Edwin McCain became a bona fide pop star back in the 90s with his smash single “I’ll Be.” But in the South we know him as a grassroots hero, who worked the club scene for years, before achieving mainstream success and a major label deal with Atlantic Records. Now McCain is back down to earth as an independent artist. He recently opened his own OMG recording studio to give emerging artists accessible options in the South. He also just released a new album, Lost in America, and is on the road in a stripped-down trio exploring some of his acoustic roots.
A few years ago McCain, who resides in Greenville, S.C., put aside a lot of the late night party life and decided to get active-training with his wife for the Mardi Gras and New York Marathons. He gave BRO a quick chat from the tour bus.
Running: “Being on the road, I was eating a lot of truck stop food, drinking too much, and not sleeping enough, so it was a good thing to do to get back in shape.”
Biggest accomplishment to date: “Mardi Gras Marathon-anyone that has ever run a marathon will tell you that finishing the first one is a big deal. You can’t believe it. It’s a really emotional experience and a lot of fun at the same time. Then you take the next four days and wonder why you did it, because you’re hobbling around.”
Next Race: “I am threatening to do the Traveler’s Rest Half-Marathon after the first of the New Year, but I have two little ones at home.”
Favorite Local Run: “We run all over downtown Greenville. It’s a good place to train, because it is really hilly. The new downtown Falls Park and Cleveland Park all join together, so there are plenty of great trails to run.”
New record: “The writing points out the feelings I was getting from people out on the road about the war. We’ve been knocked on our heels. The mid-to-late 90s was such a party, but now people are feeling so tentative. Lost in America is a nod to that. It brought out the Randy Newman in me.”
Back to basics: “The old method of doing things is over. I don’t know how the big labels are going to survive. For me, it just makes sense to be out of the major label thing. Their ideas were vastly different from mine as far as musical direction, and that marked the moment of change for me. They’re into aesthetics, and I was never one for the cult of personality game.”
On the road with an acoustic trio: “I like to change up the way that we tour. There is a lot of the acoustic songwriter stuff that I don’t get to touch on with the band. There are a lot of people out there that want to hear the stories and more folkie stuff. It allows the lyrics and the sentiments of the songs to come through, and I get to live in both worlds.”