CST:You've talked at length previously about the sort of long and winding road between the time that the first release was recorded and the time that it came out. Obviously there were a lot of things that happened during that time, professionally and personally. Would you say that the process of recording and releasing the second album has been a lot more compressed?
AN: I was getting really anxious...in getting the second one out too and being impatient. I'm a very impatient person when it comes to knowing that it's time. When I've got the material picked out...I'm ready to go in there, cut it and have the CD out next week. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen that way, and with my tour schedule last year...it was tough to be able to find the time to get into the studio. When I recorded the first CD, I wasn't touring with the band at that time, so we were able to get in there four straight weeks or whatever and knock it out, and it was done.
CST:How many dates did you do last year?
AN:Probably between 50 and 60, which is not a lot, but between going home to Louisiana to visit with my family and being on the road, that makes it kind of hard to pick times to get into the studio. And the studio, they have other artists in there as well, so your timing is a little more limited. And I get a little impatient.
CST:And you of course have three daughters now ...
AN:Yes, I do.
CST:How old are they?
AN:14, 10 and 9.
CST:With your schedule suddenly getting a lot busier, over the last year, year and a half, how have you found the process of trying to balance your professional obligations with your family obligations?
AN:Well, it's not easy because, you know, I am divorced, and my kids are with their dad most of the time. It's not an easy situation, and there's a lot of bitterness over the divorce. It certainly makes it harder for me to work out time to get down there and see my kids. I spend as much time with them as I can because I don't have the free will of being able to see my kids anytime I want to. Anytime I come off the road, I can't just go and see my kids if I wanted to.And so many times that's the case..I do have the time, but because of custody issues it's not possible. So it really does make it harder.
CST: How do you view the next year or so ahead for you? What do you anticipate that it will bring you? What do you hope that it will bring you?
AN: I hope that it will ease up on my time so I can get down to Louisiana and spend more time with my kids in between...it's kind of a catch-22 when you're a new artist, even though I've been out on the road - this is my third year now. If you don't have that many dates, you have to work another job in between. And that's something I've had to do, is work another day job in between my gigs. So that's another reason it makes it harder for me to get home and be with family, but that's what I hope to improve in the next year. I hope to pick up the number of dates that I've got so I can let go of the day job and be able to spend more time...with family, during my time off.
CST:What kind of day jobs have you had to take over the last couple of years in order to support your professional endeavors?
AN: Oh, I've had office jobs with real estate companies, and I've cleaned houses. That's something I'm actually doing right now is cleaning houses. That way it allows me to make my own schedule, and I don't have a boss to ask for time off.
CST: Have you noticed any change in the character of the dates you're going to be doing this coming year, as opposed to the last year or the year before? More festivals, less bars, anything like that?
AN: I really haven't had to do that many bar shows or anything like that. I play the Station Inn (in Nashville) pretty frequently, but I don't really consider that...I guess it is a bar, but...I can see a difference in the type of venues. We're going to be doing a lot of festivals and picking up new festivals that we've never played before, as well as having a great agency like CAA, which books a lot of country artists. They're allowing me to expand a little bit and possibly open for a country act here or there. So with new management and a great booking agency, I think that's a good thing for me to be able to stay with my bluegrass fan base and also hit other audiences as well.
CST:I suppose that raises the dreaded question about a possible move in a more mainstream country direction somewhere down the road?
AN:I can't say that that's gonna happen. I don't know. I certainly don't want to leave my fan base. I hope to always keep my bluegrass fan base because that's where my roots are. I've grown up around bluegrass all my life, so there's certainly no intention of leaving the bluegrass festivals behind. But it would be nice to be able to ride both sides of the fence and to be able to be marketable in other areas...and hit some of that country audience out there that is so hungry for real acoustic country music that you can't hear on the radio anymore.
CST: It's interesting that you're looking ahead in that direction as a possibility, but at the same time, your current record, even with the drummer, is still very strongly rooted in the bluegrass tradition.
AN:Yeah, I agree. I think I read a quote of Carl's in one of the reviews saying, "this album is not strictly bluegrass, and it's not strictly country, but we just wanted to make a great album." I think it's a little of both, and it's a fine mixture. I hope that it's enough of a mixture of bluegrass to keep the bluegrass people on my side, you know, and then bring in some of the country audience too.
CST:How much of an actual dividing line would you say there is between the "bluegrass audience" and the "country audience"?
AN:I don't think there is much of a divider there. I think the people who like the traditional bluegrass stuff are also big fans of the traditional country stuff. If it's good music, it's good music. That's the way I look at it.