Interview with Justin Biltonen
Justin Biltonen became a name to know as the bassist for alt-rock tastemakers 3 Doors Down. Touring globally as a member of one of the genre’s most timeless bands, Justin was able to support numerous chart topping albums, including Us And The Night, which peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Rock Chart. A career changing moment for Justin Biltonen, Us And The Night was the first major release he both wrote and played on in-studio.
Having earned the courage and credentials, Justin began indulging his longtime love of country music and officially announced his solo project with the singles “Use You” and “How A Man’s Made.” Biltonen marked his terrestrial radio debut with the follow-up single “She’s Got the Highway”, which he credits with solidifying his stance as a member of the country music community. With only more music to look forward to!
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I grew up in a very musically supportive family. Always had country and rock growing up. I was a huge Elvis fan and wanted to sing and play like him when I was little. My Dad was always singing country which at the time was those 90s greats like Alan Jackson, Shenandoah, Little Texas and Diamond Rio.
I guess if I wasn't doing music full time I’d really throw myself into my SilverWork or do something with history. Josh Gates on Expedition Unknown has my dream job haha.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I like doing physical stuff or getting outside, working out, playing golf and hiking. I’m also a silversmith and that takes up a lot of my time creating jewelry for folks.
How long has music been your career?
Professionally 10 years but I started touring in bands in late 2003 so close to 20
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
NASHVILLE TN, it’s had a huge influence on my writing and recording, it’s the best of the best here and that old saying “iron sharpens iron” is extremely relevant to the scene here. You get better by working with the best.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
Worst. Many many years ago at Arlene’s Grocery in NYC, just nothin but assholes at the time.
Best is probably my most recent solo show in Anchorage Alaska. Huge crowd was just me with a guitar and my songs and a lot of folks hearing me for the first time but embracing me like I was one of their old time favorites. They connect strongly with my songs and voice and there really is nothing that beats that feeling.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I have a pretty heavy bucket list of venues to accomplish haha but best was probably the Ryman in NASHVILLE. Nothing beats that history.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Eric Church, Turnpike Troubadours, Jason Isbell, Koe Wetzel, George Strait, Randy Rodgers, Emarosa, Young The Giant, then probably throw a bunch of my friends on there too and have a big time.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Don’t chase fame, do it cause you love making music and love performing for folks. Focus on that and positive things will follow.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Invest in bitcoin and apple
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I’ve got 4 right now, She's Got The Highway, Heartache Rodeo, Caroline and Someday Cowgirl. 2 aren’t released yet but they just give me all the feels and when I play them live folks really connect with me.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Heartache Rodeo and She’s Got The Highway.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
I get a lot of inspiration while driving to and from shows or traveling, it seems like things just hit me differently then. Little words or phrases end up in my notes and just snowball from there.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I like storytelling a lot so I try to tell a story in my songs. Whether it’s heartbreak or love.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
Of course, I think it’s human to disagree, I’ve always been pretty good at putting my ego aside and doing what’s best for the song and think that’s important. Do that enough and you’ll know when the right time to fight for your opinion is and when to let someone else’s idea win cause it’s probably the better of the two.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Releasing an EP really soon as well as 5 more singles after. Lots of shows and just keep grinding. I really wanna get more shows opening for bigger acts and folks that I look up to. Also always posting new SilverWork for sale on my socials!