A good decade into his career, Springfield, Ohio-born singer-songwriter Griffin House decided to mix things up for his latest album, Rising Star. He co-wrote several of the release’s tunes with fellow Nashville musicians Brian Elmquist (The Lone Bellow), Joy Williams (the Civil Wars) and longtime collaborator Jeff Trott (Sheryl Crow).
“It’s unusual,” he admits in a phone interview from his Nashville home when asked about his decision to co-write. He performs on Oct. 9 at the Southgate House Revival. “They’re friends that I hang out with and we happen to be buddies. It was fun. I felt like I needed something a little different and see what it was like to collaborate. Most of the stuff we came up with, I liked better than things I came up with I liked better than the things I did on my own. It’s hard to sit in a room for eight hours a day and write your own album when you’re touring and you have kids. When you put two people in a room together who don’t normally work together, there’s a spark that can happen that’s not the same as you being in a room by yourself.”
House says he didn’t intend for the title track to be autobiographical, but the song just veered in that direction. It opens with the line "he got jerked around and he got wined and dined but he never got signed." House sings the somber tune in a drawl, and it features a sparse acoustic guitar riff.
“We tried to write the quintessential Nashville Country song that pokes fun of the cliché of the guy who moves to Nashville with his guitar and a dream,” he says of the song. “We thought of all the Nashville clichés we could, and we put them in the song, and the more I started playing it and the longer time has gone on, I realized there are similarities between me and the guy in the song. I guess I’m just a walking cliché. It’s funny.”
“Tell Me What You’re Made Of,” perhaps the album’s most riveting song, has a quiet intensity to it. House and Trott wrote the track at his Nashville home.
“It’s been around for a while,” he says when asked about the song's origins. “We thought it was going to be part of a project we were working on called the Edison Tesla Celebrity Deathmatch, which we thought would be a good name for a band. We recorded some songs and were going to do this side band. It kind of fizzled out. The idea died, but I decided I still liked the song. It’s one of my favorites on the record. It felt like it could be a single.”
House also stars in the full-length documentary film Rising Star, which was co-produced with music video director and filmmaker Shane Drake. The flick features music from his new album as well as his previous catalog.
“I think (the film) is going to come out in November,” he says. “We were waiting to see if we could get some interest from Netflix and we entered a few film festivals. We thought we might get lucky and get some attention for it without having to put it ourselves. So far, we haven’t had any luck with getting a deal, so our plan is to just put it out ourselves and see if we can get some momentum going with it.”
On past albums, House has written about struggling with sobriety. He says that theme doesn’t rear its head as much this time.
“I went through the hardest part of that two albums ago,” he says. “This record is more about going through the changes. It’s an evolution of changing. Sobriety is a lifelong process. I’ve gone through more changes and dealt with the recovery process. Some of it is not all good. It served me well but started to feel like fundamentalist religion sometimes and that’s not good for me psychologically, so now I have to go to therapy to figure that out. I feel pretty healthy where I am now, but I’m still figuring it all out.”
For tickets/more info on House's Oct. 9 Southgate House Revival Show visit southgatehouse.com.