David Leonard Discusses His Solo Project and Opening Up on His New Album, "The Wait": "This Is Me"
Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and producer David Leonard is no stranger to the hard work that goes into writing and recording music. From his time in his college band, Jackson Waters, which found him moving to Nashville to pursue his dream, to playing keys in NEEDTOBREATHE to running his own studio, Leonard has seen it all when it comes to the in’s and out’s of the music industry, which makes his upcoming solo album more exciting than ever. Despite the fact that Leonard has been involved in countless other projects, his upcoming album, The Wait finds him coming out of his shell more than ever, and the result is his more cathartic and honest release to date.
With The Wait out this Friday, March 15th, we caught up with David Leonard to talk about his background in music and what it meant to open up on the new album. Read the full interview now below and pre-order The Wait now HERE.
Interview by Dom Vigil
Can you tell is a little bit about yourself for any readers who might not be familiar?
My name is David Leonard. I grew up in southeast Arkansas and moved to Nashville thirteen years ago. I played in a lot of different bands. I had a band in college called Jackson Waters and we moved to Nashville and signed a record deal. Then I ended that and started playing keys for a rock band out of South Carolina called NEEDTOBREATHE. And then during that time, a friend of mine and I started writing songs together for a church in Franklin, TN. We ended up starting a band called All Sons & Daughters. All Sons & Daughters ended in 2017 and I am here now. I run a studio in Franklin, TN with two friends of mine, Seth Talley and Brad King. We produce a ton of different music and now I’ve got this solo thing going on.
You’re getting ready to release your new album, The Wait on March 15th! What are you most excited for fans to hear on the album?
I think this is the first time where you actually get to hear my voice for who it is. This is me. If you’ve ever met me or know me, you’ll listen to this and go “this is David.” It’s been a hope is that people get to see me for me and get to see a side of me that they haven’t seen before.
Did you have any major goals in mind when you first started working on The Wait?
I think some of the major goals that we had were to be able to tell the story. For people to see hope in desperate times and times of need. That’s what this season was for me, I was walking through a lot of heavy stuff with my family. My wife and I struggled with infertility stuff for years and years. A lot of these songs were written during that time. Our goal was for people to find hope in the midst of trials.
The album itself is filled with some pretty personal themes. Was it a bit cathartic to work on those songs?
Yeah, I think making this record and writing it was like therapy to me. I was able to walk through and work through a lot of different things in my head. We would be sitting in the booth checking a vocal and having realizations of things I didn’t realize that I was struggling with. That’s kind of the beauty when you’re living in a moment for a while. Making a record isn’t a quick process, so to be able to relive a lot of these things and walk through it, I felt like I was able to get little nuggets that I wouldn’t have been able to get if I just would’ve walked past these moments. I’m thankful for it.
You’ve released videos for your singles from the album, including “Signs Of Life.” What inspired this track in particular?
“Signs Of Life” is one that’s been really fun to create. I spent the majority of my time looking for someone to fix problems for me and looking for people to tell me how to do things or what’s the right thing. I’ve spent a lifetime looking for those things and I spent a lifetime trying to surround myself with people who would do those things for me. But, I had to come to the realization that nobody is going to do that for me. For me, the one person I found who has allowed me to breathe and rest in that is my relationship with God. It’s one of those that has allowed me to take the weight off my own shoulders and put trust in something that I know is bigger than me. Faith is one of those things that’s really hard to describe and hard to tell people what it is. It truly has stretched me in a way that’s allowed me to go “I truly do believe you and I truly do trust in you.” It’s an ongoing battle, it’s not one of those things that’s just figured out, but I’m thankful for the journey of it.
Each of your music videos for The Wait will also eventually combine to make a short film with an overarching theme. What story do you want to tell with these videos?
We made a video for every one of the songs on the record and they all tie together to create this short film. We spent two weeks in Tulsa, OK, shooting all of it and it’s crazy. We had this guy, Elliott Eicheldinger (the director), just this amazing guy who took this on as a passion project. He just has poured so much into it. We’re just so blown away by what he captured and what he created. I’m excited for everyone to see it.
Were there any challenges you came across when working on The Wait?
I think the biggest challenges on making this record were just me allowing myself to get out of the way. I think when you’re making a record, self-sabotage is one of the things that can quickly destroy you. And for this being my first solo record, I carried a lot of weight going “man I have to have this right, I have to have this figured out.” Luckily, I have surrounded myself with a bunch of amazing people who poured in so greatly. Especially Brad King and Seth Talley, the two guys who helped me produce the record. They arm the band, they’re the guys that poured in and pulled me from a lot of different places. So, I’m really thankful for them.
What was the most rewarding part of the writing and recording process?
I think the most rewarding thing was getting to tell the story of my family and getting to share this with them. I remember the first couple of times that I played the songs for them and got to see my wife’s face and see my daughter’s face and the way they lit up when they heard these things. To know that I’m telling our story was important and pretty amazing.
Do you have any other big plans coming up?
Hopefully just to go on the road. We’re hoping to take this thing out and share the record with everybody. We’re excited to get out there!