Doug Briney embodies all things country: His personality is warm and inviting, some would say down-to-earth, recalling the disposition of many a Southern Gentleman from yesteryear. With a 2013 Independent Country Music Association Award, eight months on the Roots Music Report charts, international airplay and live performances at CMA Fest, Rodeo Alaska, The Iditarod, The Grinder’s Switch Hour, Alaska State Fair, and Dan McGuiness’ on Music Row, among countless others, this God-fearing road warrior, with the warm baritone voice and love for all things southern, has released his aptly titled Super Country Cowboy. On this album, Doug has created a tasteful blend of yesterday’s traditional country roots and today’s radio-friendly contemporary sounds, to invoke all the best that is American: Love of God, Family and the US of A.
An ordained pastor, Doug also served at the Cowboy Church of Anchorage, Alaska, prior to his family’s relocation to Music City, USA. He is currently serving as a pastor with North Pointe Community Church in Old Hickory, TN. In fact, it’s his unwavering faith and love of country music that has led Doug on his journey.
In an exclusive interview with Jamsphere Doug gets down to brass tacks about the music business, his craft and his mission.
1. How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?
Doug Briney: I’ve been singing in front of people since I was two years old. I grew up singing in church and was performance music major in college. I branched out of the church about 10 years ago and got involved with a local country competition sponsored by a radio station in Anchorage where we lived at the time.
2. Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
Doug Briney: My earliest influences musically were Eddie Arnold, Kenny Rogers, Lee Greenwood, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers and Alabama.
3. Which artists are you currently listening to, and is there any one of these you’d like to collaborate with?
Doug Briney: I listen to a lot of different artists now, my favorites are Ronnie Dunn, Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, Chris Young and Sugarland. If I could do a duet with anyone, I would choose Jennifer Nettles. I’m amazed at her talent, performance and the way she seems to draw the very best out of those she performs with.
4. An ordained pastor, how do you coordinate/divide your pastoring duties with/from your music career, or do the two actually work together side by side?
Doug Briney: I have ADD so for me jumping back and forth between projects/tasks works. I don’t know that it is really a coordinated thing, it just happens. I enjoy being busy and my mind stays sharper when I am busy. So for me they do work side by side.
Doug Briney: I don’t know that I consider it to be either a disadvantage or advantage. It is who I am and people either accept it or they don’t. I’m sure it does turn some off but I know there are many who appreciate the fact I stand for something. I think as a performer who works hard to honor God in my music and in my life I offer things that many other performers don’t. Example, I show up on time, I am always ready, I treat people with respect and show up sober. I think all those things are a good thing and the venues I’ve worked with and other performers I’ve worked with seem to really appreciate those things. Overall will it help or hurt me with the “Gate Keepers” of this industry; I like to think it will help in the long run.
6. Live gigging or studio work, which do you prefer and why?
Doug Briney: I really enjoy both, but for me there is nothing like being in front of a live audience. The instant feedback the emotions that can be seen in the faces, I love it.
7. Tell us something about your songwriting processes. Do you lock yourself up in a room and ‘work at it’ or do songs arrive while you’re busy doing other interesting things?
Doug Briney: Again, I’m a bit ADD, so locking myself in a room with out anything other then one thing to do is kinda a bad thing and nothing really gets done. I find I can focus about 15 -20 minutes at a time on any one project before I need to take a break and do something else. It isn’t really that the songs arrive while doing something else it just seems to give my brain a rest in that area and when I come back I come refreshed and ready to hit it hard again.
8. On which one of your songs do you personally think you delivered your best performance so far, from a technical and emotional point of view?
Doug Briney: That’s really a hard question. I truly think it depends on the night and the crowd. I get a sense of where they are and what they are enjoying and that helps me to perform better. “I Get To” is probably one of the songs that is very consistent and then the cover song “Believe.” I have a very deep emotional connection to each song.
9. Could you tell us something about the recording and production of the album “Super Country Cowboy”?
Doug Briney: Well something not many people know is when I flew down from Alaska to Oklahoma to record the project, I arrived in Oklahoma City Monday late afternoon and was set to be in the studio on Wednesday morning. The problem was when I landed, allergies or something got me bad and I could not even talk. Tuesday I could hardly whisper and Wednesday morning it was all I could do to squeak. So the project was recorded over two long days in the studio the longest being on Friday. It was pretty stressful for me not knowing if I was going to be able to do it or not.
10. If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you day after day to stay in this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion, hysteria or pride etc., and why?
Doug Briney: I would say, desire. The desire to provide for my family and so that my wife could work because she wanted to not because she has to, to be able to tell my kids, yes you can go to the waterpark with your friends instead of sorry guys, I can’t afford it is what drives me. Desire not for crazy wealth or to be the biggest name in country but to provide for my family a comfortable life and for my music to be the best it can be.
11. What aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites or stimulates you most?
Doug Briney: LOL- the possibilities are endless. I love that. Today I’m barely making it by, tomorrow could be different.
12. What aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process discourages you most?
Doug Briney: Seeing great artists with incredible talent passed over in this industry because they are too old, too out of shape, not “marketable” enough. That isn’t just the indie side but I think the entire industry and it truly drives me crazy. The reality TV shows that are supposed to be about talent are really about what the producers think they can sell not about talent.
13. How involved are you in any of the aspects regarding your musical career (recording, producing, and marketing processes etc.)
Doug Briney: On my first project I did everything, from the picture on the cover to the cover design, song selection and you name it. My latest project I was blessed to be able to sign with Tate Music Group and have team working with me. I still chose the cover pic, still chose the songs but have a great manager that helped me find music that I could choose from. Ultimately the choices that have been made really have been my own all along the way, the difference now is I have people I trust and respect helping me make those choices.
14. What do think is the best piece of advice in this business you received and actually followed so far, and one piece of advice you didn’t follow, but now know that you should have?
Doug Briney: Move to Nashville, would be the best. My music had really gone as far as I could take it living in Alaska. Honestly I don’t know that I have not followed any advice that would have been good for me. I’m sure there is something but I really don’t focus on what is past.
15. At this point, as independent artist, is there any aspect or element you consider exclusive to Major label artists that you desire and feel will undeniably benefit your future?
Doug Briney: This industry is really being shaken right now, major labels are being forced to change how they do business, the offers that are being made now are not what they once were. I would say the biggest advantage with a major label is the financial backing getting music to radio. I can’t say it is exclusive at all, but it is much more doable for those with deeper pockets. Radio drives sales, drives concert attendance, drives this entire business and yet that is changing, Spotify, Pandora and others are putting pressure on radio like they’ve never faced. But right now, I think that is the biggest advantage of a big label.
16. Do you consider Internet and all the new technology, as fundamental to your music, or indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre copy-and-paste artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
Doug Briney: I think real talent will always rise to the top over time. I think the internet and other technology is the wave that the music industry as a whole are struggling with how to survive with. Yes, it is very fundamental to my music and I think to anyone getting into this industry or wanted to survive in this business.
17. Ccould you tell us about your work with ‘Bright Star International’, the ‘Heart Songs For Veterans’ and also the donating 100% of proceeds from the sale of the single, “Unknown Soldier” to Operation Troop Aid.
Doug Briney: The military is very dear to my heart. I have a tremendous respect and love for our men and women who serve. Bright Star International, Heart Songs for Veterans and Operation Troop Aid are all tools that I use to show my appreciation for our military. I wanted to say thank you in a big way to our troops and partnered with Operation Troop Aid and am donating 100% of the profits of “Unknown Soldier” to them from Memorial Day all the way through Labor Day as a way of showing my support for them.
18. You have a history of playing touring camps, churches and conferences across the US. What do feel about the ‘stardom’ shortcuts currently available to artists – like winning The X-Factor or The Voice etc.?
Doug Briney: We’ve all seen some artists do well after winning one of those shows and some artists struggle after winning. So what is the difference? I think it really does boil down to being prepared as a person and as an artist and being grounded with great people around you that support you as well as tell you some things you may not want to hear. There is really no such thing as instant success, but these programs are about the closest thing to it there is and I really think some are ready for it and others aren’t. Would I like to be on one and have the success a show like the Voice could bring, absolutely, but I also believe I’ve paid my dues and am grounded well enough to handle the stress and fame that winning a show like that would bring.
19. What do you think is the biggest barrier you have to face and overcome as an indie artist, in your quest to achieve your goals and attain any significant commercial success?
Doug Briney: I really think my biggest barrier is a financial one. I need to be able to get my music to radio. Radio campaigns are expensive and finding a investor or sponsor who believes enough in me to help make that happen I think is my biggest hurdle. I’m working right now on a financial plan to get my music to radio.
20. You’ve already won some awards. Is going Platinum or winning a Grammy important in your scheme of musical things? And if you were forced to settle for only one choice, which of the two would you ultimately prefer and why?
Doug Briney: The awards are incredible, yes they mean a lot to me. To be recognized by my peers and fans is very gratifying. Platinum or Grammy… LOL… interesting question. I guess for me platinum would be my choice. I mean, if the album did that then I think a Grammy wouldn’t be far behind.