David Fanning on Doin’ Country Right, JT, Skynyrd & 50 Shades

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The country music scene is constantly expanding, growing and changing and David Fanning has had a big hand in that. He has been making subtle moves behind the scenes and is now poised to make a big splash.

So how do so many people know of Fanning’s work? Well, he has had his hand in producing hit songs for Parmalee and Thompson Square. He covered a Justin Timberlake song that Timberlake thought was so great that he tweeted his appreciation to the world. And of course, his first original single, “Doin’ Country Right” has been in rotation on Sirius XM’s The Highway, all while Fanning has been touring across the country. He has thrown himself completely into his passion of making music and the hard work is paying off. His music is melodic and catchy and his voice is just enrapturing. The man has been busy making a mark for himself in every facet of the country music scene and he isn’t stopping any time soon.

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Not only is David Fanning currently touring, he is also in and out of the studio with Parmalee, writing and producing songs for their new album and trying to capture another plaque for his wall and theirs. When he first moved to Nashville, instead of just playing dive bar after dive bar trying to make it as a musician, Fanning took his musical ear into the studio, produced a few great songs like “Carolina” and made a name for himself before ever releasing a song of his own. Now he is getting noticed for his songs as well.

Through Fanning, the southern rock sound is alive and well. Fanning’s musical talent is undeniable and unbelievable, his look is that of a sexy rock star and his vibe is playful and fun. That’s a killer combination for anyone looking to take over a music scene. He may have just two songs on iTunes but a lot of people have learned his name and are begging for a full length album, which is due out this year.

At FarmBorough, Pop-Break was fortunate enough to sit down with Fanning and discuss his many roles in the country music scene, Timberlake mania, guilty pleasures and his appreciation for the one and only Asbury Park.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Cowart
Photo Credit: Jeremy Cowart

We’re here at Farmborough, New York’s first country festival. Last year you were at CMA Fest. How does this compare to that for you?

[They’re] two totally different things but it’s cool being in New York and, Nashville is home so I think you take it for granted a little bit.

So you are a writer, songwriter, producer, performer, which of those three roles is your favorite?

Performing. By far. The studio thing was one of those things like when I moved to town, that’s not what I moved to town for. I moved to town to be an artist and then I ended up meeting Keifer and Shawna from Thompson Square and they were playing down, I think they were at The Wheel or something back then, and we ended up going into the studio and cutting some sides and it happened to be “Kiss Me or Not.”
Which just happens to be a number one song for you.

That was my song of the year. After that I was like man I gotta kinda focus on this production thing more so I did them and then I did Parmalee.

Huge songs. “Carolina” is one of my favorite songs ever, so there you go. Nice work.

…But in the middle of all of that I said, I looked at the guys, my production team and I was like I gotta go and do what I came here to do and that’s what we’re doing now.

My sister is a huge Justin Timberlake fan, so she wants to know the story as to why in the hell…

We did “Drink you Away?”

Yeah! Turn that to a country song, how, why?!

He was coming to Nashville, he was playing Bridgestone in Nashville and one of my buddies is a guy named Storme Warren.

I’m all about The Highway (on SiriusXM).

Yeah me too. They’ve helped me out a lot. So he called me up and was like there’s this slim chance that Timberlake is coming to the studio. I can’t remember all the dates now but, it was like a Friday and he called me on like a Tuesday or Wednesday. [He] was like we can’t play his music on here unless we countrify it. I’m like, ‘Yeah how long do I have?’ — thinking I have a few weeks and he’s like you know, 48 hours. So I went into the studio real quick and the rest is history and then he tweeted me.

Did you anticipate his response saying that song would make his grandpa smile in heaven?

No!

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That’s crazy. I read that and was like wow!

Yeah it’s crazy, I know.

Did you expect the public to react the way that they did to the song?

I didn’t know what to expect to be honest. Like honestly he’s got 27 million followers or whatever on Twitter.

All of which heard of you real quickly.

It’s crazy! It was crazy. There was a lot of backlash too from his fans.

Really?

Until he clarified. Because what people don’t realize is there was this massive twitter war before he clarified. I was getting blown to pieces. People were like David, we’re going to sue you because you’re doing this and all this kind of stuff and that’s when he got on there and kind of clarified.

Drink You Away by David Fanning is available on iTunes

How is social media still affecting your career right now? Do you see an effect from it?

Yeah I do. I’m still growing with it. I love social media, but like I was never that person who always snapped my food and stuff and now I have to. I just try to make it a little more interesting, something that actually I care about, but yeah it does. Somebody hit me up like two seconds ago like I want to meet you so we’re going to meet him here in a little bit.

Is it weird to you that people want you snapping pictures of your food and posting it online?

Yeah and I don’t know if anybody does or not but I still do it.

Once we post this, somebody is going to tweet at you please post a picture of your meal. It’s going to happen.

I’m eating Taco Bell, okay!

Obviously you’re touring a bit now, you were playing last night [in Virginia] and you just drove in. How is touring going for you? Did you anticipate it to be what it’s become and having the following that you have going from producer writer to now all of a sudden everybody wants to see you and hear you?

It’s a lot more work doing this than it is sitting in the studio making music. It’s just more strenuous but it’s awesome any time you go and play music for a living. I’m a little more tired, I get more wrinkles now. I’m getting old now.

What’s your favorite place you’ve played so far aside from home?

It was actually, and this one is Pete’s [his manager] over here. Well it was cool playing Stagecoach because it was huge out in California, but I’d probably say New Jersey, [opening for] Lynyrd Skynrd in Asbury Park.

We’re based down by Asbury Park, that’s where the heart of what we do is.

It was crazy seeing Lynyrd Skynyrd and David Fanning. It was just us two and that’s pretty cool. Lynyrd Skynyrd is an iconic band but I don’t know if their fans dig what we do because you look out and it’s all biker chicks and stuff. It’s like, ‘Oh man they’re going to eat me alive!’ but they loved it they were a fun crowd.

Photo Credit: Lisa Pikaard
Photo Credit: Lisa Pikaard

Well that’s kind of a fun thing, I grew up listening to southern and classic rock like Creedence and Skynyrd and it’s cool that now country music has a bit of that sound here. Like the Eagles could totally be country now.

Oh for sure. If they came out today they’d be country.

So it’s great to see that we get to have something like FarmBorough here and I love that you get to play and other up and comers get to play. So this is a question I always have to ask….What’s the weirdest question you’ve ever been asked?

Weirdest one? Oh man, it just happened and I can’t remember what it was. Crap. What was it? Something to do with twerking and I can’t remember. I can’t remember how it went but it was about twerking. I can’t twerk by the way. I’m a tall white man, we can’t twerk.

My last weird question, Joe Nichols was asked if he was happy with himself and who he is right now so are you happy with yourself and where you are right now? No. I’m not happy until I get farther along. I don’t know if I’ll ever be happy because I always like to grow and get better at things.

Good answer. Nicely done. Usually the weird questions I get are like what color is your new album.

I like black. With black lettering so you can’t even see the title. It’s just black. I think I kind of forget about questions. I have to keep up with them.

Speaking of questions, what question do you wish people would just stop asking you?

About Justin Timberlake. No I’m just kidding! I’m joking.

I was waiting for it to be whatever my last question was.

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I am just happy that people want to ask questions. it doesn’t matter. It can be funny questions, whatever.

Remember that in five years from now when I interview you again and you will hate a whole lot of questions. So obviously you have some success going right now, what’s next for you? Where are we going with this?

We’re going obviously on the road so it’s all about the fans and my thing is now I just want to be able to put more music out. We’ve done kind of single things, one or two things, so I’m ready to put out either an album or an EP.

And when are we getting it?

Sometime this year. That’s all I can say.

This calendar year or?

This calendar year, yes.

Good you had to clarify that too because that could be 11 months from now!

No no no! We need it in the next couple of months. Well what I’m noticing is people, they want it. They want to invest in the whole thing, not just one or two songs and we have really cool songs and I can’t wait to share em.

Very nice. So a lot of people this weekend have been playing a lot of cover songs in their sets from “Baby Got Back” to “Free Fallin’” to everything. Are you going to be doing any covers today?

Today actually the only cover we’re going to do is the one that I produced, “Kiss Me or Not.” That’s easy, that’s it.

Does it count as a cover if you had something to do with it?
I don’t know but we started doing like “Love Me Like You Do” and we do some fun stuff sometimes, “Radioactive.” Not all the typical ones.

That’s what I like! Play something fun, ridiculous.

I tell you, like “Love Me Like You Do” from 50 Shades of Grey, like that goes over, it’s funny to see. Pete didn’t think it’d go over well but it does.

It would have to be pleasant. It couldn’t be any other way.

It’s 50 Shades of Grey; it’s all pleasure man.

There you go. That’s going to be the headline now. That’s what I’m going to run with. It’s all pleasure.

I do have a Spotify playlist that says guilty pleasures so there you go.

David Fanning with Pop-Break's Lisa Pikaard behind the scenes at Farmborough.
David Fanning with Pop-Break’s Lisa Pikaard behind the scenes at Farmborough.

What’s on it?

A bunch of random stuff. Everything from David Lee Murphy “Dust on a Bottle” to “Sugar,” Maroon 5. Whatever. You have everything, it just goes all the way. It’s guilty pleasures. What’s your guilty pleasure?

Mine is probably the Backstreet Boys.

That’s on mine too!

You can’t deny the harmonies, I’m sorry it’s just there.

That’s TLC! I love TLC.

I’ll still bust out like “Another Night” by Real McCoy, like 90s miserable pop, that’s it.

I like ’90s.

That’s what I run to, some Goo Goo Dolls, Ace of Base.

I love the Goo Goo Dolls. I think he’s got the best recorded voice.

Johnny Rzeznik?

Yeah. It’s awesome.

’90s rock like that.

Yeah he has it.

That’s my thing but I’m not so guilty. That’s not a guilty pleasure of mine.

That’s just a pleasure?

Yeah I’ll be like I listen to that. So what. Judge me!

Get over it! I do too.

Okay going back to the music. Are you still writing and producing for other people or are you kind of doing your own thing right now?

I am in the studio right now with Parmalee, doing their new record right now.

You did have a hand in their success.

I got a couple of plaques from them.

You sound so modest in this interview by this way!

I am modest! No just mainly with them because that’s kind of my thing now. I don’t have time to produce a bunch of people. I want to because I love making music for other people too but I’m doing their new record and it takes a bit of time because they’re on the road right now too and I am too. So like, when we get back, we’re writing Monday and Tuesday then we go in the studio two weeks after that and cut a few more songs.


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