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Stegall wears musician hat this time

By Richard McVey II, March 1996

Page 2...

What, in your mind, makes this album different?

Probably the songs. (Laugh) This record is pretty much a grown-up record. I did pay attention, because there are some things that obviously work for radio. That's part of the whole thing. You've got to get your music heard. Somebody asked me not too long ago, "Why do you want to do this thing and be a star again?" I said, "It's not about being a star; it's about being an artist." The music to me is more of an artistic impression of things I really needed to say for my own head and make the music from that place instead of, "Well, let's have a hit record and do this and sell T-shirts." Not that that stuff isn't all part of it, but to me it was the chance to make the music that I really wanted to make and not compromise it.

Do you have an advantage over other acts because you hold an executive position with the label that you also have a deal with?

Only to the degree that I watch what's going on, but I don't have any secret buttons to push. I wish I did. I'd be pushing them. Only to the extent that I'm allowed to see how hard everybody has to work to get a hit. Most of these people are my friends around here. It's tough for anybody though. Sometimes I wonder if it's not even tough for me after being out there and doing it the second time around.

As the vice president of A&R, would you sign yourself?

That's kind of like asking yourself if you would hire yourself. Probably not because you know what your weaknesses are....That's a hard question because you can't be objective. I probably wouldn't because I'd go, "I know what you'll do when you get in this situation."

If you had to prioritize all the things you're doing as far as singer, songwriter, producer and so on, where do those fall?

Above all these other things, before I am a producer or an A& R guy, I'm a songwriter first because that's what brought me to town. I still believe that old saying, "Dance with the one that brought you." It's the one thing that insures my sanity. If the world should fall apart on me tomorrow, I can always write a song and know that I can always survive in this business as a songwriter. After that, it would be a selfish thing to put my own artistic ambitions above the roster that I've tried to create here. When I came in here my intentions were to help build a roster that would be successful and then launch my own career. I guess being a producer/A&R guy would come in there next. Then my artistry. I kind of put it in it's own proper place until the timing's right.

Are you going to tour at all?

That's been discussed. My feeling about that is this. Touring is an expensive little hobby to have, and without a hit record, unless you just want to go out there and play honky tonks just for the sake of playing. My world really consists of writing and producing and artistry, so to cut into that is defeating the whole purpose of what I'm about. If the record continues to react the way that it's reacting and we get a hit record off it and then the second single seems to do well, then it's time to say, "yeah, let's talk about putting a band together and heading out."

Does a lot of that stem from the first time you had an album out?

Absolutely, man. I learned a lot out there. I learned what not to do. I was out there touring without a hit record, with a bus and band, and I could just feel myself getting crunched out there. The first thing I decided was that I'll never, ever own a bus again. If I ever use a bus again it will be leased, so when it breaks down in the Mojave Desert, you can get on the phone and go, "You've got a bus that's broken down out here. Come get it because I'm gettin' out of here." I learned a lot the first time around.

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