Brett Eldredge Interview: ‘Don’t Ya’ Singer Talks Importance of Family, Lessons From Taylor Swift, New Album + More
Brett Eldredge landed on Taste of Country’s 10 Sexiest Male Country Stars of 2013 list, but fans will be happy to know that there’s so much more to him than his sex appeal. A native of Paris, Ill., the singer who penned 11 of the 12 songs on his album is as good-hearted as he is good-looking.
Eldredge — whose album ‘Bring You Back’ was released Tuesday (Aug. 6) — is all about staying grounded, connecting with his fans and producing great music. He remembers “being that artist that started out playing at a festival when there were like five people in the crowd” and knows that his success today couldn’t be made possible without some very special people in his life: his family. “I can’t imagine going through all this without them,” he admits in an interview with Taste of Country.
The ‘Raymond’ hitmaker also revealed details on the album’s long process, the songs that are extra special to him and what he learned while touring with country superstars Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift.
ToC: It’s been about 3 years since you released ‘Raymond.’ Did your new album go through significant changes throughout that time?
Brett Eldredge: I was really coming to find myself around the time that I wrote ‘Raymond,’ and around that time I was really starting to find my sound. So I was working with different producers and trying to find that right fit … it’s been a journey recording this record. I’ve probably written 300 songs and recorded 30 songs to narrow them down to 12. It took a while to get exactly what I wanted, but now I look at these 12 songs on this album and in twenty or thirty years, I can look back and say I would never change one of the songs that are in this album. And that’s a cool feeling. I did take a long time and I had to learn a lot about patience, you know? You’ve gotta have the right thing to put it out there and wait til it’s right. And I’ll always wait til it’s right.
Are there any songs that made it onto the record last minute?
Yes! The last song on the album is a song that’s called ‘Go on Without Me,’ which is a song that’s from the perspective of someone who has passed, and … if I were to pass, how would I want people to react that were mourning me? I would want them to go on without me. I would want them to smile and remember me, but to live out their lives and know that it’s going to be all right. I was like, “there’s no way—we can’t put this on the album.” When I played this for the label, it was all unanimous. Everyone was like, “this is going on the album.” This is a perfect way to wrap up the album and remember those who have passed in the last little bit. So it’s a real special song, but it’s also a positive outlook on all of it.
On your album, is there a song that you feel positive will be a big hit?
A song called ‘Bring You Back’ is actually the name of the album, and it’s a really powerful song. It’s the only song on the album that I didn’t write, but it was a song that was so powerful when I heard it. So it grabbed ahold of me. The moment I heard this song, I had chills running up and down my arms. I just felt it, and I could hear myself singing it. There’s a song called ‘Mean to Me,’ which is a love song … We spent a lot of time on each and every line of this song. It’s my romantic side coming out on this album.
Since you don’t come from a musical family, how have they responded to your interest in being a musician?
My parents were there from the very first day. They were throwing speakers in the back of a minivan to take me to play at the local cafe in town, or whatever was going on — just little events — anywhere I could go sing. I remember one time I was going to some kind of audition and my mom and dad and I were sleeping on the rooftop of a parking garage while it was drizzling rain and it was freezing. They’ve been there from day one, and they knew this is what I want to do and really believed in me 100 percent.
You’ve toured with many big country artists, like Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift. What have you learned from them, as far as touring goes?
It’s crazy. Brad was kind of the first major tour that I got to go on. I remember going and standing in the very back of these amphitheaters — way up back in the very top. And I’d go and I’d watch him … and I learned a lot about connection with fans, and how much they care as long as you let them in on your world.
And Taylor Swift is a great example of that. Her fans follow her every move and her every word. She talks a lot about heartbreak songs and a lot of breakup songs and a lot about her relationships, because it’s all truthful. She’s being honest and people love honesty … the fans really do want to hear what you’re saying, and don’t be afraid to pour out your heart up there on stage, because they’ll accept it. They’ll accept it.
How do you think that you’ll stay grounded as your career continues to rise?
For me, it goes back to family and the people that surround you. I’ve got great managers and people on my record label and my family. I was playing a festival the other day, and I was fortunate enough to be playing later on in the day, so I had a pretty good crowd. But, this could be taken away from me any day. I never take that for granted. It’s just a special experience, and I think that will always humble me — and my Mama will smack me if I ever act any other way.
You recently made the Taste of Country list of the 10 sexiest male country stars in 2013. What’s your reaction?
Man, it’s so funny. I got a text from one of my buddies that sent me the Taste of Country article. He was just making fun of me, as your friends do. Like a high school buddy. It’s just funny to be recognized for that. I’m totally fine with it, but I just think of myself as my goofy self that likes to have fun and joke around and sing songs. If people think that’s sexy, then I’ll just keep doing that and hopefully it stays that way. I just try to be me, and it’s very weird to be recognized as that. I’m totally fine with it.
Since you’re such a big Twitter guy, who should Taste of Country readers follow besides your own account?
An easy one: Blake (Shelton). You’ve always gotta follow Blake, because he’s super crazy on there. Kind of like I am, but even crazier. He’s just very honest on there, so he’s great. I like to follow the ‘Weird Facts’ stuff. Uber Facts is one that’s really funny. Every time you read it you’re like, “I never knew that.” I feel like I went to school that day! Jake Owen is funny on there. He’s good; he’s very interactive with his fans.