Brett Eldredge Books His ‘One Way Ticket’ to Stardom With Upcoming Album
Brett Eldredge moved the world of country music with the release of his debut single, 'Raymond,' which touched on the very personal topic of Alzheimer's disease. Eldredge co-wrote the tune with Brad Crisler after watching his grandmother battle the heartbreaking disease. 'Raymond' moved fans to sit up and take notice of the 25-year-old singer-songwriter, who is readying the release of his debut album, 'One Way Ticket,' on Warner Music Nashville later this year.
Eldredge's latest single, 'It Ain't Gotta Be Love,' impacted radio this month and shows a lighter side to the Illinois native. The depths of the talented newcomer range from one extreme to the other. Wrap that up with the charming personality of Eldredge, and you've got yourself a star in the making.
Your name is all over 'One Way Ticket' as a songwriter. Has that always been a big part of your life?
When I moved to Nashville, I always wanted to move here as a singer. Then I saw people writing songs about their experiences. They'd be up there playing these little writers nights playing guitar. I hardly knew how to play guitar, and I hardly knew how to write songs. So I thought, "I can't be one up'd! I've got to figure out a way to do all that." So I made myself sit in a room all summer. I didn't really know anybody in town, so I rented a house from my friend's friend, and just learned to play guitar and write songs. Eventually I just started to catch on. Started writing with different songwriters, and I would go to songwriters nights where there was literally like two people. One time it was the guitar player's dad and the guy who was playing after me, so there was no one there to see me. I didn't really tell anybody about [the show] because I was trying to figure out what I was doing ... trying to find myself. So it took me a while to develop that.
When I signed a publishing deal with Bryon Gallimore's company, who is also my producer, I started to develop myself, writing some not so great songs until they started to get better. They started to get better, and I started to hone in on who I was. With songwriting, you want to write with people that kind of know who you are and you can kind of feed off each other in that way, bring something into the room that inspires you or talk about something they do that you might not always do, and you can kind of combine them. That is the best thing about collaborating.
And one of the songs you wrote with Bill Anderson?
I was always a big fan of his work. He had his first hit at 19 for Ray Price ['City Lights']. Now he's in his 70s, and still writing cuts and singles for people like Sugarland and George Strait. So I've got people like him and other people who are around my age. They're all people who get what I do, and we just match. Something magical happened [when we wrote].
What goes through your mind knowing the album is complete?
It's just cool to think that I took all the songs that I had been writing for so long, narrowed them down from about 200 to 12 songs, and recorded this album. It's weird to think the whole process of moving out to Nashville and writing all those songs and figuring out who I was, to now finally getting to record those songs. A lot has gone into it. It's like your baby because you've nurtured it and got it to where you want it to be. Now we're gonna be releasing it in a few months and I'm excited about that.
'Raymond' easily can be a considered a career song for you. Did you ever think it would take on the life it has when you wrote it?
I wrote that song three and a half years ago. I remember sitting in that room, feeling bummed out about my Grandmother getting Alzheimer's, and it kind of creeping up on the family. I remember telling [my co-writer] the story, and then we both had a connection there. We had never even written a song together before. Next thing you know, we are writing a whole song about it and something magical happened there. Now it's three years later, and it's a single and there's a video. It's just weird to see all that.
What did you learn about yourself through process of making this album?
I learned just how incredible musicians in Nashville are. On a record they get so down to it, in the mode. You can really tell the difference between a demo and an album, when they are ready to go in there and really knock it out. I think it's cool that if we get lucky enough people could be listening to this music 30 years from now, if I'm lucky enough to have that happen. How cool is it for me to be able to say I was singing or playing guitar on that song. The professional musicians are so amazing in this town. I couldn't go in the studio and record more than five chords without having a panic attack. They can do it in one sitting! I learned a lot of patience. A lot of things go into making an album -- making it right, making it sound right, getting it mastered. It's a lot of work but it is like your baby. You go to bed thinking about it and it's the first thing you think about when you get up. I spent so many nights just laying there staring out the ceiling thinking about getting my music out there to people, and that hopefully they will like it. I think that's the coolest thing about music. You just give it everything you've got and hopefully people like it and you get to keep making it.
What kind of things did you do in the studio to help you relax?
I always had to figure out how to get rid of my excess energy so I could sit down and focus for a bit. I'd spin around on one of those swivel chairs a lot [laughs]. I'd sit there on my knees and just spin around in circles. We have that on video. I drink a lot of green tea, which actually has caffeine which can make nerves worse, but I'd drink the calming kind ... that's what I was going for. At the studio, I liked to turn the lights off and light the candles, especially if it's a moody song. If we're doing a story song or a ballad, I'd like to turn the lights down and really get into the mode, and try to get myself back in the mood I was in when I wrote the song.
I have a song called 'Shade,' which is about growing up in my hometown of Paris, and how the memories -- no matter where I go -- comfort and cover me like shade. It's about the street I grew up on. In my mind, I think about walking down that street. I'm in that world. Same thing with the fun songs ... I'm in the bar partying along. I think our job as singers is to tell stories that others can relate to. When I think of my favorite songs by artists, the ones that I really love are the ones that I believe. I think that's most important. It's what I've learned from these great singers like Frank Sinatra, Willie Nelson or Ronnie Dunn. They tell these stories. They've lived it, and if they didn't live it, they figured out how to make those songs their own.
Talk about the new single, 'It Ain't Gotta Be Love.' How has the crowd reaction been to the song?
It's been going over very well. A lot of the times I'll open the show with it just because it has a lot of energy and people love to play off that "weekend crazy" part, even if it's a Tuesday night [laughs]! People get really excited about the show and the song. It's crazy to see, since it was just released, but people have been singing that song with me for six months now because they've gone online and seen it. So it's cool to finally be able to release it to radio and have a good, fun song out there to follow up 'Raymond' with and show another side of me.
Will you be doing a video for song?
We're waiting to get the treatments for the video now. I've got all sorts of ideas in mind for it. I'm one of those guys that thinks about 20 different things at one time. I'm always thinking, so I've got like 20 ideas for this video. I don't know which way it will take me, but I can't wait to see the creative ideas that different directors have because they're the pros at this stuff. When I pick one that I kind of like, we'll get together, I'll give some of my ideas, and we'll be involved together. I think that is the best thing about creativity and art. You can bring all sorts of things to the table and make a movie out of it, make a song.
You've been doing select dates on Brad Paisley's H2O II Tour ... how has that been for you?
We've done several shows on that now. Paisley is one of the masters at creating a whole experience. I'm so grateful that he's given us this opportunity. From the moment we get to go onstage, there's so much going on. Slip-and-slides, games ... just all sorts of stuff. People have water guns. Everyone is there because they love country music, and he makes it such a great experience. We've been having such a great time. I love when we go onstage on that tour. The fans are so pumped, and I feel like my job is to get them riled up to go in there and see people like Blake Shelton, Paisley and Jerrod Niemann up there playing. They're good friends of mine, and Brad makes it such a great experience. He treats everyone so well. I'm definitely grateful for the opportunity.
On July 26, you're playing a show in your hometown of Paris, Ill. That has to be pretty special for you.
My hometown has a fair called the Edgar County Fair, and my town is the biggest in that county. They have about 9,000 people, maybe a little less. It's a pretty big city. That's where I came up with this crazy dream to be a singer. I played in talent shows on that same stage. Just a few weeks ago, people were camping out at 7:00 at night to get tickets that went on sale at 9:00 the next morning. To have that support from people like that ... it's a cool feeling that they are backing you all the time no matter what is going on in your career. So I wanted to go and do a special show for them, and it's gonna be a packed house. I grew up going to that fair every year. We're gonna bring a camera crew and all kinds of craziness!
Watch Brett Eldredge Perform 'It Ain't Gotta Be Love' Live