Hot Artist to Watch in 2017: Anthony Orio

Hi Anthony! Thank you so much for chatting with Front Stage Magazine! First of all, congratulations on the success of your last album “Between Home And The Bright Lights!” How crazy has it been to hear yourself on XM radio?  It was definitely a cool and surreal experience hearing myself on the radio for the first time. I have done some interviews and feature stuff on air before, but this was the first time I was driving in the car and one of my songs just came on.

For newer fans, how did your passion and career come about? Have you all always been playing music? I fell in love with performing when I was 6 years old during a solo in a school Christmas concert. My dad bought me my first country record when I was 8 and by the time I was 12 I knew I was moving to Nashville.

Family seems to be very important to you. How big an influence were they while you were trying to break out into the Country scene? I couldn’t have asked for more support from the people in my life. My parents refinanced their first home to pay for my first demo recordings when I was 15 years old.

Who are some of your biggest influences? George Strait, Ronnie Milsap, The Judds, and Alabama are the reasons I fell in love with country music. As far as the people who have directly influenced the kind of music I make, I would say Garth, Jeffrey Steele, Anthony Smith, The Rolling Stones, and the old school Motown, Philly soul sound.

As you know, a lot of artists mention them as influences, but not many stay true to that kind of old school country sound like you do. Is that something that you strive to hang on to and not jump on current trends with the radio friendly country? This is an interesting question with a long winded and interesting answer, but I’ll do my best to be brief. I love the sound of what I consider to be “country music.” Old George Strait, Garth, Alan Jackson, Hank Jr, and a lot of guys who had success in the 90s- Travis Tritt, Tracy Lawrence, Mark Chesnutt- artists like that. If I walk into a bar with a jukebox, that’s some of the first stuff I would play. I still to this day try to incorporate the strong lyrical content that that music had in my songs. But musically, I have embraced more of the soul, funk kind of sound I always liked but never really tried to incorporate in my music until recently. Having a co-writer (my bass player Christopher Griffiths) and a drummer (Jon Amoe) who are both from Detroit doesn’t hurt either!

You also throw names like that out there as influences, but in your performance you can pick up on others. Were there any rock influences that you kind of weave into what you do as well? Oh for sure. Absolutely love classic rock. The Stones, Aerosmith, AC/DC to name a few.

How did you go about writing and creating the EP coming out in 2017? What was some of the inspiration behind it?  I think we really tried to write music we like for this EP. It’s funny when you write songs, sometimes you’ll write a song because you know it’s a good idea or you think the melody is good, but maybe you don’t actually “like” the song for you as an artist. I think we really wrote this EP with our sound in mind, our show in mind, and our fans in mind. I think this is what they want to hear from us- high energy, groovy, funky, and fun. We finally recorded the thing the way I’ve always wanted to make a record- we threw the band in a room, no headphones, no robotic click track, and we hit record and played music.

Obviously with each release, the band and the sound mature. Were there any notable differences with your last release as opposed to the new one coming out? This one is much more me and much more us. Hands down, no doubt.

When it came time to put together your EP, what’s the one thing you thought to yourself, “This is what I don’t want to do?” I wanted to make it sound like a bunch of guys playing music. Like it was a live performance but not necessarily a “live” recording. With all the technology these days, music has become vanilla, soulless, too damn perfect- tune this, sample that. Hell, most the music you listen to, the musicians weren’t even in the same room when it was recorded (if there are any musicians at all). I wanted this to sound like real live people, playing real live music.

What advice would you give someone yet to listen to your music? It’s not perfect

Your next tour is coming up, are you looking forward to going anywhere in particular? Looking forward to getting back to some spots we haven’t been in a while- Canada, the Florabama, Cleveland- to name a few. We are also playing Vegas for the first time! We will also perform in downtown Chicago for the first time at Bub City. I always look forward to playing Panama City Beach, FL too. We have such a great following down there. Truly though, any time I get to be on stage, I feel blessed. I got into music to perform.

Any pre- gig routine that you swear by? I usually like a little nap and a couple shots of Jack.

Looking back, what was the first album you bought? We all talk about downloads, but what was the first album you remember plunking your own hard earned money down for? The first one I paid for with my own money??? Boy that’s a tough one. I think maybe The Judds???

You’ve talked about the new EP, you’ve mentioned influences and things like that, you’ve played festivals, you’ve played on a lot of stages with a lot of big artists, but when was the last time you were star struck and by whom? I finally got to meet Garth a few months back. Watching that guy single handedly made me a better performer. He is also a heck of a writer, and even the songs he didn’t write, are awesome. Unbelievable lyrics. He is one of my heroes and he couldn’t have been nicer. I just expected a handshake and a picture, but I got a hug and a conversation. Awesome moment for me.

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Known not only for his electrifying performances and ability to connect with the crowds, Anthony has had success as a songwriter with cuts by Grammy award-winning country comedy legend Ray Stevens as well as former RCA recording artist Andy Griggs, and Curb Records newcomer Tim Dugger. Anthony Orio has come a long way since bursting onto the Nashville music scene as an up and coming singer/songwriter featured by ASCAP’s “Hot On The Row Series.” Orio’s self-released sophomore album, Between Home & The Bright Lights was named as one of the “Top 40 Albums of 2012” by Roughstock in addition to landing in the #2 slot of their fan voted “Best Albums of 2012.” He has had the privilege to perform alongside some of the industry greats like Kris Kristofferson, Randy Houser, Lee Brice, Justin Moore, Jamey Johnson, and many more. His unique blend of country mixes the traditional qualities of the genre with progressive contemporary vocals and production, creating a fresh new sound.