Drake White: I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and it’s a bigger plan, it’s not my plan. There’s a bigger plan cooking out there and you got to be patient and wait for the gumbo to start bubbling. You got to wait for those spices and wait for those things.

Sue Bonzell: This is up and country on 93.7, The Bull. It’s powered by B Livecast. I’m your host Sue Bonzell. Let’s get this show started.

              He has a new album out called optimistic. I am so excited. Drake White is here in the studios here in Nashville. Welcome, Drake.

Drake White: Thank you.

Sue Bonzell: I’m so glad you could be here.

Drake White: Glad to be here.

Sue Bonzell: So we have a lot to talk about, you got a lot going on. You got the new album Optimystic and it’s mystic, M-Y-S-T all right, wait, M-Y-S-T-I-C. I’m having to do spelling already. This is not good.

Drake White: Well, first off, I’m a horrible speller, always have been. But I’ve always enjoyed moving words around and moving sentences around and it’s part of the writing process, but the definition of that word, I just came up the last two years for me have been a mystery. They’ve been very challenging and very crazy. And it’s the art of keeping the glass half full through that mystery. It’s the optimystic and we wrote me and Lauren Win Trial and Kelly Johnson wrote this song called the optimystic and I just kind of thinking about it and thinking about the spelling and it just came out and it’s kind of, we’re kind of the cosmic side of country and that is that’s where that spelling came from.

Sue Bonzell: I think it’s cool. And you kind have a different sound. Like it’s a little bit different. I mean, I was kind of like maybe a little Chris Stapleton kind of thing, but I was reading in your description and talking about you being on stage and you had in your description, it’s equal parts, Baptist tent revival and amped up Southern rock festival. Like, okay. Why would you not want to go see one of your shows? Right?

Drake White: I grew up in Northeast Alabama, just south of Muscle Shoals. I love soul music. My grandfather was a preacher. My dad was a choir director. And that’s the way I was raised and so when you see the shows I grew up on Tom petty and Marshall Tucker Band and all these Southern rock type bands. But I also grew up around anointed very powerful speakers and my mom’s a cosmetologist. So she’s one of those powerful speakers. So the show for me was just that’s my form of entertainment was to go out there and conduct a revival of some sort saying that, hey, tomorrow’s going to be better than today and this has turned into this performing style that this free flow freestyle thing, because you don’t really know what’s going to happen in our shows you just kind of flow off the cuff. So that’s what makes them fun.

Sue Bonzell: Well I mean your music, in general, is very soulful. You can feel that. And I think with this album, I’d like to hear more about creating this album because we’re going to get ask you about your health scare about went on and how all of that has kind of unfolded for you.

Drake White: Right. Well, the album is a product of just pushing through, pushing through all the stuff and understanding that this is what you do. This is who I am and nobody’s going to come help you in this world. You have to realize that. You know what I mean? Nobody’s going to be like, oh yeah, yeah, I’m here to lay your album out and lay your career out and do all that. Whether it be record deals or publishing deals or everything in this world, everything in this industry has been has thrown at me and around me. But it is you that has to go in and create it. And this is a product of me going, this is what I do. This is what I want. This is what my fans want. And I put them first and went out there through these tumultuous times of a pandemic and a stroke and just created music.

              I mean, a lot of it was through zoom them as we were talking about earlier, a lot of it was through songs I wrote 10 and 12 years ago really. And then some of it was people coming to the house and to the barn that we built that ended up being a studio for us that we conducted 80 Wednesday nights in a row and did that over the pandemic. So this record formed over that pandemic as we played this in front of thousands of people watching the screen and watching say, well, that one got a pretty good response. And I like it. It starts with me liking it and then watching the people respond and we formed up a record and self-funded it. It’s out, it’s rocking.

Sue Bonzell: And I think, I mean, the one song that you have on there, power of a woman, that is a powerful song. Now, was that a kind of an inspiration from your wife going through all of this, you’re recovering from that stroke and everything. I know she had a big, a big part in that.

Drake White: Yeah. She was the heart of it. I was raised by a bunch of very powerful strong women like yourself, just women that go out there and don’t take no for an answer and they’re going to get it done. And I believe that women are the backbone of this, this world. They help and nurture and raise. And it would just all fall apart if it wasn’t for them. And my wife though, she helped me get back to stage. When the doctors told me that it would be impossible and when the industry was like they didn’t know if I was going to be able to sing or perform again, Alex said, you will perform again, you will learn how to walk. You will do all this stuff and so she picked me up.

              So it started with her. And then I started noticing this diner that I go to all the time, Wendell Smith’s. I started noticing the women in there working. And then your perception shifts when you have near death experience. And I started noticing these ladies in there that just created the backbone of their family, listening to them talk. And so they started, we asked them to turn in their stories, turn in to us your powerful woman on social media. And it became this big campaign and this spotlight, we’ve got a really cool video that’s out on YouTube right now.

              Power of a woman’s a very special song to us and a very special song to the album.

Sue Bonzell: Yeah, definitely. Now I follow you on TikTok and I watch your TikTok’s. Now you play a lot with Devon. Now are you guys creating together? Are you working with other songwriters? What’s kind of your creative process and how you’re getting to these songs?

Drake White: Yeah. With the TikTok stuff, Devon’s wife, Kirsten is she understands TikTok. You have to have a bit of a, I don’t know what kind education to understand TikTok. It is [crosstalk 00:10:42]. It’s like figuring out a Rubik’s Cube every time, but she gets it. And so she’s kind of my TikTok guru. And she comes over once, two or three times a month and we just start getting content. And my only thing with that, it was, hey, I’ll do what is comes natural to us and what we’re doing and base it around the music and the comedy just kind of came after that. Because I’m a goofy dude at heart. Like I want to have fun and laugh and so that’s what the TikTok’s about.

Sue Bonzell: So you sing a song on one of your TikTok’s, pound cake.

Drake White: Yeah.

Sue Bonzell: I was cracking up. It starts out like a recipe.

Drake White: Yeah. My wife is a chef and that I’m a freestyler, I was just freestyling with one of our friends on a Wednesday night therapy, Hannah Dasher and that freestyle was born and pound cake became this sexual reference that then became this song that then that everybody on TikTok, we didn’t put that on the optimystic because it was literally a joke. And then everybody on … We’re going to release it eventually but everybody on TikTok was like, I mean, it’s got three or four million views and they were like, “Where’s pound cake?” Like, “Well we didn’t, that’s a freestyle but that’s that shows you the age that we’re in.”

Sue Bonzell: That was great.

Drake White: You can literally just be making something up and that be what your career, what? You’re not like-

Sue Bonzell: It is like that on TikTok where you think something, you work on something and you think that’s really going to get the response and it’s something silly or crazy and you kind of go, what, guess everybody loves that.

Drake White: Well, people like authenticity and that’s what that is, that’s us just being authentic in the moment and that’s the way we are with our music as well. It’s in the moment. They feel part of it, like they’re in your living room.

Sue Bonzell: Yeah. So is there anybody in country music or in music in general that you could see yourself collaborating with in the future?

Drake White: When asked that question I always, I would love to collaborate with Bruno Mars. I love Bruno Mars. If you wanted to go on that kind of work, I love Rick Rubin, his style and what he does. As far as artists I’m good buddies with a lot of these guys out here. I really like what Eric Church does. I like what Zac Brown does. I like what a lot of them, there’s a lot of … I love Tenille Townes, what she’s doing right now, Brothers Osborne. So yeah there’s a lot of collaborators out there that I would and people that I have collaborated with that just hadn’t hit the world yet.

Sue Bonzell: Yeah. I know. Well, I mean, you’ve got a pretty big following. I mean, you’ve got millions and millions of views and downloads and all of that. How long have you been doing country music?

Drake White: I was about to say, I mean, we’ve been doing this a long time. I consider myself a veteran of it. We took the scenic tech quote, my buddy, Charlie Worsham, we have taken the scenic route to start off. It’s a couple of record deals, there’s a couple of this, a couple of that, but it hasn’t been that one song, bam, they’re at the top of the charts and they’re going, but it’s been this slow build of playing these three, four or five, 600 capacity venues. And this past year playing the optimystic, the optimystic tour, the first leg of it, we are playing to 1000, 1200 people and then we go out and we opened up for Whiskey Myers for the last two months and it’s that’s, we’re just building it brick by brick.

              That’s the only way I know how to do it so for, we have had that commercial success of having some songs that charted high and that got us in a really good spot with our fans but this is mostly people coming to the shows, buying t-shirts, digging in the revival and just being a part of our fan base. It’s my desire to create a Jimmy buffett’s esque culture, except for not Palm trees and parrots. It’s campfires and Plaid, flannel.

Sue Bonzell: What’s your fan base called? Do they have like-

Drake White: Yeah. The fire starters, fire starters,

Sue Bonzell: Fire starters. Okay. See, there you go. See, everybody’s got their names. I like this. So I think you’re one of those artists where if somebody hasn’t heard of you or they haven’t heard your music, I think once they do hear your music, it’s like, whoa, wow. And then they go, okay, now why is it why … I sit there and I go, why is this guy not like bigger? I’m like, you are so good. I love your music. I love your sound. And it is just like I said, that soulfulness to it. So I’m rooting for you big time. I mean as far success for you, what does that really look like in the future? What do you desire to have as your success?

Drake White: Yeah, that’s a good question. To kind of back up, I’ve never felt people, whether you want to use … I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. We’ve done a lot of stuff and I just think that that opportunity where opportunity and preparation meet, that’s coming, I can feel it coming. And we’ve always went out there and left places better than we found them, I’ve made that a point. We’ve built a great team now and I feel like I’m just starting again and it’s okay because I love the process. I love doing this. And that’s what you got to fall in love with, is that process. So as far as people saying he should be bigger, no, I’m exactly where, where I’m supposed to be and it’s a bigger plan, it’s not my plan, there’s a bigger plan cooking out there and you’ve got to be patient and wait for the wait for the gumbo to start bubbling. You got to wait for those spices and wait for those things.

              And do I wish it would’ve happened sooner? No. Because the book wouldn’t be as good and I had a friend the other day text me and we’re getting some play on Sirius XM and he said, if this song would’ve went number one back 12 years ago, this song, it takes time on our record. And he’d have been a big superstar with MCA. The story wouldn’t be near as interesting. And you have to, you have to embrace that, if you don’t, you kind of drive yourself crazy.

Sue Bonzell: Yeah, no, I get that. Yeah. Like I said, I’m a fan. I see your music. I see your videos and I’m like, yeah, I like this guy. You’re doing a good job I think. 

Drake White: Thank you.

Sue Bonzell: So now I did see that you do, do you do a little beatbox?

Drake White: Yeah, we do like freestyle for me has always been just off the tip of my tongue being able to think on my feet and just songwriting is like that with me. And so the beatbox thing is just something to establish. It’s not really a beatbox. It’s just a flow to get that going. So that’s always been kind of my mechanism of making sounds with my mouth drives my wife crazy, drove my mom crazy, but it was always something, there was always something kind of ticking or popping or clicking or clacking. And that kept me going, kept my ADD at bay and that’s the way I create.

Sue Bonzell: I like it. I think it’s cool. Not everybody can do that. I mean that is a skill.

Drake White: Yeah.

Sue Bonzell: Like you said, you’ve been practicing since you were a kid, I’m sure.

Drake White: Yeah. Whether it be the vacuum or the washing machine or the dryer change in the dryer, there was always rhythms and there’s stuff always kind of beating around.

Sue Bonzell: I hadn’t thought of that. You’re right. Like you hear like an air conditioning or something and it’s like you got to put that little-

Drake White: It’s kind of rhythm.

Sue Bonzell: There you go. There you go. Well, we’re going to play a little game coming up. We’re going to play, I call it my famous game. Truth or truth. No dares for you today.

Drake White: All right.

Sue Bonzell: Okay. Is that cool? You down with that?

Drake White: Absolutely.

Sue Bonzell: Okay. We’re going to do that coming up. Okay. We’re going to play my famous game. Truth or truth with Drake White who’s here today in the studio. So you get to pick your question.

Drake White: Here we go.

Sue Bonzell: Here we go.

Drake White: What is something that no one else knows about you? Ooh man, that’s right to it.

Sue Bonzell: All right. You picked a good one. You know that you want to reveal.

Drake White: Yeah. It does take a second to … I had these little holes right here in my ears. You see those little holes right there.

Sue Bonzell: I don’t see. Okay.

Drake White: You see them?

Sue Bonzell: No, no, I do not.

Drake White: Do you see them?

Sue Bonzell: I’m going to get real close here. I don’t see, no.

Drake White: Right there. They’re like…

Sue Bonzell: Okay.

Drake White: Anyway there’s these, if you don’t see them I mean, they’re right there but they’re like these inocular, they’re called something. These holes in my ears are from my ear drum not really forming as a kid.

Sue Bonzell: That’s interesting, okay.

Drake White: So I was premature. So I had to kind of sleep in an incubator for a while for all that stuff to develop. But that is from an underdeveloped eardrum so I have both these little bitty holes right here on both sides of my head.

Sue Bonzell: That is fun fact that probably no one knows about Drake White, so there you go.

Drake White: I wish they had some kind of superpower of being able to breathe underwater or-

Sue Bonzell: Right, exactly. You’re amphibious.

Drake White: Yeah. That’d be cool.

Sue Bonzell: You want to do another?

Drake White: Yeah. That was a hard one.

Sue Bonzell: I know. I know.

Drake White: Well, do you have a favorite sibling? I only have one sibling so-

Sue Bonzell: Okay well then that’s your favorite.

Drake White: My sister Devon would probably have to be my favorite.

Sue Bonzell: Okay. There you go. Okay, one more.

Drake White: All right, let me dig in a little bit. If you farted in the elevator, would you blame someone else or say, excuse me? I would definitely say, excuse me.

Sue Bonzell: That’s a random question.

Drake White: Yeah. Everybody. I just don’t get embarrassed about stuff like that. Like it is-

Sue Bonzell: It is what it is, right?

Drake White: And it happens when it happens, so, yeah excuse me.

Sue Bonzell: Excuse me. Well, lucky you, no one else has picked that question.

Drake White: There you go.

Sue Bonzell: Found out some revealing information about Drake White today. Well, I want to thank you for being here, taking the time to come and chat with me and share, little known facts about Drake White. So there we go.

Drake White: My pleasure. Thank you guys.

Sue Bonzell: Thanks for tuning in to Up and Country where we have new episodes every Tuesday, and be sure to visit upandcountry.com for all of the episodes and information about our VIP club, where you’re going to get exclusive backstage access. And if you’re on Instagram or TikTok, make sure to follow me, Sue Bonzell, I’ll see you next week.