Grady Spencer’s Texas roots run deep. He grew up in the small town of Paducah, got his musical start in nearby Lubbock and now hangs his hat in Fort Worth. In November 2020, he released an EP, Hard Times Nostalgia, that featured covers of songs he enjoyed as a kid, like Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon” and George Strait’s “Carrying Your Love With Me.”
Texas Music and San Antonio Magazine are happy to welcome Grady Spencer & the Work as the next Front Porch Sessions artist, streaming live on April 22 at 7 p.m. We caught up with Spencer before the show to talk about how his band formed, what’s next for them and the power of a George Strait hook.
You met some of your bandmates at Paradox Church in Fort Worth. Were you playing worship music?
Yeah — when my wife and I moved to Fort Worth, we started going to Paradox, where I met some of the guys. I’d never done much worship music before. My bass player, Johnny [Hatcher], still plays worship music most weekends. It’s a way different style than what we do. I enjoy it, and I like helping out my church that way. But I’m not really the stereotypical worship guy.
Grady Spencer & the Work isn’t billed as Christian music. Does your faith influence your songwriting and how you conduct your business?
Yeah, for sure. When I met my wife, I started following her to church. I ended up eventually getting saved and following Jesus.
Lyrically, there are nods to the gospel writer underneath the surface, but our music isn’t overtly Christian. There’s a song called “Take My Hell,” about a buddy of mine I went to church with who was having a rough time and needed to go back to Jesus. Then there’s an older song, “Guns and Knives,” I wrote about reading the Bible.
The purpose of my career is to use music as a tool to meet people and talk with them. I’ve been thankful that people feel comfortable telling me, “Hey, man, that song meant a lot to me.” My job puts me in people’s lives, and I try to use that time and responsibility as best I can.
The way my career has grown and reached the point it’s at — it definitely feels like it wasn’t an accident.
You’ve been described as a blue-collar band. What does that mean to you?
I was in construction work for almost 10 years. I was used to waking up early and going out on a job site, rolling up my sleeves and getting stuff done. I was able to stop construction last year and do music full time, but all of us in the band still keep that mentality. We have a booking agent, but other than that we’re DIY. We enjoy working hard and trying to advance the band ourselves. And the music isn’t crystal clean, which is how we like it … kind of rough around the edges.
How did you select the songs for Hard Times Nostalgia?
In Paducah, where I grew up, there was really only one radio station in town, and it played top 40 country. For most of my childhood, that was the only music I heard: Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks and stuff like that. When COVID hit, we put this EP together of some of my favorites from that era.
That George Strait song, “Carrying Your Love With Me” … the first time I heard it, it grabbed hold of me. I remember hearing how he broke up the melody and thinking, “Wow, that was catchy!” Even as a kid, I realized how powerful a hook is in a song.
Now that pandemic restrictions are loosening, what’s in store for the band?
We’re starting to play shows again, and we’re traveling a bit more. We’ve been working on new music, so hopefully we’ll have a new album this year. We’re going to upstate New York later this summer for a show, and we’ll make a mini tour out of it. Then in October, we’re heading out to California.
I’ve been doing this a long time, but to most people, we’re new. For a band like us, it’s exciting to get out there and tour.