Tavis: If only the music business were really this easy. So, Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott Jones meet at a karaoke bar in Nashville, they fall in love, they start working on a CD together, and 12 hours after the release of their debut disc they’re number one on iTunes. (Laughter) Is that a story, or what? They call themselves Steel Magnolia, and this is their self-titled debut CD. From the project, here’s some of the video for the single “Last Night Again.”
Tavis: So Jonathan, put the CD cover back up for me. I was saying to Meghan and to Joshua when they walked in how cool I thought the photo cover was, the debut CD, nice cover, and I said that to Joshua and Joshua said to me –
Joshua Scott Jones: That was the last shot of the day, actually. (Laughter) Yeah. It was –
Meghan Linsey: True.
Jones: It was we’d been posing all day and smile like this and stand like this and do this, that and the other, and I said, “You know what? Let’s just have a free-for-all and let’s just kind of look where we want to look and do what we want to do,” and that was probably the second-to-last or the last shot of the day.
Tavis: And for that, you paid the photographer $50,000.
Jones: Yeah. (Laughter)
Tavis: Isn’t that funny how that works?
Tavis: That’s why I hate photo shoots. You do it all day long, you do some quirky shot, and that’s the one that makes the cover.
Linsey: That’s the one that makes it.
Jones: It’s funny, the day we did this we found out right before we went into the photo shoot that Michael Jackson had just passed away, actually, and we put – on the iPod speakers we put Michael Jackson’s “Greatest Hits” up on the truck, and we were actually, during this whole photo shoot, we were listening to Michael.
Linsey: Listening to Michael Jackson.
Jones: Yeah, it was pretty cool.
Tavis: Since you went there, it raises the obvious question. Given that there’s so much in your sound, you can hear a little bit of everything – influences.
Jones: Oh, they – me first?
Tavis: Sure. (Laughter) If Meghan doesn’t mind. I’m not getting in the middle of this.
Linsey: Go ahead. (Laughter)
Jones: From a very young age, my parents listened to classic country music, so I grew up listening to everything from Waylon Jennings, my dad was always listening to Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty, all that stuff. My brother was 12 years older than me and he was always listening to late ’70s, early ’80s rock and roll music and everything like that. That’s kind of what my first –
Tavis: So you got a bit of everything, then.
Tavis: How about you, Meghan?
Linsey: Oh, man, I grew up in New Orleans, so –
Tavis: So I know what you were listening to.
Linsey: Yeah. (Laughter) I have a lot of soul influence, and I was in bands down there when I was – I turned 14, I think my mom helped me put a band together and I started playing. Everything – Dolly Parton was one of my first loves, Aretha Franklin was a huge influence. I think just music in general that can make you feel something when you hear it.
Tavis: I mentioned a little bit, Joshua, about the story at the top. Is that how this thing really happened?
Jones: Yeah, it is. It’s funny, we were doing a radio interview the other day and we told them the story, how we met in the karaoke club, and that’s how it all came together. He said, “It’s funny, it sounds like a story a publicist made up for you.”
Tavis: That’s why I asked you. (Laughter) This town is really good about creating these lies about how these things happen. That’s why I asked – I didn’t want to call the publicist out, but that’s really how it happened, right?
Jones: Yeah, absolutely.
Linsey: No, it’s true.
Jones: I walked into – I moved to Nashville in 2006, I took a job, and I had just gotten off work and I walked into this little, dingy place in Printer’s Alley and I heard this huge voice. I turned around and I saw her, and I could see clearly from where I was standing that she was a complete star, and I thought, man, this is a hard town if this girl doesn’t have a record deal.
We started talking, I got the courage to walk up and put in a song, and we just kind of hit it off. That’s where it all started.
Tavis: To Joshua’s point, though, Meghan, I assume you agree – if not, tell me either way – about how hard this business is, and country-western isn’t the easiest thing to crack into, necessarily. Not that any music is easy, but your take on how hard this town is, Nashville, as Joshua said a moment ago.
Linsey: I think it just takes persistence and time and your place in time, too. I started going to Nashville when I was 14, to 10 years, it’s been 11 years now, so it takes a while. I think Josh was doing the same thing, and I think the magic was when we met each other. That kind of was the turning point for us. It’s kind of when we found our sound and when people started to kind of notice us more.
Tavis: How amazing is that, that the minute the two of you connect, your talent, his talent, your talent, her talent, comes together, bam, this thing takes off?
Jones: Well, I think that a real large part of that for me was swallowing my pride and learning how to put other things before myself. That’s when things really started happening for me, as far as finding Meghan and us coming together and making music together.
We were together first as friends and in a relationship for a year before we even –
Tavis: Started on music together.
Jones: Yeah. So it’s been a – I think we’ve grown so much personally, on a personal level and as people and musically.
Tavis: What happens, though, Meghan, in a personal relationship where a year into it you realize that, it makes the light go off to say, “You know what? We should do this together?”
Linsey: Well, I think a lot of it was other people telling us at first. I don’t think we really – we had actually written a song together that’s on the record called “The Edge of Goodbye,” and we were playing that out at writer’s nights, and people would come up to us at the end of the show and be like, “Man, why aren’t you guys a duo?”
That was nothing either one of us had really thought about, and so at first it was that. Then I think you get to a point in a relationship when we love each other and we’re meant to be together, and if we sound that great together then why wouldn’t we do this together?
Tavis: To your point about the song that you referenced on the CD, there are 12 tracks on here. Seven of them, you wrote. It’s got to feel good for any artist to put their debut CD out and everybody’s talking about it and you can’t get on enough TV shows and every newspaper and magazine is writing about your sound now. That’s a beautiful thing, but how much more special does it feel when you have written the majority of the tracks on the project?
Jones: It feels very comfortable. I think that this last single is actually the first single that’s been released, “Last Night Again,” that we have written, and the first two, that wasn’t the case. So I think it gives us a new sense of kind of a confidence, and it just feels like home, I think.
Linsey: Well, I think our sound is based on our songwriting. That was kind of the thing that brought this whole thing together, was the first song we ever wrote together was something that people liked. I think that it happened so organically for us that we didn’t really think about it at all, and I think when you don’t – sometimes, that’s better, because you can over-think things. I think it’s really special to have that many songs on a record.
Tavis: Just because I’m curious, what’s your process? Somebody writing the words, somebody writing the music? How do you two work together on putting a song together? How does that work?
Jones: Well, Nashville, it’s kind of like a subculture of a bunch of songwriters, and there’s a saying and a phrase in Nashville that says, “It all begins with the song.” You’ll see it on bumper stickers and wherever you go.
For me, when I moved to Nashville, I’d never co-written a song before, and so – I forgot the question. (Laughter)
Tavis: The question was your process.
Linsey: Our process writing.
Tavis: How it comes together, the writing.
Jones: That’s right. (Laughter) So the process – well, the process, usually it revolves around a guitar line or a melody, and you kind of build a phrase off of that. That’s usually how it works.
Linsey: I think with us, though, we write – every time, it’s different. I think with “The Edge of Goodbye,” it came together like he wrote his verse and I kind of started singing my verse. Then we came together on the choruses and I think a lot of the time Josh would be playing something and then one of us will start to sing along to it and we kind of start there.
Tavis: Is any of this scary? And I say this – when you come out the blocks as fast as you two have, does it scare you at all?
Jones: There’s been times where I definitely have been scared, and I think that we’ve – it’s almost like an attack on some level. It’s kind of strange when things start to take off. It’s like you second-guess whether or not you – you’re like – and it’s like, “Pinch me.”
So it’s been a really great ride and everything, but I think that that’s just where trust and faith comes in, and then we have a lot of that. So we depend on that every day, and also from each other. So I think at the end of the day it’s good to have one another to lean on.
Tavis: Any fear for you?
Linsey: Yeah, definitely. I think it – especially being new to all this and it’s your first year out, I think it’s a little scary at first.
Tavis: When do you start thinking about – this industry always raises that issue of the sophomore jinx, so you’ve got to revel in this first one, but there’s another one you’ve got to put out at some point.
Linsey: I know. (Laughter) Thanks for making us think about that.
Tavis: Yeah, no, I hate to take you out of this moment of bliss.
Tavis: But because of the success of this one, your fans will want another one. So when do you start working on that one?
Jones: Well, we take it day by day. This thing has only been out for a few weeks. (Laughter) So we feel very grateful, and it’s kind of a humbling thing, too, to have a little success, so we don’t take it for granted. We take it day by day and try to focus on what we do best and that’s all we can do.
Tavis: That’s the best way to do it. That is the best way to do it. As I mentioned, they came out the blocks pretty fast – everybody talking about Steel Magnolia. Meghan and Joshua make up a real-life couple and an awfully good-sounding couple when they sing together.
Tavis: I’m glad that somebody convinced y’all to do this.
Linsey: Us, too.
Tavis: Yeah, it’s working out. (Laughter) The new project, again, is called “Steel Magnolia.” Great to have you both on the program and congrats already on what is going to be a great career.
Linsey: Thank you so much.
Jones: Thanks, Tavis.
Linsey: Thanks for having us.
Tavis: Glad to have you, my pleasure.
Linsey: Such an honor.
Jones: Love it.
Tavis: Glad to have you here.
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