate that. Country music has diversified a lot since we released that.

Jon: We have a lot more freedom now, as American Young. I came into American Young as a producer and song writer. I wasn’t in a position where I was going to sign a record deal. I was working on my buddy Lee’s  (Brice) record. That was the position when American Young started. So we had no record company pressure – we could record what we wanted to record and where we wanted to record and when.

Have you started work on album no.2 yet?

Jon: We’re just starting now. We’re just starting to listen to some songs and write some songs, you know? We’re kinda in a holding pattern with our label at the moment and we’re looking at working with and listening to some new people that they have brought in. Time will tell. There’s no ETA yet.

We’d love to hear a follow up song to ‘Point of View’!!

Jon (laughing): That was a pretty organic process, the way that song developed.

Kristy: We have an amazing farm out here in Tennessee called Blackberry Farm and we wrote ‘Point of View’ out there. It was an amazing process, something magic happens when you write out there. We were sitting by the river, one of my favourite little creeks, the water is absolutely drinkable, it comes down from the Smoky Mountains and we were out there in this little cabin, having this conversation about what is American Young? ‘Point of View’ was my husband’s idea, he was like, ‘y’all need to go write this’. I was born in Canada, you know, and sometimes I say things before I think!! (Jon is laughing in the background) I was raised to be expressive whilst Jon is a champion for honesty, which is rare in today’s world. I was worried that some of the lyrics are a little mean but he was cool!!

If you had to pick between writing or performing, which one would you pick?

Kristy: For me, in the world we’re living in right now it’s one and the same. You’ve got to be able to perform the song to write it, you know what I mean?

Jon: I’d be a writer, 100%. Writing for me is total therapy. Once I write a song the song’s there, I don’t care who sings it, its written. The feeling is out there, it’s done.

Kristy: Music is a really healthy way to conduct your own therapy, as Jon says. Jon helps my writing be a little less specific. Sometimes I’ll write exactly what a series of events is, memories or thoughts. It’s like taking a conversation or painful memory and turning it into a positive, that’s what Jon is so good at. Like in ‘God Sends a Train’. The most healthy thing you can do is write what hurts the most – ‘Fight Like a Girl’ was a story about a girl in my hometown who was struggling with breast cancer. The song just kinda happened at my kitchen table but we took it to the hospital and it became bigger than we ever imagined. With ‘God Sends a Train’ my mother got hit by a train and she kinda healed herself, it was miraculous. She believes in the wisdom of the cell and cured herself through healing, she’s a healer, she’s a nurse. I come from that kind of a family background – I believe in the power of music to heal, I mean, when you sing to your plants they grow better, right?

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