Seeing the 'every day' in his music
It's hard to believe that the same guy who rocked a heavy metal music vibe in high school now pushes for a return to the more traditional boundaries of country music.
But that's the journey Aurora's Robert Henry has made during his musical travels. Now, with his debut EP set to drop on Aug. 7, that journey looks to take on a new and exciting adventure.
And with this debut effort, Henry hopes to help people rediscover a country music that is simply and deeply more country.
"I did my heavy metal thing in high school, I was straight out of 1983, man," said Henry. "But my voice really came into itself about that time and it was really deep, kind of like George Jones or Merle Haggard. My voice just wasn't suited for the high pitched Judas Priest kind of thing."
But country music came calling and that, as they say, has been that. But Henry didn't want to just play and make the modern type of country music. He found that the old style country music, music from the '60s and '70s, was exactly what he was looking for creatively.
"The (country) stuff on the radio now just doesn't seem to have as much soul as it used to," he said. "Nashville used to be about the song and the song craft from guys like Tom T. Hall and Kris Kristofferson. Now, it's almost like there's a formula they use.
"There's so much more to country music than that. It's just not as much fun," he added.
Henry said he and his band prefer a more traditional sound, with a nice twang and steel guitar feel to it. There's a vibe to the way the older country music sounded that continues to appeal to him, something he hopes comes across in live shows and on the new EP.
"I've always been a blue collar guy and I write about everyday life," he explained. "Lyrically, I write what I see in the world every day. And I want to try and reinvent things like those guys did in the '60s and '70s."
Henry wrote all the songs on the EP, recording in Portland with his live band, as well as in Nashville with studio musicians
About the EP:
In May of 2019 Henry was in a songwriting session in Nashville, Tennessee. The producer turned to him and said, "If you want to get these songs on the radio, you've gotta please the gatekeepers."
"Storm the Gate" was written in the one-hour period following this conversation and was recorded the next day. Since, it has been awarded "Best Traditional Country Song" of winter 2020 by the World Songwriting Awards and kicks off the singer-songwriter's upcoming EP, "In the Works."
"Storm the Gate" tells the story of an old soul who wants nothing more than to revive the "roots that run so deep" of country music's past, yet is eager to storm the gate with a sound of his own.
Henry's upcoming EP, "In the Works," mirrors his musical journey to this point.
Wrapping up summer 2019 on a high-note at the Pendleton Roundup, Robert Henry Band was to embark on their first official tour this summer 2020. With COVID-19 putting a stop to that for Robert and bands everywhere, it has presented an opportunity to get creative. "Since quarantine, people have been asking me when the record is coming out," said Henry. "I always give them the same reply: 'it's in the works.'"
Henry's first official EP, "In the Works" will be available wherever you listen to music on Friday, Aug. 7.
As for long-term goals, Henry said, "I don't know if, with our style, we'll ever break through and be the next big name in country music. But with internet and all these streaming services, you can find your niche. If we can have a strong following and have a career that lasts 25-30 years, I would love that.
"Also, I'd be just as happy playing songs for myself, sitting down by the river, catching bass with a six-pack of beer," he added. "But It's pretty cool how it's turned out so far. I'm very blessed."
To find Robert Henry's music, go to Instagram (@roberthenrymusic) and Facebook (Robert Henry Band). To listen to a few cuts from the EP and buy merchandise, check the website at roberthenrymusic.com.
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