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Scotty McCreery Talks ‘Clear As Day,’ Baseball & His Very Bright Future!

Scotty McCreery Talks ‘Clear As Day,’ Baseball & His Very Bright Future!

The past year has been nothing short of life changing for blossoming country music superstar Scotty McCreery. It started simply enough as he was just your everyday high school student in his hometown of Garner, North Carolina, working as a bagger in a local grocery store and spending his off-time playing baseball. It didn’t take long for America to fall in love with him in early 2011 when he appeared on “American Idol” and immediately made a name for himself with his undeniably country voice, small-town roots and unwavering conviction. As Season Ten of “American Idol” drew to a close, the people of America spoke! A record-breaking 122.4 million votes were cast for the finale and nearly 39 million people tuned in to see the winner’s name announced. Since he was crowned champion, it has been a whirlwind of recording sessions, traveling, live performances and promotion. With the help of dedicated fans, the young star earned his first gold record for “I Love You This Big,” which sold more than 500,000 singles in four months. McCreery’s recently released debut album, “Clear as Day,” is expected to debut atop the Billboard 200 album charts, making it the best selling album in America amongst all genres when the chart is released on Wednesday. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Scott McCreery to discuss his newfound fame, the making of “Clear as Day,” how he stayed grounded along the way and what it means to sing the U.S. National Anthem at baseball’s biggest stage, the 2011 World Series!

Scotty McCreery

Thanks for taking time out to talk to us today, Scotty. I know it has been a bit of a whirlwind for you lately.

Oh, yes sir! Absolutely!

How are you adjusting to life in the spotlight?

I think that I have been dealing with it pretty well. It has been kind of a big adjustment for me and the family. We have been doing well with it, I think, but it has definitely been a huge, huge change from what life was before.

Has it been a difficult transition or has it been smooth sailing for the most part?

It has been a bit of both. Some days, everything goes right and everything is perfect but then as things get going, we have to make tough decisions. It can get stressful but it is definitely something that has had its ups and downs.

How excited are you to finally have “Clear As Day” out there for music fans to enjoy?

I am extremely excited! We have been working so hard and listening to every nook and cranny of that album for the past several months, so it is great to finally get it out to the public and see what they think and let them hear the music that we have been working so hard on!

Was it difficult for you to find the right mix of songs to bring the album you were envisioning to life?

Initially, I thought that it was really going to be tough with my age and with who I am, I had a select amount of songs that I could sing on my subject. The songs came down prefect. We had a big meeting down in Nashville. The first time I went down there, we talked to publishers and writers about what we were lookin’ for and then some other writers started writing for me. The songs just started coming in, in bucket loads for us! The really tough part was picking the ones that we wanted to use for the album!

I bet it was but that is a good problem to have! You worked with some of the hottest songwriters around for this album. What can you tell us about working with some of the biggest names in the industry?

It was incredible! These are the guys that have written the hits! They are the number one writers and for them to be writing for my album and have songs from them appearing on my album is just incredible for me. I am the newbie in country music! It really means a lot to me!

What did your producer, Mark Bright, bring to the table for your first recording project?

It was incredible having Mark on board because, in my mind, he is a genius! He has worked with the best. He has produced Carrie Underwood and Rascal Flatts. It was nice having him on board because he has done this many times and he got a lot out of me, ya know? I could have just come in there and sang but he would come in and give me a little pep talk and tell me to keep on going. We would work on different stuff along the way and he brought a lot out of me, as an artist, during the process that I didn’t even really know that I had.

Scotty McCreery

As an artist, what was the biggest challenge in putting this project together from start to finish?

Oh man, I would say that the biggest challenge was th

at the album had to be rushed. The “American Idol” finale was on May 25 and on May 26 we were working on the album! It was tough for me to find time to sit down and be an artist and to be creative since I have been busy, non-stop, since May 25. But we found the time and I think that we definitely found the right mix for this album.

I know you are going to tour with Brad Paisley next year, which is awesome, but before that you have one very cool date we need to talk about. You will be performing at Game One of the 2011 World Series.

Oh, yes sir!

How excited are you about that?

I am so pumped! I am a huge baseball fan and I have been playin’ ball my whole life, all the way up through high school. To be able to sing on baseball’s biggest stage is pretty incredible for me!

What position did you play when you were playing high school ball?

I was a pitcher!

You’ve even got a little baseball history in your family. What can you tell us about that?

Oh yeah! My dad grew up playin’ ball in college, so that was his thing. He kinda raised me to be a pitcher and I loved it. Then there is another little story that we don’t know if it is 100% true or not but she says that “The Catfish” is in her side of the family somewhere, Catfish Hunter. We can’t find the link to that so we aren’t 100% percent sure. My grandma is 100 and she has been to family reunions with his Hunters, so it is kind of a cool story.

You are a Red Sox fan, right?

Yes, I am. My Dad grew up about 45 minutes north of Boston.

I am a Baltimore Orioles fan and I am sorry we dashed your playoff hopes this year! That is really about all we did!

It’s OK! It’s OK! [laughs] I actually went to Camden Yards this year on tour. It is a great stadium.

I imagine in the crazy times you experienced over the past year or so, baseball has been a great escape?

Yeah, it has been like a cool little getaway for me. Even on the “American Idol” tour, I didn’t go on until 9:15, so I would go watch six innings of a game down the street, if I could! So, it has been really nice to have that! Whenever I was home, dad and I would go out and throw a little bit in the yard. It helped me get back to some type of normalcy and to have that there for us has been nice.

Scotty McCreery

Who are your favorite MLB players?

I am a Josh fan. Josh Hamilton and Josh Beckett are my two favorite players right now.

Here is a tough one for ya, Scotty. If you were a professional baseball player, what would you choose as your entrance music as you come up to bat?

Oh, my goodness! This is tough! [laughs] This is THE question! In high school, we would always have the same kinda songs and we would debate all summer long on what song we should pick! Man! If I had to pick one song, maybe, hmm … I would pick “Swingin’” by John Anderson! I sang it on the show and that might be a fun one!

That is a really great pick!

Yeah, it works! [laughs]

Well, singing the National Anthem is never an easy task. Have you already started figuring out your treatment for it?

Ya know, I have been singing it in the shower a few times! [laughs] I have been working out some stuff but I think that I am just going to stay true to the song. It is The Nation’s song and I don’t want to change it up too much and get too fancy with it. So, to be honest, I will probably just sing it the way that it is supposed to be sung.

While your new album is terrific, the live performance is how we all came to know you. What do you want people to come away with after catching one of your live performances?

More than anything, I just want the audience to go away having fun and to have had fun with me! That is what it is all about! When you go to a live show, you hope to connect with the performer and they are hoping to connect with the audience. Hopefully, that is what I will continue to do on tour! With the “American Idol” tour, it was really great to see the fans face to face for the first time because we had been lookin’ at them through a lens for the last couple months of the show! Live performances are always fun because you never know what is going to happen! This upcoming tour is going to be a good one! Every night is fresh and every night is a new crowd, so you have to keep the performance fresh. For me, I will put my earphones on and listen to some pump up music before I go on stage or start punchin’ at the air, like a little “Rocky” montage or something! [laughs]

Do you feel there are any misconceptions about yourself at this point in your career?

Ya know, I really don’t think so. I think that through the show, I don’t see how there could be because my life was an open book! People really got to see the ins and outs of it. For me, it is all about being true to myself and I think that the public has seen that. So, hopefully, there aren’t any!

Seeing as you took an incredible journey over the past year, what is the best piece of advice you can pass along to those considering making a career in the music industry?

I’d tell ‘em to stick to their guns! There are some times where you have to please somebody or do something that you might not have expected but if there is something that means a lot to you and you don’t want to change it up, I’d tell them to stick to their guns. That is what I had to do when I was on the show, ya know? People were trying to change me and telling me that I had to sing something other than country and I just said, “That’s not me!” It’s that simple.

Scotty McCreery

In your opinion, what does the future hold for Scotty McCreery musically?

Musically, I hope that I am around for 20 or 30 more years. I don’t want to be one of those guys that is here for two or three years and then is gone. I want to be singing for the rest of my life! But we will see! I have to work hard for that though!

Definitely! And you are off to a great start! Is there anything you want to tell your fans before I let you go? I know they are who got you here, so I wanted to let you say your piece!

Yeah, just a BIG thank you to the fans! As you said, they are the ones that, literally, put me here! It means more to me than any other artist because they voted me here! Without them, I would still be at home playin’ ball, bagging groceries and being a normal kid! So I owe a huge thanks to them! Hopefully, they can keep following me and I can keep putting out the music that they want to hear! It’s going to be a lot of fun!

Do you have anything on the horizon in the short term we all should be on the lookout for?

I have a few different radio events but for me, once this promotional thing dies down, I am going to be heading back to school, so you can watch out for me in North Carolina!

Alright, Scotty! Thank you for your time and it has been a pleasure!

Thank you! Have a good one!

For all the latest information on Scotty McCreery, visit his official website at www.scottymccreery-official.com!

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Guitar Goddess Orianthi Talks About Her Debut Album, Michael Jackson & More!

Guitar Goddess Orianthi Talks About Her Debut Album, Michael Jackson & More!

feature_orianthi

At 24 years old, Orianthi has already experienced what most aspiring musicians may spend a lifetime trying to obtain. She has opened for Steve Vai, played with Carlos Santana, jammed with Prince and blew away the audience with her performance alongside Carrie Underwood at the Grammys. Most recently, this astounding guitar virtuoso was hand-picked to by the late King of Pop (Michael Jackson) to serve as the guitarist on his tour farewell tour and is featured prominently in the This Is It documentary which has thrilled countless fans worldwide. Armed with her guitar, some kick-ass guitar riffs and an adventurous spirit, this rising star has her sights set on becoming a full blown pop sensation! Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Orianthi to talk about her blossoming career, working alongside rock royalty, her debut album, “Believe,” and what the future holds for her.

orianthi-3How did music first come into your life?

When I was six, I picked up the guitar for the first time. My Dad had guitars all around the house. He is a guitarist and I would see him in great bands. He had records by Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Carlos Santana, Elvis Presley and Eric Clapton. I would listen to those. When I was ten, I studied classical and then when I was eleven, I saw Carlos Santana perform in Adelaide, Australia. That is when I went to my Dad and said “I don’t want to play classical anymore, I want to play electric guitar!” I begged him for an electric and I got a second hand Paul Reed Smith and I never put it down! I wanted to learn as many Carlos Santana songs and solos as I could. I just love it!

What has kept you inspired throughout the years as an artist?

Just listening to different records and guitarists. I think that you can never stop learning from guitarists like Carlos Santana and Steve Vai. They are just amazing. They are my two idols and it is awesome to have their support and encouragement. I got to jam with Carlos when I was eighteen and that was a dream come true! When I was fifteen I got to open for Steve Vai in Adelaide, Australia and he kept in contact with me and we wrote a song for the record, Believe, which is called “Highly Strung”. It was a real honor to work with him.

You mentioned your debut album ‘Believe’. What can you tell us about the album for those who might not be familiar with it yet?

I set out to create a really commercial record, a pop-rock record that has lots of guitar solos that has sort of an “eighties now” vibe to it. I think that it is an empowering record. It’s not negative lyrically and I hope to inspire a lot more people to pick up the guitar, especially girls. I want them to keep at it and never give up because there aren’t too many female guitar players out there, so if I could inspire more, that would be awesome!

What can you tell us about the writing process for that record?

Well, when I first moved over from Adele to LA, I started writing. I went over and wrote in Nashville and in LA. I worked with some great songwriters . I love the whole process, ya know, of going into a room and sitting around to come up with something that you never thought you would have at the end of the day. I always come up with guitar riffs or sometimes I am humming melodies of chords and stuff, writing lyrics with different people, it just turns out differently each time. It’s not like when you go into a room and write a song by yourself. It may turn out completely the way you want it but when you have other people come in, they have other ideas that they bring to the table that you would never think of. I like that process! I think that it is really cool!

orianthi-believe-240x240What was the biggest challenge in making the record?

Trying to make sure that all of the songs where really strong, chorus wise. I wanted to make a record that people could put into their car and not want to change. I worked with producer Howard Benson, who is an incredible producer, we very much focused on the choruses and not putting too much guitar playing into it. We wanted just enough so that it was still really guitar based, but not too much so that someone who is not a guitarist who is listening to it gets put off by it. So, I guess the challenge was balancing those elements. I am really proud of the record and hopefully it connects with a lot of people.

You are plugged into the different social networks like Myspace, Facebook and Twitter. How have your fans been responding to the album?

They are really liking it! I am getting some very nice emails and support. It has been really good. They are waiting for us to get out and tour. I can’t wait to do that with the new stuff! We have been rehearsing as a band and playing the new stuff, so there will be more guitar solos live and we are looking at where to extend them. We have been having a lot of fun with it and the support has been great!

Are there are any concrete tour plans in the future or are you still working on that?

We are still waiting to hear who we are going to be touring with. At the moment, we are on this crazy radio/press tour, traveling around, meeting different people throughout the country and seeing more of America. It’s very cool!

Hopefully you like what you have seen so far!

Oh yeah, definitely!

Many people got their initial exposure to you and your guitar skills through Michael Jackson’s ‘This Is It’. How did you get that gig?

orianthi-4I actually got the gig through Myspace. I got an email from Mike Beardon. He saw me jamming at the Grammy Awards with Carrie Underwood. He reached out to me through Myspace and I didn’t think that it was for real. He told me to learn “Beat It”, “Dirty Diana” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'”. I learned the tracks and I was super nervous but I went in and played for Mike Beardon and Michael Jackson came in one night and I played “Beat It” with a cranked up guitar solo. MJ was looking right at me and I was very nervous. I have never been that nervous in my life! He hired us all that night. It seemed like a dream! It was awesome playing for him.

I am sure that you have seen the film by now, right?

Yeah, I have seen it twice.

Did it capture that moment in time accurately, as far as your experience goes?

Oh yeah, totally! There were cameras around all the time and for me I almost became unaware of them being there because you are so focused on your part, what you are doing and trying to make Michael happy with what you were doing. I don’t think that you are going to see a “more real” movie. It is a documentary that invites you into our world for three months. I think that Kenny (Ortega) did an awesome job of putting it together, it really makes you feel like you were there. The first time I saw it was very emotional and I didn’t know how I was going to sit through it. The second time, it was a look back at incredible memories of working with a musical icon that I looked up to immensely.

What is your fondest memory from working alongside The King of Pop?

Ya know, he just wanted the best out of all of us. He was a perfectionist but he was very kind with it. I remember one time, just after I had auditioned for him, I was walking down the corridor of where were were rehearsing. Michael was coming down with his bodyguard and there was nobody else around. I was wearing a hat and I didn’t have my hair down like when he had seen me before in the audition, so I didn’t know if he would recognize me. I thought I might just run away into a room or something but then I decided to just be normal and say hello to him! He was really nice and grabbed my hand and said hello and “God bless you. I will see you soon!” He was just really a kind person and didn’t seem to have an ego. That made me smile for the rest of the day!

You have worked with such musical icons as Carlos Santana, Steve Vai and Michael Jackson, of course. I was curious to know who else you might like to collaborate with in the future?

I would love to do a some with B.B. King or Eric Clapton. That would be awesome! Prince! That would be really cool! I got to jam with Prince but we never recorded anything but that would be terrific. Also, Keith Urban. I am a big country fan.

orianthi-5What do you hope that people come away with after listening to your music or seeing your live performance?

As a band, we just love playing. We want to keep that child-like spirit up and inspire to pick up the guitar and have fun. Hopefully, when people see us live they think we are a very powerful band. We work really hard to make sure all of the parts compliment each other, so hopefully people will get inspired and pick up the guitar when they get home, that would be awesome!

How did you first get involved with Paul Reed Smith and what has that experience been like for you?

It’s been great! I love his guitars! Like I said, after seeing Santana I begged for a guitar and it had to be a Paul Reed Smith. So I got a second hand Custom 24. When I was fourteen, I actually made a demo and sent it out to Paul and he wrote back to me. He really liked it. Then when I was eighteen, I got to jam with Carlos in Australia and he took that DVD of us jamming to Paul. Paul invited me over to the NAMM show and I came over to play in the booth. I think it was in 2005, I was with Carlos there and his son was in the audience. He knew my A&R guy and he asked for my MP3s and forwarded it on to Ron Fair, who I auditioned for and that is how I got my record deal. That is kinda how it happened. Paul has been super-supportive and there is some exciting news coming up in January! I’m not going to say what, but I am really excited! It is really exciting to be working with him. He is a great guy, really supportive and I just really love his guitars. I think that he is the best guitar maker in the world!

You have worked with so many icons from the industry in your career. What is the best piece of advice someone has given you along the way?

I got a lot of advice from Steve Vai and Carlos Santana. Just play from your heart, play what you feel. that is what I learned from them. Also, never stop learning. I think it is very important to keep on evolving as a player and to learn from other people. Every one I play with, be it a drummer, bass player or a guitar player, everyone approaches it differently. We all come from a different musical world and I think it is really important to learn as much as a you can from each other. When I sit back and I am eighty-five, I want to still be able to move forward as a player and not just be stuck in one place, if you know what I mean. So yeah, it is very important to never stop learning.

orianthi-2Have you had a ‘Spinal Tap Moment’ on stage where something totally unexpected has happened to you?

Yeah! I used to play in a cover band from when I was about fifteen until I was about twenty in Adelaide. We used to play two or three nights a week, Top 40 stuff. We played a wedding one time out in the country. This one guy was really drunk and poured his beer into the fold-back and the wedges, the power went out and he fell. During his fall he hit the mic which bruised my lip and he fell into the bass drum! [laughs] That was very… dramatic! [laughs] It is kinda funny looking back on it but it wasn’t funny at the time. But yeah, I try not to trip over chords, especially when I am wearing high heels. It was a challenge running up in wedges for the ‘This Is It’ show. I was thinking the whole time that I was going to land on my butt! [laughs] As a guitar player, I don’t know if we have the best sense of direction but trying to find the stage with the band is sometimes a challenge! Definitely Spinal Tap! [laughs]

Is there anything else you want to add or let your fans know?

Yeah! Thank you so much for your support! I really appreciate it. I read all of the emails, I can’t reply to all of them but I love reading them and I try to reply to as many as I can! Thank you, everyone!

2009 has been quite a big year for you and I am sure 2010 will be even bigger. All the best to you!

Thank you!

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Get all the latest information on Orianthi at her official website, www.orianthi.com. You can also connect with her on Myspace or Twitter! Be sure to check out her debut album, Believe, on iTunes!

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