Johnathan Rice is a phenomenon at age 21. Born to Scottish parents and raised in locations ranging from Scotland to Washington D.C., Rice began writing songs while in his teens. After living and playing in New York for a year, he was about to abandon his ambitions for college when he was offered a deal with Warner/Reprise Records. About to tour for the release of his first full-length album Trouble Is Real, Rice talked with ONE WAY about his life and beliefs.
Rice is a phenomenon at age 21. Born to Scottish parents and raised
in locations ranging from Scotland to Washington D.C., Rice began
writing songs while in his teens. After living and playing in New
York for a year, he was about to abandon his ambitions for college
when he was offered a deal with Warner/Reprise Records. About to
tour for the release of his first full-length album Trouble Is Real,
Rice talked with ONE WAY about his life and beliefs.
You grew up partly in Glasgow, Scotland. Do you feel like America
is a second country to you?
Ive always felt pretty conflicted about that, you know? Ive
always enjoyed both places. But Ive made America my home.
I live in Los Angeles now and before that I was living in New York
Tell me about those musical flashes you had while
I guess what I mean by that is I think theres certain records
that everyone hears - any kind of creative expression - there were
just times in my life where I heard my favorite music for the first
time. Theres nothing quite like hearing your favorite record
for the first time. It will become your favorite record but at the
time, you dont know that. I had one of those experiences the
first time I heard Astral Weeks by Van Morrison.
Whats special to you about Gram Parsons? You took your
album title from one of his songs (Hickory Wind which
Rice covers on Trouble Is Real).
Theres just something about Gram Parsons thats so beautiful
and interesting to me. I think that music is a great place to create
a character for yourself. Gram Parsons is a good example of that.
He was a rich boy who grew up on the citrus plantations of Florida
and ended up going to Harvard University and then reinvented himself
as this cosmic hippie and played country music in a more rock and
You took a year off to go live in New York and get into music
instead of going to college. Was that scary for you?
Not for me. More for my friends and family. I think it didnt
really faze me at the time. I did it without really thinking about
it. I had no plan. I was just there and started to play music.
What was special about working with Mike Mogis (producer of Trouble
Mike is.. a tremendous musical talent in his own right. He plays
so many different instruments - the instrument credits on my album
are pretty shocking. Hes a great musician . . . but hes
also technically brilliant. I was very impressed by Mike because
every record he ever made I really liked.
What is your involvement with the film Walk The Line?
Its a film about Johnny Cash. Joaquin Phoenix plays Johnny,
Reese Witherspoon plays June Carter and I play Roy Orbison. My part
is very small. Of course, my voice doesnt sound like Roy Orbisons
- my voice is about 75 years older!
How did they get you for the part?
Someone involved with the production
saw me when I was on tour. They just picked me for it and I did
it. I pretended I was a movie star for a few weeks and then went
back to being this folk musician who plays in really small clubs.
Now that this album is out though, youll be playing larger
Thats the idea. But the trick is, people have to like it.
People have to come and see you play. Youre only as good as
trouble is real