Based in California, Eileen Carey is an award-winning pop-country singer-songwriter. Her music stands at the intersection of pleasant melodies and explorations of self empowerment and emotional fulfillment, all enveloped in upbeat country influences with pop arrangements.
Please list all of your band members and their roles in the band.
John Mcduffie: Music Director, Electric Guitar, Backup Vocals,
Suzanne Morissette: Drummer, Backup Vocals
Will Mac Gregor: Bass Player
Al Bonhomme: Acoustic \ Electric Guitar
Eileen Carey: Lead Vocals
For starters, what bands were you guys a part of prior to Eileen Carey? How long has the band been around?
EC: Always been Eileen Carey. My band and I have been together for 12 years! I was never a backup singer or anything like that, but I did play drums as a kid in Cleveland Ohio. I have been a singer-songwriter the last 15 years.
I definitely haven’t done it all alone, there have been so many great musicians and songwriters that have contributed to my career. My producer Travis Allen has had an enormous impact on the success of my career, not only in the studio, but in developing my chops. My lead guitarist and music director John McDuffie has provided those same two services for Rita Coolidge for the past 12 years. Suzanne Morissette is one of the most accomplished drummers in the California. Google “The Wedding Drummer” on YouTube, and you can see what a fun musician Suzanne is. My rhythm guitarist Al Bonhomme was voted Guitarist of the Year by the Country Music Association a few years back and teaches at Musicians Institute in Hollywood. My bass player Will MacGregor has been playing with guitar legend Albert Lee for years, and will double roles at the Rose where I am opening for Albert on the 18th of April. Will has played and recorded with everyone from Tori Amos to Chuck E. Weiss.
Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs and do you think these topics will change over time?
EC: I co-write a majority of my songs, but not all. Al Bonhomme, my guitarist, co-wrote “Good Bad Girl.” I choose the songs I record and sing, and I am, and have always been interested in a good song; a song that fits my vocal style and is consistent with my message no matter who wrote it. I’m a hard sell when it comes to choosing a song.
I kind of report through my music. My songs are little stories. Little plays that reflect what I see, hear and encounter. Sometimes it is just a word. Sometimes it is something in the news. Movies inspire me, as does great people in any area of life. I create my music and lyrics from what I see all around me. My message in my music is, that we can do what we believe we can do, and that the journey itself is the reward.
Nashville Music Guide a ways back described my songs as “an accomplished storyteller… Her songs also offer distinct, prominent messages about personal empowerment and emotional fulfillment.” It is encouraging when someone gets it!
What artists and bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?
EC: Here is my current playlist.
Keith Urban “Coming Home”
Cheryl Crowe “A Change Would Do You Good”
Bruno Mars “Just the Way You Are”
Katie Perry “Hot & Cold”
Pink “Who Knew”
Maroon 5 “Moves like Jagger”
Thomas Rhett “Craving You”
Cold Play “Adventure of a Lifetime”
Gwen Stefani “Make Me like You”
Shawn Mendes “Nothing Holding Me Back”
Rob Thomas Matchbook 20 “Hold on Forever”
George Ezra “Shotgun”
Twenty one Pilots Stressed out
Sheryl Crow Be Myself
Kygo & Imagine Dragons born to be yours
Maren Morris The Middle
Andy Grammer Good to be alive
Your list of accomplishments is amazing and awe-inspiring, but, what started it all, where did it begin?
EC: I went west from Cleveland to study film, and ended up in a few movies (The original Batman, Basic Instinct, and was the attorney in the Ray Charles Super Bowl Diet Pepsi commercial). You have to make a living, so I studied hotel management and worked for the Sheraton organization in Southern CA booking entertainment. The experience showed me that I could be a singer and even a songwriter. An artist. I never looked back.
Was there a particular band/artist or concert that inspired you to start a band?
EC: Not a particular band, artist, or concert, but I was booking artists for the Sheraton organization when I got to Los Angeles in search of a film career. When it became obvious to me that I could do what the acts I was hiring were doing even better, that’s when I decided to sing. I have always loved music, so it was natural for me.
What inspired you to start writing songs?
EC: One of my vocal coaches, of all things, years ago suggested that she had worked with many singer-songwriters, and that I was very imaginative so I should try to write songs as well. My own songs.
What instruments do you play? What was the first instrument that you played and where did you grow up? What did you grow up listening to?
EC: I started singing back in high school, community theatre, and in the church choir. I started playing drums at 13, and still occasionally work out on them. I write my melodies on the piano, but my instrument is my voice. I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, listening to pop music mostly.
What other types of people inspired you?
EC: I am inspired by many different people. Athletes and athletics inspire me. Films and television are a constant source of inspiration. The news, radio, travel and the life experiences of family and friends and my surroundings. Sheryl Crow, The Motels, Chrissie Hynde to the Beatles; it depends, vocally I am inspired by singers like Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Barbara Streisand, and songwriters like Dianne Warren and Keith Urban.
Who had the inspiration for the video for the song “That Town”? Who was the director?
EC: The inspiration for the song came years ago when the first writing and recording of it took place. “That Town” was my ode to spreading my wings and going for broke by moving to California. It was one of the key releases in the early years of my career. The current rewrite and recording of “That Town” moves the story up a few years. With growth and time I added a few new lyrics and insights.
The video was made by myself and Taner Tumkaya, a filmmaker from Turkey, who has been collaborating with me on my last five music videos, and has been a great find for me. We work together so well, and the results speaks for itself.
What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?
EC: My two girls and my successful marriage is the highlight of my life and career. It is hard to balance a professional music career and family life, and that is why I have been writing my “Music Mom” blog for some years now.
I’m blessed. There have been so many, including the fact that my current single, “Anything That Reminds Me of You” is my sixth straight #1 single across all of the New Music Weekly Country radio charts, and most of their Adult Contemporary charts as well. I am currently nominated for four awards at the New Music Weekly. Living the life of an artist’s dream.
In the Country category, I’m nominated for Breakthrough Country Artist of the Year. In the Hot AC/AC category, I’m nominated for Breakthrough Artist of the Year, and Female Artist of the Year. And at the very bottom of the voting page I’m nominated as the Crossover Artist of the Year. https://newmusicweekly.com/nma-ballot/
What do you do to prepare for a show? Any flexing, exercises, etc …
EC: Vocal exercises. Vowel sound stretches, stretch my vocal chords, do lip exercises. I hum my melodies before a show. I practice, stay away from dairy, drink lots of water. When I go into the studio I take a teaspoon of olive oil, or greasy potato chips. I picked up the potato chip trick from Martina (McBride). My producer Travis Allen makes me eat a tiny bag before recording vocals (lol). I’ve been regularly training and kick-boxing for years, and I believe my regular kick-boxing training does huge things for my vocal control and power as well. Ultimately I stay healthy. Mind, body and soul. I eat carefully, work out regularly, and get sleep.
If you could tour with any bands or artists, past or present, who would they be and why?
EC: Keith Urban and Sheryl Crow because we like to rock our country-pop, and we write and sing positive songs
What has been your favorite song that you’ve written so far?
EC: There are two. “That Town,” which the current version is in itself a record of my growth since that song’s first recording, and “Faith,” which is like my personal mantra.
How did you find your producers and what do you look for in one?
EC: I found Travis through a personal friend of mine, and the creator of Songnet.com, Jimi Yamagucci. I was attending one of his seminars and he told me that this guy from Nashville Tracks would be perfect for me. Jimi is a class act so I followed that advice and Travis Allen became my producer. We have created some wonderful music together. The first thing I want my producer to be is experienced and knowledgeable! The most important thing is that the producer must share the artist’s vision. They must also be honest and not afraid to tell you when your off-base.
Did you have any mentors?
EC: I have had a many great teachers, each one supported my aspirations and brought different things to my art. Each taught me what I needed to know and allowed me to believe. I am not sure if I had a specific “Mentor,” but so many people supported my career and showed me the way.
Where was your first big stage appearance?
EC: The first “big stage appearance” was at BB Kings in Universal City. There has been many big stage appearances these past two years, but my recent openings for Rita Coolidge and Martha Davis at the Rose in Pasadena, California might be considered my biggest stage appearances career-wise. I have performed at most of the Southern California fairs and festivals. I have also performed at a number of Sync Summit events, in places like the Avalon in Hollywood, and BB Kings in Nashville. The Las Vegas Awards show last year at the Hard Rock, where I was awarded a Las Vegas Producer’s Choice Award for Solo Country Artist of the Year was also huge.
Do you ever get stage fright? If so, what do you do to get through it?
EC: No. I do, on occasion, get anticipation butterflies, but the stage is home for me. Where I am most comfortable.
What is life like on the road?
EC: Hectic but focused. My band and entourage are fun to travel with. We laugh and have a great time, but they all know their jobs and are very talented professionals. I try to watch the other acts in my show, and meet as many fans as I can. Performing is a job, albeit a good one. People pay to see and hear you, and they deserve the artist’s very best every night. That takes conditioning and vigilance much like that for an athlete.
Tell us about your fans, what is it like at one of your shows?
EC: I think that these quotes do a better job of telling you what it is like at one of my shows as well as I can.
“Carey’s sassy yet humble stage demeanor gave off Gretchen Wilson meets Miranda Lambert vibes, which clearly appealed to the crowd, which engaged in hand clapping, line dancing and singing along. Eileen Carey’s seasoned talent, her ability to consistently engage her fans and a real chemistry with her band members kept me entertained throughout the night.” - Heather Allen, Music Connection, Live Music Review, Whiskey A Go Go, July 6, 2018, October, 2018 Issue.
“Jan. 19 at The Rose nightclub in Pasadena, Carey appeared to draw far more fans than Bachman himself managed to attract, with the crowd of about 200 loudly roaring their approval in multiple standing ovations.” Carl Kozlowski, Arts & Ent. Editor, Pasadena Weekly.
I think it is fair to say that all my fans become my most cherished friends.
Any wild stories from the road, odd situations or "too weird to make up" tales?
EC: That is easy! Being on “the road” is a wild story! I am pretty simple. I enjoy a good time as much as anybody, but being a mom and married, and into things like kick-boxing, I am pretty sober so to speak. Having said that there was one year that I got pulled off the stage mid-set at Rippy’s in Nashville during CRS. At first we couldn’t understand it, but they quickly informed us that Nashville was directly in the path of a coming tornado, while shoveling us and the patrons to an underground garage. Fortunately it just missed us and no one was hurt, but it made the rest of my set anti-climatic. A tornado is a hard act to follow! Later that year the band and I left the stage in Venice Beach, California, where we headlined the Venice Beach SummerFest for the Homeless show, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. 15 minutes before lightning struck the beach directly in front of that stage, hurting a number of people and causing considerable damage.
All artists have had to make sacrifices for their art, what have you had to give up to make it work, and where do you gain your strength?
EC: Balancing the two worlds of my music and my family is something I used to struggle with on an almost daily basis. On one hand, I adore my role as a mother and family woman. I don’t want to be absent in my children’s lives. At all. I want to be there for birthdays, Easter, and Christmas. I want to walk them to school, go camping, and visit the park. Then I have my role as an artist. Constantly compelled to create, perform, and satisfy certain career ambitions, I am always trying to unleash my inner songwriter and performer. Rather than lament what appears to be the ultimate parenting conflict, though, I have chosen to embrace it. In fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way. That is why I created The Music Mom blog to help myself as well as others deal with that sacrifice.
What projects do you have coming up? What are your plans for the future?
EC: Well, lots of new things. I have a number of performance dates coming up. I will be opening for Don Mclean at the legendary Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills on he 23rd of March. On April 18th I will be opening for Albert Lee at the Rose in Pasadena. (My bass player Will MacGregor has played with Albert for years.) When I get back to California from Nashville, where I am finishing my new album (my 5th) I will be opening for Wilson Phillips June 8th at the Rose. Also, I am getting ready to release another single shortly. I am looking forward to releasing my first co-write with my producer Travis Allen, and since he has moved from Los Angeles to Nashville, I am expecting to spend more time in Nashville.
Have you ever wondered if there is a young girl out there looking up to you saying "I want to be like her someday”, How would that make you feel, and what advice would give her.
EC: I hope there are some young women, and men as well, out there that are inspired by my music. When I hear from folks on tour or on social media that they have been moved by my messages of positivity, and my “keep your chin up, enjoy your journey” point of view, it makes it all worthwhile. That is also true of my Music Mom Blog. Go for your dreams! I repeat that often to people who ask me that question.
What would you like our readers to take away from this interview, what insights into your life as a Musician and your vision of Music?
EC: I try to give people a different way of thinking, a view that offers alternatives, support, and encouragement. We all have our trials, but I’m 100% convinced we can overcome them by maintaining the right attitude in life.
How can our readers follow you and your career?
Is there anything else you would like to add?
EC: Life is wonderful! Don’t waste your time on things that hold you back.