I discovered Caleb Caudle back in 2010 during the heady days of Myspace. I was hopscotching across bands and fell upon Caleb’s page, when he was still fronting Caleb Caudle & The Bayonets. Snake River Canyon quickly became one of my favorite records of 2010, and “So Gone” and “Skeleton Tree” are tunes I still pull up from time to time.
Since launching his solo career a couple years ago, Caudle’s sound has taken a departure from the crunchy, guitar driven roots rock of his Bayonet days. 2014’s Paint Another Layer On My Heart and the recently released Carolina Ghost feature a more distinct alt-country twang, with influences from songwriting compatriots like Aaron Lee Tasjan and John Moreland readily apparent. Caudle, along with Moreland and Tasjan, represent the best and brightest of the next wave of Southern songwriters.
I recently caught up with Caleb to chat about the new record, hitting the road solo, and ghosts.
BRO – I read a recent post from you that recalled selling all of your stuff a few years ago – save your guitar, some records and paintings, and a set of steer horns – to hit the road full time with your music. That must be a pretty special set of steer horns.
CC – Yeah, but then again, all steer horns are special. My brother gave me those a few years back.
BRO – Any regrets?
CC – Absolutely not, except for not doing it a lot sooner. But it all played out how it was supposed to. Things are better than they’ve ever been, so I’m pretty alright with everything.
BRO – You got to celebrate the release of Carolina Ghost in your hometown of Winston-Salem. That had to be a lot of fun.
CC – Yeah, it was a blast. There’s always this weird pressure I put on myself with hometown shows, but they always turn out great. The Garage is my favorite venue. I grew up in there. I’d sneak in when I was seventeen and then the owners just got to a point where they didn’t care. About four years ago, me and Jason Isbell did a show together where we both did solo sets. He broke a string on his guitar and ended up play my Gibson J-200 for his encore, which was “Decoration Day” and “Danko/Manuel,” two of my favorite tunes of his when he was in the Drive-By Truckers. It’s a good memory. The Garage rules.
BRO – We are featuring “Piedmont Sky” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?
CC – The song is about coming home. Not just physically, but also emotionally and figuring out what home is all about to you. I came home sober and kind of relearned my city and found all the stuff I loved about it. I learned to forgive myself and fell in love. It just felt new and fresh. The town hadn’t changed much, but I sure did. All of that sparked the whole idea for “Piedmont Sky” and I tried to incorporate some regional imagery to provide a setting.
BRO – Got a favorite ghost story?
CC – There was this bridge on a back road not far from my high school and the whole thing was you were supposed to get in a car and park it on the bridge and turn the engine off. At that point, a ghost was supposed to be sitting in the backseat. Not sure what he was supposed to look like. I had images of a fallen Civil War soldier floating in my head. I never saw a ghost, though. I did, however, get hungry, so I went and got a burger. Probably a Cheerwine, too.
Caleb Caudle is going to busy through the rest of the month, with tour dates that take him across the Southeast before he heads west to Texas. You can catch him tomorrow night in Atlanta at Venkman’s and on Saturday night in Waverly, Alabama, at Standard Deluxe.
For more information on Caleb Caudle, tour dates near you, how you can grab your very own copy of Carolina Ghost, please check out Caleb’s website.