For two decades, Mac Powell has delighted audiences as a member of the popular Christian rock band Third Day. However, there is another side to the soulful singer, as he explores on his new self-titled debut country disc.
"It's something I have listened to since I was a little kid," he tells Billboard. "I grew up in the great state of Alabama, a little town called Clanton. It's one of those little towns that people will stop at the gas station in on their way to Florida. It's grown quite a bit... It even got a McDonalds," he jokes.
Country music was something he heard around the house growing up on a daily basis, and his parents helped spread the love of the format. "They loved playing acoustic guitar, and would sing around the house."
However, his musical journey would take him in a different direction, but he never forgot his love of the music.
"I got busy with Third Day, and I've been in the band for twenty years now," he says. "I never really thought I would have the chance to make a country record, and never knew if I could."
Powell says that about two years ago, he began being approached by people asking whether he'd ever thought about making a country record
"When you have random people saying that, you start to think, 'Maybe I should be doing this,'" he says. "I knew I loved it, but I had been in this other genre for so long. So, I had a little time off at the end of last year, and got together with some friends of mine, and started working on some songs. I liked what I had come up with, and played it for some other people who did, and thought 'Maybe I need to get this out there."
Though the music on his solo disc is a much different sound, that doesn't mean that Third Day is calling it a day. "We've been together for twenty years, and it's one of things I still love doing. I have a great time playing with those guys. We actually have a new record coming out soon. It's fun to be able to do this. As a songwriter and musician, doing a country record gives me another outlet. I've had these other song ideas, and things I've wanted to do, but couldn't within Third Day, so this gives me a chance to do it."
Two of the highlights on the album are the first single, "June Bug," and "Sweet Georgia Girls," of which Powell says "It was one of the first songs we wrote for the record. There are several semi-autobiographical cuts on it, and it's not totally true. Like many writers, I tried to take some things that have happened in life, and tried to make a song out of it. I grew up in Alabama, and moved to Georgia, met my sweetheart, and now I have a house full of Georgia girls like the song talks about."
Powell had a hand in writing all twelve of the songs on the disc. Though each song was deeply personal, though like Conway Twitty - one of his influences, he doesn't want to divulge everything concerning a song - not for privacy's sake, but not to impose on how a listener might take the meaning of the song to be. "There'll be times that someone will come up to me and say 'Thank you for writing so-and-so song. It helped me and affected me in this way.' Then they will tell me what they thought it was about, and I would say 'I never even thought about that. That's not what the song was about.' So, you don't want to change people's perspective of what the song can be for them."