Q&A: Scotty McCreery
The road from the 10th season of "American Idol" led straight to a No. 1 debut album for Scotty McCreery, who has taken more control of his recordings and Elvis influence.
When Scotty McCreery first appeared on the country music scene, it wasn’t without a major splash. As the winner of American Idol’s 10th season in 2011, he had a springboard to massive audience exposure and debuted as the youngest male artist in any genre and first country music artist to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard top 200 chart with his first album, Clear as Day. His 2013 sophomore release, See You Tonight, climbed to the top of the country charts as well, yet the young artist with five hit singles — five of which went platinum and one gold — found himself embroiled in a protracted battle with his label, Mercury Nashville.
That’s not to say McCreery’s life was on hold during that battle. The young country star who had been previously tabbed as Country Music’s Hottest Bachelor and Sexiest Man in Country Music found his love and got engaged and married to his now-wife, Gabi, in the interim.
He also co-wrote every song on his latest album, Seasons Change, and even scored a No. 1 radio hit by independently releasing “Five More Minutes” before he had found a new label. With another No. 1 album under his belt, along with a world of new experiences, McCreery is back on the road and bringing his music to fans everywhere.
Q. How much do you feel like American Idol influenced your career?
A. More than anything, I think American Idol was a platform for exposure and for people to recognize me. I mean, it was huge for me — it was the biggest show on television at the time and I really didn’t expect to get as far as I did, much less win. Based on where I was coming from, mainly singing other people’s songs, as opposed to others who played instruments as well and were starting to write their own songs, it was a good experience, but it didn’t really influence how I approach music. I think getting to Nashville and touring music row and seeing how things really work had more of an influence on how I write and approach things.
Q. How has moving to a new label changed things for you and how you approached making the new album?
A. It was a really welcome change in my eyes. My old label had a more corporate feel and was all business. Triple Tigers is more musician and artist friendly and is really supportive of what I want to do. I just wrote and wrote until I had a set of songs we all unanimously liked. The whole process just felt more natural and authentic for me. Looking back, there was a legal battle with the other label that basically took all of 2016 away, but I was still able to accomplish a lot personally and I put a book out. So yeah, it was frustrating, but without going through that, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Q. What made you want to take more control over the songs that you wrote?
A. We were still getting outside songs, but once I started writing, I got into this head space where the best part of the process was writing songs that meant something to me. It seemed like early on, I knew I wanted to write a very personal record and tell my story, so it kind of naturally went that direction. We still got a lot of great songs sent to us from outside writers, and I’ll probably use other writers on the next record, but I feel like I was on a path with this one that I needed to follow.
Q. You’ve worked with a lot of great writers in the past, but you seem to have found a special bond or chemistry with Frank Rogers, who co-wrote a number of songs and produced this latest album. How helpful or inspiring was he as you put this record together?
A. Yeah, Frank really took me under his wing with this one. He understood what I wanted to do and was really helpful in getting that accomplished. Mostly, he let me do what I wanted and needed to do and helped me focus and pull it all together for this record.
Q. Your approach to the videos has been a little different so far with this record. What compelled you to do that?
A. It all just came about kind of naturally. We had other ideas pitched to us for the videos, but I just thought that if so much of this is about me, I just couldn’t see using anyone else in the videos. Also, I like having a personal tie to the music and the fans. I feel like people like to see and maybe get to know you as a person a little bit. It might just be me, but I think as a fan I’d get a little kick out of it and find it more interesting to see something a little more personal, so I kind of approached it that way.
Q. With your latest album, you’ve gotten a lot of great reviews and a lot has been made of your ‘90s country influences coming through.
A. You know, I try to stay out of listening to what’s supposed to be popular and where the trends are going. If you want to be relevant, you really can’t play that game. Growing up, my mom listened to people like Conway Twitty and Ronnie Millsap. Also, Elvis was a good one for me. Just his style and the way he sang. I may not sound like him, but I think you can hear a little nuance of that in what I do.
Q. Do you approach shows differently based on the type of venue and do you have a preference?
A. Honestly, I probably do [approach them differently], but I don’t really think about it. I think a theater is a little more songwriter friendly and lets you explain how the songs come about. At least that’s how it works in my mind. It feels like I have more time to explain where I was or what I was thinking when I wrote a song, where the big shows are more about the concert experience and keeping the crowd pumped up. I like both. There’s no rush like it when you’re playing in front of a big arena or stadium crowd. With the smaller shows, it feels like you get to know the audience a little better and it’s more personal. It’s just a different energy.
The Joint: Tulsa | Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa
777 W. Cherokee St. | Catoosa
Nov. 8: 8 p.m.
Must be 21 or older to attend
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