By Maxwell Davies
“It took me a long time to figure out who I was as an artist. You can’t try to be anybody else, you just need to try do the best you can,” said Jeremy McComb. “Where it’s just you and your acoustic, there’s no children’s choir out there waiting in the wing to help you.”
McComb is a Nashville musician who started out as a self-professed “kid back in Post Falls, Idaho, strumming his guitar and watching his dad perform in the nightclubs.” His father played country, and he would, “…bring me out on stage at age 8,” said McComb, to help sing a couple of songs. “My brother played, my mom played, my dad played. It was just really cool.”
Jeremy McComb started out as a music director and disc jockey at radio station KIXZ in Spokane Washington, and, while working at the station, met and was hired by Larry, the Cable Guy to be his tour manager in 2004. “ We started out as good friends. I was supposed to go out for a week and stayed out four years. I wrote a lot of the parody songs with him.”
In 2008, McComb wrote the soundtrack for and had a song featured in the movie Bait Shop called “I’m Your Man.” In addition to that movie, McComb has provided the music for the “Blue Collar Tour” movies, and the Larry, the Cable Guy movie.
Listeners may also recognize McComb from his performance of “Wagon Wheel,” which was originally a Bob Dylan song and Ketch Secor collaboration popularized by the Old Crow Medicine Show, with whom McComb shares an agent. His music video for the same song features a cameo by Larry, the Cable Guy.
McComb is touring to promote his third album, which will be released in the late spring.
The first and second albums dealt more with the themes of “sin and redemption, and the underdog theme… figuring out where you’re at and who you are,” said McComb. The new album takes the theme to maturation. “Where you’ve got a good idea of what you’re looking at, who you are, and why you’re there and the purpose of being there.”
But don’t let the seriousness fool you. There is a playfulness to his work that comes out in the live shows that he does. McComb has had an ongoing “Inappropriate Mondays” event going on at The Wheel in Nashville that has received high reviews from critics and audience members, such as, “The most inappropriate fun I’ve ever had,” “I have no idea how he gets away with it!” and “Wrong on every level.” McComb is especially proud of the last review. “We kind of figure out what’s happening based on the crowd.”
“I wanted to do something different, have some fun,” said McComb as he described the development of the Inappropriate Mondays, “…as a way for us to have fun, cut loose and honky-tonk. We’ve had some of the best musicians in Nashville coming in to tell dirty jokes.”
McComb himself described the inner change that helped him take the new direction to his music. “When I made my last album I was still young as an artist and I didn’t want to make waves. I wasn’t comfortable completely baring it out there, whether it be love, or sex, or alcohol, or prescription medication, I don’t care what. I just finally got to a place where I feel comfortable with who I am and the music that I make,” said McComb. “As country music moved more towards the party anthems, I found myself moving towards the singer-songwriters more.”
“The new record is a journey from the beginning of a relationship,” said McComb, “it’s just very relatable: that chase, the love, that falling for somebody, then the tough times.” And he explains this by discussing “Keep Me There,” one of the songs on the new album, where the songs tells the story of the relationship that’s passing by but still being able to look back and appreciate the good moments.
“Consciously or unconsciously, we’re all looking for something,” said McComb.
And besides discussing love, the album itself has, “been a labor of love,” with McComb financing the album through Kickstarter. “It was really important to have total artistic control,” he said. And it allowed fans to come in to the studio to take pictures and watch the album’s production. McComb feels strongly about that and said, “The Internet has allowed artists to remain artists. I really do believe good music, good artists find a way.”
McComb has toured for a variety of causes. McComb did a 10-year anniversary tour for the Wounded Warrior Project, toured USO’s in 2005, traveling to Japan, Korea and Guam among other places. McComb has been active in Ride to Recovery, an organization that McComb said he had, “500 miles biked with wounded warriors from New Orleans to Tallahassee.” The ride took six days, and McComb said, “It was the greatest honor of my career to go out and do that with them.”
Jeremy McComb has toured with many big names in country music such as Sugarland, Trace Adkins, Montgomery Gentry and many others.
His performance at Holidays Pub in Neenah will be one of only two scheduled stops in Wisconsin, to date, the other being Sloppy Joe’s in Hubertus the evening before.
McComb is no stranger to the venue. He first performed at Holidays Pub in Neenah two years ago as a solo acoustic act, and again last April. “Both times it was just acoustic. This time his whole band is coming,“ said Holidays manager Alex Moede. “He puts on a good show. He’s a comic, kind of a jokester.”
McComb is scheduled to perform at Whiskey Roadhouse in Council Bluffs, Iowa, before hitting Sloppy Joe’s. After his Holidays Pub performance, he will perform at Lufkin, Texas, March 29, and will be featured on the 2014 FLW Tour. The Wal-Mart FLW “ZinePak” features music by Tim McGraw, Lee Brice, Rodney Atkins and others. The compilation disc will feature his song, “Hooked on Country.”
Holidays Pub plans on hosting McComb a couple times in the summer as well, so look for him and other shows after their May 31 kick-off of the summer season.
McComb is playing Saturday, March 22, starting at 9 PM. Cover is $5.