Rising Country singer-songwriter Raleigh Keegan has just released his new single Don’t Take Time, his first to be sent to Country radio.
The former college football player and personal trainer is concentrating on his musical talents, having had a love of music from an early age after learning to play a number of instruments. He’s currently in the studio working with Ryan Gore (Thomas Rhett, Kacey Musgraves) and will be releasing an EP later this year.
I caught up with Raleigh recently to talk about Don’t Take Time, find out more about his upcoming EP and discuss his hopes to come to the UK to play some live shows in the future.
Let’s start off with the single Don’t Take Time. It feels like your sound is leaning a little bit more towards traditional rather than the mainstream pop sound that’s dominating Country right now. Tell me a little bit more about that….
That’s interesting and true. The reason is because I basically take all my influences and try to mould them together in some way. I don’t consider myself a traditionalist in Country or like a mainstream new guy. I just try to take everything that I love and then mix it up in a pot and then that’s what you get (laughs). I guess if there was a sphere, I’m somewhere in between traditional Country and newer country.
It’s refreshing to hear a new artist that isn’t chasing down the R&B/Country route that so many are going down right now…
Look at you man! I love that (laughs). I love that you know that. I just like the real thing. I just like real instruments. I’m just trying to do what I want to do. I take my influences – Tom Petty, Travis Tritt, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church – and even new guys too – Brothers Osborne – I take all my influences and obviously they shape you in some way and then you just try to do you. I think it’s wrong if you go in the studio and you’re trying to chase after something that’s popular. You just try to make something that’s great and if you’re bold enough to be yourself you’ll stand out.
Don’t Take Time is your first single that’s going to Country radio. What’s the inspiration behind the track?
Basically it’s about my wife. I was dating a girl at the time – we were dating on and off for four years – and we struggled to figure out the whole, ‘are we going to make this work? Are we not? Are we going to get married someday? We’ve been dating four years, where’s this going?’ We were all together at this nine-week summer event thing in college and basically I saw my wife, at the time, and I just looked at her and I was like, ‘oh my goodness this is the one!’ I’d never even met her yet, I just saw her from across the room. It was a big problem because I was dating this other girl at the time. It was so weird. That’s where the title (comes from). It’s funny man because the girl (I was dating) we ended up breaking up and Shelby and I started dating really quickly. We got engaged really quick and we got married really quick. The girl that I was dating for four years, she ended up marrying my roommate from that summer. It was so weird.
The song is the first track from your upcoming EP, due later this year. What can we expect from that?
Yeah man! You’re gonna hear more of the same type of thing that you were talking about earlier. There’s three tracks that feel like Don’t Take Time feels, right in the middle between traditional and new Country. Then there’s some stuff that’s kind of vibey, like if John Mayer tried to do some Country stuff but but my voice (laughs). I think one of my aims man is to bring some of the musicality from my past, learning music and jazz in band, I’m just trying to make Country music by taking some of my influences from the past and putting them into my own music. I’m hoping that I’ve created my own sound but it’s obviously influenced from, shoot even when I was a kid (influences such as) James Taylor, Billy Joel, John Mayer…. I can’t wait to get it out. I’m the proudest of these songs and these tracks that I’ve ever been of any songs I’ve written so I’m excited.
How do you feel about Don’t Take Time going to Country radio? That must be a pretty big deal for you?
Dude that’s a huge deal! When you bring it a radio you’ve got to feel like, ‘oh this could work’. Unfortunately there’s the business aspect of this and there’s nerves when it comes to pushing something to radio. From what I’m told, because I’ve never done it (before), it can be sometimes unforgiving. I’m a little nervous but I’m excited. I’ve never done a radio tour or anything like that. I’m looking forward to hitting the trenches there. I’ve already had some good experiences with some radio people so I’m excited.
You’re an incredibly talented musician that plays multiple instruments. Tell me how you got into music and how you’ve managed to master so many different instruments…
My parents started me off young. I was adopted and my parents made me and my brother do everything. We were in swim team, boy scouts (laughs), we were on every sport team you could be on. They got me a piano when I was a little kid. They found a piano for free up in Michigan, that’s like seven hours from where I was from, and we drove up there in the minivan and we brought this upright piano back home with us. That thing stayed out of tune my entire life; it’s still out of tune and we still have it. I learned how to play on an out of tune piano and took piano lessons for a year or two. When I was in fifth grade I started playing trombone. I think something about starting piano early helped me because I excelled at the trombone. I was first chair in the state for all-state jazz trombone.
It was weird man, I ended up going to college to play football because at the time all I cared about was, ‘how do I get the girls like me? Trombone probably won’t do it, let’s go with football’ (laughs). I still had this musical bug in me. After football practice I would go to piano by myself and write songs and they were horrible but I just did it by myself for fun. I picked the piano back up in college and then later on I just picked up the acoustic guitar because I knew music theory and I started to dabble with that. I guess it all kind of starts back from my roots; my parents bringing me back that out of tune piano, which I still play in still and when I’m back home I still try to write on. It’s kind of full circle.
Have you any plans to come over here to the UK and bring your music over?
Oh my gosh dude, I would love that. Isn’t there a festival there called C2C?
There is! It takes place every March…
That would be amazing. Even if I go over there and do acoustic shows. I’d love it to hit all over there. You can look at your analytics now on social media and Spotify and you can see where people are looking. I’ve got quite a few cities in Europe where people are listening to my music. Dude I’d love to get over there. Also I just want to see it. I’ve never been over there.
Country music has really taken off in the UK over the past few years. What have you heard about Country music fans in the UK?
A lot of my friends are touring over there. I was curious about that. To me I didn’t know if it was the mainstream Country that was taking off over there or if it was like Sturgill Simpson and Tyler Childers… kind of the underground (artists). Aren’t they amazing? They’re from the same state I’m from.
We have a pretty good mix actually. Some of the acts that are really popular over here are Brothers Osbourne, Chris Stapleton, Kacey Musgraces, Drake White, Maren Morris…
We’ve opened up for Drake White twice. He puts on an amazing show. I think the best live show I’ve seen from a Country artist, besides Zac Brown Band, was Brothers Osborne. Man they just tore the house down. We played a festival with them and dude they were just amazing. I love them.
They did two sold out tours over here last year…
They’re back later this year. They play over here a lot these days…
That’s so great. Lucky you. You’re lucky that they’re the ones taking off because they’re the best.
What else have you got planned this year?
Oh man I’m going to take a vacation (laughs). I’ve been writing a lot and I think we have more songs that we’re going to record this year. One of which is my adoption song, telling that story of how I was born in prison and meeting my birth mom and getting to thank her. I’m really excited because some of the songs that I’ve got coming up are really real and mean a lot. I just love the real thing. I don’t know how else to put it, I just love real songs that come from real places. Those are what move me and I think that those are what move other people. I’m trying to squeeze in another recording session before the end of the year. But particularly that song, I just can’t wait for that song and the story to be told. Other than that just like hitting the road really hard and just doing the damn thing.
Raleigh Keegan’s single Don’t Take Time is out now to stream and download. Take a listen to the song below: