10 Questions with ... Brantley Gilbert
May 25, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Brantley Gilbert has racked up four #1 singles, impressive album sales of over 1 million, and multiple award show nominations from the CMA, ACM, ACA & CMT Music Awards. The lead single from his newly released "Just As I Am" album, "Bottoms Up" hit #1 on the Country airplay charts. Quickly scoring the #1 spot on iTunes Country Singles Chart, "Bottoms Up" has already been certified Platinum for selling over one million downloads while the accompanying video boasts over 17 million views. His last project, the Platinum-certified "Halfway To Heaven Deluxe," produced two Gold-certified #1 hits - "Country Must Be Country Wide" and "You Don't Know Her Like I Do." As a celebrated songwriter, he has also penned #1 songs - "My Kinda Party," "Dirt Road Anthem," "Country Must Be Country Wide" and "You Don't Know Her Like I Do." Brantley is currently giving fans a preview of his May 19th "Just As I Am" (The Valory Music Co.) release throughout the "Let It Ride Tour" with special guests Thomas Rhett and Eric Paslay.
1) Hey Brantley, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with All Access! We're currently back in your hometown of Jefferson, GA. Can you tell us how your hometown has influenced different songs you've recorded?
My hometown and the people here are everything to me. I tried to make the move to Nashville, and there's nothing wrong with Nashville by any means, but I realized that to stay true to me, I needed to be here. I'm a Georgia boy, and I need to be around the places and the people that I started writing about. I think in my mind, to be comfortable moving forward with my career, I want to make sure I'm at home and I'm still grounded. You hear these horror stories about people forgetting who they are and where they came from. I figured if I kept my roots in the ground and kept it home, it would always be home and I wouldn't forget that.
2) Your new album, "Just As I Am," came out last week. It's been over four years since your last release. How is this album different than your previous projects?
All of my records are chapters of my life and this is really just the next chapter. For the majority of the first two records, it was produced by me and the band, and having Dan Huff as the producer on this project was different, but in a great way. It does follow the same kind of regiment the other two did: It tells a story. I'm glad we took 4 1/2 years to write it and get it ready. A lot has happened in those years; the good, the bad, and the ugly. We didn't skip any of it. The main difference from the other two is that they're new stories.
3) If you had the opportunity to collaborate with any one, dead or alive, who would it be?
Well, I have a current collaboration on this record with Thomas Rhett and Justin Moore; and that was a blast. I love them two boys to death. They're two of my favorite people in the business, so that was kind of dream come true. Those two boys mean a lot to me.
4) Speaking of your collaboration with Thomas Rhett and Justin Moore on "Small Town Throwdown," can you tell us the process behind that? Did you approach them? How did it all go down?
Well actually, Thomas' dad, Rhett Akins, as well as Ben Hayslip and Dallas Davidson, and I all wrote that song about five years ago. I've always liked the song, and we were getting ready for this record and I wanted to put one more party song on there about my hometown and the parties we had here. Justin and I had talked about doing a collaboration for a while, and Thomas was out on tour with us. I got to thinking and realized there ain't nobody I'd rather be on a song with; lets do it. I called Justin and sent him the song and he said back 'Hell, this seems like a Justin Moore song anyway!' So, we cut it, and they killed it. They sound so great. I'm really proud to have that as my single right now.
5) Were you musical as a kid? Did your family always know this would be your career path?
I made a lot of noise as a kid. I don't know that it was musical. Haha! One of my coaches was telling me earlier today that I use to sing "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" all the time. I even sang it at church one morning. One of my other friends told me I sang "Achy Breaky Heart" over the intercom in elementary school. I'm still denying that one! It wasn't really until I got right out of middle school and picked up a guitar that I really got into writing songs. A lot of them I didn't play in front of people in the beginning. I always wanted to write my own stuff. I never wanted to learn other people's stuff. My mom has said though that I use to put on a show in my room when I was really young for an audience of one. I had a chest of drawers in my room and I'd stand on it with a plastic microphone and a plastic guitar and she said it looked like I thought I was doing awesome, but I really wasn't.
6) What did you grow up listening to and who are some of your musical influences?
I can't really put my finger on anything in particular. Everything I've ever listened to has motivated me in one way, form or fashion. It may have motivated me to never do anything like it. I was always a Skynard, Garth Brooks, 38 Special, ACDC fan. I like a little bit of everything, including rap.
7) If you weren't doing music, what would you do?
I did just get a farm in Alabama and I'm going to be raising genetic deer and farming them. I've always wanted to be a farmer, but can't be because I don't have time to run the farm. So, I came up with a new title for myself: singer/songwriter/biker/executive farmer.
8) As I previously mentioned, we're back in your hometown and we're actually currently sitting in your high school. Did you have any "labels" in high school? Were you the class clown, the bad boy, in the band, etc?
I got in a little bit of trouble in high school. I was a little bit of a class clown too. For the most part though, I was a gentleman. I was raised right. I was as well behaved as I could possibly make myself be.
9) You've recently teamed up with the military charity Folds Of Honor. Can you tell us about that partnership and what it means to you?
My mom's side of the family is a big military family, one of my dearest friends from home is an Army ranger, and my cousin was a marine. My cousin did several tours when things were really hot in Iraq, and he unfortunately watched his best friend get killed over there. When he told me that story, I almost felt like I was there. There's a song on my record called "One Hell Of An Amen" that is written from his best friend's sister's perspective. I've always had real strong ties to the military and I have a lot respect for those guys. The majority of the charities we work for deal with soldiers who are coming home; this one deals more with the families who are left behind when the soldiers do pass away. At every remote stop on the way to Arlington, there was a family that told a story about how Folds Of Honor helped them. Folds Of Honor also gave away scholarships at every remote location, which was pretty awesome.
10) What's your favorite high school memory?
I'd have to say that collectively, some of my favorite memories are at Potts Farm. Some of those parties were the most fun and the times that we had there playing football and baseball, I'll never forget. Me and my friends were a group of athletes who grew up playing together. Those field parties, and baseball and football games are definitely some of my best memories.
1) When you're out on the road, and finally get back home to visit your parents, is there any special recipe you ask your mom to make you?
Mom's home cooked mac and cheese! That's my devil!