Puresouthernrock’s Vernon Tart had a little chat with Meagan Tubb in 2011 to hear whats going on with her and her band, Shady People.
Are you related to Earnest Tubb? You must get that a lot!
Good questions. Well, I have been told that I am related to him but I do not know how… (any genealogists out there want to take this challenge on?)
What is your favorite part of music, writing, recording, playing?
I like the process of brainstorming and creating new ideas on my guitar and then extrapolating the lyrical ideas and melodies from there. There is also the magic that happens when I present new songs to the band. We will woodshed for a while and they will come up with all these amazing parts that I never would have thought of on my own which is part of what makes playing with them so fun. When it’s finally right, we will unveil a new song at a show in front of the audience. That’s also a great feeling too to share the final product with the people and get their reaction to it.
I guess I like all three, but I’m a little partial to the wood shedding process because that’s where we as band mates really come together creatively to serve the song itself and transform it into something that is greater than ourselves.
What are some of the other bands you have played with before Shady People?
I played solo for a long time as a teenager, mostly acoustic stuff. I jammed with a lot of kids in high school and college for fun but I didn’t put together my first official band until I was in college. That band was a 3 piece called, “Out of the Tubb”. After college, I moved to California for a couple of years and formed a band called “Sweet Dream”, we played a lot a covers and a few originals here and there. It was more about exposure than building a band. Meagan Tubb & Shady People was the first band that I really had set some expectations of what kind of band I wanted to make, what kind of sound I was going for, and what kind of players I wanted in it, I did not settle.
What is your secret to pushing your music to the next level that you would share with up and coming artist?
I don’t know if there’s really a secret to it. I think it’s having a game plan in place. It’s not like you have to make some dissertation or write a book report about it. Just have a clear picture in your mind of what you want in terms of the music you are creating, what you want to achieve with your music and what success means to you and don’t compromise what you want.
I remember when I moved to Austin and I felt like I was so far behind the curve from where I was to where I wanted to be. I would see bands playing every night, touring, having media appearances, and write-ups in the press. You just have to put in perspective, though. Every artist who is eventually successful starts out the same- at square one- with an idea, some raw talent, and a lot of hope.
Being a successful artist is about the long- haul. It’s about hard work and building on every little success that you have. It’s about being grateful for opportunities when they are presented but also having the discernment to recognize when you are being taken advantage of (because unfortunately, that happens too). It’s always a learning process. You will learn something new at every performance. Always practice, go out and see bands play when you aren’t playing, always be writing, and always be networking with other successful like-minded artists. This is a relationship business. Don’t be afraid to approach people in the business and ask them out to lunch or coffee to pick their brain about things. We’ve had a lot of great opportunities come our way because of the relationships we’ve built within our music community.
When you are first starting out, play as much as you can and practice EVERY WEEK!! If possible, try to get a weekly residency somewhere that has a good reputation and a built-in crowd. Don’t turn down gigs because of time-slot or the day of the week. If it’s a good venue, it will pay off for you.
You have to be willing to learn about a lot of different aspects of the business side of music in order to get where you want to go (this is, after all, a business). If you start a band and you want to tour, you have to know how to book yourself and how to negotiate. You have to know how to promote your shows properly. You have to know about building and maintaining a web presence and social media these days. There are a lot of great resources out there. I highly recommend the book, “How to be your own booking agent” by Jeri Goldstein as well as the “Indie Bible” for press and venue/festival contacts.
Above all, maintain a positive attitude. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. Don’t let people’s opinions of you or your music dictate your success. Every artist has had praise but I guarantee you they’ve also had some negative criticism. If it’s useful criticism like, “I can’t understand your lyrics when you are singing” these are things to take note of and perhaps work on. If it’s just an insult of your talent or ability, don’t pay any attention to it, whatsoever.
Who do you enjoy listening to?
Oh I love Bonnie Rait, Susan Tedeschi, and Sheryl Crow. Those are probably some of my biggest influences as a singer. I also really like Amy Winehouse (RIP), KT Tungstall, Aretha Franklin and Tracy Bonham, too. As far as contemporary bands in general, I love the Black Keys, Rival Sons, Louis XIV, The Parlor Mob, & My Morning Jacket. I love all the good stuff from the sixties and seventies as you can probably hear the influence in our band- Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Stones, Allman Brothers, Buffalo Springfield, The Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd. I also love Shuggie Otis, SRV, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater.
There are a lot of great amazing artists in Austin, too… Carolyn Wonderland is awesome. Shelly King is very soulful. Monte Montgomery is a fantastic player. I really like the following southern rock bands in Austin- Wisebird, Black Bone Child and Dertybird. I really like Topaz and the Mudphonix and The Greyhounds, they’re both kind of funky. Chris Hawkes is great as is Wendy Colanna. Papa Mali, Ray Wylie Hubbard and of course, Willie Nelson. I know I am going to finish writing this and think of several others but these are a few that came to mind.
Do you feel you have found your niche in the industry or are you looking to move beyond your comfort zone and continue to grow and evolve?
I don’t think I’m ever comfortable. If I ever get that way I will probably be dead :-). I do think that we as a band have definitely created our own unique sound or “style” and one of the challenges that any artist faces is staying true to what makes you unique while simultaneously evolving in new and different ways. I always try to think about The Beatles or The Rolling Stones in that way. You can’t mistake them for any other band, but their material and subject matter over the years is pretty broad in scope. Not everyone is going to like the new things that you try, but no one likes to buy a new record from a band that sounds almost exactly like their previous record.
One of the things that I am working on is challenging myself as a songwriter. I want to tackle new material/subject matter I may have previously over-looked. Just because you are in the genre of Rock / Blues / Southern Rock / Americana does not mean that you have to be limited to your subject matter or your approach to song structure. I am writing songs on the piano, on slide guitar, and in alternate tunings which I wasn’t doing a couple years ago. I’m learning more about singing and how to expand my range and have more control over my voice so I can use it more fluidly. I’m working more on creating interesting dynamics within songs, breaks, soloing (always soloing), creating more 3-part vocal harmonies and dual guitar harmonies, interesting chord changes and rhythmic changes…. it goes on and on. It is a never-ending ever-expanding playground for me to create in.
Do you believe the internet with its radio, blogs, social network sites etc has made any impact on your career?
Yes, definitely. It’s very easy for people to find us, to hear us, and to interact with us and vice-versa. Twenty years ago this would have been impossible. We get new fans and friend requests every day from people. A lot of them tell me they found out about us from a blog or write-up or Youtube or from a friend’s recommendation on Facebook or another artist recommendation. That being said, there is no substitute for a live show. The physical act of performing in front of a live audience cannot be duplicated on film. There is a certain energy flow from the band to the audience and vice-versa that you just have to be there to witness. That is why there will always be live music.
I think you have to have both going for you to make an impact. A lot of people will check out our band online somewhere and then decide to come see us play and then become a fan…OR they happened to be at a show of ours or see us play somewhere, see our banner or our poster and Google us, and then become a fan after seeing us play somewhere. It kind of works both ways which is why artists need both.
Are you working on new material now?
ALWAYS, It is top-secret though.
I spoke to Meagan for a few minutes and she talked about how she loved to read and how she dabbled in painting as her mother is an artist, painter, sculpture so Meagan comes from a creative gene pool.
What kind of plan did you have with SP for achieving success?
Many Indie artists don’t understand what this actually means! Playing and playing some more! Actually, we are specifically trying to build regional followings in the Southeast and the Southwest along with Texas. Our goal is to do out and back touring as much as possible along with picking up some festival dates and attending conferences of note around these areas.
Do you write all the songs for the most part or does SP help you out?
Yes I write all the songs myself (melody, chord changes, lyrics). The band members (Jason Nunnenkamp – guitar lead/rhythm, slide, lap-steel, banjo, mandolin, pedal steel, John Duran – Drums/percussion, Wilson Carr – Bass) come up with their own parts and rhythmic ideas. We all flesh out the songs together and try different ideas until we feel the song is ripe enough to play out live.
What are you immediate plans?
To tour, write more songs as always, and maybe work on co-writing with other artists. We would like to make another record in the next couple of years depending on how things look after doing all of this touring.
Is there anything else you would like to say out Pure Southern Rock audience?
Thank you for reading Pure Southern Rock and for being a fan of Southern Rock Music. We enjoy creating and performing Southern Rock music and hope to perform soon at a venue near you.