In the earlier part of this century, I discovered the music of Josh Rouse while living in the Bible Belt Buckle of America: Nashville, Tennessee. That’s right. Music City. And from August through the end of 2003, I could not possibly get enough of Seal IV and Josh Rouse’s 1972. Predictably, I tired of Seal IV but 1972 still stays with me…

And every subsequent Josh Rouse release as well.

To me, his music is perfect. It can turn dark into light. There’s humor mixed with epic string arrangements. And, of course, the pedal-steel all over Nashville; just running around, throwing confetti in the air. Every note is thoughtful.

Josh Rouse was born in Nebraska (yes, in 1972) then moved to Nashville to begin his music career in the late 90’s. After a few records, Rouse moved to Spain in 2004. He continues to split time between Europe and the States, all while still writing and recording music. Thirteen full studio albums, numerous EP’s… and I’ve listened to every single track. 

I’m no professional album reviewer, not even a musician. Placing Rouse’s music into the proper genre bucket has never been easy for me. There’s “folk”, “alt country” and “indie pop” and I just don’t really know what those words mean. 

I think his music is lovely. “Lovely”, is that genre?

Graciously, Josh Rouse agreed to answer a few questions ahead of his show tonight at Heights Theater.

BylineHouston: How would you describe the evolution of your music making? Starting at 1972 and arriving at The Holiday Sounds of Josh Rouse, what’s changed throughout those recording experiences?

Josh Rouse: I have made recordings by different methods. Everyone playing at the same time, things recorded one at a time or several people tracking together over what I have already done. I still pick up a guitar and sing the blues!!!

BylineHouston: Since releasing Nashville, you’ve spent a significant part of your life living and playing in Europe. What are the differences in performing there versus here in the United States?

Josh Rouse: No big differences. Sometimes the places are nice sometimes they are not. In northern europe they have invested a lot of money in venues and catering etc. so that can be comforting whilst traveling everyday. The UK has some nice churches but it’s always cold in them.

BylineHouston: What’s an instrument you wish you could play but cannot (yet)?

Josh Rouse: Well . I’d like to play trumpet.

BylineHouston: Is there a story behind how Cameron Crowe came to put “Directions” onto the Vanilla Sky soundtrack?

Josh Rouse: No, only that he was using it in the scene while filming and it ended up staying.

BylineHouston: If I was building a playlist for a dinner party, “Under Cold Blue Stars” is probably my first three songs. What’s the first three songs on your dinner party playlist?

Josh Rouse: Anything with Chet Baker on vocals and usually Antonio Carlos Jobim and Miles Davis. Julie Lindon as well.

BylineHouston: What non-musical influences do you most often draw upon when songwriting?

Josh Rouse: Well I always try to think in colors with lyrics and chords so any kind of visual art is inspirational.

BylineHouston: If you could assemble a backing band for your next tour using only animals, what animals would be in the band and what instrument would each play?

Josh Rouse: Black bear on the bass, chimpanzee on the drums, llama on the piano and tiger on guitar.