Randy Montana: The Story Behind “1,000 Faces”
One of the cuts we can’t stop listening to on our new free sampler, CMT Presents The Country Way Digital Vol. 2, is Randy Montana’s “1,000 Faces.” Blame it on the clever rhyme scheme, or the song’s sentimental center. We talked to the country newcomer (and Taylor Swift tour mate) about “1,000 Faces’” origins, the killer video, his songwriting dad, and his admiration for Bruce Springsteen.
This is your big single, right?
Yeah, the second one we put out last year, but I feel like this one’s been connecting more when I’m out playing shows.
How long ago did you write it, and what inspired it?
It was January last year. I wrote it with Tom Douglas, and Tom sat down with that idea, he had that thought, “a thousand faces.” It was weird how the song came together, but the whole song’s just a list. We’re just listing all the kinds of girls there are. Different characteristics, what you wear, what you’re into. We tried writing out lists separately, talking about it and throwing ideas back and forth, then just cutting and pasting it together, almost.
It wasn’t like you saw one girl in particular, and thought that you had to write this song?
You know, I’m married, and I wish I could say that I sat down to write about my wife, but no. For me, it’s about her. I think for Tom, too, there’s his family in there. That’s the thing, it doesn’t really have to be about a significant other, it could be your kid, or whoever it is. I think that’s kind of the cool part about the song, it’s so broad. It could be about anything you love.
The video sort of reminds me of being in New York City, how you walk down the street and you’re surrounded by all these beautiful women. Even though this was filmed in Nashville, I was wondering if that was an inspiration for the song, walking down a crowded city street…
You’re exactly right. It’s that way at every show, there’s a thousand people out there–hopefully. Not all the time, but when there is, [that’s great]. I thought that street was a great way to represent it. I thought it was cool to go back and forth between different people and different walks and whatever they were doing that day. It kind of got that vibe across, of that city street. There’s a hundred thousand beautiful women out there, but you’ve got to see that one at the end of the day, that one that’s yours.
It’s kind of funny, because you don’t usually see that many people walking down the street in Nashville.
Shooting the video was cool in that it did have that New York City feel, and it looks cold. I thought they did a great job of masking that. I get asked “Where did you shoot that?” and when I say “On the corner of 4th and Church in Nashville,” they’re like, “Really?” It’s kind of surprising, because of how we set up with all of the extras walking through the shots and stuff like that.
The other thing “a thousand faces” brings to mind is the old Bon Jovi song, “Wanted Dead Or Alive” — “I’ve seen a thousand faces and I rocked them all.” Was that in the back of your mind when you wrote it?
I don’t think it was. I feel like it’s kind of Springsteen-ish in a way. We were talking about that song, “Thunder Road.” You listen to “Thunder Road” and it’s incredibly wordy. Everything is really descriptive. You have to really listen to follow it. I love listening to the acoustic version of “Thunder Road” because I can really just hear that lyric. I’m a huge Bruce Springsteen fan, as Tom is, and trying to shoot for something like that is fun.
Are many country musicians Bruce Springsteen fans?
Yes, especially in the writing world. A lot of the writers in town today are, including myself. I’ve always been a huge fan of the singer-songwriter, the guys that write their songs. I’ve always thought that Bruce was amazing at that, as far as songwriting went. With his singing, he’s kind of that package deal. Whenever I listen to Bruce, I get a little movie in my head, it’s so descriptive. Those are my favorite kinds of songs.
You’re originally from Albany. What’s it like being a country singer from New York?
I regret ever putting Albany, NY as my hometown, because they ask, “Where were you born?” and I say “Albany, NY”–which is true. But I moved to Nashville when I was three years old. Nashville’s always been home. I’ve always been around country music. The reason we had moved to Nashville when I was three was because my dad [Billy Montana] had signed a record deal with Warner Bros. I still have family up North, and I try to make it up there at least once a year, but it’s tough just because it’s busy. Nashville’s always been home. I grew up around the music industry, just watching my dad. I grew up next to a stage.
Do you think your dad’s songwriting skills were handed down genetically?
I think that creativity is passed down. My sister is extremely creative. My dad and I, we write together really well. We agree on what we think a great song is, just because of what we’ve listened to when I was growing up, Jackson Browne or Tom Petty, Willie Nelson and things like that. We have that agreement, because he brought me up on the music that he loved, of what a great song sounds like.