Interview: Drew McAlister (McAlister Kemp)

McAlister Kemp are talented country duo Drew McAlister and Troy Kemp, and in the lead up to their October 12 ‘In The Raw’ – Unplugged & Intimate set at Norwood Live we were able to find out a little about them. Details of the show can be found at the end of the interview.

How did you meet and form the duo?

We were touring in a Johnny Cash/Highwayman tribute show. We started writing songs in our down time on the road and found that we got on really well. One of the other performers in the show Michael Carr suggested we do something together, MK was born.

Can you tell us a little about how you got your start in music?

We have always played music; from pubs to weddings you name it we’ve played it. Our real success came when Adam Brand took our project to ABC and got us our record deal, things just keep getting better with a third album already being talked about.

What can you tell us about the road to your debut album ‘All Kinds of Tough’?

It’s been a long one for us both. We got signed at the age of 36 which is kinda late in a career. We both had deals over the years and just kept going really. Persistence and some good luck and hard work are what have brought us to this point we guess.

What has been your career highlight to date?

Well winning the Golden Guitar was awesome! We have been fortunate enough to win the CMC New Oz artist of the year award and just now today as we write this have been nominated for an ARIA award; we’re doing the MK happy dance right now! We also got to tour with Alan Jackson which was just mind blowing and did so much for our profile.

If you weren’t making music for a living what would you be doing?

Man that’s hard to say, probably go fishing……forever haha!


Can you tell us a little about your songwriting process?

Songs can come from anywhere if you have your eyes and ears open. For the first album we got together as much as possible. We would both come with ideas and some worked and some didn’t. Basically it’s a numbers game; the more you write the greater the chance you have of getting great songs. We were writing with a guy in Nashville recently and we asked him about life as a songwriter in Twang town, he said ‘I put myself out there just enough to get lucky’ at the time he had the number one song that week in the country chart. Basically we write enough to get a few songs right.

You are currently on tour, can you tell us what we can expect from your shows?

Energy and a great time. We have a ball on stage; we don’t fake it we just have fun, expect to walk away with a smile on your face feeling just that little bit better about the world.

Have you got a favourite venue to play?
Any venue where people show up and sing the words to our songs, that simple.

How do you relax and unwind in your downtime?

Change nappies, go fishing, play squash, drink beer and Jack Daniels, write songs, hang out with our baby girls.

What’s next for McAlister Kemp?

Lots more touring and we have 2 more singles to come off ‘Country Proud’. Then early next year we go over to Nashville to write some more and record the third album, that’s so strange to say ‘Third ‘Album’ how did we get here again haha!

Norwood Live Show details:
Friday, October 12th
McAlister Kemp + Chelsea Basham
Norwood Live
Cnr The Parade & Osmond Tce, Norwood, SA.
Show Only $25+booking fee ($30 at the door)
Dinner & Show $60+booking fee
Doors open 6.30pm

For Information & Bookings Ring The Norwood Hotel on (08) 8431 1822

To find out more about McAlister Kemp or find a show near you check them out at

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