The title cut of Zane Williams' new CD and current single is "Overnight Success." He tells Billboard that he wouldn't mind if fans thought the tongue-in-cheek lyrics were something he identified with – though he has been perfecting his craft for close to two decades.
"I titled the album 'Overnight Success' because I feel like that's my story," he says. "You work at this thing for so long, and you struggle. Then, you get the pieces of the puzzle in place and people start hearing about you."
The Zane Williams story stretches across many different states. He was born in the Lone Star state, but has spent time in Kentucky, West Virginia, California, and Tennessee before moving back to Texas. He figures he'll be there for a while. "I think I'll be in Texas the rest of my life. I married a Texas girl," he says with a laugh.
Musically, as traditional sounding as Williams is, he says he really wasn't raised on country.
"Growing up, I really didn't listen to much in the way of country music," he admits. "I really didn't go to a lot of live shows. I guess my biggest influence was singing in church. I grew up in the Church of Christ where there are no instruments. It was congregational singing, so I learned how to read music and sing all the different parts. I love harmony, and have an ear for that. I've sung in some acapella groups before. My mom listened to the easy listening station, and picked up on some of that by osmosis," he says, adding that his first exposure to country came later. I didn't start listening to country much at all until high school. I discovered the top-40 countdown after church, and that was the first time I ever heard country music. I realized I liked it. My first introduction to it was 90s country like Garth, George Strait, Randy Travis, and Alan Jackson. It's only been later in life I discovered Haggard and Jones, and Texas artists like Robert Earl Keen."
He did make the move to Music City, and found an unusual job playing music. "I lived in Nashville for nine years. For seven years of that time, I made a living playing at college coffee houses all over the country. My booking agent was a guy I met in Nashville. So, right off the bat, Nashville provided me with the connection to a guy who helped me to quit my day job, where I could make a living with music. It was a good time for me, as far as from a maturing process. I was able to practice performing in front of some small crowds, and it paid my bills."
However, his approach to writing didn't mesh well with the co-writing trend that has become the norm there.
"I didn't do the typical Nashville thing. I didn't co-write, and I didn't do demos. I was out there writing by myself and trying to play the college market. But, it gave me a chance to mature, and learn how to relate to an audience, which is kind of my wheelhouse to this day. I had a publishing deal, but I wrote by myself. In a sense, I don't feel I was ever plugged into Nashville or if I ever did the typical Nashville thing. Writing by yourself is very isolating. I can understand why people co-write, but having a whole decade of writing by myself helped me to work out the kinks. When I moved back to Texas, I had come onto the scene as this 'mature artist' that no one had ever heard of, but one who had a couple CD's and a lot of original material," he says, which got him quite a bit of attention.
"Overnight Success" is a mixture of uptempo fare like the title cut and "Hands Of A Workin' Man," but also some emotional ballads, like the closing "While I Was Away." He finds it gratifying that people are picking up on how mixed his music is.
"I'm glad people think that's a positive," he says thankfully. "I knew the album was very diverse from both a sonic level and subject matter. I personally like that. I get bored with the same thing over and over. I wrote all the songs by myself. I was hoping my personality would be enough to hold the album together where it didn't sound so much like a random compilation. I feel like I'm firing on all cylinders, and ready for the opportunities. I want to make some great country music. That's my goal at the end of the day."