Exclusive Interview: Rayland Baxter And His 'Imaginary Man' Tour

“Life on the road is exciting, and I wanna do it as much as I can.”

By Ellis Frederick - Apr 7, 2016
Photo by Ryan Anderson
We sit down with Nashville based singer-songwriter Rayland Baxter, son of Bucky Baxter, to chat his 'Imaginary Man' tour and live music. Rayland Baxter “Life on the road is exciting, and I wanna do it as much as I can.”

A lot of musicians don’t say it, but touring can be really tough. Artists have to deal with being away from home, lack of sleep, van breakdowns, long stretches of driving, and so much more. For Rayland Baxter, none of this seems to be an issue. In fact, he loves touring. “Life on the road is exciting,” he told me, “and I wanna do it as much as I can before the potential days come where I get burnt out on it. Even the hard days, I still have no problem with sitting in the back of the van and smiling because this is my life. It’s a pretty cool life.”

When I spoke to Rayland, I could just tell that he’s just enjoying every moment of his life right now—from thoughtful notes about his destined-to-be band to major excitement over their upcoming festival appearances. Find out more in our interview with singer-songwriter below.

What is your favorite thing to do with you bandmates when you’re in the van together?

Everyone kind of keeps to themselves. You know, every once in awhile we’ll play a video game, usually FIFA Soccer. Donny, our drummer, is an engineer on the side, or he’s drummer on the side. I don't know which one it is. He’s mixing albums in the van on his laptop in the van and he brings his fun little recording unit. As well as one of our keyboard players Jeremy, he’s mixing albums in the van. I’m on the back bench smoking weed and handing another round to everybody and reading books and playing guitar.

You’ve got a pretty full band behind you on stage. How did you choose what instruments and sounds you wanted as part of your live show?

It’s been about a five year process. You gotta have the right feel, you gotta get along with each other. And really, it’s amazing how the six of us have come together. Two other guys were in another band called Soul Cap that dismembered, and they joined my band. And then the bass player was in a band called Desert Noises, and they dismembered, so he joined our band, all within the last year. And then Mr. Jimmy, our other keyboard player, he played on the record. Then when we needed a drummer, his buddy Donny was available. And so it just kind of came together in an effortless way, for the most part. Not counting the the trenches of the previous four years of me figuring out what I was doing with music. Now, with Imaginary Man being out, there was an opportunity to expand the band and decide the sound, and these guys are absolutely amazing musicians. We’re very fortunate it stuck together the way it did. I hope to make music with them and tour with them for a long time.


Your hometown of Nashville has been growing and expanding a lot. Has that affected the independent music scene down there?

Yeah. So, five-six years ago, guys like Jack White and The Black Keys established presence here, and then you have the old presence of the country singer-songwriter scene. And then you got these bands like Bully that formed in Nashville. Diarrhea Planet, Natalie Prass got her start in Nashville. All these “cool” bands that the cool kids listen to. You’ve got a whole mix. You’ve got hip-hop here, you’ve got a small DJ scene, but there’s some rockin’ little bands… just some hard bands from that people are really meaning it.

You’ve got quite a few festival appearances coming up, from Bonnaroo to Newport Folk Festival. Are there any bands at these festivals that you’re looking forward to seeing?

I’m on a big hip-hop kick these days, so ScHoolboy Q, Joey Bada$$, Mac Miller, Lil Dicky. I like a lot of the new hip-hop. It’s so punk. I saw Lil Dicky, Joey Bada$$, Mac Miller, and Kendrick Lamar all within 24 hours at Okeechobee Fest in Florida. Obviously, Kendrick Lamar was amazing. Mac Miller is so f***ing cool. He’s this young kid from Pittsburgh who did it all by himself. I like his raps.

Is there a festival in particular that you’re excited for?

I’m obviously excited for [Bonnaroo and Newport]. I’ve played both of them before when my first album came out, on small stages within the festivals. And that was a nice entry I’ve been to so many Bonnaroos as a fan. I went to the second and third ones when I was in college. The first band I saw was at 12:45 p.m. on Friday, My Morning Jacket, killing it in the middle of the day. That’s our set this year, 12:45 p.m. on Friday. That was cool when I figured that out. Newport is an amazing festival, and I’m excited to go back up there.

Every festival I love because there’s always a surprise. You know, you meet a band. When I played the Edmonton Folk Festival a few years ago, that’s where I met The Head and the Heart, and they’ve become really good friends. I did a little bit of touring with them. I like to meet bands. I met Shakey Graves, and I went on an extensive tour with him.

I like playing for a sea of people, also. That’s something that’s just f***ing awesome.

299253Rayland Baxter

No upcoming concerts. Track Rayland Baxter on Bandsintown to see when new tour dates have been added!

Ellis Frederick

I’m a Cincinnati native that now lives above a music venue in the Lower East Side in NYC. My first ever concert was Hilary Duff. You can find me at almost any show, from Dierks Bentley to Sleater-Kinney to Ariana Grande. I identify as a cat enthusiast and a Kanye West apologist.


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