Direction, discipline shape country artist Logan Mize’s music career

Logan Mize sings during a performance at The Hat in Manhattan on Saturday. Mize is from Clearwater, Kansas, and released his most recent album "Come Back Road" in 2017. (Justin Wright | Collegian Media Group)

When he was six, all Logan Mize could listen to was Elton John and Enya. He started out playing the piano but hated to perform in front of people.

“I never did, I still have it,” Mize said when asked how he overcame that fear. “The more people it is the more comfortable I am, but when it’s small intimate rooms … I lose my mind. I never really got over it, but I just learned to power through.”

Throughout his career, Mize, who grew up in Clearwater, Kansas, has had to power through a lot. In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, soon after he signed his first major record deal, he established his own philosophy of the long game.

Mize still stands by that philosophy today.

“I would never have gotten the experience of learning how this business operates from every angle if I would’ve just came out of the gate with a hit,” Mize said. “Some good that I got humbled by the industry before anything big.”

Starting out as an independent artist, Mize released his first album “Logan Mize” in 2009. In April 2010 he signed with Big Yellow Dog Music and has since released two more albums and two EPs.

His most recent album, “Come Back Road,” reached sixth on Billboard’s Top Heatseekers Chart, which tracks up-and-coming artists in the industry. He also was featured on Montgomery Gentry’s “20 Years of Hits” album, something Mize described as “surreal.”

Early on in his career, Mize was unsure if this was the right path for him.

For Mize, one of the lowest points of his career was after an early band of his broke up. He was renting a run-down home and working the second shift at a forklift pallet factory.

“I just remember sitting at the edge of my bed one night sweating like 3 o’clock in the morning thinking ‘I’m dead. This is over,'” Mize said. “Just trying to figure out the anxiety of like, I know what I want to do. I know what my dream is, I know what my plan is, but it’s just not working and I’m losing my mind at the same time.”

Now Mize is a father of two children and continues to tour across the country alongside his wife Jill Martin, who opened for him at The Hat on Saturday.

Having kids has been one of the biggest changes in his personal life since he started his path as a musician, Mize said. Before he had children, Mize would book as many shows as possible. Now, he wants to be home as often as he can.

“You don’t think about that when you start doing this, you know?” he said. “Every time you have to leave, you’re like, ‘Oh man, I need to get my schedule a little lighter.’ But then you lighten your schedule and you’re like ‘Oh man, we gotta buy more diapers, I need to get more shows.’ So then it becomes a catch-22.”

Adapting to the role of a parent has been a challenge for Mize, but one that he loves.

“I would imagine basic training for the army would be easier than learning how to be a dad,” Mize said. “There is just so many unexpected twists and turns. The emotional side is what gets you. It’s just unexpected stuff that there is no way to explain. I couldn’t even explain it to myself right now. It’s just there and it’s like this is really hard but I love it.”

That huge adjustment has been something Mize and Martin say they have “kind of figured out,” but Mize feels it’s something he’ll never truly be used to.

The biggest change in his professional life has been that his music is no longer regional, as Mize has been able to connect with people across even international borders.

In 2016, Mize headlined for Nashville Meets London, a country music festival in the United Kingdom. He was shocked to see the amount of people who came to see him perform, he said.

All these changes and struggles Mize has had to face have brought him to where he is today.

“I was kind of just a wild mess,” Mize said. “Not lacking direction … just lacking the discipline to put myself on the right path all the time. Now I wake up every day and it’s like, well, I have to be a good dad, I have to be a good husband. You know I have eight people that make their living off me now, so I have to be a good employer, I have to be a good leader.”

With all those responsibilities, Mize said the most satisfying part of this is that he is still able to sell out venues better than some artists with big hits.