INTERVIEW: Kris Allen chats family, new tunes and this past year!
This next chat took place at the newest venue in Boston, City Winery, where Kris Allen and I sat sunk down into some chairs that looked like they came right out of Game of Thrones. No stranger to the venue, where Allen played one of the very first shows the venue put on just a week or so into being open, he was welcomed back with open arms by the people of Boston with his second Holiday tour. Will it be a traditional thing? Never happen again? Allen wasn’t sure but what he was sure of is new music to come.
It’s been about two years between albums (mind you, he did release two albums in 2016) and in our interview, Allen talked at length about his latest song, ‘When All The Stars Have Died’ inspired by his little girl. In addition, he also spoke of some songs he’s been working on with hopes to release new music in 2019. Because in his words, he doesn’t want fans to think he’s being complacent. I think it’s rather the opposite though considering he spent about thirteen weeks straight out on the road this summer as the special musical guest on this year’s American Idol finalists tour.
As well as diving into his recent songwriting, Allen talked his family and their importance to him as well as how the Idol tour experience wise. Find our chat below and definitely be prepared to see a lot from Allen this next year!
I know this Holiday tour was something you did last year. Was this always something you thought you were going to do, keep this tradition going or did it just happen naturally?
That’s a great question. I don’t know, we did it last year and it was a lot of fun. I don’t know if there was any two year plan on it. Last year it wasn’t like, ‘oh we did this last year’, or when we were doing this last year it wasn’t like, ‘oh we’re going to definitely do this again’. But I think we had so much fun and I like playing the music so much and we put a lot of work into the shows last year. It was like let’s do it again and for me, the thing that I love about this time of year is tradition. Who knows if this show will become that for people but maybe! And that would be really fun. To be able to say that, to be a part of other peoples’ holiday traditions. The show is a lot of fun and I think that people really enjoy coming out.
Then I wanted to ask you, I know you released your first original song since 2016 (“When All The Stars Have Died”), earlier this year.
Has it been that long? It has been.
Two years, that’s not that bad.
But it’s only one song though.
It’s one song so maybe when did you start working on that song? Was it something where it was an older song you had been holding on to, did you have this inspiration to just start sitting down and writing again. How did that really come together?
So time wise, I don’t exactly know when I wrote the song. I think it was this year though, it was earlier this year that I wrote this song. The story behind the song was, so I have two kids, five and two, and my little girl she was running around the house. She’s usually really tough, nothing hurts her no matter what, she has ran into stuff and I’m like oh gosh. And she’s like, ‘I’m okay!’, and I’m like, ‘No you’re not. You’re bleeding out of your face.’ She’s incredibly tough which is awesome. I love that about her. But she had socks on and she was running around, we have wood floors, and she slipped and hit the back of her head and it didn’t seem like it was a big deal. But she did that thing that kids do whenever they cry sometimes where they don’t make a sound. I remember doing it as a child. And I pick her up as she’s doing it and I’m waiting for this really loud screechy sound and she never does it. She passes out in my arms and goes lifeless. Her eyes are open, it was really weird, and it’s happened many times since then. So it’s not a big deal, now we’re like ‘Rosie’s fine, she’s being dramatic.’
But she passed out and came to and she was really upset and while she was passed out for the fifteen or twenty seconds that she was passed out, I got really scared. And I’m holding her and she’s just gone and I had never felt anything like that. It kind of messed with me and made me realize how much I love her so the next day, I wrote that song. And I love that song.
So it was organic, it came natural, it’s not like you were in a writing session and it just came together.
Well, the next day I wrote the chorus and then I think maybe even the day after that I brought that chorus to a friend of mine Gabe Dixon. And I showed him it and he was like, ‘Are you sure you want me to help you write this song?’ and I just responded, ‘Yes please.’ Because it was just a chorus and I didn’t know exactly where to go with it in the rest of it. And he was really, really instrumental in shaping the verses and what they should do chord wise and I think that really makes the song special. I owe a lot to Gabe, that’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written.
Considering how long you’ve been writing music and it has been about two years since the last record, do you think it’s going to be this one off song for now or did it inspire you to pick up the writing again? I know you may not be able to say much.
I wish there was a lot to say, there’s not. Other than that there are a lot of songs I’m really proud of that have not been released. I’m trying to figure out the direction for them if anything. I write a lot but I usually write a lot by myself so there’s not really this vault of songs that I’m sifting through. I feel like I know the good ones and I know how I want them to feel but I’m also just looking for the right direction for them. So it’s taken a little bit. The songs themselves are there. It’s trying to figure out what they should sound like and it’s taking longer then I want it to. But hopefully people are patient.
But I’ve also never taken this time before since I’ve been doing this. I’ve made five albums including the Christmas record which I think because it’s Christmas, some people discount it but it also took a lot of time to make.
You wrote a lot of those songs, a lot of them are originals.
Yeah I wrote a lot of those songs and we spent a lot of time recording them, producing them and all that stuff. And we did that in one year. We put out “Letting Them In” and “Something About Christmas” in the same year. So it’s a lot and believe me, I wish I had been quicker to put out new music but I’ve also never really taken this time to figure out what the next thing should be and I’ve kind of enjoyed it. Probably more then I should but it’s been really nice. But new music definitely in 2019. There definitely will be new music. I don’t know in what form it will be yet, there is a possibility that it could end up being some singles here and there, an EP. I don’t love the idea of an EP, I said it out loud and I was like nah. I am a huge fan of full albums. I really am and I think most music fans are but also the landscape of music is changing. I’m not afraid to put out songs because I think that is kind of the way things are now these days. It’s what people are doing but who knows, maybe it will end up being a full record of seventeen songs.
Seventeen song album! Well you’re a busy guy, you’re a dad and trying to balance music. As you get older, family becomes a big part of it.
They really are! That has become such a huge part of what I do now. Is being a dad. Maybe that sounds weird, like it always should be but my kids are five and two. They need a little more attention so I spend a lot of time with them. My music will last forever but the stuff that I do with my kids and the time that I spend with them, I just feel that that means more then anything else. So I try to spend a ton of time with them and really be there with them. I love being a dad more then anything. It’s so fun. I think I’ve always wanted it, I’ve always wanted to be a dad.
And I’ve interviewed some musicians that have like four kids under the age of seven and they are just constantly on tour. So mad about it, about not being able to be home, and luckily like you they do have a wife and a partner to take care of them. Like one for example, this guy Anthony Green, he was able to fly home for birthdays and he flew home for Thanksgiving but he’s on tour.
He was on tour. Yeah it’s really tough. I mean I was on tour this summer for twelve weeks straight, almost thirteen I think, and that was so hard. I don’t think I could ever do that again because it’s just too much time away from them. They are everything, my whole family. These are my people and life isn’t that great without them. I love spending time with them.
Maybe how was that experience? That’s a real long tour, thirteen weeks. That was obviously a unique experience for you. All of these kids that you did the tour with probably have never toured before. So maybe how was that experience, having you as an alumni of the show, being someone to maybe look to for advice?
I think at first it was interesting, I was feeling them out. Naturally I’m that way. I’m not going to assert myself immediately into a situation and go, ‘Hey, it’s me and I’m Kris and I know what I’m doing! Follow me kids!’ Like that’s not me so I was probably trying to feel out the situation. Because I think even my worrying about doing the tour in the first place is I didn’t want them to be upset that I was on the tour. I know that sounds weird but I didn’t want them to be like, ‘You had your moment, you did your tour, why can’t we have our own?’ And thank god they didn’t feel that way. We all got really close. Obviously they made fun of me quite a bit because I’m quite a bit older then them but I love that. I love it when people ride me and we kind of got to the point in all of our relationships when we were kind of making fun of each other.
But I’ve also realized that I’ve been doing this long enough that I enjoy supporting other artists. And I think the reason is because I came into this situation with none of that. I didn’t have anyone to help me out or look out for me. And maybe you have to search for those types of things but I also didn’t have anyone like saying, ‘Kris, let me know if you ever need anything’. I think because of the way I got into the music industry, it just wasn’t a thing. Alone is the wrong word, I just never had an artist friend to go to and be like ‘Can I get your advice?’ And I think because of that situation this summer where I was just kind of thrust upon them, I became that for them and I love it. I don’t have all the answers for them whatsoever but I do have some. And I also just have an idea of what they’re going through and I can support them. I love them so much and they’re really, really talented. So I hope that I spoke some sort of at least support to them and an okay to do this, keep doing this, don’t get discouraged. Because the way that myself and them got into this thing, it’s a little interesting. And there’s sometimes not a ton of support from the music industry. So if we can support each other, then I think that that really helps out.
Perfect! Then to kind of end it off, you talked about this a little bit. You’re only a few dates into this run of the holiday tour, you mentioned before how hopefully there will be music in 2019. You’re finishing this tour right before the actual holidays. Maybe some focuses or goals for 2019? Considering we are coming to the end of this year.
I think new music is at the top of the list. It is the thing that I think about the most right now. I hear myself crafting songs each day and taking ideas and singing in my head. And I feel like I’m at that point where I’m tired of not having new music. I never have gotten to the point where I hate playing the songs that I’ve already written but I do enjoy playing new songs for people. I love the nervousness of it. Like I did a Writer’s Round in Nashville a couple weeks ago and I think I played a brand new song at it, and it didn’t even feel that great but there was something that I missed about playing new songs for people. And in the nervousness of that, it’s good for me. It’s not a high that I get off it because that’s definitely not the case but there’s something about it. Something new about it and I think something new for the fans too. I want them to feel like I am thinking of them. Because I think that’s sometimes the case when you’re not putting out new music. Sometimes fans go, ‘Well I guess Kris is just out here being complacent and not doing anything’, and that’s not the case but I don’t want them to feel like that. I want them to have something new to hold on too and fall in love with.