The Anniston native and chiropractor by day is due to digitally release his third album, Movin On, Jan. 24 and will begin touring with the band Jackson Station later this year.
Getting married, starting a family, receiving a doctorate in chiropractic medicine in 2008 from Life University in Georgia, and later practicing with his father would be enough for some to write off their dreams, but not Callahan, who also built his own studio and also took the time to train himself on music engineering via online classes through Berklee School of Music.
After two years in the doctor’s office (where he practices with his father, Boyce Callahan Jr.), he headed back into the studio and began work on his third effort, playing music that is best classified as “alternative or pop country,” with splashes of jazz, Americana, folk and rock. “I feel like there is a little something for everyone,” he says in an email. The husband and soon-to-be father of four talked with The Star about his melodic beginnings, hitting his creative stride, and the one secret he kept from his family about his career.
To be honest, I don’t ever remember a time that music was not an integral part of my life. Mom and dad wanted me to take piano lessons, but I always thought it was boring compared to playing all the stuff that I heard and could replicate by ear. For years, I thought that this put me at a great disadvantage to someone who was classically trained, but, as an adult, I learned to read music and learned music theory. Now I wouldn’t trade the progression of my musical abilities for anything because I believe that it has allowed me to pursue what I hear first and then apply the more technical aspects later. It has really allowed me to write more efficiently than I believe I would have otherwise.
You are a songwriter as well. What inspires you to write?
Occasionally I will observe or experience a situation that impacts me so deeply that I begin to write lyrics about it immediately. The majority of the lyrics written for the song about (his youngest son) Micah’s baptism were written in the hospital delivery room right after he was born. The previous few days had been extremely stressful and exhausting, but when I saw him asleep in the bed with my wife, I started thinking: “You know, this is exactly what I needed right now.” In the middle of all the confusion, stress and exhaustion, God’s grace came in a way that you’d think would increase the stress of our lives, but it was exactly what I needed for the moment (thus the name “Grace for the Moment”).
For this album, I wrote or co-wrote all but three of the songs. Two are covers, and the other, “Midnight Train,” was written by my good friend and local dentist John Flannagan. I don’t know that I would say there’s a defined process for my writing. I generally write music first, and this part seems to take form fairly quickly. The lyrics usually come later, and most of the time, I’ll see a situation or have a thought or concept and then remember a melody or riff that I wrote previously that would fit the lyric.
What genre does your music fall into?
I’ve never thought of myself as a certain kind of artist. I’ve always had a really wide range of musical taste, and I’ve always just written stuff that I liked or stuff that was like whatever I was listening to at the time. I know that if I took this album into a label — or to Simon Cowell — they would say: “You need to decide who you are as an artist.” I guess there is something to be said for that, but I just feel like my music represents me and I don’t write or perform just one style or genre of music.
When I was in the music business before, I was primarily a contemporary Christian artist. Even now, what I believe comes out in what I write, even if the song itself is not overtly Christian. For the people who enjoyed my older music, I included ... “Grace For the Moment.”
How have you matured musically from your first to your now-third album?
Perspective on life always changes as you get older, but the same is true of music. Before I wrote stuff that I thought was catchy and suited to a certain genre. I wrote to “fit in” with the crowd with whom I’d been associated with at that time. For this album, I just tried to write good music. There’s this concept within the music business that things have to fit into a certain market in order for them to be commercially valid. I understand that this is important in some ways because of marketing and even booking, but as a writer, I think it tends to stifle your creativity at times.
Tell me about your new band, Jackson Station.
About six weeks ago I was contacted by Ken Pearson about a new band that he was starting. At the time it didn’t have a name, but the names of the band members were enough to get me interested right away. Besides the fact that David Holland, who helped engineer my album and is a great guitar player in his own right, had committed to the band, the other members included David Pope and Vester Brown. All of these guys are great musicians, and I’ve wanted to work with each of them, so to have the opportunity to join up with them all at one time was a real honor.
In addition, the band really wanted to feature some of my music from the new album, so I am getting the opportunity to play with a group of guys that I’ve always wanted to work with and promote the album at the same time. That being said, I am still booking as a solo artist when it does not interfere with the band schedule, and John Flannagan and I have put together a great acoustic duet for that specific purpose.
How do you balance music and fatherhood? Do your kids want to play?
Balancing music and family has never been all that hard because music is an integral part of my family. My wife was a touring musician/singer before we met, and my kids have never known a time when we weren’t involved in music somehow. Music is pretty much a part of everything we do, and they really seem to enjoy it. The album was probably a bit taxing on everyone because I practically lived in the studio for several months, but they were all very understanding, and they loved the music.
What do you think of reality musical competitions like The Voice and American Idol?
I’ll make a confession here about something that no one other than my family knows about: I tried out for one of them a while back, and that one day was about as taxing as the entire album process put together. I’ve never seen so many people in such a small place. Needless to say, I didn’t make it through to any of the later rounds, but I swore that I’d never do it again.
In my opinion, the thing that sets me apart is not my voice, and that’s what they look at in those competitions. I don’t know how I’d do on stage without a guitar in my hand doing an original song or some arrangement of a cover that I’d done. I just think that it’s a combination of talents that give me an edge musically, and most of those shows only look at one aspect. That being said, a lot of people have gotten their start on those kinds of shows, and I think it’s great that they have that opportunity. All of us, as artist or songwriters, are after pretty much the same thing, and that’s to make a living doing what we love to do.
What’s the biggest takeaway you want others to receive from this album?
You know, I don’t really have an agenda with this album. I just hope that people enjoy the music. I know for me, music brings a flavor to life that no other medium can. Most of my memories of the past, good and bad, have some song or some musical genre that I associate with them. I still have songs that I can’t hear without thinking back to a certain vacation or a certain year in school. Even though the artist who wrote or performed those songs will probably never know about it, those songs have added to my life experience. I think that’s a pretty special thing, and hope that someone can say that about my music one day, whether I know it or not.
To find out more, visit boycecallahan.com or jacksonstationband.com. For studio information, including appointments for recording, production and engineering, email email@example.com.