In a career that’s carried him from the folk scene in New York City to Nashville’s hallowed songwriter nights, Mark Wayne Glasmire has fine-tuned his craft to become a live favorite and a much-respected songwriter. He has opened for national acts like Guy Clark and Dierks Bentley and won a number of major songwriting competitions, and since the release of his 2009 debut Life Goes On he has placed a string of #1 hits in the International HotDisc Chart.
Glasmire’s self-titled new EP, released Tuesday through Traceway Records, is already receiving widespread exposure. Glasmire sat atop the International HotDisc Chart for nine consecutive weeks last year, and the first single from the new EP, “Going Home,” comes in at #60 on the Music Row charts this week. The video for “Going Home” has just been added to GACtv.com and CMT.com, and is also airing regularly on The Country Network, American Music Channel, Roughstock, Yallwire and Yahoo! Music.
Glasmire spoke to modenook.com about his new EP Mark Wayne Glasmire, the inspiration behind “Going Home,” his charitable work, shooting his video, competing with major artists at radio and more in the following exclusive interview.
Special thanks to Martha Moore at so much MOORE Media for arranging this interview.
Let’s talk about “Going Home.” What inspired the song?
It’s actually almost verbatim, a conversation I had with a really good friend of mine, a guy I’ve known for many years. I went to college with him. He was getting ready to retire, he was a week away from retiring from the Marines. He’s actually a few years older than me, and right out of college he went into the Marines and was an officer, and went up through the ranks. He retired as a three star general, Deputy Commandant of Manpower and Services for the Marine Corp. This guy’s had this amazing career.
He was stationed at Quantico in Virginia, and he was leaving and driving back to his home in Pennsylvania. I asked him “So what now? What are you going to do? Are you nervous?”
And he said, “I’ve got mixed emotions. I don’t know what’s around the corner, so I’m a little nervous about that. I loved my job, I loved what I did, I loved the people, but honestly I won’t miss the 5:30 mornings, I won’t miss the phone calls that come in, and I won’t miss being away from my family. I’ve got to mend some fences there.”
So that’s where the song came from. It was a pretty interesting conversation.
You recently shot a video for this. What was that like?
That’s the first scripted video I’ve done. There’s been other videos of live performances and things like that, but this is the first one where we sat down and planned things out. I was a little nervous, because the camera doesn’t lie. (Laughs). But I worked with Harold Jarboe, and in fact, interestingly enough, Jarboe’s a military brat, so he got it right from the get-go.
It has a military theme to it, a patriotic theme, certainly. But it goes way beyond the military. Not to minimize the military by any means, because I am a staunch supporter. But it is about anybody making a change, whether it’s a school teacher that’s retiring after being a school teacher their whole life, or a janitor, or maybe an athlete . . . somebody who’s done one thing, and that’s the only thing they’ve done their whole life. And now that’s coming to an end and they’re starting a new chapter. Going home, in most cases, is where everything is good. It’s kinda where you started, and sometimes we end up back there.
We shot it in Leiper’s Fork. One of the scenes is at Puckett’s, and they were very generous to let us come in there and do it. It was a regular Saturday morning, and it was busy! But they let us come in there, and it was really nice.
A portion of the proceeds is going to Combat Marine Outdoors. How did you get involved with that?
Through my friend, the General, whose name is Richard Zilmer. One of the guys he worked with, Colonel Al Orr, was the commanding officer at the joint Marine airbase in Ft. Worth, Texas. I met Al Orr there. Rick came into town one day, and Al was with him, and he introduced us. And Al Orr started this organization.
The organization is unlike a lot of others. It’s to help them re-acclimate. A lot of these guys come back from war, obviously some of them come back physically traumatized, but some of them also come back emotionally traumatized. And it’s to get these guys back into being able to come out and enjoy the outdoors again. To be able to get back into the feel of being outside, and even holding a weapon, if they want to go hunting. Because a lot of these guys when they come back, they just can’t do that stuff anymore because it’s bad memories. So this is to help them get back into a more normal mode of doing whatever they might have been used to before. I think it’s a very worthy cause, and I’m going to do everything that I can to help them.
Tell me about the new EP.
It’s self-titled. Mark Wayne Glasmire is the name of the CD, and it’s actually a trend in Nashville today to do what they call a six pack. This particular CD has seven tracks, and “Going Home” is the lead single. It’s a good mixture of things. They’re all kind of thought-provoking songs, and not quite mainstream Nashville, but it’s definitely country.
How do you feel about how things are in Nashville right now? The vast majority of what’s receiving much airplay right now is basically Eighties rock with some fiddles on it.
You’re absolutely right. And actually, I like it. I would imagine for a traditionalist it would be really hard to listen to it, but I kinda grew up with it. The kind of music that’s being played now is kinda what I like. It’s definitely more rock, and like you said, throw a fiddle on it and maybe some steel guitar to give it some twang. I like it.
My music is not there. Some of it’s there, but my music is really more like Seventies singer/songwriter, like John Denver or Jimmy Buffett and James Taylor. It’s kinda Seventies music with a modern twist. There’s a big market out there . . . I’m a Baby Boomer, and most of the people that come to my shows tend to be a little bit older, and nobody’s really servicing them. There’s so much focus put on packaging and image and youth. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but most of my friends listen to classic rock or talk radio. (Laughs). I think that there’s a void, and then my stuff kinda fills that void, or services that void.
You’ve been out doing a radio tour, how was that?
I’m very excited about it. I really do enjoy the radio tours.
When you’re competing against a vast array of people for spins, what’s the strategy for an artist in your position?
That’s a really good question. That’s the hardest part, is how do you separate yourself from the crowd? Because there’s a big crowd, and the Internet has made the crowd even bigger, because anybody can go in their basement with their computer and Pro Tools or various software programs and make a decent-sounding digital recording, and then the day it’s finished, put it online.
So we’re kind of going back to the way it was, where we get out there and do more personal stuff. We’ve got to do more gigs, and we’re going the traditional route with radio, trying to get on terrestrial radio and satellite radio as well. We have a label, but it’s a very small label, and I’ve hired consultants who help me do all these things.
So we’ve developed all these different plans that are affordable, that I can afford to do. Because you’re competing against people who have, not necessarily unlimited budgets, but very large budgets. (Laughs).
I have found is that I get a lot of success by actually going and visiting the stations, because I can go in there, I can take my guitar and play the songs live, and minus some of the enhancement, it still sounds like the song. I have found that is a really good tool for me.
Especially me being an older artist, the first time I go in they give me the once-over, like, ‘Okay, here’s some guy who’s trying to live his dream.’ And then when I start to play, and I get to talk to them, it kinda takes all that away and they become a supporter. So it’s really important for me to do that stuff, and I enjoy it.
So those are the types of things we do, grass roots type stuff.
One of the things we did – and again, everybody does this – we sent the single out on Play MP3, which goes out to hundreds of radio stations. And the digital part we can track; we can see who got it, who opened it and didn’t open it. And we found that the first day it went out, it was the fifth-most-downloaded song, and the third-most-streamed song, which was amazing, because that was up against everybody. What’s amazing about those numbers is that I was the only true independent artist on there, with Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Vince Gill, Luke Bryan . . . I was the only true, not only independent, but unknown artist, if you will. I thought that said something about the song.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily translate into spins on the radio, but it shows that the program directors and DJs were listening to it, and that’s part of the battle. You’ve got a stack of discs and a queue on the computer; how do you get them to listen to yours ahead of someone else?
Is there anything else you want to say about “Going Home” or anything else that you have coming up?
I just want to thank you for taking the chance and listening to it. I appreciate that you picked up on it right away and printed something about it, because it’s guys like you that help guys like me get a little more successful.