It’s another morning on the tour bus. 9.45AM. Location: “Northern, Northern Michigan. (We’re) almost in Canada, but still in the States.”
Mike, Scotty McCreery’s manager, answers our call and makes his way back to the tour bus. In less than a minute, McCreery gets the phone. “Hello!” The typical morning grouch seems to have got nothing on the North Carolina native, or at least I couldn’t tell.
At 23, Scotty has experienced so much. In merely 6 short years, the talented singer-songwriter has won the hearts of millions on Idol; debuted three consecutive albums at No. 1 on the Billboard charts; achieved one Gold and three platinum-certified singles as well as two Top-10 hits on country radio; won a slew of awards from ACM, CMT and BMI; sold nearly 3 million albums; penned his first autobiography (or travelogue as he’d like to call it) titled “Go Big or Go Home: The Journey Toward The Dream”; lost a record label deal with UMG; and achieved success as an independent. We often say country music is about real life. So, do the above-mentioned accolades and adversity not equate to a unique “Scotty McCreery” country song?
CMchat’s Jeremy Chua had the pleasure of chatting with McCreery on Friday about everything under the sun, from details of his latest single “Five More Minutes”; to the “crazy” music business; to faith; food; skydiving, new music and more. We know, it’s not the usual conventional stuff about Idol, growing up, concerts, love life et cetera. But, read along. We assure you it’s going to be interesting, fun and pretty insightful.
How did the whole concept and idea of “Five More Minutes” come about?
I was at Frank Rogers’ house. He’s also a producer and co-writer on the song. It was me and a guy named Monty Criswell. We were just kinda chatting. I lost my grand-daddy two weeks before that and was just talking about him, all the good times we shared and missing him, and I kinda did mention there were a few things I wanted to tell my grandfather and do things that I didn’t have the chance to do now. Monty was the one who first threw out the idea and was like ‘yeah, you wanted five more minutes,’ and I agreed and said that sounds like a great title too. So we ran it, and the song came out.
If you don’t mind me sharing: I think the bridge (of the song) about your grandfather was the most impactful part of the song, and my personal favorite was the final line “sometimes this whole life will leave you wishing that you had Five More Minutes”… It just encompasses the song so well man!
Thank you very much! That really ties it all together. It’s a short life when you really think about it, so five more minutes is sometimes really all you need.
Did you know right from the get-go “Five More Minutes” was special and going to be a hit, with the power of impacting so many people all over the world?
Hmmm, I don’t think you know that when you write something. You always hope you’re writing something that impacts people in a positive way. I do know the day I wrote it, I tweeted out right after the writing session “I think I wrote my favorite song I’ve written.” It still holds true today and is pretty cool to look back on that and see where we’re at today with that song.
Yeah, and you had the Grand Ole Opry performance too, to propel the whole thing into this huge, massive hit that wasn’t even on iTunes and all!
I know, that’s the craziest thing. We weren’t even expecting a YouTube video to come out. And when it did, we thought, “oh, that’s cool”, and all of a sudden it gets 2 million views!
I just have to ask about the production (of “Five More Minutes”) and inclusion of a steel guitar. The song is kinda contemporary-sounding and suits country radio right now. But, was it important to you to have the song be more traditional-leaning in that aspect?
I think so. I think the production of it might be a little modern, but I wanted to keep a little of the traditional elements in it because to me, it’s a storytelling kinda song, and that speaks to traditional country: real people telling real life stories. Frank (Rogers) did a great job of putting the old school and new school together.
In the same breath, would you actually consider, at some point in your career, recording an album full of classic country covers? I’m hoping artists like you, Kellie Pickler and Kacey Musgraves get around to that one day because you guys blend the traditional elements with what you hear today so well man.
I’d love it man! I really would. If the opportunity ever presented itself, I would jump on it. That’d be really cool for me. And I appreciate that! They’re all incredible talents, so it’s great to be mentioned in the same breath with them.
Let’s talk about songwriting for a minute. What do you do when you hit creatively dry days?
Well, it’s different every time. Sometimes you jump right into (the writing), sometimes you just talk for an hour and see where everyone in the room is at in their life and what we wanna write about. You know, it really comes down to the same thing: trying to find the best way to say something and tell a story, and that’s what I enjoy doing- storytelling. Sometimes a melody comes first, sometimes the lyrics, sometimes they come together. But it’s always the same goal: creating a really great country music song.
Just for fun, do you have to have a certain food or drink you need to have at your songwriting sessions?
Not really, I don’t have to have anything in particular. I just have to have something to get going and it’s different every time. Sometimes we have subs, sometimes we have sandwiches or salads, it’s all different. And, it’s probably not as glamorous as it sounds! But still, a fun process.
If you weren’t pursuing this career, what job would you have taken up?
Hmmm, I’m not really sure. I was studying Communications in college so I might have tried to go in the sportscasting world or something. I think that would’ve been right up my alley a little bit.
Something still in the media, yeah?
Yeah, for sure! I think that’s where I would be drawn to.
For those out there wanting to enter this industry, whether as a singer/songwriter or just working in the music business, what’s your advice for them?
You know, it’s a tough business. It really is. It’s dog-eat-dog out there. One day they love you, one day they hate you. You just gotta take it slow and keep rolling. The number one thing is to just have fun. I know you hear that all the time, but at the end of the day, what I do is create and sing music. If you can’t have fun with that, you can’t have fun with anything. So just get out there, enjoy yourself, take it all in, and you never know what can happen!
Talking about making music and the industry, are you going to be putting out an album anytime soon? I know what happened with UMG (and losing the record deal), but are you cutting a bunch of new songs, or did you buy the masters back? Where are you in the process of this 4th album?
Yeah, we got a lot of songs because we pretty much had a full record to go with UMG that got taken off the shelves, but we got all the songs back so we have a lot of music all mastered and ready to go. But also, we wrote a lot of songs in 2015 and I’m in a different space since then. A lot has changed, so we’re writing a lot more now and probably gonna use a lot of the (newer) stuff we have right now and put on the record. Hopefully it’s later this year or early next year that we’ll have a new full album out and ready to go.
Are there any plans to release “Five More Minutes” to country radio as an official single?
Yeah well, most radio folks already have it there on their stations. I don’t think we’re gonna do a full-on “add day” for it. We’re just letting folks hear it and if they wanna play it, that’s awesome. We’ve been working on a plan for a while now, and so far everything is working like we’d like to see it. So hopefully that keeps on happening.
• Fun fact: An “Add Day” is when a song officially impacts country radio and most, if not all stations have a copy of the new single at hand. It typically falls on a Monday, perhaps because it is easier and more cohesive to organize and tabulate. The number of adds a song gets, considerable or nominal, is dependent on a host of factors like the artist’s radio tour (if he/she is a new kid on the block), star power of the act, and record label. •
Speaking of radio, I heard Bobby Bones play “Five More Minutes” on his show a week or two ago before the song was out, and there was a listener who called in and I think she was on the verge of crying as she was sharing how the song touched her. It’s crazy how people are reacting to your song, even prior to the release!
I know! You just never know where somebody’s gonna hear a song or how they’re gonna react to it. But I’ve heard that as well. You never wanna hear somebody cry, (laughs) but I guess people are crying because they remember the good things in life. When I wrote the song, that’s what it was about. I was remembering the good times with my granddaddy, and hopefully that is what folks are remembering when they hear that song.
OK so, I can’t do this interview without asking about something so important to you: faith. I know it’s a big part of your life and the way you live it. How do you stay rooted to that in the hustle and bustle of this crazy career?
Yeah man, it’s important and it’s my rock in this crazy business like you said. For me, the music is always fun but the business part of it is not. So this is a ride that gets me through (the craziness of this career) and it’s how I live my every day life, not just as an artist. It’s one of those things man… I’m never gonna be the guy that’s in your face about it, but if anybody asks about it, I’m happy to tell ‘em. And hopefully the way I live my life is representative of what I believe.
Talking about living your life and faith, do you sometimes feel the pressure to always be the “good, perfect Christian boy” in the eyes of others?
Yeah, I think how it got set up for me was that I was “holier than thou” and this “perfect kid”. But I think on this (new) album, we’re kind of venturing into new territory and not just singing about “OK everything is great in life”; we’re singing about mistakes as well. You know, nobody’s perfect. So I think it’s important that if you’re being honest with your fans and listeners, you don’t just sing about the great things in life because life isn’t always awesome. Sometimes you gotta sing about heartbreak, sometimes you gotta sing about mistakes made and what you learnt from it.
That’s the great thing about country music yeah?
Exactly. So you can sing about anything in life!
And what’s your favorite bible verse?
Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Ah, I love that.
Yeah! I used to write it on my baseball hat and it’s been my favorite since I was a little kid.
OK, so I’d like to wrap this interview up with 3 fun and random questions! First up: if you could bring any female country singer skydiving with you, who would it be and why?
Oh wow! Any country singer to skydive with me?
Not just any…a female country singer!
Oh, female country singer. OK… Hmmm…. (laughs) Man, tough question! I’d probably take Lauren Alaina. We started out this journey together and I think that’d be quite an experience with her.
Yeah, I think she’d probably be screaming down the whole sky!
Oh yeah she’d definitely be screaming that’s for sure!
What’s one food people love that you can’t understand?
Well, the guys in my band love Thai food. Maybe I should get into it, but I just don’t quite get it yet. So that’s not been my thing lately.
And still on food, what’s your favorite meal at Cracker Barrel? I know you love your biscuits and gravy, right?
Oh yeah absolutely! It’s tough to beat some fried chicken and mashed potatoes and green beans. That’s about all I need in life.
Thanks, Scotty McCreery for taking the time to talk to us at CMchat! You sure made us salivate at the end of the chat.
Y’all go call or tweet your favorite country station to play “Five More Minutes!” We have seen country radio take a chance with music from independent (and reputable/”known”) acts if research, survey, and listeners’ response are favorable. Just take a look at Craig Campbell’s “Keep ‘Em Kisses Comin’”- a song that gained traction and entered the country charts with initial label support, but slowly climbed to #9 even after Bigger Picture Label Group shuttered.
However, the fact of the matter is that, by and large, there still needs to be a cohesive effort from listeners, stations and the artist’s team (marketing/promotions + management + label) for a song to reach a modest position on the charts or even be played. So while McCreery is currently without a label arm (1/3 of the simplified “artist’s team” equation), not all hope is lost. Anomalies do exist sometimes.
Readers and fans of country music: rally together to get this song the recognition it deserves! And country radio: take a chance with this song! We at CMchat are firm believers in the indubitable star power of Scotty McCreery and the massive hit this storytelling song is shaping up to be.