La Crosse Local

E. 211: Tommy Prine | Singer-songwriter

Listen to “E. 211: Tommy Prine | Singer-songwriter” on Spreaker.

It took my dad away…that hit me really hard and gave me a new perspective on life, I am sure any songwriter will tell you that hard times will bring some creativity into the world…(on the pandemic and creativity).

In this episode, we sit down with Tommy Prine, we hear about his earliest memories of music, his own musical influences, his process with collaboration and songwriting, Covid, creativity, the loss of his father, John and what’s next for this singer-songwriter.La Crosse Local is proud sponsor of the La Crosse Winter Roots Festival.

Tommy Prine 01:54
So I’m born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. And some of the I mean, the earliest memories I have of music I suppose is like going to shows with my dad, and I’d be like backstage and me and my brother would be dancing. I remember like after like every show, my dad would always ask us like what was your favorite one tonight, like he would legitimately want to know. It would always change, but I just remember telling him like Fishing Whistle, Fishing Whistle and like he would play it like every single show that I knew that me and Jack were backstage, my brother Jack. Yeah, but that’s probably like my earliest memories other than just like him playing at like, you know, like after dinner and stuff like that and.

Brent Hanifl 02:35
So was that ever something you just got tired of though, you know, being little kids?

Tommy Prine 02:39

Brent Hanifl 02:40
You know, having to go to the shows all the time? Or was it?

Tommy Prine 02:43
Oh, yeah. I mean, like, definitely, there was like, I mean, we didn’t go like all the time just because like, you know, like, we had to go like school and all that stuff. And kids going on the road all the time, I’m sure we probably just like annoy the hell out of them. But yeah, I mean, there was definitely like, there was like a point in time where me and my brother like, oh, like, do we have to go like, we don’t want to like it’s boring or whatever.

Brent Hanifl 03:05
You know, thinking about those earlier memories and stuff like that. What are some of your influence influences? You know, something that stuck out in your mind, you know, any particular albums, or is there, what kind of set you down your path?

Tommy Prine 03:17
I mean, man, I’ve listened to so much different music like, my whole life. I’d like one thing that I had that has stayed consistent is that I’ve always like deeply loved music. When I first started, like the first album that really, really got me into always listening to music is when I was like, probably like seven or eight. And I bought that Outkast album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, and I listened to it on like my CD player. And I was just like, this is like, amazing. I can listen to these songs whenever I want. Like, this is so cool. And from there like, I was like as a kid I listened to like a bunch of Outcast. And then I started getting into like, metal and stuff like that, like Iron Maiden and like Metallica. And then that’s like when I really was like dad, like I really want to guitar. I want a guitar. I want to learn how to do this. And I got a guitar and I was like trying to like learn all those riffs and stuff like that and then it turned into like classical rock and I listened to like, like Led Zeppelin and like stuff like that. And then I started getting into more contemporary stuff and like Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Chili Peppers was definitely like one thing that I feel like really made me want to like get good at the guitar because John Frusciante is like on Mt. Rushmore, like he is like one of the best ever do it on as a guitar player. In my mind, I was like I’m gonna be like a rock star. Like I’m gonna be like a guitar god, like I’m gonna be like Kurt Cobain, or like whatever you know what I mean. And then I can’t really put my finger on it what it was, but I think I mean, like I always listen to my dad’s music and appreciate it for sure. But I think it was something like I think it might have been like a Justin Townes Earle song actually. Like I found him on YouTube and it was just funny it wasn’t his dad. Like I like listen to Justin first and like I just saw him do like a singer songwriter set, like on YouTube, and like I was blown away. And I was like, I gotta like, start writing stuff or something like that. And I picked up an acoustic guitar and just never put it back down. So, I guess my answer would be like, it’s like a whole bunch of people that have like, given me tiny little influences throughout my whole life. People from the last couple years I started getting into like Tyler Childers, Sturgill Simpson as well, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, you know, like all them. So, I’ve always listened to like, a range of stuff. And I still do like, you know, in the mornings, when I’m like, making coffee, I’ll like throw on like Nathaniel Rateliff’s new album. And then, like, in the afternoon, I listened to some like Marvin Gaye. I mean, like, it’s just, it’s kind of like all over the place. And it’s hard for me to like, put a like an actual answer on like, what has influenced me just because I’ve always just kind of listened to what just like has given me like, the best feeling? I guess. So.

Brent Hanifl 05:53
Sure. You have a debut album that’s recorded, correct? Because I just kind of investigated you a little bit.

Tommy Prine 05:59
Yeah man.

Brent Hanifl 05:59
There’s a lot of big fans in LaCrosse, here, where you’re going to be playing here in the next couple weeks. So kind of digging into your YouTube stuff. What is the process? So you have the debut album I understand its fully recorded, what’s the process for you with like, songwriting and recording?

Tommy Prine 06:15
Dude that’s like it’s been a whole new world for me because like I’ve just up until really, like last year, it was just like writing for like fun and like playing for my friends and stuff like that whenever we like get together. And like, I never really thought like what my process would be. And then now like doing the whole record, like writing it and getting to use the studio, it’s like, I’ve been learning something new, like about the process and myself, like every 10 seconds, basically, like how it happened. For this record, I don’t know if it’ll be like this in the future, but I had a bunch of songs, and I had probably like, I don’t know, like seven or eight of them that I was like, I know, these are good. Like, this is like what I thought was like my best. Basically me and my friend Drustin Kelly, like, we just hung out for a long time. Then one night, we’re just playing guitars and I showed him one of my songs. And he liked it. And we did a demo of it. And like a month later, he’s just like, dude, let’s make a record. If you can write a song like this, like, let’s see what else you can do. And like, let’s like, put a date on it and like write together. I legitimately for like, the entire year of 2020 I was just writing like crazy. I was doing like co-writes all the time. I’d write with Drustin when he had time. Writing by myself, like multiple weeks, stuff like that. And I basically just learned that, in order to make a record, you need to have something to say, and you have to figure out what it is you want to say. And how you want to say it and how that translates into who you are as a person and who, you know, you want other people to see you as, I suppose in a way. It’s like a pretty like, intense thing, you know, like diving really, really deep into who you are as a person. And sharing things with the world. You know, it’s not like you’re having like an intimate conversation with like a best friend, like you’re talking about these very personal things in a very personal and vulnerable way and your sharing it with the world. Yeah, it was it was honestly a lot more intense than I thought it was going to be for sure. And I learned a lot about myself through writing for the record. And then recording it dude, like, it was the most fun I’ve ever had my entire life. Like not in not in like not in like some like sad, depressing way. But it was the most like excited I’ve ever been to wake up the next day. Like I just wanted to get home after like eight or nine hour day in the studio and like go immediately to bed so I could wake up and do it again. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire life.

Brent Hanifl 08:37
So you kind of hit on that, that was around 2020, right? So that was through like the just the, you know, a lot of COVID stuff going on and along those lines.

Tommy Prine 08:45
Yeah, so like 2020 like, especially during lockout, and stuff that was all just like, basically like writing. And then this year is when I recorded it.

Brent Hanifl 08:54
Just jumped in there.

Tommy Prine 08:55
Yeah, in July.

Brent Hanifl 08:56
I mean, during COVID, you know, it sounds like it was kind of like, actually, in some ways, did it allow you time to work on that stuff? I mean, did I mean it sounds like it did sounds like it just-

Tommy Prine 09:07
I had all the time in the world, man.

Brent Hanifl 09:08

Tommy Prine 09:09
So that’s all I was doing. I was just like, you know, wake up, and just like, alright, what are you doing today, especially for those couple months when, like, everything seemed to shut down. You know, it’s like, what else was was there to do? I just like had all these thoughts running around in my head and just like riding and stuff like that. So I don’t know, like, I mean, also like, obviously, since, like, the whole like pandemic, like it took my dad away. So that, you know, that hit me really, really hard. And it gave me kind of like a new perspective on life. And I mean, I’m sure any songwriter will tell you that, like hard times will bring some creativity into the world. You know, it’s not always like writing a song about a story or like someone you know, like it’s something that happens to you that affects you deeply and personally. And a way that I dealt with that really was with like writing music, you know? So I think having like, all the time in the world to write all the time, and then that having to be happening to me, I mean, it changed me as a person and it certainly changed me as a songwriter.

Brent Hanifl 10:16
I haven’t been able to, you know, listen to a lot of your work, but something that was just striking and something that you guys sent over here was, you know, that was then the song that’s on YouTube. And I don’t know if that was recorded directly or that was the YouTube video. But I mean, it’s a very striking song like how did that come about?

Tommy Prine 10:35
I just recorded it in my fiance’s office here at home. I just have like a little like mic like yours. I just kind of use a mic like that and plug it straight into my thing on GarageBand and just recorded it in like one take in there. But like basically me and my was girlfriend, now fiance we got a rescue dog and her name is Maggie. And I was just feeling like writing a song and sometimes like I’ll try and coax her into like helping me write a song just because she’s super creative. But she’s like I don’t like I can’t write and I like made her basically try and write a song with me. And that’s what we came up with. I’ve always had a thought in the back of my head that like after you find that first pet that you really love, and it loves you back and you have like a deep friendship with that animal. And then eventually they have to pass away. And I always thought in the back of my head like every animal, every dog I’m going to have after you my first one. Her name was Chrissy and like every dog I have after that dog is like her finding me again, basically, but like in another animal. So like that’s kind of like what we were going for, essentially. And that’s yeah, that’s how that song turned out. So.

Brent Hanifl 12:15
Nice. I’m sure that strikes a chord with a lot of people with pets.

Tommy Prine 12:18
That one’s not on the record that was just like one that I wrote recently. I don’t think there’s anything out like on YouTube that’s on the record.

Brent Hanifl 12:26
When is that coming out?

Tommy Prine 12:27
You know, hopefully the spring of ’22. That’s kind of what I’m aiming for. I still have to get like a lot of stuff in line just because like, you know, I’m not on like a label or anything like that. So kind of like a self funded sort of ordeal. And hopefully, I’ll get my foot in the door somewhere so.

Brent Hanifl 12:46
So locally, and I know there’s a big crew of people that are excited for the show that’s happening up at Leo and Leona’s tavern near La Crosse here. You were still playing out a little bit right before for COVID and or have you been getting out recently? What’s it like been playing live shows?

Tommy Prine 13:03
Well, like so right before COVID hit, I played my second ever live show of myself. Like I’ve only at this point now I’ve played sub 20 shows ever having my own stuff. So like, it’s all very like new to me, you know what I mean? Like I’m like learning how to be on the road and like, even play like all set and everything like that. And yeah, I mean, it’s been amazing then and like, I mean, it’s been like a little nerve wracking when it was decision time that I was like, I’m gonna go out on the road. Just because it’s like such like a big feat to take on if it’s something you’ve never done before. But as soon as I hit the stage the first time I think it was like in Des Moines, Iowa for like Arts Festival, I was just like, this feels so good. Like this feels right. Nothing has ever felt this more right in my whole life. So that’s probably been like the most interesting part about it is like finding that solace and like a big life decision.

Brent Hanifl 14:03
So getting out of the house, COVID is hopefully abating a little bit, kind of starting this touring thing. What’s next for you? Like, what are you excited for, you know, coming up in the next year or two?

Tommy Prine 14:12
Who knows, man, I’ve learned to set my expectations on the future like to nothing because you never really know what’s gonna happen, man.

Brent Hanifl 14:21
Yeah, that makes sense.

Tommy Prine 14:22
I’ve had a bunch of like, really awesome stuff happened to me that was unexpected. And I’ve had a bunch of horrible things that happened to me unexpected. So, man, like, I’m very like left foot, right foot these days, you know. I’m just kind of like, next right thing, I’m gonna do that and just kind of see what happens. I mean, you know what I want? I guess it’s like a band, and like, get to go on like a tour with like a band and like, show people what the songs really are. You know, my biggest goal up until like, today was just to make a record like my whole life. I was like, I just want to make an album and now that I did that, I’m kind of like, oh, like what now? I’m like trying to find a new goal and I’m not sure what that is yet. But you know I’m just yeah I’m just kind of keeping my eyes on the prize I suppose whatever it may be.

Brent Hanifl 15:08
Oh cool. People are excited to see you here in La Crosse, Wisconsin. So sure it’ll be a blast. So anyways, if people want to find out more, you know, maybe go to your socials, whatever, see when the album’s coming out, what’s the best venue to send them to?

Tommy Prine 15:21
Instagram is one that I’m like, always using that’s probably like the best way on social media. It’s just Tommy Prine Music. That’s my handle on Instagram. And then I have a website that you can get my merch there, you can see where I’m going to play and read a little bit about me and then a bunch of stuff will be coming out soon on there about the record so.

Amy Gabay 15:47
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