Deep in the Heart of a Texas Hill Country Singer and Songwriter
Aaron LaCombe’s Lone Star State of Mind
His Texas Star has been on the rise for a few years now. But his feet have stayed planted firmly on the ground... in Kerrville, unless of course he’s driving to that next gig with his dog Potter, which is actually quite often. In fact, singer and songwriter Aaron LaCombe’s calendar is usually booked out months in advance and that happens for one reason only. It’s because he’s sending the emails and making the calls to secure the gig. “I understand that at the end of the day this is a business,” says LaCombe. “It’s got to be treated as such. I put in the time in, because it’s got to be done.”
LaCombe does rely on a little help from his friends, like when it comes to producing the music. And for his album “Breaking Ground”, he turned to the legendary Chad Mauldin of Mauldin Productions: “I felt like Chad really got where I wanted to take the album. He understood the intention behind each song. And the feedback from fans has been nice, so I’m thinking we’ve done something right.”
Three singles from the project have been released so far to Spotify and other major digital platforms. First up was “The Laundry Song”, then “Everything is Different Now”... and the latest release is “Dream Along with Me”, which seems to be getting a lot of traction. “Each song on the album represents something different for me. The order in which we’re releasing the music, seems to be working in our favor.”
With his talent and focus, the odds are definitely not working against him. LaCombe is currently averaging around 9,000 Spotify Monthly listens. That’s enough reason to keep him and Potter out there on the road, traveling to the next venue, building momentum. We spoke with the vagabond cowboy to gain some creative insight into his drive and passion for his work.
Aaron, are Texas audiences different than in other states?
Yes, but in changing ways. Before the pandemic, I was beginning to feel like audiences were more receptive to me almost anywhere else. I think there was just so much live music available, that peoples' senses were overloaded, or they were calloused to it. Something has shifted though, and now it feels like Texas audiences are really engaged at shows, and it's much easier to turn them into fans. It could also be that I've gotten better about choosing venues that work better for what I do.
You're based out in Kerrville, Texas. How much do the Hill Country and the culture out there inspire your writing?
The Hill Country has been a great place to call home the six years or so, and really, it's the drive home from gigs and practice in Austin when a lot of those songs get started. It's such a beautiful area, how could it not work it's way into my songs?
What is your process for writing a song?
Usually, a little bit of an idea will creep into my head during the day. Maybe while I'm working, or on a drive, and I start to build in lyrics and lines around it. It might be a few days or weeks even before I'll sit down with a guitar, but by then I've already started to sing it in my head. I have a melody in mind. The crucial thing is the notes and voice memo apps in my phone. If it wasn't for them I'd forget most of what I thought up during the day.
Your latest album "Breaking Ground" is Americana and Red Dirt. How did you end up working within those genres?
I don't really think about it when I'm making music. It sort of comes out how it comes out, and then I have to handle the chore of trying to describe it later. To me, Americana and Red Dirt are both about telling stories, and that makes them an easy home for me.
Tell us a little bit about your new album? In what ways is it different than your previous work?
Musically, It's completely different in that I gave someone else the steering wheel for the first time. I met the producer, Chad Mauldin at a songwriting contest thing a few years ago and we just clicked immediately. He's got a great sensibility and style of his own, while still staying true to the artist's vision for the project.
What have you learned about the music business that you could have never anticipated finding out?
I think it was Ray Wylie Hubbard that said: "There's two parts to the music business, the music and the business". The idea that you can just write the best songs you can, and make the best recordings of them you can, and then just put it out into the world and let it do the work for you is soul crushingly inaccurate. There's so much work to be done after the recording, and most artists aren't good at that part of it. I'm not, but I'm learning.
Spotify has added you to a couple of their curated playlists. Which song prompted that happening?
"Dream Along With Me" is the song, which I knew was a little special when I wrote it. The first time I played it in front of a crowd, there were a couple of sniffles and watery eyes, which is a good sign for me. You go through this process of releasing songs one by one, and submitting
them to the curators before they're released. It's another one of the games you have to play that artists don't instinctively embrace, but it's worth it when it works. The song is out there getting to a lot of ears that it wouldn't have otherwise reached, and they seem to be liking it.
What is your greatest strength as an artist?
Connection. A lot of folks write songs about broad topics like love, loss, drinking, cars, etc, and because they're so broad, they'll connect with a lot of people on a pretty basic level. I like to write about more specific feelings and circumstances. They're less likely to hit everyone in a crowd, but the people they do hit will connect with them deeply, and hopefully that will stick with them.
What Texas venues are on your wish list for wanting to perform in?
There are a handful of "Listening Room" type places that I've got in my sights. Places where all the chairs face the stage, like Old Quarter, and the Red Dragon. I'll work my way up to the Paramount and Moody theater one way or another.
What do you strive to make happen in each live show?
Again, it's back to that connection. I want to make as many people as I can in the audience really feel something. I want to make them remember something they haven't thought of in a while, or to see someone they love in a slightly different way. I want one of my songs to become the mental soundtrack to one of their memories.
What are some of your immediate artist goals?
This year I'm focused on playing anywhere I can. I'll have 120 shows all over the country in by the end of the year, and that's been my focus. Next year, I'll play a little less often, but focus on the shows that allow me to make those connections. I'll sort of phase out the places where I'm just the background noise.
Aaron Lacombe will be performing in the Fort Worth Stock Yards
on the Acoustics Stage, Friday, November 13th,
as part of Texas Country Music Weekend.
Keep up with Aaron and his adventures at aaronlacombe.com