October 2016 William Michael Morgan interview by Todd Jolicoeur, photos by mintypics.com
Country new-comer William Michael Morgan is blazing trails with his Number 1 single "I Met A Girl" while bucking the trend of modern radio country, leaning heavier on the classic country sound,. but it is just a part of who William Michael is... speaking with him on the phone, you get instantly understand the humble guy behind the music and the image. He speaks highly of his peers, his influences, his team, and his family (especially his Momma). Read all about our recent conversation here...
Toddstar: Thank you so much for taking time out for us William Michael, we really appreciate it.
William Michael: Oh man, goodness. Thank you bud, this means the world to me.
Toddstar: There is so much going on in the world of William Michael Morgan right now, but let's start with the debut album Vinyl. This thing came out just about two weeks ago.
William Michael: Yes.
Toddstar: How's the response been on your end so far?
William Michael: Oh man, so far it's been really great, you know. That's what I really look forward to when I put this album out was getting response from the fans that we've made along the way and the new fans that are coming in, and of course or peers in the music industry, from writers to singers to other artists. You only get one first impression you want to make it the best you can possibly make it.
Toddstar: Sure. With Vinyl, did this come out the way that you envisioned it when you first stepped into the studio wanting to put together your album?
William Michael: I think it came together as close to what we had imagined as possible, yeah. I think we put a lot of time into the picking of the songs and the singing of the songs, even the writing of some of them. Again, you only get one first impression, you know?
Toddstar: Sure. In this day in age to find an album actually called Vinyl to me was quite the play on words.
William Michael: Yeah it's actually the first time ever you can download Vinyl.
Toddstar: Exactly. You have a great single off this called "I Met A Girl" that has spent a lot of weeks on the radio.
William Michael: Yes sir.
Toddstar: Your first Number One single, what's that like for a performer?
William Michael: Man, I'll let you know when it sinks in. It hasn't sank in yet, you know, we've just... Of course we had time to celebrate and we haven't had the actual industry number one party yet and whatnot, but I'm really looking forward to that. What means the world to me is I got to spend a little bit of that time finding out with my parents, and my family, and my immediate team as well, from management to people like that. That's what meant the world to me was being able to see my mom's face when I told her that we could possibly have a number one tonight, you know?
Toddstar: Family seems to be very important to you. How big an influence were they while you were trying to break out into the Country scene?
William Michael: Well you know you hear people say they wouldn't be anywhere without their parents, obviously that's true, but I think it speaks a lot from me to say that because I really wouldn't, man. My parents gave up a lot of time and money that they didn't have; still don't have, to try to chase this crazy dream of mine with me. They would drive hours and hours with me, because at the time I wasn't old enough to drive, and they would take me to these Honky-Tonks, and fairs, and festivals, and bar rooms, and just really anywhere that ten people may have the chance to hear me. They believed in me and they still believe in me. At that early age, there's a little ole snot nose kid running around wanting to sing some George Jones and Merle Haggard. You know, they had to definitely keep their faith, and they did. I thank them so much every day for that. I actually just got to see them yesterday with my daughter. I got to hang out with all three of them at the same time. That doesn't happen often as busy as we are. I soaked all that in and it just means the world to me, bud.
Toddstar: That's awesome, man. William Michael, you mentioned the names Merle Haggard and George Jones, and I know you're also a big Keith Whitley fan. As you know, a lot of artists mention them as influences, but not many stay true to that kind of old school country sound like you do. Is that something that you strive to hang on to and not jump on current trends with the radio friendly country?
William Michael: You know, country music is country music, it's just a matter of how you present it, and produce it, and put it out there. Our style is our style and that's what makes us us. This guy’s style is that guys, and that guys style is that guys, everybody has their own way of doing it. Those people that paved the way for us like Haggard and Jones, and Keith Whitley they stuck true to what they believed in and I look up to them for that. I try to model myself off of that as well as the music. You know, doing something that I believe in. Luckily enough I've got a great team from Warner Brothers, you know Warner Music Nashville, the whole staff over there, to my management and producers, everybody that supports me and wants the same goal as I do.
Toddstar: Throwing names like Haggard, Jones, Whitley out there as influences, but in your performance you can pick up on other influences. Were there any rock influences that you kind of weave into what you do as well?
William Michael: Yes sir, a little bit. My dad was a big rocker. He still loves AC/DC, Journey, Pink Floyd, I don't know how rocking Pink Floyd is I suppose that depends how you spend your evening, I suppose. He just loved that kind of music, so of course I was listening to that as well. We through a little, usually in our show we always throw an old Georgia Satellite song out there. Sometimes we'll throw some Kentucky Headhunters, some of that old southern rock. Being from Mississippi I grew up on that as well. It's not all ballads, and when you think of traditional country sometimes people can get confused. It's not all that. We're doing some Waylon Jennings. We're tipping our hat to the Hag, of course, but we're keeping it upbeat you know. We go out there and we rock it out and have a great time and feed off that energy of the crowd. That's what it takes.
Toddstar: Anybody who checks out Vinyl or goes to YouTube and looks you up, they'll definitely see that you do keep that rock influence in your music. You're heading out on tour. You're going to be out with Justin Moore on his tour.
William Michael: Mm-hmm.
Toddstar: I will get to see you since you are hitting home with me and also with one of the guys in your crew on a headlining date. You're playing the World Famous Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan.
William Michael: Yes, yes, and oh man I've never been there. I've been to Flint but I've never been to The Machine Shop. I've heard story after story after story of this place. They're for the most part good. They're all great, great stories.
Toddstar: Yeah, I'm sure Sarge has a story or two.
William Michael: Yeah, Sarge is working with us man. He's one of the best guys out here on the road. He gets it all done. That's what I'm so thankful for, is my team. Sarge, to my management, to everybody on my team, to people that just are friends of mine. I've been so blessed with a good core of people.
Toddstar: Looking back, if you could think back William Michael, what was the first album you bought? We talk about Vinyl, we talk about downloads, but what was the first album you remember plunking your own hard earned money down for?
William Michael: I remember the first album I got was Marty Robbins Greatest Hits. I was younger when I got that, that wasn't my own hard earned money. You're going to laugh at me when I tell you what I bought for the first time with my own money. I bought Barry White's Greatest Hits.
Toddstar: How often do you get out there on stage and croon some Barry White? (laughs)
William Michael: (laughing) Not often, more behind the scenes and on the bus kind of deal.
Toddstar: If there was a cover that you could do, or that you guys screw around with when you're not in front of a crowd that you think would absolutely go over well, but would surprise your audience, what would that be?
William Michael: I mean we listen to a lot of stuff man. I especially listen to a lot. I listen to every genre of music. I love, obviously, I love Barry White. I love George Jones. I love George Straight to Pink Floyd to Frank Sinatra, you know? I think something that would throw people off a little bit is if we did a little Frank Sinatra in our show. Obviously we don't have the big band style band but it'd be cool to do something like that, I think.
Toddstar: Again, Vinyl just got released and you've got "I Met a Girl" which is just blowing up everywhere. Are you even thinking, "What's the next step?" You hear a lot of artists talk about, "You've got your whole life to record your first album, but then you got to start settling into your second." Are you just really writing away?
William Michael: Oh yeah, man, we're not wasting any time. We're already taking meetings to listen to songs. I'm fixing to get back in the swing of writing again, I've kind of taken a little break the past couple months, just to kind of refresh myself. It's an ever-growing process. We just work, and work, and work, and try and take it all in as much as we can.
Toddstar: Again, with that Number One single and with an album that's just blowing up, did you ever think when you were just a kid going around and gigging with the old country classics from Haggard and Jones, did you ever think "I'm going to be able to nail down a Number One one day"?
William Michael: I always hoped and I always dreamed of it. I never fathomed it. Heck, I still haven't fathomed it. It still hasn't become a reality for me yet as far as sinking it. It hasn't really sank in quite yet.
Toddstar: When it came time to put together your album, what's the one thing you thought to yourself, "This is what I don't want to do"?
William Michael: Man, I didn't want to give in. I don't want to conform to what society has made a lot of us; you know... I don't want to conform to what everybody else is doing. Nothing bad about that, I just think that everybody's handling that already. I wanted to do something different, you know? It's not even that it's different; it's just different for today's time. You know, we're just wearing a cowboy hat and tipping our hats to working men and women out there and the people that paved the road for us as far as Haggard, and Jones, and all my influences.
Toddstar: Listen man, as someone who digs the single, and I dig the album, I'm so glad you are bringing classic country back to modern country in my mind. You're putting that good ole boy spin back into music that has taken over the airways.
William Michael: Well thank you. it's not like we had a big fight or anything about it. You know, the label and my whole team, you know, they support what we're doing. For that, it's unbelievable in itself, that we've got such a great... It's a blessing really that we've got such a great support system, that we've got such a great team that supports what we do. They get what we do, and they love what we do, and they push it. They back us up on what we want to do. I'm on a label that has people from Blake Shelton, to me, to Big Smo, Cole Swindell, Frankie Ballad, and all those cats you know. They're all doing their own thing and it's all working out for them. I think Warner Brothers is the best at letting their artist do what they want to do, of course obviously within reason. Of course, yeah I mean we can't just do whatever we wanted to do, but within reason, and they support us.
Toddstar: That's awesome. Listen I know you're a busy man so I've got one more for you before you go. You mentioned a lot of people on your label, and you've mentioned influences and things like that, and you've played festivals, you've played on a lot of stages with a lot of big artists, but when was the last time you were star struck and by whom?
William Michael: Oh man, I got to meet Garth. I got to open up for Garth Brooks just a few weeks ago, I guess, in Fresno, California, and I got to meet him before the show and I could hardly form a sentence. He walked in, "Hey William, how you doing?" I said, "Uh, nice to meet..." you know, "Nice to meet you bud" Kind of thing. I'm sure I made a fool out of myself meeting him, but that was probably the most recent. I get that way a lot because I'm a fan, first and foremost of music, of country music especially. For me to be able to do these shows with some of these newer artists and open up for some of my heroes like Garth, or we just opened up for Alabama, people like that, that means the world to me. That means so much to me. I'm the type of person that I look at my phone and Granger Smith which has become a really great friend of mine, "Oh Granger Smith texted me" or "Cole Swindell texted me." I'm the guy that of course puts the phone in the middle of the table so everybody can see it. I'm that guy. I'm that guy. I'm a fan first and foremost.
Toddstar: That's awesome. It's good to see the humility.
William Michael: Well, you know I've got a mama that would whoop my butt if I tried to do otherwise.
Toddstar: That's awesome. Listen man, I know you're busy so I'm going to cut you lose, but I look forward to seeing you at The Machine Shop, the world famous Machine Shop in Flint Michigan on November 12th.
William Michael: Yes sir. I can't wait bud. You said you're going to be there.
Toddstar: I'll definitely be there.
William Michael: Well come on man. I'll have you a cold beer waiting.
Toddstar: Sounds good brother. Talk to you in a couple weeks.
William Michael: Yes sir. Thank you so much again for this bud, means the world to me.
Toddstar: All right man. We'll talk to you soon.
William Michael: Yes sir, thank you buddy. Be safe.
WILLIAM MICHAEL MORGAN LINKS: