Chord Overstreet Talks “Homeland,” Nick Jonas And Making His Post-‘Glee’ Music: Interview
At the tail-end of summer, Chord Overstreet released his nostalgic, bittersweet guitar ballad “Homeland,” a song that finds the 27 year old pining away for his hometown of Nashville. It’s the first release from the former Glee star under Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato‘s Island Records imprint, Safehouse.
With his opening slot on Jonas and Lovato’s Honda Civic Tour now over and an EP on the way, Chord has two upcoming shows at Los Angeles’ Hotel Cafe set for October 13 and 20, where he’ll preview his new material. Idolator recently met up with the singer in New York City to talk about his new tunes, and what we can expect from the multi-talented artist on the acting front.
You released a song called “Beautiful Girl” in 2011. Did you get sidetracked from your own music by your stint as Sam Evans on Glee? CHORD OVERSTREET: The amount of time that we spent on that show, we would go from working 14, 15 hours a day to dance rehearsals at lunch or pre-records and doing that stuff — so when you get home, the last thing you really have energy for is sitting down and turning an emotion into music. But I feel like the creativity started sparking more when I just focused on that. That was all I wanted to do and all I did. I feel like once I was able to go out and just be me and experience heartbreak, love — get every kind of emotion that people do — I feel like that’s when all of the stuff started pouring through.
Did you write or record your new single “Homeland” in your home town of Nashville? No, I actually recorded that in Hollywood, wildly enough. I was homesick and I was in the studio. It was one of those speed-dating kind of things where you’re working with a production team and you’re not really familiar with them. The guys couldn’t have been cooler, but I was just thinking of, for some reason, when my dad taught me to drive — I was like 8, 9 years old — he was teaching me to drive down this windy road in our old truck, and every time I would go back, the truck was still in the back yard just beat up and not running and broken down. For some reason I was thinking about that, and then I had this title idea and this concept. Within 15 minutes, I had the whole song written out and done on my notepad. I was like, “Alright, guys, what do you think about this?” It was one of those things that just kind of fell out of the sky and into our lap.
You have a very folk-pop, American sound on this song. Did that come naturally? I’ve been writing probably every weekday for the last year and a half, and every time is not magic. I feel like every time you write, you get better and you get a little more polished and you get a little more of the idea you’re looking for. Going into the process, I started off not really knowing what kind of direction everything was gonna fall. Then you learn more about yourself, you learn more about what you do and what you do well and where you have the most to give. It is difficult meeting a new person every day, being like, “Alright, so here’s my story and where I am, yada, yada, yada, and let’s write a song.” I could have put something out a long time ago that was not up to the standards that we have now, so I think pushing it and taking time, being patient with it is probably the best thing we could have done.
And now you’re touring! You appear in Nick Jonas’ “Bacon” video and are signed to his and Demi Lovato’s label, Safehouse. What was it like opening for them? I went from obviously playing shows [with the Glee cast] doing covers to stuff that’s — I’m really just passionate about [my current] music, because being able to communicate your own story to an audience of thousands of people is probably one of the cooler things you can do as an artist. Every time, I just feel like the show gets better, it gets more fun, it’s more comfortable. [I] just do as many shows and go around as much as I can now. I’ve kind of got an itch for it.
How did you and Nick originally meet? I met Nick Jonas playing a celebrity softball game, I think in Arizona or something. He was probably like 16; I think it was 2010 or 2011. It was right after I finished the first [Glee] tour. I met his brother at a dinner thing and started hanging out with him a little bit, and his brother introduced me to my current management team. Then we started working together. Through association I started hanging out with Nick a lot and got to be really good friends and just drinking and cigar buddies. We were talking about going after label options, and my manager had started working with Island with Nick and Demi. He was like, “I think this is the move. I think this is going to be the best team scenario.” It ended up being a perfect fit, so I couldn’t be happier. That’s the history of that whole relationship.
Are you putting acting on the side for now? I love acting and you get a different kind of rush and a joy out of that than you do with music. I did the show for five years and I think coming off that, I was like, if I’m ever going to do the music, this is the time. If there’s some part that comes along that really intrigues me, that I’m really excited about, then obviously I would love to jump into that. I’m kind of open to everything.
Your dad Paul is a Grammy-winning country songwriter. What has his reaction been to your music? My dad loves it. He loves it. It’s like very storyteller-esque, because that’s the kind of stuff he does with country music, and I’ve been able to write with my dad a good bit. I think he always wanted me to go into music, whether he would say it or not. He’s just really proud. He came to the show in Nashville that I opened for Nick and Demi. To play in my hometown arena was really, really cool. I played a song that me and him had written together. He’s a tough critic on music, so the fact that he’s on board and loves what I’m doing, I feel pretty good about that.