Terry dropped by the Epiphone & Gibson showroom just before his Americana '17 showcase to pick up his new Epiphone Masterbilt Century De Luxe Classic and tell us about his new album, Stargazer (out September 15), and seeing Nashville from afar and up close. Stargazer was produced with multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaler at EastSide Manor Studios with string arrangements by renowned composer Danny Mitchell.
 

Welcome back to Nashville, Jesse. How are you enjoying AmericanaFest now that you're no longer a local? 

Well it's been great. I just got in.  We live in New England but I lived here for 8 years so coming back to Nashville is like--I made Stargazer here--it's always a second home. I tour like crazy, around 150 dates a year. Which I love playing and I love touring and meeting people on the road and doing these festivals. But it's nice to get off the map with my wife and my dog. At home I'm like this mysterious singer songwriter that people see every once in awhile. I also like to write for the most part by myself so it's nice to have that solitude.  I still keep coming back for Nashville.

What do you notice about the community here that sets it apart?

I do think without a doubt it's the best music community in the world. It's not even an argument for me. It's got the coolest players and songwriters. So I'll come here for co-writing trips and to make records here. Honestly, I've tried to find that same level up in the Northeast and I'm sure there is but perhaps not the same value so I always wind up coming back.  Nashville feels like home.

Now that you don't live in Nashville full time,  what stands out for you when you visit?

It took me about 45 minutes to get from East Nashville to the West just now (laughs) and I noticed that a lot. And we did look at getting an air B&B or some kind of sublet when I was making Stargazer and I noticed that was really expensive. When I lived here it was dirt cheap. The town is changing a lot. As with anything there are some great things and bad things.  The East Nashville scene is unreal.

What was the inspiration for the sounds on Stargazer and were you able to achieve that?

I think I was able to get that. I'm really happy with this record. Usually with the old ones you finish it and you think: ok, when can I make the next one? This one I'm still focused on. I felt wide open with it--more confident going after the sounds I wanted and not thinking too much about genres and 'where does this fit.'  

Do you give the group direction in the studio or do you like to surprise them and get their first reaction?

I think it's important who you have in your band. I won't have a guitar player in my band that doesn't dig George Harrison. That just won't work. Or Mike Campbell. There has to be a musical connection there. And usually after that, you want to let people do what they do best. This record I feel like it's pretty modern bit it still has my favorite influences--The Beatles and (Roy) Orbison and Electric Light Orchestra. A little bit of Isbell--stuff like that. We had a string arranger--amazing quartet--that we doubled a few times. It was an unreal experience. But I wish I had a guitar like the Masterbilt when I was making it! This has my kind of sound!"