10 Questions with ... Cole Swindell
February 8, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Singer-songwriter Cole Swindell has been hard at work on his career for many years. Growing up in Georgia, Swindell opened shows with Luke Bryan during his early days and then went out as Bryan's merchandise man. After moving to Nashville, Swindell inked a staff writers' deal at Sony/ATV and began cranking out hits for other artists and performing at showcases in and around the Nashville area. Now, with a debut album and a follow up EP out, Swindell is earning his own buzz and becoming a household name in his own right. He was named to this year's Country Radio Seminar (CRS) New Faces Showcase, where he will perform for Country radio professionals from across the nation, displaying why he is fast becoming a staple at the top of the charts.
"Cole Swindell" is his self-titled debut album, and he currently has an EP out entitled "The Down Home Sessions"
1. Cole, thank you so much for taking time to talk with All Access. There seem to be a pretty great group of musicians coming out of Georgia in recent years - what do you think it is about Georgia that has made it a breeding ground for recently successful Country artists?
I don't know if you can point out one thing that has brought success to Georgia Country artists. I know we all come from hard working backgrounds, and I can't help but think that work ethic has something to do with the success of the Georgia crowd. I know I'm proud of where I grew up because it made me the man and artist that I am today.
2. Growing up in Georgia, did you know you wanted to pursue Country music as a career? We know you graduated from Georgia Southern University; what was your major, and how did it prepare you for your current career?
I knew as soon as I started performing in bars and at parties in college that singing was what I wanted to do the rest of my life. College life brings about so many learning experiences in and out of the classroom from study and organizational habits, to making friends and reading people, to learning to play in front of crowds and how to perform in my case. Georgia Southern gave me that opportunity, and that's why I wear this hat - to show where it all started.
3. The word on the street is that you never sang in public until you started college. Where did you hone your skill growing up? Did you write from an early age, or did that come when you began performing?
That's right. I never really sang much at all or wrote anything until I got to college. There, we started doing shows and parties, and everything started coming together.
4. Speaking of your alma mater, you're known as a ball cap wearer. Your debut album features a photo of you wearing a Georgia Southern cap, but you've also released your own "CS" hat. These caps share some similarities...did you pattern your own merchandise after your favorite cap from your alma mater, or was it a coincidence?
We didn't intentionally pattern my merch after the GA Southern hat, but obviously I'm drawn to the layouts and colors that are similar to my favorite hat.
5. There has been an urban legend of sorts circulating about how "Chillin' It" came to be on the air. We've heard there were unmastered copies sent to radio, and we've heard you got a big running start in SiriusXM's The Highway. Can you clear it all up and tell us the story of how the song - and your career as an artist - started to take off?
When me and my buddy Shane Minor wrote "Chillin' It," I knew right then I wanted to keep the song for myself. At the time, there was really no label interest, so I took it to my manager. We mastered the demo, and she got the song to John Marks with SiriusXM, and he gave me a shot. After being #1 for several weeks and selling a noticeable amount of downloads, labels began to take interest, and I signed with Warner Bros. Records. They immediately took it to country radio, who really embraced me, and the rest is history. In this industry where it's all about the song, it's great to have been able to keep this one to kick-start my career.
6. You have written hit songs for Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, and many others, leading to a total of four #1 singles in 2014 - two for yourself as an artist and two that you wrote for other artists. When you're writing, how do you decide if you should shop the song to other artists or keep it for yourself?
In the beginning, I was a songwriter with dreams of becoming an artist. My main goal was to write the best songs I could, keep getting better, and hope that I could get my songs out there for everybody to hear. When you have the opportunity for great artists to cut your songs and put them out, that's hard to pass up, especially when they're your buddies. I can only put out so many songs on an album. I'm just blessed that they loved these songs like I did and people got to hear them. But rest assured, now that I'm in a position to cut my own songs and have the support of a great label and country radio, I'm keeping all the good ones I can.
7. You've gone from playing small bars and club gigs, to opening stadiums and filling farms with Luke Bryan, to headlining your own tour revisiting those smaller venues that gave you a start in the industry. Do you prefer small, medium, or large venues - and why? And is there any particular venue that you've not yet visited that you would like to play?
I love them all for different reasons. There's something about stadiums, with that many people in one place - just a sea of people - and the energy that creates. But then there's a different type of energy within the intimacy of a club that you can't explain. Having the fans right there in front of you responding to everything and seeing immediate fruits of your labors on stage, there's nothing else like it. I hope I can play all sized venues for as long as I can.
8. Coming off of a stellar 2014, you have been named to the "New Faces" show at CRS. That's quite an honor, and is only the beginning of what is sure to be a huge year for you as your current single "Ain't Worth The Whiskey" continues to climb the charts. What can you tell us about your plans for 2015? Will we be getting any additional new music from you this year?
I'll be going out with Jason Aldean as direct support, who I've always been a huge fan of, and then we're doing some stadium dates with Kenny Chesney, which has always been a dream since I saw Luke opening for him when, years ago, I was still doing merch. As you know, I'm always writing and in the studio working on new music. Like we did this year, we plan to put out the "Down Home Sessions EP" to give new music to the fans in between studio albums.
9. A big part of your 2015 is sure to be the touring aspect with Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney. What are you most looking forward to about being out on the road with those guys, and what dynamic do you think you bring to the show?
When I was out selling merch for Luke, he opened a few stadium dates for Kenny. So between that experience and just always being a fan, he's definitely someone I've always dreamed of being on the road with. As far as touring with Jason, I was a fan of his music before he even put out his first album, and becoming friends with him and seeing the energy his live shows have, I can't wait to be a part of his show. These guys have been in this business a long time and are Country music superstars, so I'm going to work my tail off to get the crowds warmed up for them and will be taking notes and learning from two very successful men in this genre.
10. You've been "the young guy" on several tours now, as we mentioned before opening for Luke Bryan and now preparing to go out with Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney. Looking at other "New Faces" in the industry, who are the guys and gals that are up-and-coming who are impressing you? If you were to go out on a headlining tour this year with support acts, what "New Faces" would you like to bring with you on the road and why?
Sam Hunt is one of the new artists who I really like. It's impressive to see what he's done since being introduced to Country music. I've also got a good buddy, Adam Sanders, who I've always written with and I'd love to take him on the road with me at some point.