When I was first introduced to him, I wasn’t familiar with his work. Then I heard his hit single “True Love” and I can’t stop listening to him. He writes all of his own stuff, and is gaining momentum opening for guys like Clint Black, Gary Allan, and the Eli Young Band. Oh, and this guy plays golf. It just gets better. I recently had the chance to chat with him about his new album, his tour (he pretty much lives on the road) and his plans on getting back to the Valley. If I can’t get him back here to sing, maybe I can get him back here to golf! The interview was fun, and it is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Kyle Park.
You are originally from Texas. Is it true that everything is bigger in Texas?
I would love to say it is! I know I’m not the tallest person in the world, but there is a great big music scene down here. There is a big fan base here, and a big following. There are a lot of good things in Texas.
So where are you originally from in Texas? I know you bounced around a little bit.
I was born and raised in Austin. I went to school in San Marcos at Texas State University. I am back living in Austin, but I have been traveling the state, and beyond, playing music for the past seven years.
The video for “True Love” just came out. Tell me more about that single and about the video. What bar is that and do you know the two people that are featured in that video?
It was shot at Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos. That is where I went to school, and I have played there several times. It’s our second #1 single off the current album Beggin’ For More. The song is self-produced, self-written, and is one of my favorite songs on the record. The groove of that song is so cool, and addicting. It is the type of beat you can’t help but nod your head to while driving down the road or tapping your foot to wherever you are.
I don’t know the two people in the video. I didn’t know them before the video shoot. They did a really good job. I am not much of an actor. I was happy to have professionals there to take over that role.
Kyle Park – True Love
Tell me more about your band members.
Our drummer’s name is Will Armstrong. He has been with me almost since day one. Actually, June will be seven years for him. I haven’t been touring much longer than that. At least playing my own music with a band. He played on the last two records including the Anywhere In Texas album. He is one of my best friends. All the guys are; we have known each other for a long time.
Our bass player is Eric Lenington. He has been with us for four years in June. He has played with a ton of guys in the Texas music scene. He is actually from a small town in North Carolina.
Our piano player is from Austin. He grew up down the road from me. I didn’t know him growing up, but he lived down the road for me. He is a great addition to the band. My manager plays piano, and he is my manager’s student. That is how I got to know him.
The guitar player has been with us for about a year. He played with a friend of mine for a long time before changing routes and joining our band. That’s us!
You have another hit single out right now. The track is “The Night Is Young” and appears on your new album Beggin’ For More. This is a big release for you. Tell me more about the album, your expectations with the album, etc.
Like I said, the album was self-produced. That is the most fun I have found recently. Producing is such a fun job. It is tough work, to be focused on that many songs. But it is such a fun challenge. It is a welcome challenge for me. It is one of my newest passions.
The songs on this album are a lot more mature than what I have written in the past. I really think there is a song on here for everybody. Song like “The Night Is Young” are on the radio, and there are songs on there, for example, that are totally country; all about whiskey drinking. There is one on there about long distance relationships. I used a string quartet on that one. There is a slow waltz on there. I just think we have something for everyone on the new album.
You play a lot of shows in Texas. Do you have a favorite venue in the Lone Star State?
I don’t have a favorite, but I know I always love playing at Billy Bob’s. It’s always great to be in Fort Worth. I also really enjoy playing at WhiteWater Amphitheater in New Braunfels. I can’t get enough of that venue. It’s a big place to play, and is filled with great people.
I can’t believe I am going to miss you here in Phoenix. Do you come to the Valley a lot? Do you have a big tour planned for this year?
Gosh, I wish I could. This is our first step seeing how we do, and seeing how Arizona welcomes us. Texas reminds me of the northeast. You can drive an hour, two or three and always find a place to play. You can always find a big city. When you go out west, the big cities are further and further apart. It’s tougher for us to get out there without major radio success. But, we’re getting there. This is the first step, and the first step is key. If this show goes well, I am sure you will see more of us in the near future.
You were first on the radio at an early age… you were seventeen at the time. Do you remember where you were the first time you heard your work on the radio?
I was at home. I was a senior in high school. I don’t know who called me, or who called my mother; someone called my mother at the house. It was in the morning on a local Austin station. Yeah, I jumped up still in my underwear. I was excited. I was only seventeen years old. I couldn’t have been happier! They still play me now. I am now friends with the guys that run that station, and they play me there. It’s such a cool thing to have come that far. That wasn’t a hit on the radio. That was just a spin on the radio. I didn’t have my first #1 until about six months ago.
What is the biggest audience you have ever played for?
We played in Corpus Christi at the American Bank Center for an FFA convention. It was 10,000 high school kids. It was incredible. They were a rambunctious crowd. It was one of our best shows, too. High school kids love country music. I could do that show every year! We also played a huge festival in France. It’s a yearly festival they have there. We played at the Dell Diamond at The Round Rock in Austin with Tracy Lawrence and Clint Black. That was when we first started out, and that was a huge crowd. We also played at Old Concrete Street Amphitheater for about 10,000.
Do you get nervous playing in front of that many people?
No, honestly I get excited. I would be more nervous in front of ten to twenty. I love the energy; I get pumped up. If there are any nerves, it’s nerves of excitement. I love it.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
When I think of it, I don’t want to tell you. (Laughs.) I spilled some BBQ sauce o my jeans right on the crotch area. I tried to clean it up, with some water, before I had to play. They bumped up our show time and I didn’t know. I had to walk with my crotch wet! I thought, no one will see it. My guitar was covering it. Sure enough, during the first song, two girls standing right in front of me looked me in the eyes, and I saw their eyes make their way down to my crotch. They started laughing and whispering. No need to worry about it now. It was pretty funny.
Gary Allan might be my favorite artist of all time. You have opened for him in the past. You have also opened for guys like Tracy Lawrence, Clint Black, and the Eli Young Band. Do you get nervous opening for guys like that? Do you get the chance to hang out with those guys before or after the set?
I have hung out with most all of them, at least a time or two. I didn’t get to meet Gary. For the most part, we have all have something in common. We are out there playing music for people, and enjoy it. If anything, it excites me more. If we are going to play in front of someone like Gary Allan, our goal is to do a better job than they do. We want to give them our best, and we hope they are watching, as well. We want the crowd to say, “We came for Eli Young, but we enjoyed watching Kyle Park and his band.” We are not out to beat anyone, but to show we are working as hard.
Did I see you on MTV Cribs? How in the world did you get hooked up with that? Oh, and by the way… nice crib!
(Laughs.) That wasn’t real. That was YouTube fun. Someone I was hooked up, for the night, in the presidential suite of the hotel we were staying at. I had had one too many, and decided to have a buddy film me walking around this hotel room. We did that on the fly, and I made everything up on the fly.
Kyle Park on MTV Cribs
Well, you did a really good job with it!
That video has more views than any of my music videos! I gave it to my bass player; he did all of the artwork on it. He did all of the pricing, too. He does all our social networking, too. That is the most viral video I have had. That stuff comes from being goofy in front of the camera.
When you sit down to write a new track, where do you find inspiration?
Honestly, anywhere and everywhere. From conversations to a billboard or a book I am reading. I have heard Willie Nelson talk about this. He gets inspiration from everything, too. Inspiration comes from everything. As an artist, you need to branch out and gather information from everywhere. I have been influenced from every genre of music. Just listen to my albums. They are all over the board. They are pop, country, rock… there is Cajun on the first album. I do everything I can to include my influence in the music I make.
You are on the road a lot. Do you ever get homesick?
Yeah, I do. If I am at my house for three or four days, I get bored. I like being on the road. I don’t get homesick in that sense. I do miss my family. I am not married, but I miss my brother. I love seeing my nephew.
We travel to the same places a lot. I think about professional athletes that travel across the nation. They play Sacramento, then LA, then to the east coast to check out Miami then to Boston. That is traveling the world. Because of that, a goal of ours is to travel. I love to travel, and I would love to see the world. If I was traveling and seeing amazing things, I wouldn’t be homesick but I would be learning a lot and doing a lot of cool things. I only get homesick because I don’t like to be sitting down and not doing anything.
I am never on stage thinking, “I wish I was home right now.” Being on stage is being home.
What’s next for Kyle Park?
We are going to push this album for a good while. We are on our second single on the album, and I think there are a few more radio singles on the album. Anyone can burn a copy of the record and give it to you. Until you see it live, you never know. I never play a song the same way twice. Crowd interaction is great, too. The live energy is something we do well. Come see us, when you can.
In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.
Oh, wow. I know that we don’t get to Arizona very much… but it is in the future. For all of the country fans that want to come see us, spread the gospel for us. We don’t have that big label behind us yet. Everything we do is hard work and grassroots campaigning. There is a lot to be said about independent artists today. I am twenty-seven years old traveling a thousand miles to play music for an hour. The more people that can come see us the more grateful and the more thankful I am.