An Interview with Doug Anderson on Drive

In the CD interviews column, instead of sharing a reviewer’s thoughts about a project, we interview the artist to get the artist’s own thoughts. Doug Anderson’s second solo release, Drive, comes out today; he graciously agreed to share some insight into the project.

Daniel J. Mount: Because it is a little unusual in this case, I’ll start off by asking how fans can purchase the project. I know some of my readers will have heard about the “Drive to Retail” campaign, but for those who haven’t, could you explain the idea?

Doug Anderson: Sure! The first two weeks of the release, they won’t be able to get it at Signature Sound’s table or my website; they won’t be able to get it anywhere but retail. Whether that be Family Christian, Life Way, Target, Walmart, they’ll just be able to get it at the retail stores.

The “Drive to Retail” campaign is about building a relationship with retail. Anybody that has ever made it in this business, whether it be Third Day, Michael W. Smith, or Toby Mac, has a relationship with retail. And that’s how they’ve prolonged their careers; people go to retail stores and buy their projects. That’s the way the secular world does it; that’s the way most of the major contemporary artists do it. I mean, they do sell projects at their table, but they really have a relationship with retail.

So what we did to build a future for myself, as Doug Anderson, is try to partner up with the retail stores and say, “Hey, this is good. We are willing to help you if you help us.” It’s just kind-of one of those deals where they win, and we win as well. Whether we win immediately, or we win in the future.

Southern Gospel has always made their money by selling projects at the table. We want to broaden our horizons and make our relationship with retail stores, and let them know we have good music out there. So it’s not only helping me personally, but I would like to think it’s helping Southern Gospel as a whole. So we’ve done the whole “Drive to Retail” deal just to kind-of do something different then what everybody else has done.

Daniel: One quick follow up to that: will people be able to purchase it digitally on release day, or will they have to wait two weeks on that?

Doug: They will. We’re trying to do a “Drive to Retail” to get them to go to the retail stores, but they can definitely download it immediately on iTunes on January 21st as well. Whether it be Internet or digital downloads, that’s kind of where things are going at this point. But we’re still trying to support the retail stores that are out there that support us.

Daniel: On your debut solo project, you had a couple of guest vocal appearances. Do you have any on this one?

Doug: You know what, we talked about that a lot. On the first one, people want to see what you’re all about, and we had guest appearances. But Wayne [Haun] and I talked, and Ernie [Haase] of course, and thought that on the second project, I needed to do everything myself. Of course I’ve got background vocals; Signature Sound is on there. Michael Passons from Avalon is on there, Ty Herman’s on there. They’re on there, but it’s not a big deal as far as a duet. We’ve got great background vocalists, of course, but they wanted to take a different route on this one. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant by any means. You know what I mean.

Daniel: I do, yes. Now for a random question: Who had the idea to convert a Dolly Parton hit song, “The Seeker”, into a baritone solo?

Doug: Well, you know what, that was about a three year old idea. We’d been kicking around songs, of course, for a year and a half, but when I started to record, throw out ideas for another project, Wayne said, “I’ve got a song for you. You did a Billy Dean cover on the first tune, and, you know, you’re basically a country music artist with Gospel roots, and things like that, and you like that. So how about a Dolly Parton tune?” He pitched it to me, and we just sat on it for about two years.

Man, I’m a huge Dolly Parton fan; when I was growing up, my parents, we listened to everything from Frank Sinatra and George Beverly Shea to Dolly Parton. And that was one of the songs I remember as a kid. So I put that song on there.

I read in her bios that it was kind of a prayer for her when she recorded it. So I fell in love with it back then and just to do it again was fun.

Daniel: Cool! Now, often when I talk with a singer, singers will tell me they are looking for songs that communicate truth in a way they never quite heard it put before. Of the songs when you were listening through the songs to pick for this project; of the songs you picked, was there one that most jumped out to you in that way?

Doug: Well, sure. I’ve never been ashamed of saying, I’ve always been myself, and never really tried to be any where or anybody else. You know, that’s probably hurt me. In many ways, if I had been a little more pushy in different areas, I’d probably been a lot farther in my career than I am; I’ve always just tried to be me. I figured if you record songs that speak to me, then they speak to other people. And after twelve years, I found that to be true.

There’s a song called, “Moment”; it’s written by Rachel McCutchin. It’s really getting big right now, people that have the record are responding to it. You know, my life has been a moment-by-moment grace process. I lived, and I’ve had a lot of successes and failures along the way as well, but God’s always been there to protect me and keep me on the right path whether I knew it or not. That’s probably one of the songs that will jump out on this record that people will actually love and relate to as well.

Daniel: Yes. Are you doing a radio single to Southern Gospel radio, and if so, do you have one picked out yet?

Doug: Yes, absolutely. I think it will go out this month. It’s called “Love With Open Arms,” written by Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey, and Jeff Bumgardner. When I talked to them about writing for the project, they all wanted to know what I wanted. I wanted fun and, to be honest, I wanted country. But I wanted a great message, and they kicked a song to me that was like the Keith Urban/Brad Paisley style. That was the song “Love With Open Arms.”

The title speaks for itself. It’s more that Phillip Phillips sound. People who have listened to it so far are digging it. So, you know, hopefully it will do well. We really love it, and the people at Signature Sound and StowTown Records love it, too, so hopefully it will go far.

Daniel: Cool. All right, so just for a fun question, what kind of car are you in on the cover, and did you get to drive it during the photo shoot?

Doug: [Laughs] Yeah, you know, that’s a great story. One of my best friends in the world, Frank Mills, is a friend with a guy that works for a company in Indiana called King Systems.” They have a mansion out north of town where we live, and had an eight-car garage. He had actually two Corvettes in his garage; he had an old ’68 pickup truck; he had, of course, a Suburban and things like that. But he had a old ’57 Chevy, bright red convertible. And so when we were doing the “drive” concept, which I thought would be a great to market it, we did a picture in a car. I mean, what else are you going to do with a CD called “Drive”?

So we found a guy that had great cars, and we went out there and spent the day, my wife and kids, and Glenda Mills, who was my photographer. We spent probably a whole afternoon out there shooting scenes in the cars, and I did get to drive it. I got to drive it down the road, and she shot a lot of photos. Actually, one of my favorite pictures is in the insert of the CD. He had two Corvettes, and we had them facing each other. Michelle and I got to lean out of cars and kiss. People are raving about that picture. I mean, not that means anything about the project, but it made it fun!

Daniel: A random question. Of all the songs that Signature Sound has recorded, but hasn’t sung within the last year, what would you say is your favorite? Do you have a favorite song that Signature Sound hasn’t been singing recently?

Doug: Oh man, that’s a loaded question! I’ve been fortunate to sing a lot of great songs myself within Signature Sound, and, of course, you know, being politically correct, “O What A Savior” is still a hit every night we sing it, but a song called “Until We Fly Away” is a song that I sing, that Joel Lindsey wrote. We don’t sing it every night anymore, just because Signature Sound has so many songs. But it’s one of the songs I get asked for every night; and just because we have different repertoire now and we have a different program, we don’t get to sing it. But that is a career song for me, and I just love it, man!

Daniel: Cool! I’ll just close with this: was there anything else you wanted to bring up to make sure the readers knew about the project?

Doug: You know what, if I could just say something to my fans: Southern Gospel has the most loyal fans in the entire world. Just to get their calls and their emails and their Facebooks and things like that; you know, the fans that we have, they know me; I’m just who I am and I’m so grateful that they’re around.

Daniel: Thank you!