Brett Eldredge is one of the fastest rising stars in country music with four number ones under his belt and a number one album.
The Illinois native recently released his second album Illinois in the UK following its huge success in the US. The album’s lead single, Lose My Mind, gave Brett his fourth country airplay number one in the US and his new single Drunk On Your Love is shooting up the charts.
The album precedes Brett’s first ever UK tour, which kicks off on Sunday 14th February 2016 at Koko in London. Brett will also be performing dates in Glasgow and Manchester.
Ahead of his arrival in the UK I caught up with Brett to find out more about Illinois, talk about his incredible success so far, and to discuss the upcoming UK shows.
Congratulations on your ACM nominations. How does it feel to pick up two nominations for this year’s awards?
I literally woke up yesterday and had no idea where my phone had been. I’d had so many calls and texts, I was blown away. I moved to Nashville first and foremost to be a singer, before being a songwriter, and to be nominated for Male Vocalist beyond Entertainer, that’s the one that I’ve always wanted to be known for. To be nominated for that at this point in my career is a big deal and something that is so inspiring to me to keep singing and keep doing this. I’m glad people recognise me for that.
You’ve picked up plenty of nominations and a few awards over the past couple of years. Is it still a rush to get nominated or do you feel pressure now?
It is tough to get nominated for anything. There’s a lot of artists in this business and I’m working as hard as anybody. I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve struck a chord with the fans and I’m able to really get out there and get my voice out there. It never gets old to me to be nominated. Is the pressure real? I don’t know. I like the pressure of it because it tells me I’m doing something right but I also need to keep doing what I’m doing, keep believing in what I’m doing and keep singing. When it comes down to it, it’s about the shows and playing for different people beyond the awards and all that.
The last four singles you’ve released to country radio have all hit number one on the airplay chart. What’s that been like for you?
I remember what it was like to try and get one song in the Top 40 y’know (laughs). Don’t Ya was my first number one and it took almost 40 or 50 weeks to get that to number one on the chart. It was a battle! They’ve all since gone a lot quicker than that, once you get the notoriety. It’s an amazing thing now that I’ve got several numbers ones that are moving quicker up the chart. You never take for granted that feeling you get when you get a song to the top of the chart. I hope I can continue to get numbers but regardless it’s been a great ride so far.
Illinois came out in the US last year but it’s only just arriving in the UK now. What can fans expect from the record?
I’ve always dreamt of getting my music over there (in the UK). Making these records I surround myself in a place where I try to be true with my music, make my records and be honest with these songs. I love to record music, get in there and sing these songs and eventually take these songs that people have heard on the album and go sing them in the crowd at shows. This album is a really special album for me. It’s about where I’m from and where I’m wanting to go, love and the fallout of love, there’s a bit of everything on this album.
Musically Illinois is quite different from your first album Bring You Back. Were you consciously trying to do something a bit different or was the direction an organic one for you?
I’m kind of in the frame of mind that you have to be inspired to try new things but you’ve also got to remember what got you there in the first place. There are definitely still some parts of the first album that are on this album but it’s a growth for me. People don’t want to hear you do the same thing over and over. I don’t want to do the same thing over and over, you’ll get bored and the fans will get bored. You’ve got to continue to grow as an artist and you’ve got to continue to try different things. I tried different things on this album and leaps and bounds it’s beaten my first album so far. I try to make every album better than the last and enjoy it. I’m already writing for my third album (laughs) and it’s a long way to putting that out but I want to make the best albums I can, prepare for them and stay inspired.
The album’s lead single is Lose My Mind. The song is very different from your previous singles and has more of a crossover appeal. Was that intentional?
I was never trying to go for crossover appeal necessarily. I had this groove in my head all night one night. I literally couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about this groove. I woke up riffing to this song so I went in to write and said ‘this sounds crazy but I’ve got this idea for this groove and it’s nothing like I’ve ever done’. I wrote it with Heather Morgan and Ross Copperman, whom I wrote Beat of the Music and a lot of songs with. We ran with it and everyone just felt good every time they listened to it. It’s a short, quick, fun song that once you’re done listening to it you had to play it again because you don’t even know what happened and it makes you feel good. That’s all I wanted to do with this song was give people a taste of my more soulful and groovin’ side. Thank God it worked out in a big way. It was a good start for the album.
Your current single Drunk On Your Love is shooting up the charts. What’s the story behind that song and the music video for it?
This is a song I wrote several years ago. It was one that I always knew I wanted on an album but I wanted to make sure that it was at a point where it could put it on the radio. It didn’t really fit my first album but it ended up fitting this album. It was one of those songs that I’d played to all my friends and it was my friends’ favourite song. You use your friends and family as a filter outside of the industry to find out if the fans will like it. I went in and recorded this song and it turned out to be magic several years later. I put it out on the radio and shot a music video for it. I had this weird idea where I could play several different characters of myself going after and competing for the same girl. We shot the video on the streets of South Carolina in Charleston. It was a lot of fun and the song is by far my most successful to date. I’m having a ball with it.
Your brother has a cameo in the video. How did that come about?
He and I are very close and we hang out anyway and I was like ‘I’m going to put him in this video because I need a body double’. I needed someone who looked like me and I thought ‘who looks like me? Why not my brother?’ He has some of the same mannerisms and they had to shoot a bunch of different shots because there were so many different versions of me. They had to shoot shots where I was in the same frame as myself so he was me. He had a cameo in there too where you can see his face and I got to arrest him. I got to arrest my own brother in the video, which was a lot of fun and pretty funny. I got to mess with him a little bit. It was an awesome experience and my favourite video to shoot so far.
The video for Drunk On Your Love really brings your personality out, which your fans get to see through social media. How much do you enjoy that side of being an artist?
I love getting to share this ride with fans and being myself. I learned early on when I first started with Twitter and Instagram that it connected a lot more with the fans if I was just acting as myself. I like to have a lot of fun with life, be light-hearted and laugh at the randomness this life is at times. I try to point that out on social media and that’s where it really connected. Then I got Snapchat and it exploded for me. It’s a really big part of my social media and I just get to be myself. That’s all there is to it! I tie it in with my music and every day regular life stuff; that’s all I ever want to do with it. I’m glad there are outlets for that.
I admire your commitment to it. I often wonder how you manage to fit it all in to be honest…
It’s difficult sometimes because I’m on an interview or something but maybe I can tie in this interview with a Snapchat. It’s real life stuff so I try to add it in and grab my phone real quick so I can capture little parts of everything. I’m usually always thinking about it because it’s part of my every day life. I stay in touch with friends and my Mom follows me on social media although sometimes I wish she didn’t (laughs).
You’re coming to the UK next week for your first ever live shows here. What can your fans expect?
Man I’ve always been a guy that thrives off the energy of a crowd and the energy that playing live gives. My shows are always really high-energy shows. I want people to come in through the doors of whatever venue and just forget about the world for a minute. I want to give them an experience they’ve never had before live on stage. I want them to feel something that maybe they’ve never felt from a show. I take that very seriously. It’s my job to get up there and make the people forget about the world for a minute, and just enjoy music and life. In return I also enjoy music and life in that way because I’d travel millions of miles if I had to, to feel that feeling of being on stage. Even if I’m only on stage for an hour and fifteen minutes, it makes every mile worth it because there’s no high like that feeling.
Are you planning to get to the UK to play live more over the course of the year?
Yeah! This is my first trip over there. I’ve always wanted to come over there. As a kid I was like ‘man I hope I can play my music around the world one day’ even when no one knew me in my own country. I’ve always had dreams of taking my music over to the UK and Europe. This is my first trip of many, many trips. I would love to continue coming over for a long time. As long as the fans show up, I’ll show up. It’s a new exciting place to take my music that I only once dreamed about. Now it’s actually coming true and it’s going to be a wild time to say the least.
How much interaction have you had with your UK fans? Has social media been your main way of communicating with them?
It’s pretty wild. I remember even early on I met a couple of fans from the UK. I didn’t have a record deal or any songs, I’d never written for anyone. I was playing at a little songwriter night and I met some folks from the UK. I never forgot that. These were fans that I could never have imagined would know about my music and they just came and discovered it. I still see them on Twitter commenting about my music. I see people all the time now in the UK talking about the shows coming up. That’s such a wild and new thing for me that it’s not even soaking in yet. It doesn’t seem real but it’s about to get very real when I hit the stage there in a few days.
What else do you have coming up in 2016?
In the US I’ll be on tour with Keith Urban who is one of my favourite artists of all time. The fact that I get to tour with him is the craziest thing. I’ve got Drunk On Your Love out, which is my fastest rising songs to date, and I’ve got more songs to come from the Illinois. There’s so much that I want to get to with this album. It’s only the beginning of the songs that are going to be out on the radio and I’m excited to continue with this album and get people more familiar with it. I’ll continue to grow as an artist and make new fans. I plan on making some new fans and friends when I come to see you guys next week.
Brett’s album Illinois is available now through Rhino. He will be performing live on Sunday 14th February 2016 at Koko in London, Tuesday 16th February 2016 at the O2 ABC Glasgow and Wednesday 17th February 2016 at the Ritz in Manchester.