Musician Rick Scott, former drummer for the country band Alabama and famed country songwriter, has 40+ years of experience in the country music industry under his belt. Rick first began his professional drumming career at the age of 14, and…
Musician Rick Scott, former drummer for the country band Alabama and famed country songwriter, has 40+ years of experience in the country music industry under his belt.
Rick first began his professional drumming career at the age of 14, and has since jumped from band to band and worked with a number of different award-winning artists over the years, including the legendary Johnny Cash in the early ’80s.
A few weeks ago Rick released his latest album “Hot Burning Coals,” and is busy with his music production company 515 Records. On Wednesday he took time out of his busy schedule to speak with us briefly regarding his prolonged, successful career in the country music industry:
Music-Overload: You’ve been around music for most of your life. Can you start out explaining what first got you into music and about what age you were?
Rick Scott: “I grew up around music, my whole family played, or sang, or was in radio. Uncles, brothers, cousins, everybody. It was just normal for me to be attracted to it. It was really early on, and I actually left home when I was 14 to go start playing drums for a living. So I started professional at 14 and have been working in the music business all my life.”
M-O: When you started drumming professionally at age 14, is that when you joined Alabama?
Rick: “I actually met those guys when I was 17, so I had already been living in Nashville and writing songs for publishing companies at that time. That’s kind of how I met them. I started on the road with them in 1976, and stayed until the end of ’79 or first of ’80.”
M-O: What was your reason for leaving Alabama?
Rick: “I actually lived in Nashville, and those guys lived in Fort Payne, Alabama. I had all these set-ups up there in Nashville, and by the time I went and left the band I was ready to hit the road with Earl Thomas Conley. So I went on the road with Earl, working with Warner Brothers and writing songs. I loved to play drums, but I was really getting into songwriting at that time. So I just went on to other interests.”
M-O: You have worked with a bunch of big names in country music during your career. Was it hard to adapt to working with different people?
Rick: “I could jump on board with just about anybody, just hit the road and play. I love meeting new people. In 1980 I went and worked with Johnny Cash at his publishing company, so I had a great publishing job as a staff writer and so I had a lot of things going on. I was on the road with different artists and had my job in Nashville that I could just go into a couple times a week and turn in some songs. John ended up cutting a couple of my songs out of that catalog, so that was a good relationship. That went on for a couple years and as a matter of fact on this new album we have a tribute to John called Big John, and it’s doing really well right now. We’re getting a lot of good feedback.”
M-O: The album came out just last month, correct?
Rick: “Yeah it came out May 15th on 515 Records. We’re doing great for independent. All the independents out there are struggling right now, so it’s nice to all work together. We all need each other. If there’s anything I learned in 40 years, it’s that we need each other.”
M-O: Speaking of which, with everyone looking to make it in the country music industry in Nashville, would you say it’s more about everyone working together to accomplish their goal?
Rick: “Nashville really is a small community. I was on music row for years running different production companies. I worked for Warner Brothers for seven years, and while I was on the road you’d be surprised how friendly everyone is and how quickly you get to know everybody. You all just kind of become a family. Really the music business itself, you just gotta get out there and be around it and near people who are trying. We’re all trying.”
M-O: You mentioned you worked with a lot of different bands/artists and that you could just jump right on board with them and play, what would you say are some of the biggest differences between working with a band and then working on your own solo career?
Rick: “Well I’ll be honest with you, I was always behind the scenes. Working with the publishing company or record label, or the drummer on stage. I was kind of always the guy behind the scenes. And I got into publishing, of course, and then I got into productions and doing a lot of production work for other artists. Honestly this is my first album. This is it, I’ve never done this. So it’s an interesting question, because I’ve never tried this artist thing before but I’ve had a lot of songs that did very well and I have a dear friend of mine, Nick Scott Petta, who’s a record producer from way back. He used to work at Sun Records, that’s how far back it goes––a lot of history. Nick asked me if I would do an album and I hadn’t really thought about doing one myself. But a lot of singer/songwriters do, and I thought ‘why not? Let’s give it a shot.’ And here we are.”
M-O: So this was your debut album then?
Rick: “Yeah, I’ve recorded other stuff but it was nothing like putting 10 songs together and actually doing a full-blown release. We’re on every outlet that’s out there right now, and as I said, as an artists I’ve never done that. And we’re having a blast. It’s like a new life.”
M-O: So are you still working on more new stuff now?
Rick: “I am always writing. So yeah as a matter of fact we started this week on a new project. And we have a CD coming out next month that’s actually pretty interesting. It’s 40 years of my life history in the music industry.
All the info for that is on 515records.com.”
M-O: With songwriting being one of your biggest passions when it comes to music, do you have a certain approach and/or process for each song you write, or does it tend to vary depending on the song?
Rick: “It really is different every time. Every song I’ve ever written, they’re all gifts from God. That’s the way I feel. Given to me, and they just kind of shower in on me and I just try to play catch up and spit ’em out. But I’ve been blessed, I’ve had a great career in songwriting and as a musician. So we’re really enjoying what we’re doing and all the wonderful people we meet along the way has just been great.
I love new artists, and I’ve done a lot of work with them. I’ve always enjoyed teaching and watching them learn and grow. So with me, it just comes natural. I’ve been doing it for so long that if I can’t do it by now I need to quit.”
M-O: We’ve actually been talking to a few up-and-coming artists that have moved out to the Nashville area recently to chase their dream in the country music industry. Do you have any advice for young artists that want to move to the area to start a career?
Rick: “Well there’s an old saying that I can give you real quick, it’s ‘if you want to make a million dollars in Nashville, take two.’
It’s a tough business, I’m not going to lie. I’m getting a lot of the exposure and attention (on the new recently-released album), but a lot of it––the music is good, I will say that––comes from the fact I know a lot of people and have been in the business myself for 40 years, like I said. So I can’t count that out.”
M-O: So basically, make as many connections as you can?
Rick: “Absolutely. And always remember to be for the other guy as much as you are for you. It’s really important. It’ll come back around, whatever you give you will get back. So these young people coming out to Nashville, I wish them all the luck in the world. I just think the song wins––it all comes down to the song. You can look great, you can sing great, you can dance great, but if you don’t have that song––the only difference between one artist and a million others is a hit song. That’s the only difference. And they have to keep in mind that they’re only three minutes away. Keep doing it, because you’re only three minutes away. If you look at it in those terms, it kind of makes sense. Baby steps. You’re three minutes away from finding your dream.”
Rick continues writing songs as the Creative Director for 515 Records, based out of Jacksonville, FL. The company specializes in Music Production, publishing, artist development and songwriting development.
We’ve included links and photos for Rick’s official website and social media outlets below, and have added a few sample tracks for you to check out as well.
Pissin’ and a Moanin’:
Photo: Rick’s Website