Written by: Frank Iacono
Derek Crider was born and raised in what he describes as the “backwoods” of southern New Jersey. While growing up Derek was introduced to a variety of musical genres. His mother listened to Elvis, Motown, and the oldies. His father exposed him to a wider range of artists including Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Ronnie Milsap, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard.
In high school Derek listened primarily to 80s rock along with Metallica, Guns ‘n Roses, and country legend Garth Brooks. However, his biggest influence in country music is Toby Keith. Crider loves that Keith records great music, lots of tongue-in-cheek stuff, and doesn’t worry about what people think about him. Like Keith, Crider wants to bring something different to country music. He simply wants to hit the stage, play his music, and share his story with his fans.
With his new EP Lost & Found, Derek combines his childhood influences in southern rock with country. Derek speeds it up on tracks like “Girl Walks a Country Mile,” “Whiskey Burns,” and “Heart Hits the Ground,” he slows it down on “Sweet Emma” and “Something’s Lost,” and he makes it all right to love his brand and style of country music. If he isn’t already, Derek should be on your list as one of the top upcoming artists to watch in 2015 and 2016.
In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Derek Crider and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his love of songwriting and performing, his life as a career musician, his recent performance with Bret Michaels, and his latest EP Lost & Found.
TCS: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician and whom or what would you say inspired you?
Derek Crider: I was around the age of 12 or 13, when I became serious about playing music. My parents listened to a lot of different types of music ranging from Motown to Country when I was growing up, however, I was always a fan of the song more than a particular artist. Some of my early musical influences include Johnny Cash, KISS, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, and Merle Haggard.
TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Derek Crider, how would you describe your musical genre?
DC: I guess I would classify my music as Modern Country Rock. It combines elements of country, rock, and soul. I grew up in the backwoods of Southern New Jersey, and I would spend my summers in Virginia with my grandparents. I feel very blessed that I had the opportunity to visit with them. The more I experienced, the more I had to write about.
TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and how do you think they shaped you both as a singer/songwriter and performer?
DC: As mentioned before, some of my early musical influences include artists like Johnny Cash, KISS, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, and Merle Haggard. All of these artists and bands created great timeless songs and exhibited tremendous showmanship! I am constantly learning new things and being influenced by the places I go and the music I hear.
TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your EP entitled Lost & Found. What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?
DC: I’ve always been a huge fan of the song and songwriting process. In my songs, I like telling a story. That’s why I’m a big fan of Country music. It really allows you to sing about anything and doesn’t put a limit on your lyrical content like other genres of music do. For this EP, I wrote close to 50 songs, we recorded about 13, and I hand-picked the six that appear on Lost & Found. I really had a blast creating the record.
TCS: Can you share with us some details about your Lost & Found CD release party held at the Parx Casino in Bensalem, PA?
DC: It was a short performance for friends and family only, we did it on a Tuesday night due to everyone’s schedule, Parx Casino was gracious enough to open up the 360 club for us on a night when it usually isn’t open. I hand-picked all the musicians for the gig, and the songs went over great live. We played the entire Lost & Found record along with a few unreleased songs and some covers too. It was a great night!
TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of Lost & Found is the track called “Girl Walks a Country Mile,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it and the video concept?
DC: It’s really about having your first crush on a girl, hooking up, and hanging out as Toby Keith would say. LOL. The video script and concept was written and directed by Mike Greenberg. We actually met in Nashville, TN while standing in line to get BBQ at about 1 in the morning down on Broadway.
TCS: Is there a specific message you want your songs to convey to your fans?
DC: The message is simple. Life is short live for today, because you never know what tomorrow might bring. Live in the moment and enjoy it. Don’t be worried about posting it to Facebook.
TCS: Tell us about the background story behind another favorite off of the EP entitled “Whiskey Burns”?
DC: “Whiskey Burns” was written in about 5 minutes up at our studio in Germantown, Pennsylvania. I first performed the song live in Nashville in October of 2014. The song deals with heartache and the realization that the relationship is truly over, but you’re not exactly sure how to get out of the situation.
TCS: How thrilling was it for you to have recently performed with Bret Michaels, the lead singer from Poison, at the Levoy Theatre?
DC: I first met Bret back in 1999 while he was on tour with Poison through a friend. We went to a lot of his gigs, and I got to get to know him a bit. I even got to sing the KISS classic “Rock N Roll All Night” on stage with them back in 2000 down in Delaware. Bret is a very personable person and really takes the time out to talk to people and meet them. I opened for Country singer Tracy Lawrence at the Levoy Theatre back in June, and they asked me to come back to open for Bret. All local openers must be approved by the headliner, and Bret gave me the green light to open. It was funny cause as soon as he walked in the theatre for sound check he started bringing up stuff that I had forgotten about. He mentioned some of the past shows I had been to, pretty amazing stuff considering how many people he meets and shows he does every year.
During his performance that night, he even asked me to come on stage and do a song with him. I suggested “Sweet Home Alabama” which he covers during his set, then he was like why don’t you close the show with me and do “Nothing But A Good Time.” There’s not too many headliners that would ask you to come up on stage and close the show with them. I thought that was very cool of him. The show was great, everyone had a blast. Bret is an amazing human being, and one of the coolest cats I’ve ever got to hang with. I am looking forward to playing at the Levoy Theatre in Millville NJ again soon. It’s an amazing venue!
TCS: Describe for us the song writing and recording process behind the single entitled “Heart Hits The Ground”?
DC: “Heart Hits The Ground” was a song that I had floating around for a while, I cut it a few years back with another producer and was very unhappy with the final mix, so I shelved it. When I started doing this record, I knew I had to re-cut the track my way. I think my producer Andrew Owens was very skeptical about the song initially, but he did an amazing job putting the song together. I think it’s one of the best songs on the EP.
TCS: What’s the most unusual place that you’ve played or made a recording? And, how did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?
DC: Back in the day, we played a couple of strip clubs. Needless to say, those gigs were always very interesting.
TCS: In what ways do you market your appearances, sell merchandise, and stay connected to your fans?
DC: Truly, the best way to find out information about Derek Crider, upcoming appearances, and merchandise is by visiting the following links:
- Derek Crider Website
- Derek Crider Facebook
- Derek Crider Google +
- Derek Crider Instagram
- Derek Crider Twitter
- Derek Crider YouTube
TCS: Is there a particular venue that you’ve always wanted to play? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?
DC: I don’t really have any particular venues in mind, I would just like to get on the road and play in as many venues as I can. As far as performers go, there’s so many. I would love to jam with The Rolling Stones, Brian May of Queen, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Bruce Spingsteen, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, gosh there are literally so many.
TCS: What famous song do you wish you had been credited with writing and performing?
DC: The song “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.
TCS: Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What’s one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?
DC: Edwin McCain, an amazing songwriter and very under the radar, has so many great songs. One of my favorites from him is a track called “Gramercy Park Hotel.” Another artist that I really love is Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song is a great album by him.
TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Derek Crider?
DC: I have a ton of gigs booked now through the end of the year. We’re also planning another EP release in the Fall/Winter. Additionally, we want to cut a few more music videos, possibly one for “Friday Night Lights.” I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing some cool original music for the people that want to hear it!
Song List on Lost & Found (2015)
- Girl Walks a Country Mile
- Friday Night Lights
- Whiskey Burns
- Sweet Emma
- Heart Hits the Ground
- Something’s Lost
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About Frank Iacono
Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.
Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.