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Justin Schumacher Delivers A Fresh Take On A Classic Sound With Debut Album, Childish Ways

Hannah Hall
Justin Schumacher

I sound like my grandmother here, but I have said it before, and I likely really will say it a million more times … the Nashville music community is really like none other. Not only is this a hot bed of beyond talented musicians, collaborations and co-writes, it’s also refreshing to be reminded of how people lift each other up and champion each other’s music. It’s part of why I wanted to do The Local Brew Hour show on WMOT. When I first met Aaron Lee Tasjan and had so much I wanted to talk to him about as far as his musical background, playing for The New York Dolls and Drivin’ N Cryin’, to barely scratch the surface, I quickly discovered that he mostly wanted to tell me about all of the artists he knew in his neighborhood and that he’d worked with that had new music. We did get into some great stories of his too… but again, that’s what is so inspiring and interesting to me. Frankly, during the last two years, my job of presenting new local music on the radio each week would have been a lot tougher without you sharing your friends’ music as well as your own with me. Thank you! I want to introduce you to a guitarist and songwriter named Justin Schumacher who came to me through Oklahoma born, Nashville based country singer and songwriter, Jack Settle. We’ll get Justin’s story here in Liner Notes and a look at a live performance of the title song to his new album, Childish Ways, which is available today. I’ll play songs from both Justin and Jack this Sunday at 8am on The Local Brew Hour.

AnaLee: Hey Justin! Please thank Jack for sending you my way! Since you are new to me and the WMOT audience, let’s start with a little background info like where you grew up and your early memories of falling in love with music, artists that you love that have inspired you growing up and current artists you dig.
Justin: Sure! I was born in Colorado but grew up in Nashville for most of my life. The music that had the biggest influence on me was mostly what my dad listened to. He would always have bands like Cream, REO Speedwagon, and REM playing in the car.  He also got into indie folk bands like Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers when I was in middle school. All of this had a very profound impact on me musically. I had been playing guitar since I was 9, and, after buying a live Jimi Hendrix CD in Memphis, I fell in love with the blues. I began playing in a rock band with my girlfriend at the time (now my wife!) and got really serious about writing songs for that band, as well as my own folk-leaning songs. This came mostly from discovering an artist named Gregory Alan Isakov (again, another one of my dad’s discoveries). His songwriting and sound have been a huge guiding star for me. From there, I have been really inspired by artists who mix a country/folk sound with blues and soul. Currently, I have been drawing inspiration from Marcus King, Charley Crockett, Phil Cook, and John Mayer (especially his album Born & Raised).

AnaLee:  I was immediately drawn to the first songs you sent me from Childish Ways, “Same Time Tomorrow” and “Southern Gospel” and how different they sound from each other, it made me want to hear more. “Same Time Tomorrow” is more laid back, but there’s still some electric guitar in there and “Southern Gospel” is straight up Southern rock n roll. You’ve brought a current sound to a classic style and mixed in some more acoustic sounds and harmony vocals. Can you tell us about writing for the album and recording it, who you worked with and where you made it?
Justin: Thank you! After my first EP release in 2019, I knew I wanted to tap into my love for the blues, rock, and country more, all the while preserving my sound as a folk artist. Childish Ways took about two years to write. It was during a season of lots of change and growing up. I moved off to college, got married, and was forced to grow up a lot. This album is a reflection of personal changes I’ve worked through, as well as wonderful things that I have been blessed by. We recorded the album at Smoakstack Studios in Berry Hill. Samuel Hayes and Brendon Hapgood engineered the album, and we co-produced it together. Samuel has been one of my best friends since grade school, and Brendon has quickly become a great friend as well. We set aside four Saturdays last summer and recorded 2-3 songs a day tracking live with the band. The record was mixed by Mitch Dane of Sputnik Sound and mastered by Kim Rosen of Knack Mastering. It was such an amazing experience having so many people contribute their talents!

AnaLee: You play guitar on a real country rocker I recently played from Jack Settle called, “Interstatin’”. Tell us about your collaborations with Jack and how you first met and decided to work together.
Justin: Yeah, we had a blast recording that one! I played on the rest of his album and I can’t wait for it to come out. Jack and I met back in 2018 at church. Quickly after that, we started collaborating together and haven’t stopped since! I play guitar in his band, and he’s played in mine from time to time. We’ve written together, played in the same rock band, and been doing an annual co-headlining house show tour since 2020. Jack is such a good friend, and I hope we continue to work together for a long time!

AnaLee: Tell us about this live performance of Childish Ways, is this your regular live band? Would you introduce us to them?
Justin: This performance is from MTSU’s music show The Wave. Most of the band playing on this is my regular crew, but we’ve grown a bit since then. My current lineup is Massimo DiStefano on drums, Jakob Willkomm on Bass, Brian Connelly on electric guitar, Matt Lale on keys, and my wife Audrey Schumacher singing harmonies. These guys are so insanely talented and are such a joy to make music with!

AnaLee: Do you have any shows around town, or a tour planned? Any other projects you’re working on you want to tell us about? Thanks for talking to me, Justin!
Justin: Yes! I am playing a release show tonight at the Mockingbird Theater in Franklin at 7pm. Jack and I will be doing another house show tour this summer which will be announced soon, and I’ve got some local shows lined up this summer that will be on my website when they are announced. Thanks for having me, Ana!

“Childish Ways”

Ana Lee is the host and producer of "The Local Brew," a weekly radio show plus a live showcase for Nashville based artists. She hosts mid-days on 89.5 WMOT Roots Radio, Nashville, is a voice over artist and curator of musical experiences for events.
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