I remember seeing LaRue in concert when I was 21. My single female friends and I all commented how we wanted to meet a guy like Phillip LaRue—who loved God, sang, played guitar, and had cool hair. His sister, Natalie, seemed pretty hip, too. But, really, we were all about the male half of the duo called LaRue. Then, it seemed, the band disappeared.
That was eight years ago, and Phillip LaRue has re-emerged as a [married] singer/songwriter debuting his first solo album, Let the Road Pave Itself (Bec Recordings). Phillip’s song, “Found” has been featured on “One Tree Hill” and “The Ghost Whisperer” and another song has appeared on “Harper’s Island.” Then there’s “Chasing the Daylight” and “Running So Long,” which are fast becoming fan favorites. Such is the power of Phillip LaRue. And, yes, his hair is still very cool. He’s even cooler for agreeing to Take 5 with Backseat Writer.
*You started out singing with your sister, Natalie, in the popular band LaRue and then working on indie projects, but then you left the industry altogether in 2003—why? And what prompted your move to come back?
Well, I didn’t necessarily move out of the industry just in the background a bit. After LaRue I signed a publishing deal with a company based in Nashville which led me to writing and eventually co-producing a compilation record called “The Message Psalms” with Monroe Jones. I got to work with some great artists on the project like Chris Rice, Dave Barnes and Ginny Owens. However, the label that released the project folded a month after the release of the album which struck my heart to its core, but after producing it, I thought about production and artist development.
Thankfully about 6 months after that I met some great guys in a band called Tenth Avenue North and ended up developing and producing them with a friend of mine Jason Ingram in Nashville. Since then I have stayed busy writing and producing for other folks including myself. It does feel a bit strange stepping back into the artist world in some ways but at the same time it is freeing as well because I am less intimidated by it and more excited about connecting with people than any other time of my life.
*Besides being incredibly organic and original, Let the Road Pave Itself, is an intriguing title in and of itself. What does “let the road pave itself” actually mean?
Well, I was struggling back and forth with what step I should take as an artist for a while there. Struggling with questions–Should I stay independent?..Should I sign a record deal? Should I just give up the artist thing and focus my attention writing for folks? My thoughts were like walls around me. But one day I hung out with a good friend of mine named Jeff Balding. I really respect him musically and spiritually and after I told him everything in my mind he sat back with a smile and said “Phillip, you just got to let the road pave itself.” After hearing this something switched in my heart and I began to watch what God was trying to tell me. After I recorded the record, I felt like it would be a perfect title.
* I read that a lot of the songs on the album are first takes, which you didn’t edit. It’s a pretty risky move (which pays off, by the way). But why did you decide to record like this? How did the other studio musicians react to this decision?
I really wanted folks to hear this record and hear my heart. Too many times Nashville can make music too perfect, too on time and too polished. Don’t get me wrong I am a big fan of some pop music, but for me, I knew I needed to record the record as organically as possible. Thankfully, Paul Moak (co-producer) felt the same way as me and we began creating an environment that would suite what we were hoping to capture. A lot of what was captured was in part of how amazing the musicians played on the record. Each one embraced what we were aiming for and gave 100% of them selves.
*”Running So Long” is one of my favorite songs on this album. What can you tell me about it?
It’s a love song in many ways. Too many times in this life I just ran face forward without really knowing what I was aiming for. I wanted to write a song about catching myself in that act and remind myself of what really matters. My wife and I have have been through a lot together through the years and I wanted to try my best to say to Lia, “You’re what matters most” in a different way acknowledging the pain and beauty that we have walked through.
*OK, I noticed in one of your press pictures, that you have tattoos on the inner part of your forearms. What does the lettering say and what is the significance of these tats?
On my right arm it says “Your love is the music of my life”- that is for God. A way of saying I see you everywhere. On my left arm it says- “Lia is the song of my heart”- That is for my wife. A way of saying, “I love you.”