You play with the audience, and they play back with you. They get into it, and then everybody gets into it. I don't want to be like a monkey on stage and just go through the motions because then it wouldn't be fun anymore. I just pay attention to the audience and appreciate the fact that somebody wants to see us. That gets me psyched.
For whatever reason, whenever I'm having a get-together, I'll turn on my projector and play YouTube videos of 'Russian driving fails.' Russians all have dashboard cameras in their cars, so there are all these videos of crazy wrecks and people almost getting hit in the street. It's a conversation starter, for sure.
I've had some terrible jobs, but working in a kitchen at Cracker Barrel is probably the worst I've ever had. I was a grill cook - awful! It wasn't the smell, it was the people. The music, too. We had to be 'country fresh,' so they played this terrible country music eight hours during the shift. It was a bleak existence - a very dark time.
I'm not that flashy in private; I'm usually pretty reserved. But on stage, it's about not being afraid of anything - of anyone judging you. It's one place you can be free. So why not sing as loud as you can, hoop and holler and jump around? A show is a moment. When it's done, it's over. I find that extremely liberating.
There's not a whole lot to do in Athens. When I was 13, I just started entertaining myself by writing songs. I'd sit in my room for 10 hours playing the same song, stacking vocals, trying out different drum beats, realizing no one would ever hear this but having so much fun. I guess I got my voice from just doing that so often.
The biggest lie in the world is in answer to the question, 'How are you?' People usually say, 'I'm fine,' but that's mostly bull. Everyone wants to display being perfect. They tell themselves and their friends, 'I drive this car, I own this house, I'm fine.' People ball up into these tight wads of repression.
For my band's debut tour in 2011, we road-tripped across the country in a 15-passenger van. It was the first time I'd left Alabama. I drove through scenery I'd only ever seen in calendars: auburn leaves falling in Vermont, the sun setting over purple mountains in Arizona. It was incredible.
When I first started, I was much weaker of a singer because I wasn't used to singing so much. Now I've learned, when I'm singing on stage, not to go over. You can go over and mess yourself up. I used to do it all the time, wouldn't know how to preserve it for the next show.