We had the pleasure of interviewing Houston Bernard over Zoom video.
Oklahoma born and Boston based Country Singer-Songwriter Houston Bernard recently released his latest country rocker single “Hangover” in the build-up to his upcoming EP, set for...
We had the pleasure of interviewing Houston Bernard over Zoom video.
Oklahoma born and Boston based Country Singer-Songwriter Houston Bernard recently released his latest country rocker single “Hangover” in the build-up to his upcoming EP, set for release later this year. In addition to releasing music Houston Bernard is touring extensively across the U.S. playing with his full band as well as some select solo acoustic dates. Bernard's country roots run deep with a family tree that includes songwriters, touring musicians and more! In his own music, Houston draws upon his family’s rich country and rockabilly musical roots, as well as his own personal experiences like his time in the U.S. Army, where he served nine years. His sound brings together upbeat, relatable music with powerhouse vocals and enough country twang that transcends age, and resonates with a large audience. Like many artists touring and performing in front of live crowds is something extremally important to Houston Bernard, as he can be found regularly performing at venues across the country, performing songs from his back catalogue as well unreleased and new single like “Hangover.”
So far in his music career Houston has released a series of singles, EPs and albums, starting in 2013 with his debut self-titled EP, and then followed up with his first full length album Knockin’ Boots in 2015. In 2018 Houston released his second EP Lucky Man, followed by Freedom, in 2020, which continued to raise Houston’s profile as a diverse country music singer and songwriter. Houston has shared bills with many country superstars over the years like Luke Bryan, Old Dominion, Granger Smith, Michael Ray, Montgomery Gentry, Marshall Tucker Band, and Clint Black. Recent singles like “Hangover,” “All We Are Is Memories,” “People We Are,” and “American Dream” have garnered Houston hundreds of thousands of streams on Spotify and YouTube, along with being featured on Country Rebel, CMT.com, The Heartland Network, and The Country Network. Stay tuned to Houston Bernard’s socials below for more updates on the release of his upcoming EP as well as future tour dates from this talented Country singer-singer.
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Hello! It is Adam. Welcome back to bringing it backwards. A podcast where both legendary and rising artists tell their own personal stories of how they achieve stardom. On this episode, we had a chance to hang out with Houston Bernard over zoom video, Houston was born in Oklahoma, then moved to Alaska for the next 10 years, eventually landing in Massachusetts. And he lived there up until went away and during the army and currently living back in Boston now, but he talks to us about growing up in Alaska, how he got into music started playing guitar at an early age would perform at different talent shows the mall. The town he grew up in was very, very small, only 3000 people. 5 (2m 8s): When he moved down to Massachusetts, he talks about writing songs in his bedroom. Eventually joining some bands, writing totally different music than what he's doing now with the country stuff. But he talks to us about putting out his early records, songwriting in Nashville and all about the most recent song he released called hangover. You can watch the interview with Houston on our Facebook page and YouTube channel at bringing it backwards. It'd be amazing if you subscribe to our channel like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Tik TOK at bringing back pod. And if you're listening to this on Spotify, apple music, Google podcasts, it would be so awesome. If you follow us there as well, and hook us up with a five star review, 6 (2m 50s): We'd appreciate your support. If you follow and subscribe to our podcasts, wherever you listen to podcasts, 5 (2m 56s): We're bringing it backwards with Houston Bernard. Hey, what's up Houston? How are you, man? 7 (3m 2s): How are you? 5 (3m 3s): I'm doing well. I'm doing well. I appreciate you doing this today. 7 (3m 5s): Oh, thanks for having me 5 (3m 7s): Course. My name is Adam, and this is about you, your journey in music. And we'll talk about the new song as well. 7 (3m 16s): Okay. Sounds good. 5 (3m 17s): Cool. First off I did read, born and raised in Oklahoma where you raised her as well. Cause I have, I did read something about Alaska as well. So I'm curious. 7 (3m 25s): Yeah, I was, I was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Alaska and Massachusetts. My dad is from Oklahoma and he's a touring musician. He met my mom in Massachusetts, but he was a broke musician. So he rejoined the army. They sent him to Alaska. Eventually they split up and my mom brought us back to Massachusetts. 5 (3m 46s): Okay. So you, how long did you live in Oklahoma then? For 7 (3m 50s): Just a couple of years, My dad still lives there. You know, I go back all the time. I reconnected with my dad when I was about when I joined the army. So I was about nine 19, probably met him again. And I'm connected with that side of the family. And man, it was quite eyeopening, you know, to just try to figure out who you are as a person growing up. And you're like, oh, this all makes sense now. Okay. My dad is like this, my family is like this. Why was I getting, you know, all, all of these? I don't know. I feel like they're kind of genetic. 5 (4m 27s): Sure. I mean, because it sounds like there's music on your dad's side of the family. Right? I mean, if he's a touring musician and you're also, you also joined the army as well, didn't you? 7 (4m 35s): I did. Yeah. I was in nine, nine years. Wow. And my brother and everybody else, my, my dad has 11 siblings and I think at least five of them were in the military most wow. Passed on, but yeah. 5 (4m 50s): Okay. So you were in Oklahoma, a short period of time, it sounds like. And then you went to Massachusetts where there for 7 (4m 57s): Alaska then mass. Oh, 5 (4m 58s): Alaska first. Okay. How long did you live in Alaska? For 7 (5m 1s): 10 years. 5 (5m 2s): Wow. What was it? I mean, what part of Alaska? I don't know much about it, but I'm sure, 7 (5m 6s): Sure. There's like a, you know, Anchorage big way. Casola I lived in Mazzola, which was a town size, about 3000 people and more people in that town for Sarah Palin. I never knew her when I was there small town, but I didn't know her. 5 (5m 22s): Yeah. That's crazy to say, like, I didn't know her and I'm like, well, yeah, but then if you think of 3000 people, that's not very many people like at all. I mean my high school graduating class was 1200. So that's like basically my entire high school, it was living in your whole town. So you probably would have wrote Ray. I mean, it makes more sense now to have run into her. Sure. 7 (5m 43s): Yeah. I, I had my mind on thing. I was riding motorcycles and, and horses and you know, singing in malls, you know, that was what I was doing. 5 (5m 54s): Okay. Was where you lived in Alaska. Did you have the I'm? Maybe it's all of Alaska. I'm just ignorant to this, but like where it, it stays in light all the time and then dark for most of the time. And then it kind of does like half a year. Isn't that correct? Or? 7 (6m 9s): Yeah. So it's really more extreme, further up north and Anchorage is kind of the Southern part. Well kind of the Southern part. And there's also the, where a catch can is for it's closer to, to Vancouver and stuff, but yeah. So in the summertime it would be, you know, we, you know, we'd walk out at night and it'd be like 40 degrees and it would be like Dawn all night. And then in the winter time it would be, you know, the sun would be like really on the side of, of the sky, it'd be kinda sunny, but some days we would just be completely gray all day, but, you know, changed, it changed like the extremes, like the white nights that was closer to the Arctic circle, I think. 7 (7m 1s): But we got a taste of it. And of course we saw Aurora Borealis and we saw that all the time, you know, and growing up, I was like, oh, there it is again, you 5 (7m 8s): Know, crazy 7 (7m 9s): People talk about all the time. It was like, wow. You know, it's kind of a, yeah. I'd love to see that someday. Yeah. 5 (7m 16s): Right. You're like, yeah, I've seen it like a million times. Right. It's not one of those things. 7 (7m 21s): Yeah. I mean, it was, it was different up there, you know, being, you know, the snows, just something that we were used to, it was always around when they wouldn't cancel school because of snow, they would just put chains on the buses. And you know, I remember like seventh grade I'd go to the bus stop and I had, it was all about my hair. You know, I didn't want to mess up my hair. I didn't wear any hat on my head. I had gel in my hair or whatever, and my hair would freeze. And then by the time I got on my bus, it started melting. So I'd have like, you know, 5 (7m 53s): Oh, the gel dripping down my 7 (7m 57s): Hair, man. 5 (7m 58s): Oh, that's funny. I'm originally from San Diego, Southern California, where we never really saw snow unless you drove to it. But it's funny. Yeah. It's great. And I just recently moved to Nashville about a little over a year ago and I have two, two kids myself. And if it snows like whatsoever, they canceled school here. It's like my neighbor from across the streets from Illinois. And he's like, they didn't cancel still. If it was like two feet by our house, like, what is it like, you know, they'll cancel it. If it's like barely snow. If there's, if it's sticking to the ground, they're canceling school, 7 (8m 33s): They don't have the infrastructure, you know, to put out, you know, to have probably, I don't probably have chains on the vehicles. 5 (8m 40s): Oh no, they don't, they don't even have snowplows for the streets and a lot of the areas. So it's like, they can't leave. It's just funny because a majority of the areas in the county I'm in could get to the school, but they can't, if you know, there's people out in, in the midst of some of the suburbs that can't. So like, if you're in the same district, they're not going to be like only these three schools are canceled because they can't get access to it. And yours will be, it's like, they just cancel everything for the whole district. But it's just interesting. Like if it's like minimal snow, my neighbor will be like, really you're going to cancel for this. 7 (9m 17s): We used to, I used to in our yard, we had a pretty big yard and I would shovel two feet of snow trails around the yard so we could play tag in them. And that I love to shovel the driveway. I was so into it. And I don't know, that was then I was like, oh, I guess that's weird. Cause people don't really feel that way. I'm sorry. Oops. 5 (9m 41s): That's funny. Well then obviously you have music in your family. Was that something that you were drawn to early on? 7 (9m 48s): Well, you know, sometimes things were genetic, right. And without growing up with my father, I didn't really know, you know, I didn't know it was genetic. And so I was, you know, I was writing songs a little jingles, at least when I was like five years old and I was just, everything was music for me. I was listening to, you know, from Elvis and even some of the BGS and Simon and Garfunkel and, and that sort of stuff. And Bruce Springsteen, you know, pretty much everything that was on the radio I would listen to and respond to. And then I started writing the, writing it down, writing my songs down. It was about 11, 12 years old when I was singing in malls in Alaska. 7 (10m 29s): And it was cattle cataloging, all my songs and recording. Like there are awful, but you know, I was, it was still very creative and it just felt like something I had to do that I learned is like, oh, my father is a musician. You know, my mom didn't really talk about that for a long time. And I was like, oh, this is starting to make sense. And then I just really wanted to play more and perform more. And I was like really part of Maine. And there's a, quite a bit of journey from different genres and stuff. And I didn't play country music till about 2012 because I grew up like, like I grew up in Massachusetts where country wasn't at least in the town that I was in Worcester where my mom's from. 7 (11m 15s): It wasn't very popular though. Everyone was telling me, why don't you play country music? Your name is Houston. Come on. 5 (11m 22s): Yeah. It kind of fits. 7 (11m 24s): That's not why you do something it's getting, you know, you have to feel it like country music is about honesty. And, and, and you've gotta be completely honest. I think though, that's not a hundred percent of what country is today anyway. So I, I didn't do it. I played rock music and I played it all. I even did like big band music when I was singing it. When I was growing up, seeing old folks homes, I was singing Sinatra and stuff like that. So I've, I've played a lot styles of music, but around 2012, I decided that, you know, I felt like my music career had taken a journey and I toured on underground music scenes in Europe and all over the states doing like punk style music. 7 (12m 9s): And that's what I was like, okay. But you know what? I've never played country music. So I can't really stomach the stuff that's on country radio. I just really couldn't. And so I said, well, I'll start a country. I'm an outlaw country band. And I did. And you know, there's some learning curves to it for sure. But then I was like, wow, this is really natural for me. And I really found my voice and just really started trying to improve what I was doing. I was writing a ton. So, you know, four plus albums later now, and I'm still recording and performing. And I just feel like, man, I wish I did this when I was 12 years old. Like everyone told me to do 5 (12m 49s): Real quick back to the mall playing or singing in the model. So you were doing your own songs then, or was it just covers at that point 7 (12m 57s): It would be like contests or, or that sort of thing. And I would one specific the at diamond mall in Anchorage, I actually wore a cowboy hat and I sang an Elvis song, a heartbreak hotel. And I was, I S I have video of it. It's awful. And I did this little speech that my mom wrote for me in the beginning of the, in 1937, Elvis, Aaron Presley was born and I was talking like this. It is a greatest entertainer of all time. It, you know, I was just awful, but, you know, I did it. And there you go. And my fingers would bleed from the acoustic guitar that had like these old strings on it 10 years. 7 (13m 44s): And you had to push really hard to make a cord. 5 (13m 47s): Yeah. The action is like three inches, you know, between the fret 7 (13m 54s): Steadily. 5 (13m 55s): Was that the first instrument learning guitar, 7 (13m 58s): Yeah. Guitar. And then I try to pick up piano is when I was younger and I taught myself some stuff, but it wasn't until really recently, the past 10 years, you know, being around like schools, professional musicians, where I was learning more theory and I started putting more chords together. I started reading music so I can, I can read sheet music pretty. Okay. I'm always trying to get better at it because I love the challenge of it. I watch, I watch all those, those YouTube videos on theory. I have bores everybody else and I'm just like, oh my God, this is great stuff. 7 (14m 38s): It's now Just trying to put it all together. Stuff that I wish I had learned young, younger, but I'm still enjoying the journey. Maybe I appreciate it more now, now that I could see a purpose for it, with my writing process and stuff, and a lot of the country songs, oh my gosh. A lot of the country songs, or what is it? 1, 5, 6, 4, like how many country songs are, you know, with those, those chords in that exact progression, but the, what you try to do AF for me, what I try to do is let's say that's the style. I'm going to try to change up the, the variety of those chords and change it a little bit and still be able to communicate, you know, in this same genre, you know? 5 (15m 24s): Sure. 7 (15m 25s): But, but understanding the theory and, and changing, you know, a major chord to a minor chord, you're like as a surprise or something like that, and still communicate the emotion. And, and the story that you're trying to tell is, is pretty exciting. So the more you understand the theory, the more you can, you know, jet out outside of that. And there was a time where I thought, and this was a popular thought for a lot of people at the time. I think it was like, well, if I learn too much, it'll change my artistry. And it won't be, 5 (15m 55s): I've heard that before. 7 (15m 56s): It's like, now, man, it just gives you more tools. It gives you tools. Yeah. If you can get lost in the mechanical, like, you know, there's a lot of people that just play like robots to, you know, the notes, but that doesn't mean you have to do that. You can, you know, understand the theory and go, okay, here's some chords that I could just play to, to, to get my emotions out. I don't even have to have any type of structure. You know, if you don't have those tools, how far can you go? 5 (16m 25s): Yeah. Right. Yeah. I've just heard people say this, like, just because you brought up, but like, yeah. Like say, oh, you know, well, if I knew, if, if the theory said, I shouldn't put this note with this note, then maybe you wouldn't try like, just little things like that. But in all reality, like how it can hurt knowing everything, 7 (16m 42s): Right? Yeah. You get some people was like, well, these are the rules. Well, those are some rules, but it's a guide. It's not, it's not actual rules. You can change the rules, but I totally get like, off the cuff, like the Beatles did that. They didn't know a lot of theory. Like Paul probably knew most of the theory, but a lot of the songs were just like, this is what sounds good. This is what I'm feeling. 5 (17m 3s): Right. So let's go with it. It doesn't matter if the note should go together or not. And 7 (17m 8s): Again, 5 (17m 10s): It sounds like you're, it sounds like your mom is pretty supportive of obviously, of what you're doing. And even at an early age, she saw something there to be like, yeah, you should join this talent show and I'm going to write the speech and, you know, go up there and sing out to this. 7 (17m 23s): Yeah. I, well, I, I think it's sixth grade is where I really, like, I had the lead in the school play. She's like, okay, well, this is what he likes to do. Let's get him some voice lessons. Let's get him, you know? So I started auditioning for commercials. I ended some commercials and I, I was performing in plays and musicals, which wasn't really my thing. But, you know, she was like, well, you, you showed some, some talent there let's explore that. It was actually a Nordstrom model for a minute, 5 (17m 58s): But there you go. This 7 (17m 60s): Is all for very short window of time when I was like 11 to 13, kind of in that area. And then, you know, life happens, you know, we ended up moving from Alaska to Worcester. A lot of things changed with, with my mom's relationships, which, you know, through things. So then I just got into my own thing, kind of, I stopped doing that, that stuff, but yeah, she's, she's always been very supportive, no matter what state her relationships have been in or the struggles we had just to pay rent, which was a huge struggle or, I mean, there's a lot of challenges that we had at my house. 7 (18m 44s): So we just did our best to get through. And, and music has always been there. So I would be in my room by myself, right. My little cheesy, you know, dark songs about how tough life is and, you know, being alone or whatever that might, might be about. 5 (19m 2s): Well, it sounds like you're, there's still, you know, authentic. And like you, weren't some grown up some rich kid making up songs about the street. You know what I mean? Like there is obviously some truth to what you were writing. It sounds like 7 (19m 16s): It was a hundred percent authentic. And a lot of it was very dark at that time. Like, you know, my teen years, whatever. But then I also started teaching myself piano and just some chords and stuff. And I would go to school. I went to a Catholic school actually, which way we paid for. It was like, we did odd jobs and, you know, I'd be cleaning up puke in between classes, which was not something that helps, you know, 5 (19m 43s): It was puking like there's that many people puking that you had to be like designated pew cleaner up, dude. 7 (19m 49s): Well, I would work as the assistant Jan or at the school to help pay for school. Like we paint the, the, the, we paint, we do anything to help pay for school because at the public schools, people were getting knifed and beat up and they were gangs and, and that sort of thing. And so I, my mom was like, well, let's put you in Catholic school. So, and that's, you know, that's what we did. But then I would sometimes sneak away and go play the attitude, piano in the auditorium. And I would just be like, I would skip class just to play. And no one bothered me. This was like, especially my senior year, nobody bothered me. Like people would come in and like, oh, let's just use some planet piano. 7 (20m 29s): Like, shouldn't you be in class? I don't know. Probably it's none of my business. 5 (20m 34s): That's funny. And then you end up joining the army, what? Right. Outta high school 7 (20m 37s): At a high school, you know, you know, I've always thought I would be in the military. My original plan when I was 10 years old, was to fly jets for you for the Marines or whatever. And that was, you know, that didn't happen. So really I was just trying to get an education, go to college, serve my country. And I did a lot of music actually in the military to play play. Some soldier shows, not that I was playing music, but my, my jobs was like petroleum specialist and water purification specialist, master fitness trainer. I excelled in, in fitness and I got awards and stuff for that in the army. 5 (21m 21s): Wow. That's amazing. 7 (21m 22s): But you know, everyone used to call me Elvis in the army and they're like, why are you in the army? Shouldn't you be singing somewhere? I'm like, yeah, but I'm trying to pay for school too. You know, I grew up broke and we didn't, my mom didn't have a college education at the time. And so we're struggling, struggling, struggling. So I was like, well, education is the way out of that. Of course I chose communications as a major, which not very specific. 5 (21m 49s): Yeah. Look at me. We have the same major I went in and I'm like, where? Okay. I'm like, so where can I land without doing any math or science for the remaining four years of my life or the next four years. Oh, perfect. Okay. We're going to go with that one. Sounds good. 7 (22m 6s): And I, you know, I had the military paid for state schools and there wasn't really, I wasn't aware of any good music programs and then any type of music was really focused on like classical music. So I tried that, but it was such a struggle, you know, taking a class on Haydn that, you know, 5 (22m 27s): You get to choose which state you decided to go to school. I mean, I'm not sure how that works or was it, 7 (22m 32s): So I ended up after regular army, I went to national guard, Massachusetts. So it was cool for Massachusetts. Cool. And I probably, I don't know. I probably could have changed. There was a time where some friends were going to NYU in New York city and, and I did an internship through a summer and I was hoping to go at NYU, but like the process and like, there's still, you need a ton of money there wasn't, you know, there was no state funding for NYU. 5 (22m 59s): Right. I was thinking maybe Berkeley, but that's probably just too specific that they wouldn't want to sneak into that. 7 (23m 5s): That's funny is that a, I hire a lot of Berkeley musicians here in Boston to work for me. 5 (23m 11s): Oh, there you go. 7 (23m 13s): When I tour out San Diego, I play a moonshine beach and moonshine flats, 5 (23m 19s): Ocean beach. So 7 (23m 20s): Is it a higher musicians who are based in LA? They'll come down. And last, last time I was out there a couple months ago, played neutron beach two nights there. We had a great time. Musicians nailed it. You know, we don't rehearse. And it's like, here's the songs learn them. 5 (23m 38s): Right. Right. 7 (23m 39s): But when you go to different towns where there aren't a lot of professional musicians, like we did a, a festival down in North Carolina, I hired a couple of musicians and their style, you know, they're much older guys. And they played with a bunch of legends and whatever, but their style is different. So like they don't when I say, okay, you know, the count is three, four. They're like, yeah. I just feel it. I don't know. 5 (24m 3s): We'll just go there and I'll wing it. 7 (24m 5s): Like, yeah. I'm like, ah, okay. All right. We're we're gonna, we're gonna play to click on this. You just to make sure that we get the BPMs correct. VPMs. Okay. All 5 (24m 16s): Right. Yeah. 7 (24m 18s): So we do flower dates. I'll bring my guitar player and you know, it's, it's hard to find musicians that don't need to rehearse. 5 (24m 27s): Right. 7 (24m 29s): So that's, that's been a challenge. But I think like on breaking into the text was a lot more, Nashville's not a problem. 5 (24m 34s): I was going to say Nashville. Like I heard that they even have their own like real like language here. You just say, it's going to be 1, 5, 2, or something. They're like, that's so crazy to me. 7 (24m 44s): That's one thing I've definitely learned and picked up. And I've been really pushing myself to learn that type of theory and that communication with musicians, just like this is, you know, like there's we have this one song to everybody ends on the four and I have to always look at the sub that's come in. I go one, they, you hear them go to the 4 0 1, you know, give him that, you know, 5 (25m 8s): Other than they understand what you're saying, 7 (25m 10s): We played with a whiskey jam a couple of weeks ago. And, and you know, it's, it's not hard to find good musicians in Nashville and I've been recently, 5 (25m 20s): They're all over the place. 7 (25m 22s): And I'm, it's, it's great. When I do a recording now I, for my past a couple of projects, I'll work with bill McDermott in Nashville and south studio musicians. And you know, I'm always, you know, I'm excited to see who he's got from musicians. We have like Tim McGraw's keyboard player and Alabama's drummer. Last time I was in there. And then like the guys that are playing on it, they've been on every hit. You've heard on the radio. That's great. And what's, and I never wanted to do the Nashville thing until my manager convinced me a few years ago because we had some label interest. And like, we want them to sound more national, whatever, but it was still a great experience. And what I learned is like, it's, it's cheaper. There's still true to the song, the people that we worked with. 7 (26m 8s): And they're, if you only work with a producer that, you know, is a Hitmaker, then they take those songs and they elevate those songs. It's like, well, maybe if we shorten this here and do this there, and oh, let's change the key. Cause your voice sounds better. Little things that professionals really work on. You know, when you're doing it every day, like someone like bill McDermott, the producer knows what's going to work. You know, you save time, you save money and you come out with like this great song that, that you're proud over these great recordings that you're proud of. And for my sound is more of like a Heartland country. You know, I would say it's like a Springsteen Mellencamp circuit, 84 is kinda like my vibe and not just musically, but, you know, with the, the ideas of, you know, working hard and taking care of middle America, trying to do the right thing, like, you know, the, the middle class is, is really the backbone of our country. 7 (27m 10s): And that type of philosophies is I bring to my music and it's true in organic. There's a lot of auto tune and overproduction on, I shouldn't say over production, a lot of extra production you're mixing, mixing is different, you know, pop genres in with the music and that's fine. That's just not who I am. And, you know, songs like, you know, fancy, like that's not something that I, I relate to, unfortunately, because it's really popular, but it is right When I I'm really proud of the music that we're able to make, where it's, it sounds and feels like me, honest to me. 7 (27m 52s): And even if I don't have a large audience that is into that at the end of the day, I feel pretty proud of what I've done. 5 (28m 1s): I think you write some really amazing songs. And I mean, coming to Nashville is this is a songwriters town. I mean, the people that write songs here are song writers. I mean, there's obviously like LA is a totally different vibe and, and York. And, but when you come here, it's like, this is like where people are writing songs. 7 (28m 22s): Yeah. My, my buddy was like, he told me he was like, relating it to like baseball where, you know, you go to Nashville. These people are on steroids, like with the writing, you know, next level. And you know, I know where I'm at as a writer, you know, I, I haven't worked. The craft is, is hard. And as long as a lot of these major amazing writers have, my, my passion is definitely songwriting performance and connecting with an audience. And, you know, I've, I've had a bubble gum, all my things to try to stay afloat with, with everything I'm doing. And I haven't sat in a room, you know, for 10 years writing songs. 7 (29m 6s): So I know my skill level is at a certain point, but I think that any person that's trying to be successful in something, they should know the shortcomings and work on them, but also know where, you know, and how to try to piece together something to elevate what you're doing. And so I like to write with some really great writers, Britton. Cameron is one of those writers and Doug K hand really Morrison some of those guys that have written a bunch of songs with, but I'll also say, Hey guys, what other songs do you have? I'd love to see, you know, to, to record. So I don't mind recording other writers songs. If the, you know, they strike a chord with me and that's what I've been doing. 7 (29m 53s): And they're just trying to put the best stuff out. And the most honest stuff I can, 5 (29m 57s): And the most recent one is called hangover 7 (29m 60s): Hangover. So that was written by Willie Moore Morrison and a couple other guys. And the song I put out before that a song called all we are as memories. I co-wrote that one, it was kind of like very deep and kind of sad. So let's change it up. Let's celebrate life a little bit more in a different way and talk about hangover and hangover. I think it was very relative because a lot of people are at home. And so like, well, I'm not going to go out and because of, you know, COVID or whatever, and let's stay home and have a couple drinks sometimes mid week. 5 (30m 37s): Right. Right. 7 (30m 39s): Yeah. And, but it's also like, okay, we don't have to go out to have a good time. Let's stay home and know let's just work on that hangover. 5 (30m 46s): Sure. Well, it's a song like that. You said that that was something that somebody else had written, do you come to the session? And you're like, okay. Like, well, how does that work? Or you just ask you to just say, okay, I've worked, you've worked with these writers from before. And you're like, well, what do you have? Anything that we could all, you know, we can cut or work on together. And then you just kinda like, yeah, just kind of explain that to me a little bit. 7 (31m 8s): Sure. So I'll, I'll do writing sessions with, with people and I've been doing a lot on zoom and stuff cause I'm not living in, in Nashville. And luckily, because of, COVID a lot of writers who used to be like, no, we've got to write, we gotta be in the same room that 5 (31m 25s): Changed. They're willing to do it this way. Right. 7 (31m 28s): Yeah. So I'm able to ride with people all over the country, all over the world, even with, you know, if I, if I hear a song that I like, I'm like, oh, who wrote on that? And maybe I'll reach out to them and write with them. And because of that, we've been doing zoom. Right. So all like for Willy Morrison who recently had a cut with brothers Osborne, who's probably my, my favorite modern country act. My manager put me in touch and like we related right away. Like, he's a great guy. He's a great writer. I had some ideas. So we'll come in and we'll write, write together. And then I'm like, well, what else do you have? You know? So he'll send me as like, well, here's some songs that don't have any names on them or, or singers on. 7 (32m 12s): And so he sent me some demos and were looking for songs and that hangover songs stood out. So we, we decided to record it. They were nice enough to let us record it. And, and actually I have the video is going to be coming out soon. And I have Willie Morrison as the lead actor in it. Cause he's such a Cool guy. I was like, oh, I got to have him in it. And he did a great job. I can't wait for people to see the video. He did a really great job. It's it's a funny video. My friend, Justin, Matt, who I know from new England, he moved down there a few years ago. 7 (32m 53s): He's working with everybody. And so he, he directed the video and we had some ideas and he came, it's just, it's a, it's a fun video. I have some other friends that are in the video as well. But yeah. So it really, really is in that. But that's how, you know, sometimes I don't mind, you know, I know there's a lot of writers that are like, well, you know, we gotta write every song that record. And I'm like, no, if I like a song, I don't mind boarding it. If it feels, it feels like it's part of me, like, it's my voice, you know, saying something I want to say, or we're having a good time or something like that, that it doesn't feel like, yeah, I don't know what the word would be selling out or 5 (33m 34s): Like a fraud when he was thinking like, yeah, 7 (33m 36s): Just like, no, this like the song freedom that was written by like Steven, the Olson. And I apologize, I forget his name, but it's like to hit writers. American dream was written by Braden counts and Jason humor, who, my manager, we have the same manager. And I was like, well, that song speaks to me like that, you know, speaks to me, you know, that I have songs. Like all we are is memories where I was co-writer on. And that's totally, my voice is totally my ideas. And there's just better. Cause I wrote with Britton, Cameron, I also wrote a song which hasn't been released called in my blood and that, you know, I wrote, I wrote 90% of that song and I was like, you know, I want it to be, to be better. 7 (34m 23s): So I brought it to Britain, Cameron, and he was like, well, it's pretty much all, all here changed a couple of things and you know, a couple of chords and whatever. And I was like, oh yeah, yeah, I wish I could be a great writer like that. And I'm striving to, and I'm trying to improve all the time. But you know, I wrote because of Britain came in and he's just, you know, a veteran writer he's been doing it a very, very long time. She was just like the studio musicians. He brought my, my voice out and is true to the, my story and, and was able to, to make the song that much better, you know, 10, 20, 30, 40% better. 5 (35m 7s): Well, yeah. I mean, collaboration is always so beneficial. I mean, you can hear it, get somebody else's perspective on song and you know, here's some more ideas and kind of help build it that way. But that's amazing. Thank you so much for doing this Houston. I really appreciate it. 7 (35m 21s): Thanks for having me. Yeah. 5 (35m 22s): I have one more question before I let you go on and see if you have any advice for aspiring artists. 7 (35m 28s): Yeah. My advice, I get asked this question every now and then, and I keep coming back to the same thing being successful in, in music successful, meaning like, you know, million dollar houses and that sort of thing is like winning the lottery multiple times. That's how I feel about it. I've been doing it a long time. I've never been signed to a label, but I've been, I've played multiple genres and I, for me trying to be famous, isn't the goal. And it's a, it's a hard thing. And you get real burnt out real quick. If that is your goal, that is like your main goal. 7 (36m 8s): So I would focus on the, the artistry, the performance, communicating with your audience, finding an audience, and that I believe you will find joy and fulfillment as long as you're true to that goal of just being like, I want to be the best me. I can be. You know, I'm not competitive, you know, cheering other people. Yeah. Do it. Do it. That, that positivity. If you have that, that will elevate you to some sort of joy and fulfillment in performing and writing. And you know, and, and just try to think, long-term not, short-term like if this is who you are, this is who you want to be. 7 (36m 51s): Then be the best version of yourself.
Houston Bernard's country roots run deep with a family tree that includes songwriters, touring musicians and an outlaw gunfighter nicknamed “Bitter Creek.”
Born in Oklahoma, and raised in Alaska, Houston has comfortably settled into life as a professional and popular independent country music recording artist who tours everywhere across the United States.
Houston was first exposed to country music while growing up in Norman, Oklahoma by way of his father and uncle, who toured and performed in various country bands. His uncle Johnny Bernard co-wrote "Muddy Mississippi," a song which appeared on Reba’s 11th studio album Reba Nell McEntire. Both his father Donny Bernard and uncle Johnny toured and backed up country music greats like Tanya Tucker, Wanda Jackson and Sleepy LaBeef. Performing as Rebel Brothers, the Bernards were regulars in the bustling Oklahoma, Texas and Nashville country music scenes throughout the 70’s.
“I can remember all the way back to when I was about five years old, when I wrote some of my first little songs or jingles,” Houston recalls. “A couple of them I still remember to this day. It is kind of like breathing, it just happens and you don't analyze it until later in life.”
However, Houston never really had the chance to get to know his father all that well. When he was about three years old, his family relocated to Anchorage, Alaska due to his father rejoining the Army after a slowing touring schedule led to financial hardships for his family. Soon after that his parents split up, his Mom eventually remarried, and relocated him and his brother to a small town of Wasilla, Alaska. Houston was 19 when he finally met his father in person again, and actually got to know him on a meaningful level.
Nevertheless, Houston had still inherited a natural curiosity for music, singing and performing while growing up in Alaska, given his family’s roots. Almost as if it were passed down through genetics in some way.
“I was always drawn to performing and singing and entertaining people from a very young age, and by the time I was 12 year old, I was already singing in malls and talent shows,” he said.
Another staple of Houston’s country roots is a little further up his family tree. An infamous American outlaw named George "Bitter Creek" Newcomb, Houston’s great-great-grandfather and originally a member of the Dalton Gang. However, Newcomb was booted from the gang by Bob Dalton for being too wild, and formed his own band of cowboy outlaws with Bill Doolin known as the 'Wild Bunch.’ Newcomb, who died from a gunshot wound in 1895, was the inspiration behind The Eagles’ song “Bitter Creek,” which appeared on their 1973 album Desperado.
In his own music, Houston draws upon his family’s rich country and rockabilly musical roots by bringing upbeat, relatable music with powerhouse vocals and enough country twang that transcends age, and resonates with a large audience.
“One song which immediately comes to mind is something I wrote with Britton Cameron called ‘In My Blood,’” Houston commented. “I haven’t released it yet, but I do perform it when I play out live from time to time. It’s about my roots and how I was named after my uncle, ‘Houston Bernard’ who died on the family farm when he was two. People often think my name is just a made up stage name, but I'm proud to say it's actually a family name that goes back several generations.”
Speaking of performing live, Houston has shared bills with many country superstars over the years like Luke Bryan, Old Dominion, Granger Smith, Michael Ray, Montgomery Gentry, Marshall Tucker Band, and Clint Black. Being onstage and performing live is something which gives him a rush, and he loves connecting with people through music.
“I like telling stories and singing about subjects which have meaning to me personally,” Houston explained. “If it also connects with my fans, that gives it so much more depth and meaning. When I’m on stage, connecting with people and entertaining them is something that is just very fulfilling.”
Houston has also been influenced by a number of other musicians and songwriters, some country and some not, since he was a young child. A few of those include Dwight Yoakam, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellancamp, Brothers Osbourne, Bryan Adams and the Queen, Dolly Parton.
On the Queen of country music, Houston emphatically states, “She still amazes me to this day! Between her challenges growing up, career achievements and her words of wisdom, what’s not to admire? On top of that her beauty and natural talent as a performer and songwriter has transcended many generations. Legend is an understatement!”
Houston is also a proud veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served nine years as a Specialist Master Fitness Trainer, and Water Purification & Petroleum Specialist. With a deep respect for all of those who serve, one of his dreams as a performing musician is to eventually one day play a USO Tour.
“I remember when I was in and the shows were such an amazing release and joy,” Houston recalled. “I would love to one day have the opportunity to give back, and bring those same kinds of emotions to our troops overseas who lay their lives on the line for us everyday.”
Fast forwarding to modern times, Houston has released a series of singles, EPs and albums. In 2013 he released his debut self-titled EP, and then followed up with his first full length album Knockin’ Boots in 2015. In 2018 he released his second EP Lucky Man, followed by Freedom, in 2020, which continued to raise Houston’s profile as a diverse country music singer and songwriter.
More recently, songs like “All We Are Is Memories,” “People We Are,” and “American Dream” have garnered him hundreds of thousands of streams on Spotify and YouTube, along with being featured on Country Rebel, CMT.com, The Heartland Network, and The Country Network.
On his forthcoming new single “Hangover,” produced by Nashville hitmaker Bill McDermott, it's immediately evident that they've recorded another country rocker fit for most honky tonks on a Friday or Saturday night. Singing on a familiar country music subject, drinking, Houston and McDermott mix a 90s-esque style of sound with a bit of a southern rock flair and nothing but good times to boot.
“There are a sea of emotions and stories buried in the songs I write and record, Houston said. “I wrote or recorded them because they moved me in some way, and they are honest human emotions that I experienced, which I think my fans also relate. I just want to connect with them and maybe help create some positivity in their lives, because you only live once!”