“By day, I’m a weld inspector, and music is just a passion of mine that I do on the evenings and weekends, which luckily works out. Nobody wants to hear music during the day, anyway. There’s no real market for that,” said Justin Back, a singer, songwriter and musician.
Back, 32, resides in Seven Mile with his wife, Miranda, and children, Levi, 10 and Evelyn, 5. He was born in Hamilton. He lived in Somerville until he was in the sixth grade. Then, he and his family moved to Liberty Twp. and that’s where he spent his high school career. He graduated from Lakota West and Butler Tech. Growing up, he also spent a lot of time hanging out with his grandparents in Hamilton.
“I’ve played guitar since I was 6 or 7. I got my first guitar and I did a lot of fiddling around, but I never got serious until I was a teenager. Then, I really started to learn to play. From there, I would basically just play around the house. It was a hobby of mine. Then, when I had kids, I would play to them in the bathtub. My son grew out of it first, because he is the oldest, and my daughter, she was the last to fire me. She basically got to the age where she said I’m done with it,” Back said.
He said, “At the time, I wasn’t on any social media at all. You probably couldn’t find a single thing on me prior to that. But my wife took a video of me playing in the living room one day, and posted it online, and we got this pretty big reaction out of people. She had told me for a long time, ‘You’re really good at this, you ought to try this,’ and I said, ‘I just sing to the kids in the bathtub and around here, and I don’t know if I could ever do something like that.”
Time went on, and he said he kept playing, and a good friend and a neighbor, Steve and Stephanie Mortensen, who own the Seven Mile Winery asked Back to play for their grand opening in Dec. of 2020.
“The winery was getting ready to have their grand opening. A few months before that, they came to me, because they had heard me play, around the house, too, and they asked me if I wanted to play their opening weekend, and I said, ‘Man, I don’t know, I’ve never really done anything like that,’ but playing guitar as a hobby, you always sit around and wonder what it would be like to play for an audience. So, I thought, ‘You know, that’s on my bucket list, and I’ll do it, and if I love it, I’ll continue to do it, and if I don’t, I won’t,” Back said.
Seven Mile Winery’s opening was a three-day event, and Back said he played all three days in front of full-capacity crowds. He received an overwhelming response from audiences, and he had a great time entertaining and playing music.
“It has hooked me in, and I haven’t stopped since,” Back said. “The reason I do this, is really to give people something real, something genuine, that there’s no hidden doors with me, and there’s no hidden agenda. I play because I’m having a great time, and I know that’s infectious. I feel like the world is a lot of smoke and mirrors, and I’m not that. I just want to give this world something true and real.”
As a young kid, Back took a few lessons at Mehas Music, but he said he’s largely self-taught. Even before his first show, he began writing and recording music in a studio in Franklin called Babblefish Recording Studios. His debut, eight-song album, “Sober and Hungry,” is expected to release this summer.
“I shopped around at different studios to record my original music, and I talked to the owner, Steve Falearos, a couple times, and he seemed like a really great fit, so I went out there, and he agreed to co-produce my album, which should be completed in the next few months,” Back said. “We went into the studio and started recording, and it just took off from there, to be honest.”
Back said he loves to play, perform and share the music that he writes. When he performs live, he plays his originals, along with a mix of cover songs, including country, and rock n’ roll, from all generations
“Music has always been a big part of my life. I’ve always had an interest in it, but I felt as though the music on the radio is really commercialized and it’s just so manufactured. It’s lost its touch. I always write about personal experiences, and the things we would all run into in life, and the things that people can relate to, and I love to share it with people. I think it’s refreshing for them as well,” Back said.
. So far, Back has released four singles, “Lessons,” “Blue Collar,” “Dressed in Black,” and “Friends,” so he always sings those songs live. (The songs are also available on streaming platforms, including iTunes and Spotify.) He also covers artists like Tyler Childers, Jason Isbell, Randy Travis, Whiskey Myers, Zach Bryan, and Bob Seger.
“My song ‘Blue Collar,’ is about, well, what it sounds like. It’s about a blue-collar worker. I’m a welder, so I totally relate to that, but it’s just about the struggle of feeling as though you have to be a slave to the dollar, but also fighting that power of you don’t want to be at work all the time, but you’re forced to be there, so you get up and you do it. A lot of people that work blue collar jobs can relate to that song,” Back said.
In addition to his wife and children, who also are his biggest cheerleaders, he also cites his grandfather, Donald Jones, as one of his greatest musical inspirations. In fact, he and Jones often perform Elvis tunes together like “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” at his shows.
“My grandpa is musically inclined. He plays the piano and sings. He used to take me to church when I was a little boy. So, as far as family goes, he would be a big musical driver for me. He’s someone who taught me to love that. He comes with me for shows and he’ll get up on stage, and he usually sings one or two Elvis songs with me, which is always really great. I’m so fortunate to have him to do that with,” Back said.
Miranda helps with the bookings, calendars, merchandise, and other important details. In addition to Falearos, who Back said has had an integral part in developing him as a singer, he also credits Bobby Joe Mueller, the lead singer of The Stagger Lee Band, and the band members for taking him under their wings.
Back said he usually plays about two shows a week at area venues. He posts his monthly schedule, or as events are happening, on his social media channels.
In the summer, Back and his family like to spend time doing activities such as camping at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Mount Gilead, and Off the Hook — Fishing & Camping Resort in Camden. The family also likes Heritage Hills Campground in Brookville, Indiana. Back also loves cars, and said, “I’m a big-time car guy.”
Back, a welding inspector, received much of his high school training in welding at Butler Tech. As a student, he said the school had a “huge impact” on his life. He’s also excited that he will be returning to Butler Tech as a full-time teacher this fall.
“I just accepted the position as the welding teacher at Butler Tech for the high school students. It has always been a dream of mine. I just got the offer a few weeks ago, which is so exciting. I’ll be a high school teacher full time. My start date is in August,” Back said.
For more on Justin Back, connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JustinBackMusic. He is also active on Instagram and TikTok.