By: Nicole Juliette Hetlyn
Front Porch of America
Americana singer/songwriter, Mick Fury, set out on a creative project unlike any other. Originally from Syracuse [New York], Mick had moved to Los Angeles, then back to Syracuse, where he played in a hard rock band. Once Mick made the move to Nashville, he found his niche in country/Americana music. More-so than anything, he is a true artist, and he is using his creativity to make art and to make a difference. The media is constantly telling us that America is outrageously divided, and Mick wanted to find out how true that was. In an effort to see what was going on in America, Mick traveled 8,500 miles in 14 days. I caught up with Mick to find out more about his project, Front Porch of America.
How did the idea for this project originate?
I was writing with a good buddy of mine, Sean Patrick McGraw. He’s from Fredonia [New York]. We were sitting on the front porch of his house here in East Nashville, shooting the shit. He’s a big social media guy, and he was asking “why is everyone fighting everyone? Why are they all calling each other names? ..” and so forth, and so we began talking about that. East Nashville is such a diverse group of people. So a white guy walks by, a black lady walks by, a Mexican man walks by.. Sean said, “it’s almost like we’re sitting on the front porch of America.” That’s what sparked the song, so we started with that. I had been working on an album, so I had about eight songs. I was talking to my video guy, Terry Little, another New Yorker, who lives out in St. Petersburg now. I called him and said that I wanted to shoot more music videos for these eight songs. I asked him how we could do it, since the first song was “Front Porch of America.” I thought it would be cool if we went out there and talked to people on their front porches, and find out what the fuck is going on out there.
I thought it would be good to just get out there and listen. Just cut through the media bullshit. And let’s just go talk to people. To do something no one does anymore and to listen, it was so important that we listened. I’m not gonna yell “this is what I think and just shut up!” I tried to be open minded. Of course i have opinions, but I know that I don't know everything. If someone disagrees with me, then I get excited because maybe this guy or girl knows a ton of shit that I don’t know, and me yelling at them and saying that I am right? I’m not gonna learn anything from it. What I learn from is listening. And it did change my view going on that trip. It make me think, “oh okay, I see why this person in this place has this view.” I might not agree, but I can empathize with them.
Were there any reactions that caught you of guard or stuck with you?
Yeah, the funny thing is what kept coming up is “American Civil War, Part 2” and “America is so divided,” and “everyone is on polar opposite sides.” But it didn’t seem like that long ago that we thought about the same thing. Now everyone is apparently so divided. What was surprising to me, was once you got through the first 5-10 minutes of people being angry and feeling like no one was listening to them and spouting off all of the shit that they are super passionate about, after those 10 minutes went away, all of the conversations became the same. Everyone wants almost the same thing. People aren’t radically on one side or the other. I heard it in Denver, and I heard it in New York City, and I heard it in LA. If we would just sit down and listen to each other, and put ourselves in each other's shoes, all of these differences and this divide would melt away. It’s all bullshit. Something that gave me a twinkle of hope, was if we could just sit down and have a beer together and talk and not be quick to jump to conclusions or judge people… all that shit fades away. It’s just a way to gen up money, attention, and distractions. Some of these people are getting there news from very biased sources, so you’re getting such a skewed few of the facts, so of course you hate the other side. Once you get together and hear the other side, you realize they aren’t that bad, they might think the same thing but differ in how they execute it. The differences are way more subtle than they seem to be portrayed.
So we’re not as divided as the media states?
No, we’re definitely not as divided as they say we are. Yes, there are people with super strong views and unfortunately it seems like the politicians are more divided than the actual American people are. They’ll say “you’re either a democrat or you’re a sell-out” or “you’re either a republican or a --,” they want you to be like that. They want to push you to an extreme side. It’s bullshit, and i’m not quite sure of the solution. But you can take a white redneck middle-aged guy from the Midwest and some young black kid from Harlem, and if they sat and talked for 10 minutes, they would say “yeah, we basically think about the same thing.” That gives me hope. Unfortunately, watching the media makes me distraught. And social media makes me even more distraught. But when you sit in talk to someone, it gives you hope. All we have to do is listen.
Is this something you would do again?
I say no - only because the physical and mental strain was intense. But I am so glad me, Terry, and Adam James did this together. I told them from the start when we loaded the truck - this is going to suck. It’s going to be long drives, we are going to get sick, and we aren’t going to sleep much. But It’s also going to lead to something cool. So everyone was in and wanted to do it. To get that same level of commitment might be hard, plus I had financed it myself. All of those things being said, I probably wouldn’t do it again. However, if i felt like it was making a difference, and people were excited and wanted to know more and would listen to each other, then yes; I would do it.
Music has such a chance to make a difference. No one wants to be preached to or told what to think, but if you can sing it to them, and tell them a little story, at least you can give them a new way to think. Maybe they won’t be so harsh to another group. I don’t want to throw any shade at anyone, but I think it’s sad that a lot of these artists that have so much influence and don’t do anything. They’re doing good and they’re doing their music, and maybe they don’t want to rock the boat, which is their prerogative, but they have the opportunity to make a difference. There was a time when artists meant first and foremost you made a difference. The word “artist” is tossed around loosely in this town, for better and worse, but it used to mean that you were creating something emotionally important. We’re not on this planet for a limited amount of time to collect limited green pieces of paper. That can’t be the only reason you’re in it, you have to make your experience better.
Final thoughts on your experience?
One thing that strikes me everytime I go on the road, and I’m sure you understand, is how beautiful and amazing this country is. First of all, we both know New York City well. Arguably the best city in the world. Every restaurant you go in had the greatest food and drinks, they have the most interesting people. Then you drive for 48 hours and you’re in the middle of Montana, and you step out and the mountains are just so beautiful. Or when we went to California, we walked along the beach and the temperature was perfect and the people are so creative. Every time I do this, I’m reminded what an incredible place this is, and how great it could be. If we could just get past the bullshit. We should be the greatest country in the world because we invite different cultures in and different ideas, and we appreciate everyone. If we listen to everyone, we have the chance to be the best. It fires me up a bit, there is so much potential to be great. Nashville is also super special. I’ve lived in many places, there’s a reason why I live here now. The creativity here is amazing. People who can live here and maybe not make a lot of money, but still have the opportunity to express themselves; those are the people I can write songs with. Some of the people I have met and written with here in Nashville are some of the most talented people in the world, and I feel like that only happens in Nashville. It feels like that era in Paris when Hemingway lived there and all these other brilliant writers lived there; something really amazing was happening there - I feel like something amazing could happen in Nashville.
Thank you, Mick, for taking the time to talk with us! We are so excited about this new project! The first Season of Front Porch of America is online now [WATCH HERE], and that also includes the first four songs/music videos from Mick’s EP, Front Porch of America. You can also listen to the songs on Spotify. While the first season discusses the problems in America, the second season will focus on what a possible solution could be. Check out season one, and let us know your thoughts!
FRONT PORCH OF AMERICA
Director: Terry Little
Songwriters on album: Sean Patrick McGraw, Max McKee, Adam James Deiboldt, Tyler Elliott, Trey Hester, Mick Fury
Produced by: Max Mckee & Mick Fury [East Nashville]
Featured on: the All Guitar Network on Roku