A tandem the Beatles and Foxygen served as muses for Welles' “Hold Me Like I'm Leaving,” a hard rocking tune from the Nashville band's new album, Red Trees & White Trashes, whose video premieres below.
Singer-guitarist Jesse Wells tells Billboard the song was somewhat a made-to-order creation. “I'd been writing some songs and management wanted some more tunes,” Wells says. “I had this Beatles ditty in my head from The White Album, 'Cry Baby Cry,' that's been stuck in my head all these years. So I just wrote ('Hold Me Like I'm Leaving') from that, added a melody, chorus and pre-chorus and wrote the song. The lyrics are a little dramatic, I think.”
In fact, “Hold Me Like I'm Leaving's” hook line, “I ain’t cut out for love,” came from Foxygen's “Oh No 2,” which Wells acknowledges he “misheard.” “He goes, 'I'm not one for love.' That's always stuck with me, too,” Wells explains.
Wells, an Arkansas native, created Red Trees & White Trashes from an estimated 200 songs he'd written, with a straightforward mission. “I was just trying to make an incredibly authentic rock 'n' roll record, which is about all I think I can do,” explains Wells, whose tie to music comes from a grandfather who gave him a new Beatles album for each birthday. “What I do is pretty broad but definitely within classic rock radio. That's what I grew up. That's what I listen to. I'll hear the Lovin' Spoonful's 'Daydream' and I'll go, 'I want to write 'Daydream' and go downstairs and write my version it. That's how I get all the songs. I'm inspired one tune at a time.”
Red Trees & White Trashes, which producer Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell) contributed to, features 11 those creations. And while Welles has heavy touring planned for the fall, Wells, who also works at an East Nashville cfee shop, plans to keep adding to his stockpile material. “I've got songs,” he says, “and I'll write more. I look down the lane and I don't see a lot people in there with me. I'm not trying to bring rock n' roll back or anything like that. This is just how I talk. This is my musical language, and if you want to have a conversation with me you're gonna have to listen to some rock n' roll, I reckon.”