Music creates love, but in the case of southern rock band NEELY, love created music. Husband and wife team Jeremy and Kaci Neely tour the country, with kids in tow, spreading their messages and lyrics. NEELY brings forth a mix of lighter rock, much like 3 Doors Down and Daughtry, along with heavier ballads similar to Evanescence. Recently Drift & Die Press had an opportunity to chat with one half of the Nashville duo!
DND: What’s the general concept & mission of NEELY?
Jeremy: Kaci and I simply want to make excellent music that moves people. Outside of the writing process, we try our best to treat every individual (whether online or at a show) the way that we would want to be treated. Really in the end we aren’t out there trying to build a “fanbase” but rather a worldwide family.
DND: Where’d the band name come from?
Jeremy: The name NEELY is simply our last name. I remember when we tried to find that perfect name. We wrote list after list and they just didn’t fit. Then one of our producers said, “Why not just go with NEELY, that’s sounds tough!” At that point I was too frustrated with the process to argue.
Jeremy: Kaci and I met in the fall of 1995 at Barton County Community College in Great Bend, KS. She was on the dance team and I was a yell leader on the cheer squad. We got married in the Spring of 1996 but I honestly did not know she could sing until the fall of 2001 (yes I’m a total dude!). From there we started working together on music.
Jeremy: Right from the beginning of our marriage Kaci and I have worked together. We genuinely love being together (imagine that!) I don’t know if you would call our disagreements “personality clashes” or just differences of opinion. I’m a risk taker and she likes to play things safe (it’s the Mother instinct…have I mentioned we have four daughters we tour with?)
Jeremy: At the moment we have a lot of irons in the fire. Musically I have a Bluesy, Southern Rock tune called “Could I Walk Away” that I’m really wanting to wrap up and begin inserting into our live show and ultimately release as a single and possibly a music video. Outside of that, in true NEELY fashion, I’m jumping genres with a flat out rocker called “Faster” and then a country swing song that I haven’t named. As for day to day operations, we will be working on a “subscription record label.” The concept is a hybrid of Kickstarter where an individual can do a 12 month subscription anywhere from $20 – $100 per month. For this they get project updates, input on mixes and other behind the scenes stuff…Basically it’s like they are in the board room of our record label. What we are trying to do is give those who love our music a chance to be involved in the making, marketing, & distribution of our music while helping us to fund it. In the end it’s kind of a way to give music fans back a little bit of control over the direction of music. Then there’s the rest of 2015; touring across the US, South Africa, and the UK. Just thinking about that one sentence makes me exhausted already!
Jeremy: That’s a tough one because all of the songs I write usually have a very personal part of me in them. I guess if I had to nail it down to one song, it would be “Complete” The song means a lot to me because it was written for Kaci’s oldest sister’s wedding day. Family means the world to us and when Kaci’s sister finally found her soul mate, at the age of 35, it was just a really joyful time for our family. The song represents Kelli and Dave’s perseverance through cultural/societal pressures to keep waiting and seeking for the one. Keeping in this theme, Kaci and I kept the song completely under wraps and the first time it was heard live was at Kelli and Dave’s wedding as they lit the unity candle and tied the three chords.
DND: Any humbling fan experiences?
Jeremy: We just had one as a matter of fact. Recently our trailer was burglarized in Elk Grove, CA and among many other things one of my very expensive acoustic guitars was stolen. The Police process is very slow and Insurance is saying they won’t cover the guitar so it’s looking like I’m up the creek before our next show. Now to put this into perspective: Most independent musicians barely make enough to pay the bills every month. Buying new gear is totally out of the question most of the time unless we save and/or we see that we can recoup our money by using it quickly. Not to mention that our gear is kind of like a hammer to a carpenter…without a hammer a carpenter isn’t going to build much. To make this long story short, a man who has heard our music and likes what we do heard about this incident and gave us a very nice guitar to keep on rolling. I was speechless to say the least!
DND: Any crazy or strange fan experiences?
Jeremy: Fortunately we haven’t had any over the top, restraining order type of issues. Granted there’s always the “time hog” at every show that is in my personal bubble from the time we strum our last note to when I get in the truck after load out. Those people seem to be at every show so you kind of get used to them.
DND: What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had together as a band?
Jeremy: Hands down being on stage in front of 14,000+ people. Granted it was a 15 minute slot at a Festival but…we were in front of 14,000+ people rocking it! The only thing better was to hear the big response from the crowd when we were done.
DND: Who inspires you all?
Jeremy: Jesus. He just flat out loved people without regard to His own safety. The older I get the more I realize these other guys, that I have looked up to artistically, may be talented but at the end of the day they are just guys like me. At the end of it all I want to love people unconditionally, which I’m pretty crappy at right now but I’m consciously trying, and I want my music to move people in a healthy way. I know that’s not the cool answer or maybe even the politically correct answer and I’m honestly not trying to shove “religion” down anyone’s throat…I simply want to change the world by treating people the way I’d like to be treated and Jesus is the source of my inspiration.
DND: Finally, what’s down the road for the band, and where would you like to be in your career by this time next near?
Jeremy: Dreaming big: this time next year I would like to see some of our music placed in a movie or TV show. I’d love to have the equivalent of 100 people subscribing to us at $20 per month in an effort to create new music, new music videos, and a YouTube video series that will help other artists who dream of making a living making music. As I stated in the previous question, this is our new take on the whole “crowdfunding” deal where we will be in constant interaction with the subscribers via email, skype, etc so they have real time input in the creative process. If you will, it’s kind of like being a record executive for a year. Beyond that I would love to do so well in South Africa that we quickly have a return trip planned, while also touring other countries around the world. Perhaps even kick the doors open to a few new markets here in the United States. Ultimately I would love, love, love to find a couple days where I can go to a quiet place and create!