I am SO excited to share my interview with this next artist. He’s a sweetie pie from Nashville, Tennessee who some of you may know from his debut single Did it for the Girl or his current single Sand which is an absolute smash!! Greg Bates is quickly becoming a household name in the country music world and in the midst of his single climbing the charts and heading out on a writing retreat he took some time to meet with me and answer a few questions for you readers! We met at Edgehill Cafe in Nashville, if you haven’t been here before you must give it a try (their Kale Salad….in Love).
It is so rare to come across an artist that is from Nashville. Having some of the greatest music of all time come out of your hometown, what would you say was the greatest benefit to growing up there?
Greg: I kind of grew up around a lot of songwriters, you’d see artists at the grocery store and that wasn’t weird. One benefit I feel, as far as my success (I don’t know if it’s really helped me or hurt me I think it’s about the same once you get in the business) was that I kind of got to see behind the scenes really early and see that you could make a living as a songwriter. I mean I knew when I was 8 years old. My fiancé’s from Kentucky and she moved here to go to college and didn’t even know you could do that until she moved here. I was able to see that in this business there’s a lot of different facets and a lot of people working behind the scenes that aren’t always on the stage or at the stadium show. I think that was fun for me to get to see that there are so many other people involved in this business, that maybe don’t get the recognition but that make an artist, that make a songwriter, that it’s not just one guy working. I think that was the main thing for me, learning that it’s a people business. You have to find great songs and for that you have to have great songwriters, and you have to have great managers and publishers and all these people that make an artist. At the end of the day the artist is the product and we go out and sell it as best we can. It was a lot of fun growing up seeing all of that.
When listening to your music you can hear that your roots and style lie in the classic country crooners. If you were to pick your “musical parents” who would they be?
Greg: I’ve honestly never gotten this question before so this took some time. It’s hard to pick two. I grew up on George Strait, Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, and Garth Brooks and they’re all different in their own way. Honestly I would say musically right now, I lean more towards the Garth Brooks style of writing and writing for a live show. Then on the female side, take your pick from Patty Loveless, to LeAnn Womack to Linda Ronstadt. I grew up listening to everything. At the same time I was growing up on George Strait I was also listening to the Goo Goo Dolls and Matchbox Twenty so you know there’s a lot of that influence in my music too. It takes a village!
Every artist has a moment in which they feel they their hard work and dedication is paying off, whether it be the first time they hear their song on the radio or that moment in which a fan is singing the lyrics to their song at a show. What has been the most exciting moment in your career thus far?
Greg: I truly believe in this business, I feel that way every day. Even when I have a bad day in this business, even when something bad happens it leads to the next thing. Everyday I feel like we’re making the right steps. There’s been so many points in my career, the first time I heard my song on the radio, the first live show I did where I just felt like I connected with the audience, those are kind of points along the way. Today I’m going on a writers’ retreat and I’m so excited to go and I know that’s going to lead to the next thing. I would say every single day, every point in my career is kind of that moment where it’s like, “Alright I’m doing the right thing.”
Do you still get excited hearing your song on the radio?
Greg: Oh totally, I heard it this morning. Every time I hear it I feel like okay, I need to enjoy this because it might be the last time I hear it. I hope not, but it might be. It’s really kind of an out of body experience. I think any artist will tell you, once you hear your song enough you learn to look at it objectively. You learn to look at it as something that’s not just your baby anymore. You put it out into the world and there’s people that love it, people that hate it and people that don’t care about it at all. As much as you want to protect it, once it’s out there it’s out there. We’ve gotten so much great feedback about the new single and still every time I hear it I crank it up. I have no shame about that because I may not hear it again for a week.
Your new single Sand was just released at the beginning of the new year and debuted on The Highway. Its sound is a little different than your previous work (Did It for the Girl, Fill In the Blank, Go Time) but without losing your traditional style, what was the inspiration behind this single?
Greg: I started working with a new producer Frank Rogers who’s done Brad Paisley, Josh Turner, and Darius Rucker. Frank is also very rooted in the traditional sound and that’s always been his thing. He’s been a hero of mine since I was a kid. He’s been cutting records that I grew up with. When we started writing together we were setting out to prove that we could do something a little different. I listen to Bruno Mars at the same time I listen to George Jones, I draw influence from a lot of great music and he does the same. We kind of wanted to say “Hey we have this traditional background and its always going to have the vibe to it just because that’s where we come from but lets go out and try something. Lets experiment a little, lets fall on our face if we need to.” To me that’s the beauty of music. You can try something, put it out, and if the fans don’t want it they will send it right back and you get to try again. That’s what this was about. Lets try something and just see what happens.
We wrote this song with Lynn Hutton who also co-wrote Did It For the Girl with me. Lynn had the idea and I sat down with them and we just started throwing out very simple nostalgic things about trips to the beach we had all taken when we were growing up. We went to the beach every October with my parents and for me it always took me back there. For Lynn it was something different. For Frank it was something different. Sound wise it was really a lot of fun to go in and try some new stuff. Try out a new band, try out a new studio, a new producer, and just have fun with it. That was kind of the inspiration behind changing it up a little bit.
In 2015 with the access of digital downloads and technology, there is less and less focus on albums in their entirety and more focus on singles. If you had to pick your favorite album of all time, that one that is perfection from the first note on the top track to the last note on the final song, what would it be?
Greg: I would say in the country genre it will always be Mud on the Tires, front to back. Even when I was in high school and didn’t know any better I was listening to it going “Every one of these could be a single, I want to hear every song on the radio.” They really put the time into that record. It’s kind of come full circle for me, yesterday I played the guitar that played on Mud on the Tires and we were writing on that. I would say that’s the country record I always come back to. Outside the genre pretty much anything Tom Petty does I’m all about and anything John Mayer does I’m all about. Continuum by John Mayer to me is just him in his purest form. Take your pick either one of those guys can do no wrong.
Finally, I asked Greg to put together a playlist of what he’s currently listening to for you all to enjoy (I of course added Sand on there because I can’t get enough of it myself!)