2012 Artists To Watch: Dustin Lynch

Dustin Lynch. Photo credit: Tony Baker

The last few years have been good for country music, but 2012 should be even better if talent like Dustin Lynch is proof of what country music has to offer this year. The talented singer-songwriter is about to release his debut single “Cowboys And Angels” to radio next week and we had the chance to catch up with him yesterday and find out what makes him tick. Discover everything you need to know about this newly signed Broken Bow Records artist before he makes it big in our exclusive interview with him.

Find out how “Cowboys And Angels” really must have been a gift from above, what he used to do with his sister back when he had time, and how recording is going for his debut album due out later this year. He’s an interesting, and charming, young man and he will be one of country music’s brightest stars in 2012. He’s our first “artist to watch” for the year. See why we’re expecting big things from Dustin in 2012:

You’re releasing your single “Cowboys And Angels” next week. Are you feeling a little nervous for it at all?

You know what, I don’t even think nervous is even in me right now. We’ve had such a great reaction, not only from radio, but we’ve had such a great reaction to that song since the day it written in Nashville. I’ve gotten to play it on the road now for a little over a year, and the reaction from the fans is that they’re ready. The reaction from the shows is so great and they’re grabbing on to it. I’m just excited to finally get it out there on the radio.

There’s actually a pretty cool story behind the song, which is why I’m excited to see how it does since it has such a cool story already. The day we wrote the song it was my first co-write with Tim Nichols and Josh Leo. Tim’s had hits on the radio for going on 20 years now already. Josh has played guitar for Buffet and now he produces country – he’s produced two albums for Alabama. Going into this first co-write I knew all these things about the both of these guys, but I never met them so I was kind of freaked out. I had some ideas ready and one of which was “Cowboys And Angels.” I got there and we got to know each other, and Tim asked if I had any ideas on what to write. I was so nervous I was like “no, man, I really don’t.” So he started throwing out ideas and they weren’t really me. I was like, “man, this isn’t going to work.” He took a phone call and left the room and I thought “oh no, this is getting worse.” He came back and starts flipping pages and stops. He goes “here’s something I’ve had for a long time that I’ve always wanted to write called Cowboys And Angels.” I was like “show me that right now!” There was no way we had the same idea the same exact morning, but sure enough, once we compared notes we had the same idea for “Cowboys And Angels.” A weird feeling came over us and we were like, man, we were meant to write that song that day.

You know, with that song starting out that way and now it’s going on two years old when we get into March, just the story on how it was all written, and all the momentum we’ve seen from the fans at our shows… it’s just exciting. I’m not nervous at all, I’m excited to finally be living my dream and possibly hear my song on the radio someday.

That’s crazy. I’ve never heard of something like that before, to have both of you wake up on the same morning thinking of the same song…

It’s never happened to me or Tim before. It was one of those freak incidents, you know? It was like, “here’s a present from the sky.” The song was meant to be written that day. I was just glad and feel blessed to have been a part of it.

 I know you do a lot of songwriting on your own, so how are you balancing out using your own songs and songs from other writers on your album?

Well, I like to put it this way: I’m not against cutting outside songs at all. In fact, we’re listening for outside stuff and we have a few things that we really, really like that I didn’t write. But I’ve had my whole life to write this first album, and we really think we have some great material that I’ve written. I don’t know, we’re still in the middle of recording the album, and I don’t know the answer on if it will be all of my songs or not yet since we don’t have it done, but there’s so many talented songwriters in Nashville, so many world-class songwriters. There’s great songs in Nashville, and when it fits me and I can sing it every night and believe it, and it touches a nerve, then yeah, for sure, I’ll definitely look at recording the song.

It’s funny you asked that about my songwriting. I’ve actually had my buddy, he’s my producer, Brett Beavers and Tim Nichols, they’re actually out on the bus with me right now. So, I actually have a group of songwriters from Nashville that flew out from Florida to sit on the bus and write with me. We’ve been writing all sorts of songs. It’s not like work, I’m having a blast writing.

So how is work on the new album coming along so far?

It’s going great. We cut and record again in February. We’re going to continue visiting radio stations throughout February; I think I’ve got a week off somewhere in there where we’re going to squeeze in another session in the studio. I’m not even going to say a week off, I think it’s only a few days off where we’ll work on the album. We’re gonna get another four songs done I would guess during that time. You know, once we finish the radio tour we’ll go back in and finish the album. I’m really excited and looking forward to it, I’ve written some stuff for the album. We’ve actually been on the road so much that I haven’t had the chance to hear the demo, so I’m excited to get back in the studio. It’s something that’s a lot of fun. Going to a studio will never get old, to go in there and watch a song come to life.

What can fans expect from the album? Is there a sound you’re aiming for yet, or are you still experimenting?

I don’t want to classify the sound since it’s not done, and I don’t know the exact songs that will be on there. I do know that the album will be real me, it’s going to be stories that I’ve been a part of in some fashion growing up, and what I’ve seen and experienced. We’re really trying to go in and make it an album that you need to play front-to-back. As a music lover, I enjoy albums that I can pop in and hit play and each song will take me to a new place, and where each song can make me feel something. We’re going to have songs that will make you dance, we’re going to have songs if you’re trying to get over somebody, or if you’re looking to get wild we’ll have songs for that. I just can’t wait to piece together the experience from top-to-bottom of the album that we’ll have. My goal is just to carry the people through their emotions and take them on a fun ride.

Now this one just came in on Twitter. You and your sister used to be really into golf back in your home-town. Do you still find time to play?

No, it’s funny you mention that. My sister plays golf for MTSU, but here we are in Florida and I don’t even have any clubs on the bus. I haven’t played golf in over a year. I enjoy it, if there’s a group of buddies out here on the road that would like to play, I would think about going. I’m kind of more of just laying back, and if I have any free time at all right now I’m writing songs. I love to fish and I love to hunt and stuff. If I have any time, it’s not going to be on a golf cart getting mad and chasing a golf ball. I’ll probably be out on the land hunting or on a lake fishing somewhere.

Has anybody given you a piece of advice in the industry that you still listen to today?

Yes and I hate that I don’t know who it was. I’m just gonna tell you this because it popped into my brain. I was in a club one night, this was right when I moved to Nashville and I just got a fake i.d. so I could go into the clubs and see these bands. I think it was 12th & Porter. I was standing there and this old salty guy was standing there talking to me. He was kind of asking me questions and asking who I was and stuff, and I was just telling him my story and how I’ve learned to write songs and how my dream is to get to make an album one day. He was like, “well, son, I’ll tell you this,” and I still don’t know who this guy was. He said “let me tell you, you’ve got to get lucky.” I was like, okay, I’ve heard that a million times, but he goes “but, here’s what lucky is: it’s an opportunity plus preparedness.” For some reason, that’s one of those moments that I’ve never forgotten. I consider myself to be very blessed and very lucky to be at such a great label. Broken Bow Records has some of the most success in town, but, it’s mostly because at Broken Bow it’s like a family. Just to end up with Broken Bow Records is a blessing and I believe I am very lucky to have found myself with Broken Bow, and also very lucky to be living out this dream that I’ve had since I was a kid. The life that I’m living right now is pretty surreal.

Have you had the chance to hear your song on the radio yet? What was your reaction?

Actually I have! I’ve heard it multiple times and the very first time I’ve heard it was really cool. You always wonder when will be the first time you’ll hear your song and what you’re going to do when you do. There’s kind of two parts to this answer: the first time I heard this song was when we got word that WYCD in Detroit was going to play it. They were doing a new music spotlight and we tuned in. We were somewhere in Alabama and we tuned in and streamed it live, and so being on the radio tour I had several folks from the label out and I had my guitar player who I’ve had for a few years, and the bus driver, and that was the first time we got to hear it come through the radio speakers. To be with my team after we’ve worked so hard and so long to get the song right there was so cool. It was an experience.

I’m still looking forward to the day where I’m driving down the road by myself and it pops on. Knowing that it’s going to come on, there’s no surprise factor like it would be as if I was just driving somewhere and it pops up. I can’t wait to see where I am and how I’ll react. I’ve already experienced it with the team and that was something pretty cool.

If you could put together your dream touring line-up who would you choose?

Ooh, awesome question, I love it! This is such a cool question. I would have to go with my heroes growing up, I don’t want to take it too far back, but I’d have to go with the guy who really got me into country music growing up and that was Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson… well, right there you’re pretty much kicking butt (laughs). Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Clint Black. Back in the early 90′s those were the guys who really got me into country and you know, I can just remember all those songs. That would probably be who I’d go out with. I’ve had the chance to open up for Tracy Lawrence and I would probably put him in that tour line-up too as well. Like I said, I already got to open up once for him and I got to be part of one of my heroes’ nights. Who would have thought 20 years ago that I would have been opening up for Tracy Lawrence?

Actually, it’s kind of a funny story. I was out on the road with my Granddad for Thanksgiving down in Florida. I was actually in the backseat of his truck and had his Tracy Lawrence Greatest Hits CD playing and I was singing along to every word. He goes “man, you need to learn the guitar and start singing.” That was one of those moments that I’ll never forget. To go from that, you know, back from before I started to play guitar, to opening a show for him was just incredible. My parents were there, and it was just one of those full circle moments that I’ll never forget.

If you could record a song with an artist from another genre, who would you pick?

Alright! I’m gonna think hard on this one. Current? Can we go current on this one? I think we should. I would have to go with, man this is tough, I’m a fan of all sorts of music. I’d have to go with Justin Timberlake (laughs). I think when he makes a comeback it’s going to be big. Let’s put Justin Timberlake. I think it would be a hot mess if we included John Mayer too.

Is there anything on your iPod that fans might be shocked you listen to?

Yes, there’s actually a lot. The first band I was ever in; I grew up in a small town so there wasn’t a lot of guys that played music, period; the guys in the band hated country music at the time. Now the drummer now loves it, I’m not sure about the other guys, but I loved country but there was no one that liked country or played it. They liked rock and roll, and for some reason or another we fell in love with the band Incubus. And honestly, before I said Justin Timberlake, I was going to say Incubus but this is another part of the story. The first band we covered was Incubus, and they would give me one country song a show and that was my out. I’m a huge Incubus fan and I love the musicianship with them and the lyrics, and I just feel like they put out a great album back in I think August. That would be kind of shocking I would think to find out that I’m that big of an Incubus fan.

So if you could record a song with any country artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Reba McEntire. Why? Because she is timeless. She’s the Queen of Country and I think a duet with her would be awesome. If it was a guy, it would be Garth Brooks. Okay, Reba, for a duet Reba would be the female for sure. I’ve got a big crush on Reba. She’s been around forever and she’s still on-top of her game.

How would you describe yourself as an artist to fans who might not know you yet?

I think it was Waylon Jennings who said “don’t ever try to be like anyone else, be yourself.” Every time I step behind a guitar to write a song, or every time I step behind the microphone on stage, I’m just being myself and I try and write, like I said, from things I’ve experienced. What a fan is going to get is real. I think as an artist, what they’re going to get is a piece of me in my songs. I don’t want to describe a sound or a word, I think I’m true and honest and trying to be myself is what they’re going to get.

Is there one big goal you’ve set for yourself in 2012?

Yeah, there’s more than one goal I must say. As a songwriter, not only do I like recording my songs, I also like to have my songs cut by other artists. I have a goal to get some outside songs recording of mine. You know, with Dallas Smith that song is flying up the charts up there. Just to see the success that’s kicking off that guy’s career, he was in a pretty major rock band that I was a fan of in high school, but who would have thought that a guy who was covering a Default song in high school that years later his first country release would be my song? A lot of the guys I know in Nashville are songwriters, that’s who they are.

Another goal of mine, and I’ve had this one since I was four years old, was to sing at the Grand Ole Opry. You know, hopefully I’ll get to the point this year where I can step into the circle. I promised myself that there would only be a few places that I wouldn’t go unless music took me there and the Opry is one of them. To get to step inside the circle one day would be awesome.

 

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