Q&A: Jake Bugg talks songwriting and the influence Nashville had on recent album

Christa McWhirter

Jake Bugg, now 24, released his UK double-platinum, self-titled debut in 2012. The singer-songwriter, who has been dubbed the Bob Dylan of his generation, sat down with The Daily Texan to talk about his newest album, Hearts That Strain, and other music on the way.

DT: Your most recent album has more ballads on it than your previous albums. Was that something you planned?

JB: No, I never really plan what songs I’m gonna write. It’s part of the adventure for me — just sitting there and seeing what’s gonna come out. I just sat in my flat in London and write these songs and take them over to Nashville, and sometimes they turn out ballads and sometimes otherwise.

DT: What were some of your inspirations for this album?

JB: I don’t know really. I was listening to a bit of country music. I love Tammy Wynette and Glen Campbell. I was listening to a lot of that stuff at the time. I guess I was getting myself prepared to go out to Nashville.

DT: Yeah, you can definitely hear the Nashville vibes in there.

JB: I think that probably came from the musicians as well because some of the songs didn’t have country elements at all when I wrote them until I took them over (to Nashville), and the band I was playing with, Gene Chrisman and Bobby Wood, they played with Elvis.

DT: What was the writing process like for some of the songs — “Southern Rain” in particular?

JB: Funny enough, that was the last song I wrote for the record, and I already had the melody. And then when I was on my way to Nashville for the final time to finish the record, I did the lyrics at the airport on the way. And then when I got there, the band and the producers were like, “We need another song for the record. It needs one more song.” And I said, “Well I brought this song.” And they liked it. And then when they started playing along with it, it just brought the song to life.

DT: What have been some of your favorite songs to perform this tour?

JB: I like playing “Southern Rain,” actually. That’s a nice one to play. “Bigger Love” is one I enjoy playing from the record. It’s a lot of fun, it has a different dynamic live. I’d be interested to see what it sounds like re-recorded. I like playing “Waiting” as well. I guess I’m saying all the new ones because it’s nice to have some new songs in the set and keep (it) fresh for myself and for the fans as well.

DT: When people hear your music, what do you want them to get out of it?

JB: Well, I believe music and songs (are) for people who can receive them, and how they receive them is up to themselves. What a song means to me as a writer can have a different interpretation from the listener and whatever people take away from that, that’s great. And sometimes people will come up to me and say a song has helped them through a hard time and inspired them to do something. And that’s inspiring in itself and it’s what keeps me going, keeps me wanting to write more songs.

DT: Can we expect any new music anytime soon?

JB: Yeah, I’m already working on my new record. I want to go a little more up-tempo this time, and they’re gonna pull the electric guitars out and I’ve got a couple songs already. Hopefully I can really get to work quickly and work with new people and do something fresh as well.