While Many Artists Creativity Has Been Muted, Nashville Artist Derek Crider Releases “Ghost Town” During Quarantine!
By: Frank Iacono
Derek Crider was born and raised in what he describes as the “backwoods” of southern New Jersey. While growing up Derek was introduced to a variety of musical genres. His mother listened to Elvis, Motown, and the oldies. His father exposed him to a wider range of artists including Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Ronnie Milsap, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard.
In high school Derek listened primarily to 80s rock along with Metallica, Guns ‘n Roses, and country legend Garth Brooks. However, his biggest influence in country music is Toby Keith. Crider loves that Keith records great music, lots of tongue-in-cheek stuff, and doesn’t worry about what people think about him. Like Keith, he wants to bring something different to country music. He simply wants to hit the stage, play his music, and share his story with his fans.
On his first EP entitled Lost & Found, Derek combines his childhood influences in southern rock with country. Derek speeds it up on tracks like “Girl Walks a Country Mile,” “Whiskey Burns” and “Heart Hits the Ground,” then slows it down on “Sweet Emma” and “Something’s Lost”.
His second EP entitled Burning Down The Night was released in 2017. Within the first month, it received well over 50,000 downloads and streams. The first single “Still Remember Those Times” debuted in the spring of that year and quickly became a fan favorite.
2017 through 2019 saw Crider share the stage with a slew of well-known artists including Gary Allan, Joe Nichols, Tyler Farr, Michael Ray, Carly Pearce, and even a sold-out show with Brandy Clark at New York City’s Mercury Lounge. Equally, he also played festivals featuring Blake Shelton, Rascal Flatts, Sam Hunt and The Zac Brown Band.
Derek’s new single “Ghost Town’ was released on June 22nd and a new album of material is slated for the fall of 2020.
In this edition of Music Player Magazine, we had the pleasure of interviewing Derek Crider and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his love of songwriting and performing, his life as a career musician, his response to COVID-19 and his short and long-term aspirations.
Music Player Magazine: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician and whom or what would you say inspired you?
Derek Crider: I was around the age of 12 or 13, when I became serious about playing music. My parents listened to a lot of different types of music ranging from Motown to Country when I was growing up, however, I was always a fan of the song more than a particular artist. Some of my early musical influences include Johnny Cash, KISS, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, and Merle Haggard.
MPM: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Derek Crider, how would you describe your musical genre?
DC: I guess I would classify my music as Modern Country Rock. It combines elements of country, rock and soul. I grew up in the backwoods of Southern New Jersey, and I would spend my summers in Virginia with my grandparents. I feel very blessed that I had the opportunity to visit with them. The more I experienced, the more I had to write about.
MPM: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and how do you think they shaped you both as a singer/songwriter and performer?
DC: As mentioned before, some of my early musical influences include artists like Johnny Cash, KISS, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, and Merle Haggard. All of these artists and bands created great timeless songs and exhibited tremendous showmanship! I am constantly learning new things and being influenced by the places I go and the music I hear.
MPM: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of the Lost & Found EP is the track called “Girl Walks a Country Mile,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it and the video concept?
DC: It’s really about having your first crush on a girl, hooking up and hanging out as Toby Keith would say. LOL. The video script and concept were written and directed by Mike Greenberg. We actually met in Nashville, Tennessee while standing in line to get BBQ at about 1 in the morning down on Broadway.
MPM: Tell us about the background story behind another favorite off of the EP entitled “Whiskey Burns”?
DC: “Whiskey Burns” was written in about 5 minutes up at our studio in Germantown, Pennsylvania. I first performed the song live in Nashville in October of 2014. The song deals with heartache and the realization that the relationship is truly over, but you’re not exactly sure how to get out of the situation.
MPM: Describe for us the song writing and recording process behind the single entitled “Heart Hits The Ground”?
DC: “Heart Hits The Ground” was a song that I had floating around for a while, I cut it a few years back with another producer and was very unhappy with the final mix, so I shelved it. When I started doing this record, I knew I had to re-cut the track my way. I think my producer Andrew Owens was very skeptical about the song initially, but he did an amazing job putting the song together. I think it’s one of the best songs on the EP.
MPM: Describe for us the song writing and recording process behind the hit single from your second EP Burning Down The Night entitled “Still Remember Those Times”?
DC: I wrote “Still Remember Those Times” about growing up in South Jersey, hanging with childhood friends and all the crazy things we did. The song came together pretty quickly and felt very organic when we recorded it. The track is probably my favorite song on the second EP.
MPM: As an artist, have you found this quarantine to be a highly creative time period for writing and recording new music or has it been difficult to focus on creative endeavors?
DC: For me personally, I’ve found the quarantine to be highly creative time. Currently, I have over 50 songs written and I’m in the process of recording some for a release later this year. In fact, my new single “Ghost Town was just released. It deals with the Covid-19 pandemic and the struggles its imposed.
In March 2020, the way we lived our daily lives changed completely. Things that we normally took for granted became a distant luxury and, in some cases, almost foreign. Every day things like going to work, school and the gym came to a crashing halt for many of us. With stay-at-home restrictions, we could no longer go to the movies or simply hang with our friends. Many of us we’re unable to see family members or loved ones. Concerts, sporting events and even High School graduations were either postponed or cancelled. All these events compelled me to write “Ghost Town.” The song is not only a reflection of these trying times but it’s also a message of hope and prosperity. I hope you all enjoy the song and can find some insightful meaning within it.
MPM: In what ways do you market your appearances, sell merchandise, and stay connected to your fans?
DC: Truly, the best way to find out information about Derek Crider, my upcoming appearances and to purchase merchandise is by visiting the following links:
• Derek Crider Website https://www.derekcrider.com/
• Derek Crider Facebook https://www.facebook.com/derekcridermusic?ref=hl
• Derek Crider Instagram https://www.instagram.com/derekcrider/
• Derek Crider Twitter https://twitter.com/DerekCrider
• Derek Crider YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGTCXQlAzjassPc3bkE-ZJw
MPM: In a city like Nashville, that has a really big music scene and central business, what are fallouts you are expecting due to the pandemic?
DC: It’s a really rough time. Many musicians are truly struggling, and some of the smaller music venues might not make it through the year.
MPM: Speaking of music venues Is there one specifically that you’ve always wanted to play? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?
DC: I don’t really have any particular venues in mind, I would just like to get on the road and play in as many venues as I can. As far as performers go, there’s so many. I would love to jam with The Rolling Stones, Brian May of Queen, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Bruce Spingsteen, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, gosh there are literally so many.
MPM: What lessons do you think we will have learned after the pandemic is over? And, What kind of advice would you give to other musicians who are trying new creative ways to supplement their income?
DC: Not to take our daily routines for granted, cherish all the moments we have with family and friends and always remember to live in the moment. As for advice I would say, “follow your gut and own everything you do!”