A few days ago, I was lucky to review Robert Weston‘s debut EP ‘F1RST,’ his music really amazed me, so I had a chat with him talking about his solo career as well as being a part of the stunning country group, Ramblin’ Boots. Let’s find out below!
● Impressive EP indeed, Rob! Well done! Let’s go back to the beginning of your musical journey, when did it all start?
Thanks so much, guys, that means a lot, coming from you. I started to play the guitar when I was 17 years old, pretty late if I may say so. I always wanted to, but I was too lazy, to be honest. I started working on lyrics from 14 years old though, pretty adolescent lyrics, but still, you’ve got to start somewhere. At 17 my dad taught me my first chords and when I knew 4 of them I started my first band with my best friend. We were so sure we were going to be famous in The Netherlands. We sang in the Dutch language, to express ourselves in our own language was easier for us.
I played for about 15 years in this band (band name: Asman), we made it to national radio and national television and I’m still proud of what we accomplished. In the end, all six of us were done with it, we decided to split. A good choice, because right now we are still good friends. That would have been different if we had continued for one more year.
My parents raised me with The Beatles, Paul Simon, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. I discovered country music on my own, my dad didn’t care much for classic country music. I never heard one country song before I was 20 years old, can you imagine? I’ve always been one of the biggest Lenny Kravitz fans that you can find, but I also started listening to The Jayhawks, and somewhere underway I bumped into Brad Paisley. That was the moment I got sucked into contemporary country music. I loved it so much! I wanted to see and feel the city of Nashville so I booked a plane ticket and I deeply and passionately immersed myself in Music City. I saw cowboys, cowgirls, cover bands, and songwriters and I knew: this is what I want. When I came home I started to write songs in English and pretty soon after I had my first gig on my own in my home towns county fair. I felt like dying on stage on my own, I totally wasn’t ready for this.
Luckily short after, I got a call from Rogier and Julia, the founders of Ramblin’ Boots, they told me that they were going to start a country band and they asked if I wanted to play in the band. I didn’t need to think about this, I said yes in a heartbeat and forgot about my solo career. We totally hit the spot with this band, our first gig was in Berlin, and right after that gig, we got booked in Denmark. The band was rolling from the start, we played about 80-100 gigs a year.
● Ramblin’ Boots raised many fans from different countries, still, you started to go solo. Is it because you wanna discuss different lyrical themes?
Well yes, totally true, but I also wanted to release songs of my own, make my own choices. The most important reason for it all is that I really wanted to play contemporary country music, it’s what I listen to all day. Ramblin’ Boots plays classic country music covers from the ’80s and ’90s, I do love that era of country music, but it’s not what I listen to when I’m at work or in the car. I love listening to Luke Combs, Cody Johnson, Parker McCollum, but also to Brandy Clark, Chris Stapleton, and Brent Cobb. Totally different types of country music, I do hope that can be heard in the songs that I release as Robert Weston.
Photo: Norman Hess.
● So I am wondering, does your future plan focus on a solo career only, or both?
I’ve noticed that focusing on two ‘projects’ at the same time isn’t really working for me. I always want to go 299% for a project, 150% each isn’t good enough for me. So I might go solo and leave Ramblin’ Boots. Saying this out loud hurts my heart, to be fair. It’s not an easy step. This is a scoop, I never said it out loud until now.
● Your debut EP has nice song titles, but you preferred to call it ‘F1RST’ Does this mean that you’re gonna call others second, third, and so on?
I know what you mean. Yeah, that was exactly the thought behind the title, But I called the EP also ‘F1RST’ because it was my very first solo project.
● I loved the acoustic version of ‘Bar Like This’ why didn’t you consider doing the same for the rest of the tracks of the EP?
I considered it, but I simply didn’t have enough time for it. Even during Covid19, we kept on playing gigs. We played a lot at people’s doorsteps when all the venues were closed and last summer we even released an album and organized a release party (outside in the open air). I’m calling myself lucky that I also have a normal day job in health care, I don’t know what would have happened when I was a musician only.
I do love acoustic versions though. It might be possible that the next EP is going to be an acoustic one. I want people to know what to expect when they book me as a songwriter. And I want it to be all about the songs, only good songs stand out when they’re being played acoustic.
● I noticed that you love to add other elements to your country music roots. Do you think this helps to evolve the genre and provide diversity for listeners or this could be a negative point for dedicated old-school fans?
I do like to do that, because of my love for different styles of music. I’m fully aware it can scare away the country music ‘purists’. (I hate that word) On the other hand, it can also draw non-country music lovers into the genre. Do you believe me when I say that maybe 0,5 percent of the people in The Netherlands are listening to country music? Most people really look down on the genre, but when I play a Luke Combs song for them, they like it and don’t believe this is country music as well.
● Finally, the COVID effect still threatens our live music scene, what are your promotional plans for the current and the new releases?
You’re absolutely right. In the past few weeks I’ve been writing with a few different Nashville songwriters, this has to be done online, because of the travel ban and Covid restrictions, but it’s okay for now. I’m learning so much from them! Those songs will be the basis for the second EP, but will also be the basis for my solo setlist, I decided that I don’t want to play any more covers once I play solo.
On May 26th I’m going to release the song “Last” as a single, single promotion nowadays (Covid19-time) is mostly online, participating in live streams and interviews with radio stations. I really can’t wait for it to be normal again and that everybody can start playing again.