When country music’s The Band Perry earned a trio of awards at the recent Country Music Association awards, Hoosier guitarist Thom Daugherty was right there with them, on stage and off. The former guitar player for The Elms caught on with the Perry siblings last year and has toured nearly non-stop since.
As the band won trophies for Song of the Year and Single of the Year for the tune “If I Die Young” and for Best New Artist, Daughtery played at the nationally-televised event, and hung backstage with some of the biggest names in country music.
I caught up with the guitarist after the show, and he talked of another tour, working on a new solo album for his former Elms partner Owen Thomas, and sharing a dressing room with Kenny Loggins.
ROB: You were at CMA Awards for your band’s big night. What did that feel like?
Thomas Daugherty: I might be wrong about this, but I think we also played the CMAs last year. We’ve played several award shows in the past 12 months – the CMAs, the ACMs, the ACAs, possibly a few others made up out of a some combination of the letters A, C, and M – I can’t keep them all straight.
They’re always extremely organized; everything runs down to the minute.
And the vibe at the award shows is always fantastic, like a reunion. You get to see all of your friends from other bands that you played shows with all year. We shared a dressing room with Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and Kenny Loggins last night, and since we toured all summer with Luke Bryan’s band on the Tim McGraw tour, the room felt like home.
ROB: Run into heroes? How were some of them treating you?
TD: There are so many fantastic guitar players in Country music – it’s mind-blowing. Guys who’ve done it for years and represent the best of our craft. Being a hired gun still feels like a new experience for me, so I’m always inquisitive, and they don’t seem to mind pointing the way and letting me benefit from their experiences. I’m always wondering what I can do to go next level in my playing, so who better to ask than them?
Also, being as interested in sonics and production as I am, I think the coolest thing has been getting access to guys like Justin Niebank and Niko Bolas, to name a few. Hearing them explain how they like to mic guitar cabs, or EQ a snare drum.
ROB: What do you like about performing with The Band Perry and where does it go from here?
TD: The Perry’s have been great to work for, and it’s wild that with as great of a year as they’ve had, they’re still growing. Getting to be a part of that has given me the chance to do some stuff I thought I’d never get to do. My girlfriend jokes that she gets to see me on TV more than she gets to see me in person.
I think the greatest perk about all of this for me though is the people – the Perrys, the other guys in the band (Boone, Fitz, and Andy), and all of the other players that we run into on the road. The people involved are usually my favorite thing about anything.
This year was pretty busy, but I think 2012 looks like it’ll be even busier. In January, we start several months of touring with Brad Paisley.
ROB: How did you get this gig?
TD: I’ve known Kimberly for a few years now. She and Reid used to come see The Elms play anytime we were in Nashville. After The Elms final show last year, they asked if I’d be interested in filling in with them for a few months. Then one night after a show in Florida, their dad called to say, “We’ve auditioned about 15 other guitar players, and we just wanted to know if you’d be interested in sticking around and being our guy?”
ROB: Any other stories from closer to home I need to relay to Indiana
TD: I’m excited, and relieved, that The Elms released “The Last Band On Earth” DVD. I think I was worried that, with everybody else working on it as hard as they were, I was going to be the one guy who screwed things up and held back its release. Not being home that often, I just sorta resolved that the only way I’d get my part of it done would be to work on it from the road. Every spare minute I had out here the past couple of months, I worked on it. And now it’s done, it came out November 25th, and I hope people will check it out. Owen and I poured a lot of heart into it.
I also spent the past year producing a record for my buddy Jason Aaron Coons, and we’re almost finished with that as well. Jason’s got an incredible voice, made a killer record, and it looks like a lot of people are lining up to help him out. Really proud of him and hoping I can do my part to get him heard.
And, I’m really excited that Owen and I will start making his solo record in December. He’s been killing it on the filmmaking front this year, but he’s a tunesmith, and really needs to be making music. If for no other reason, I need something new and good to listen to.