Travis Meadows may be the most resilient member of the entire Nashville music community. He has battled cancer, addiction, family deaths and more, yet somehow managed to never give up. His heart-wrenching and raw first country album, Killin’ Uncle Buzzy, was released in 2011, after Meadows reached the darkest phase of his life, and amidst several stints in rehab. Meadows has since returned with his highly anticipated third album, First Cigarette, which is set for release October 13 via Blaster Records. Despite a life of struggle, First Cigarette is a testament to how Meadows has fought to find peace in the little things that make life worth living.
So First Cigarette. Can you tell me about the title?
I kind of went back and forth on that. This part of my career has been about overcoming, so underdog was kind of an obvious choice. But I don’t always particularly like going in the obvious direction with artwork and titles, and First Cigarette has a line that says, “learn to love the comfort when it comes, like a first cigarette in the morning buzz,” and I think that really sums up where I’m at in my life and the heart of the record. Because life can be very challenging, but there are those shining moments and it’s really, really great when they come.
First Cigarette seems to be a bit more hopeful than Killin’ Uncle Buzzy. How does that reflect how your life has changed since then?
So, on Killin’ Uncle Buzzy, I had reached a really dark point in my life. Sometimes I joke about it onstage that I had real bad day that lasted for six years. I basically just kind of checked out. I was always a get-back-up person, but there came a point where I just said, “God, if this is the best plan you’ve got, I’m done.” So I just kind of laid down, took a break, stayed drunk for six years. I kind of got tired of the chaos that went with that and I had a boy I wanted to live for, so I started asking for help. I went to rehab. My first rehab was so great — everybody should always go to rehab once, it’s that good. I enjoyed it so much I went back three more times. The last time, one of the counselors suggested that I keep a journal and I said, “I don’t keep journals but I do write songs,” and they kind of laughed. I said, “I’m not kidding, I don’t want to die,” and they told me that the good part of keeping a journal was that you see the progress you’re making and it may inspire you to keep going.