Interview with Justin Schools
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I got into music when I was maybe 13 or 14 years old. I bought my own guitar and taught myself how to play in only 4 weeks. I started playing in my church's band on Sundays and then started my own worship band in high school for the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) group. At that point I still had yet discovered that I had a singing voice at all and had asked a girl that I knew who could sing to join the group to sing and play keys. At the time the girl's father was a worship leader at another church so he was sort of mentoring our group and at our first practice when we started playing the first song and nobody came in to start singing we just kind of stopped and looked around at each other and the girls dad asked me if I was going to just stand there or was I going to sing. So he forced me to sing that evening at our first practice and from then on out I’ve had the passion for singing.
I grew up in South Georgia, so there’s a lot of farming and agricultural jobs in the area. If I had not have made the move to Nashville, TN to pursue music as a career I would probably be back in Georgia farming or working a steady job.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
When I’m not playing music you will probably catch me in the woods either hunting or getting ready for whichever hunting season is coming upon next. I also spend a lot of time out on the water whether I’m in a boat fishing or I'm just hanging out by a river or lake. But the place I get the most of my inspiration from is in the driver's seat of my truck. Something about taking a drive just gets my mind working double and most of my song ideas come from taking road trips.
How long has music been your career?
Music has been my career for probably 4-5 years. I spent my time in the early part of my music career in college playing bars and college parties and traveling from town to town playing smaller gigs. I moved to Nashville, TN In December of 2021 and have been writing tons of songs and recording music in the studios.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’m based out of a little unincorporated spot in South Georgia Called Walker’s Crossing. We have one stop sign, a gas station, Dollar General, and a family owned bar that’s been in our family for around 86 years now. We’re also surrounded by thousands of acres of farm land and millions of miles of dirt roads which is a country boy's dream. So growing up the way I did definitely has an effect on the way I listen, write, and sing music.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
The best show that I’ve played would probably be a smaller show that we played back in the town that I went to college in. We Packed out the venue and the crowd and total atmosphere was great. I haven't really had a bad show yet, although one time we started the opening song in a set off in the wrong key and it sounded bad and a few people left but after that everything was smooth sailing.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
My favorite venue so far has been Terminal South in Tifton, GA. The owner is very hospitable, they’re easy to work with as far as getting details laid out and they take care of the band very well. A venue that I'd love to play would be a toss up between three places: The Blue Room in Statesboro, GA, The Warehouse in Athens, GA, and the Crazy Bull in Macon, GA.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I’d love to play a show with either Thomas Rhett or Cole Swindell. Those are both guys that I look up to in country music. And they’re also both Georgia guys as well.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Honestly, I always fall back on the old saying; “Practice makes perfect”. The more that you practice your craft the better you get. Especially personally as a songwriter, when I started writing songs to the songs I’m writing now; there’s a huge difference in the skill level. And there is always going to be someone who is better than you, Don’t let that discourage you. Run your own race and you will shine when it’s your time to.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
The advice that I’d give to my younger self would be to not focus on what other people have going on and to just keep my head in my lane and focus on what I’m doing or trying to do and just go to work.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Of all the songs I’ve written, the one that I always go back and play the most is one called “That’s Why They Call It Fishing”. It's pretty much a story of a young boy going fishing with his grandpa and just going over life lessons. The main lesson in the song is that if everything on earth was perfect then would it really be living life. And that’s where the title comes from, “That’s Why They Call It Fishing” and not catching.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
My upcoming single, “She Feels Like A Small Town”, Gets requested all the time. Its one we wrote a while back and so far everyone loves that song.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
I don’t really have a set creative process, it kind of varies sometimes. Most of the time when I get an idea or a cool phrase that I think is catchy I will write it down in the notes on my phone and go back to it sometime. Then I’ll take that idea into a writing session and run it across whoever is in the room at the time. If they like the idea then we will start thinking a little deeper into the idea and try and get a story built up behind it then figure out a melody to go along with it.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
In my music I like to write songs that people can relate to or have experienced similar situations. I want for my listeners to listen to one of my songs and feel like it was written for/about them.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
Absolutely, all the time. It just comes down to the matter of what’s best for the song to make it the best it can be. Sometimes you have to just suck it up and not have it your way even though you think it might be the best fit lyrically.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
My Plan for the future is to write as many songs as I can and start putting out songs that fit who I am as an artist. That way once I start playing shows the listeners will have something to take home with them other than a good show. They can listen to their favorite songs from the set on their way home or wherever.
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