Singer/songwriter Mason Lively needed to be quite creative when he wanted to learn how to write a country song. The now twenty-year-old listened to old-time country songs to hone his craft.
Growing up far from a big city music scene, he cut his first five-song EP, Living Large in a Little Town, when he was just 15-years-old. Co-produced by Lloyd Maines and Pat Manske, Lively sold copies in local parking lots in town and gave away copies to his family.
Even with such a low-key start, he was able to book live shows in his native Texas. It wouldn’t be long before the rising star caught the eye of Lee Crosby Agency’s Trey Newman. Newman became his booking agent last year and introduced the newcomer to The Statesboro Revue’s frontman, Stewart Mann.
With Mann now his co-manager, Lively put together his first full-length album, Stronger Ties. The album was recorded at The Zone studios in Dripping Springs, Texas, and is set to be released April 6th. The first single is “Lonely Comes Back Around” (Lively wrote all ten songs on the album). With raw and gritty vocals (and a wicked harmonica), Lively honors the genre as both an artist and a fan. His band includes Carson Popp (lead guitarist), Jack Barbee (bass) and Will Sepolio (drums).
1) Can you tell our readers a little about yourself?
I’m a Texas singer/songwriter with a new record that I am very proud of! The guys in our band are killer, and I’m so ready to gain more fans in each venue we play. I grew up in a small town called Inez, which is where my wonderful fan base began with some of my great friends! I want to continue working hard to make music my career because it is my true passion. And I’m proud to be interviewed by CMChat!
2) How did growing up in the small Texas town of Inez influence your music?
Naturally, a small Texas town is surrounded by country music. Between the way I grew up and the music tastes of different people in my family, I was exposed to a lot of great music. All genres included!
3) Read that you are working with Stewart Mann (The Statesboro Revue). What’s some of the best advice he has shared with you?
Stewart is such an inspiring musician as it is. It’s so hard to put my finger on one piece of advice he’s shared with me because he’s shared so many since he took a chance on me and decided to manage me. I’m very grateful for that.
4) Was there one song or one artist that most influenced you to start a career in music?
I grew up listening to a lot of Robert Earl Keen (thanks, Dad). I remember being so intrigued with his songwriting from a very young age. I think he’s at the top of my long list of most inspiring artists.
5) How do you get inspiration to write songs?
There are so many different ways. I feel like each song has an explanation as to why I began writing it. I’m very proud of the fact that I started writing at a very young age. Sure those first few songs sucked, but I eventually got to a level of not only myself liking the songs I was writing, but the people that I’d play in front of liking them too. I try to have a diverse strategy of writing, making sure each song has a bit of its own sound. I’m very appreciative of having the ability to express myself and emotions through songwriting.
6) Can you describe your sound in 5 words?
Alternative Country meets Texas Americana. Hah!
7) What are the backstories to the songs on Stronger Ties, all of which you wrote?
I wrote every song on “Stronger Ties” over the last 3 years or so. Not only is each song different from the other, but they individually all have their own little story. “Hard to Let Go” is a response from getting broken up with after a long relationship. “Heavy Toll” was born from anxiety of life on the road, “Early Grave” And “Ballad of the Broken Heart” are songs of anger and regret. “Worry About Nothing” is from feelings of inspiration and gratitude. I can spend hours pointing out why I wrote one of these songs, and I’m so proud of each one.
8) How did you choose “Lonely Comes Back Around” to be the first single?
That was a very unexpected pick for me. Our wonderful radio promoter gave me a novel about how much she loves the song and how well she thought it would do as a first radio single. And the more I listened to it in that mindset, I knew that she was right and that this short and catchy song is a great way to introduce myself to the radio world, and to prepare listeners for the album.
9) If you could record with any country music star, who would it be?
As far as artists who are currently killing it, Chris Stapleton would be my pick. I have so much respect for him as a singer and writer!
10) When you’re not performing what do you like to do?
Hang out with close family and friends, exercise, write as much as possible, catch shows, and daydream about performing.
11) If you were driving cross-country and could only bring one CD, what would it be?
“Diamond’s and Gasoline” by Turnpike Troubadours…no question.
12) What five artists/songs would I see on your recently played lists?
According to my Spotify…they are:
The Black Crowes
Jerry Jeff Walker
13) What are your favorite country songs?
They frequently fluctuate. But as of right now here’s my list.
Hands on the Wheel – Willie Nelson,
Public Domain – Jerry Jeff
Fire Away – Chris Stapleton
Rain – Dalton Domino
Playing The Part – Jamey Johnson
14) If you were granted one wish, what would you ask for?
More wishes…that’s rule number one rule when it comes to that question. Hah!
15) What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
As someone who started doing this at 15, I know that it’ll be all you want to do for the rest of your life, and everything else will naturally fall by the wayside, knowing that you could get the opportunity to do what you love if you work hard at it, play live, write good tunes, and impress the right people. So try and do that.
16) How can fans follow you on social media?
Catch the tour dates on masonlively.com and be sure to follow us on social: Twitter: @masonlively, Instagram: @mason_lively, Facebook @MasonLivelyMusic
“Mason is hands down one of the most driven, motivated, and knowledge-hungry young artists I’ve ever met, and he reminds me a lot of myself at his age, except I had a lot less talent. His appreciation for all genres of music and his ability to weave in and out of styles both as a writer and a singer is what initially intrigued me, and honestly he’s just too damn nice. How can a 20-year-old be that talented and humble? I don’t have an answer to that, but it’s what led me into the world of artist management for the first time in my career. I can’t wait for the world to hear Mason’s genre-bending, Texas country meets blue-eyed soul Americana music. –Stewart Mann