Ryan Pike of Music Matters Magazine had a chance to talk with Zack Shelton, Craig Cunningham, and Tiffany Baker the trio that makes up alternative country band: Zack Shelton & 64 to Grayson. In this tell all interview the band opened up and gave their deep thoughts and feelings on the meaning of music and how its impact on them paired with their faith in God’s plan for them individually and as a band has lead them to success and continuing to grow. This band truly has found their calling and moving audience’s in worship and having a good time is definitely part of that.
Below the interview is they’re latest music video for “Jesus In That” which is off their recently released album “Between the Pews”. A well thought out and put together worship album. The Kentucky country band has been making a big name for them-self’s and we are glad to be a small part of what they are doing. A country worship band such as this ensemble of fine artist all in one band; cannot be replicated, but only savored and enjoyed for they are a kind all of their own.
To check out their merchandise and latest CD, click here at: 64tograyson.com/store
Ryan: What are you most excited about with the release of “Between the Pews”?
ZACK: I’m so glad we finally have some of our 64 to Grayson original worship stuff released. We actually wrote the chorus of “Oh The Day (Be Thou My Vision)” a few years ago and have used it in many of our worship sets, but it wasn’t available on an album until now. We’ve also released the chord charts and instrumental tracks of each song from Between the Pews at 64tograyson.com so others can use these songs. Looking forward to seeing how others connect with the music and lyrics in their own worship.
TIFFANY: I like that it is a worship album. There is definitely vulnerability with this album. It’s just more personal.
Ryan: It had to feel like a huge accomplishment releasing this album after all the hard work and endless hours put into creating it.
CRAIG: I really enjoyed the process of putting the pieces together to make it happen. Recording with Chris Lockwood, our producer, was never short of a dull moment. Not only is the guy really good at what he does, but he’s just a great guy to work with and learn from. It’s always cool to hear the songs from the bare-bones beginnings of it, to the final product. We’re pretty happy with the way this album came out.
ZACK: I’ll second that. Chris Lockwood puts in a ton of time and work producing our albums. I reached out to him back in 2013 when I was still living in my hometown of Zanesville, OH and he was just wrapping up his time with the CCM group “33Miles”. Now here we are finishing up our third project with him onboard. Dude is a Pro-tools genius and he’s also very patient to get the best out of our songs, voices, and instruments. There’s something about those vegetarians, they’re just astoundingly creative. Must be where he gets it.
Ryan: You stay traditional to your values and true music. You all perform as if your headlining a world tour, how do you channel bringing that much energy to the stage with you?
ZACK: First of all, 99% of your audience will only feel free to have as much fun as you’re having, it’s almost like setting the “fun” speed limit for the crowd. So our goal is to always start our concerts with fun and energy. By doing that, you tell the audience that it’s ok to put the concerns of the world on the back burner, enjoy themselves, and be part of something bigger for an hour or so. Sometimes it’s easy and the crowd is ready right off the bat, other times it takes a few songs for them to become engaged and we just have to force the energy. Needless to say, after a string of shows back to back, our energy levels are shot..
Ryan: Just by listening to any song that you have put on CD lyrics are important to you. You seem to take time and have perfected the skills of song writing, mind to discuss your thoughts on writing and importance of lyrics?
ZACK: That’s incredibly kind of you, but I don’t know if there is such thing as perfect songwriting skills. Even the most highly accoladed hit songwriters in Nashville or LA don’t hit homeruns every time they put a pen to paper. I do feel like we have definitely grown in our songwriting over the course of our four studio albums though.
Discussing my thoughts on songwriting and the importance of lyrics would be like trying to drink an elephant through a straw; there’s just so much to say. I do believe that what we write, like what we say or how we act, is a reflection of who we are and what we believe. So I try to be wise with what I write and whom I co-write with. Some songs take me months to write, because I lose ideas and have to keep coming back to it. Sometimes I get inspired create a song from scratch in a couple hours. There’s not an exact science, but in my opinion, lyrics are crucial.
Ryan: On that topic let me ask what does music mean to you?
CRAIG: Music resonates when words can’t. We’re able to feel emotion and connect at another level through music. It’s a form of expression
that is older than all of us. We engage in it through our Sunday morning worship gatherings. We play it in the car. We spend money to enjoy music experiences at our local venues. To me, it’s all of those things, and that’s what music means to me
TIFFANY: “Music knows no lines or spaces” that is kind of my little oxymoron for music. Even though music is written on lines and spaces, it is able to cross lines and enter spaces that words alone cannot. Plus, I love the fact that it brings people to a common ground that probably would never have connected if it wasn’t for music.
Ryan: This question is directed to Tiffany. You’re from Florida, so how exactly did you discover 64 to Grayson?
TIFFANY: Well that is a good question. I had actually decided the day before I connected with the band that I was done with chasing music unless God had it walk through my front door. I told God that too. So the next day, Zack called my mom from an advertisement on the internet about a house we had for rent for the winter. But it wasn’t until the next day Zack’s Dad, Tom stopped by the lake house and was walking around inside, checking things out, talking to my mom on the phone. Tom asked about a family photo on the wall, and when Mom got to me she mentioned I played fiddle. Tom was quiet for a moment and then proceeded to tell my Mom that the band was looking for a fiddle player. So, I took that as music literally “Walking Through My Front Door”.
Ryan: What’s the funniest story you have from being on the road?
CRAIG: Probably one of the funniest moments on road happened when we were doing our first month or so of touring. This was back in June 2012 around Myrtle Beach, I’m pretty sure. Zack bought this Naked Juice that looked disgusting, and it apparently didn’t taste much better. It was a light brown color that was supposed to be some sort of protein flavor, and it looked like vomit. Not kidding. Haha! So, whenever we’d stop at a traffic light or a stop sign, he’d put some in his mouth, roll down the window, and spit it out while making gag sounds. The people around us who saw it were so confused and slightly disgusted. But we were laughing so hard inside of the van. I was
crying from laughing so hard! It was quite hilarious considering the fact that people thought he was actually throwing up.
But, we’ve had some other funny moments, which are usually caused by Zack acting crazy in fast food restaurants. But this one takes the cake.
ZACK: SMH- Well now that Craig has shared that story and everyone thinks I’m a 12 year old… Haha
Funniest story… Let’s see… Oh! Last winter we were stuck in traffic on the interstate in West Virginia on our way back to Kentucky. We finally started moving after being at a dead stop for 45 minutes, but in that amount of time we ended up giving away a bunch of ale-8 and 64 to Grayson cookies to all of the cars around us AND we got into a plastic light saber battle with the guys in the car beside us! I think there is even a video of the dual on our instagram somewhere!
Ryan: How has your faith supported you or been a factor in your success and continuous progress?
ZACK: If God wants us to continue the ministry of 64 to Grayson He will continue to provide supporters and open doors along our path. If He has a different plan for us, He will put a brick wall in front of us and push us in a different direction. Letting God be in control takes a lot of the pressure off whether or not we are successful in the world eyes. It’s a liberating feeling.
CRAIG: It’s been cool to see how God has progressed us from our early stages. As a band our Christian message has always stayed the same, but I believe that our music has improved since the beginning. We have also been more vocal about our faith in secular venues because that is what we feel called to do. It’s one thing to just play the music, but it’s more gratifying to understand our purpose for playing the music.
Ryan: Are there any big festivals or shows you have on your bucket list to have Zack Shelton & 64 to Grayson perform at?
TIFFANY: Tim Tebow’s “Night To Shine” would be pretty cool to play. I think “Night To Shine” has a greater purpose than just simply entertaining people to be entertained. I like being a part of something that means something.
CRAIG: Ichthus Festival in Kentucky was a big one for me, and 64 to Grayson played it back in 2015 when it was resurrected at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. I went to the festival back in high school and had dreamed of playing it since then. Otherwise, I’d love to play the Kentucky State Fair or River Rock Music Festival, and if Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts or Zach Williams calls wanting us to open for them, that’d be cool too.
ZACK: My dream is to play the Grand Ole Opry. Even though it’s no longer held at the Ryman Auditorium, every big name in country music has played that stage. I’d love to be able to experience that, even just once.
Ryan: Everyone is a nerd or geek about something. A hobby, collecting something, what do you geek out about?
ZACK: I love spicy food, and I put hot sauce on almost everything. This has gotten me to the point where I have a decent little hot sauce collection. I also collect Tabasco memorabilia. There is a framed hot sauce poster in my living room and a gallon jug of special Tabasco sauce on display with my name on it, literally. I’d love to brand my own hot sauce one day. Haha, but we’ll see.
CRAIG: It may seem obvious, maybe not. But definitely guitars. I’m always looking at other guitars and gear associated with that. If I could own 30 guitars, I probably would. I’m just not sure how my fiancé would feel about that once we get married. Haha! I also really like Fossil watches and playing Xbox with my friends.
TIFFANY: Well, I’d have to say that would be horses and trucks(cars) for me. I love my Tennessee Walker that was practically given to me by someone I met at a 64 to Grayson show in Okeechobee, FL. It’s fun because my youngest sister LOVES her horse, riding, and everything
that has to do with it. So we get to pal around and ride horses together. I’ve always loved riding Dirt Bikes & 4-Wheelers too.
Ryan: It’s the start of a new year, with a new album just released. What are goal you have set together as a band for the year and even further?
ZACK: This album has us booking more worship events than in years past and we are about to announce some unique ways in which folks can interact with us and see us in concert. We are also hoping to partner with more of our listeners and fans as monthly supporters to allow us to continue to release quality music and videos more frequently.
Ryan: What is your personal favorite track from your latest album?
CRAIG: I’d say that mine is “Fire By Night”. It’s always fun when we’re able to contribute to writing a song, so this one is a collective effort between the band. I also lean more on the rock-y side of music, which this song features through the opening guitar riff. It’s a lot of fun to play and always seems to do well with the crowds we play it for.
ZACK: “Audience of One”, hands down. I have a connection to each song I write, but I’ve never written a song as openly honest as this one. It’s a conversation I had with God this past summer. The song expresses confusion and discouragement in the situation I was in, but the bridge of the song is where I came to terms with what God was trying to tell me. Each word came from a very real place, and I’m still working through this prayer even now. I’m hoping it can help someone else in the questions they have in their own life.
TIFFANY: “Audience of One” is my favorite. I didn’t write it, but if I had to pick one that I wish I had written it would be that one. It feels the most personal to me.
Ryan: How did the band obtain the Interstate 64 sign?
CRAIG: Everyone thinks that we stole it. I always tell them that the person we got it from stole it first, so it’s not really our problem. Just kidding!
The fella who makes the acoustic guitars that I use, Gary Cotten of Cotten Guitars, used to work in road construction with his father. After paying many visits to Gary and buying a couple of his guitars he told me, “Buddy, I’ve got something in my dad’s shed that would be perfect for your group.” Let me tell you, I did not expect this thing to be as big as it was! I mean, it makes sense since people have to be able to read it. But it’s probably from the 70s or 80s, he thinks. It’s become a staple in our live show now! It’s traveled many miles since we got it back in 2013 or so. We’ve put a few scuffs and scratches on it ourselves, but it only adds character to it.
You can find out more about Zack Shelton & 64 to Grayson at: 64tograyson.com