As former tour manager for Academy of Country Music Award nominees Midland, Josh Desure has seen some of the top venues in the United States up close and personal. Still, when the Big Machine trio recently played Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, things took a turn that the California native didn’t expect.
“They didn’t have an opener that night and they were like, ‘Hey, do you want to get up there and play some songs before we go on?’ You know, I jumped at the opportunity,” he tells Billboard. That moment sparked a realization for Desure. “I think after that, I realized and I think that they realized I shouldn’t be managing them, but I should be actually performing.” As it turns out, Midland weren’t the only ones who were impressed. “The manager that was working at the time was like, ‘I couldn’t believe that you were the tour manager.’ He was like, ‘You need to be on the road with these guys.'” Overall, the night was one that Desure won’t be forgetting any time soon. “Just walking around that place, you definitely feel a vibe in there, for sure,” he beamed. “It’s incredible. I felt thankful just to be able to have that opportunity and to be on that stage for sure. You can’t help but walk around and feel the spirit of Buck Owens.”
That exposure led Josh to decide to further explore his own musical ambitions, and his first single, “Stranded Son,” hits digital retailers today; its video is premiering above. He says that his sound differs from his former bosses quite a bit.
“I think with my stuff is a bit more singer-songwriter, with a lot more rock n’ roll influence. I grew up listening to Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, Rolling Stones, Van Morrison and Bob Seger. Those are really my influences. I definitely have a lot of country influences, but I would say that my stuff is a bit more singer-songwriter oriented.” He adds that growing up in Los Angeles exposed him to many different sounds.
“I grew up near the beach and with the setting here and coming out to the city, there’s so many different landscapes here. We have the mountains, we have the beach. You can go to the snow. I think all these things — and the sounds around them — really influenced me.”
Desure says that his relationship with Midland stretches back a while. “We’d been friends for a long time and they gave me the opportunity to tour manage them, which was incredible. I was learning as I went along. It was really cool to be a part of their launch, and also to see my friends succeeding at such fast rate. I was along for the ride and I was helping them. We were all just supporting each other. With those guys, it’s far more than just music. We’re a family. While we’re on the road, I learned so much from them.”
He says the lessons that he’s learned since “Drinkin’ Problem” took off for the guys last year are immeasurable – in career and in life. “If they disagree on things, they know how to talk it through because it’s three of them. The way that they handle situations is so impressive to me. Their dynamic is so impressive and it taught me so much about being a man and being human. They’re also amazing players, and have only gotten better. They work their asses off. They influence me a lot.”
Desure hopes potential fans will be able to draw from his music. “If I can change the way that somebody feels about their day in a positive way, then I think I got my message across. As fat as this song goes, I was stepping into a new chapter, leaving behind a lot of things and at the same time, gaining a lot of new perspectives. The video really shows the feeling of the song. It’s a nostalgic thing for me. I’m singing about my parents, love lost, and my friends. I think it represents a look back at the things that inspired me to this point, as hopefully I begin a new path in my life and career.”
There’s not going to be any bigger fans in his corner than his former employer, as Midland’s Mark Wystrach told Billboard, “We always knew Josh was a musician but it wasn’t until we let him open for us at the Crystal Palace when he was tour managing some of our early dates that we realized he was a mind-blowing singer. His voice is so powerful that it fills the room. We couldn’t be more proud to support him and his dreams as a solo artist. We look forward to him touring with us this year.” Desure will be opening for Midland on four of the band’s upcoming dates, including a date at the historic Filmore this summer (July 26).