Country Next: Drew Green
We take pride in introducing fans to country music’s brightest new stars through our Country Next series. Here, we chat with Drew Green.
Drew Green; Photo by Matthew Berinto
Drew Green may not be a household name yet, but he’s well known in Nashville’s songwriting circles. Born and raised in McMinnville, Tennessee, he wrote several songs long before he ever landed his first publishing deal.
After graduating from college and getting a gig as the house band singer for Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Green took a steady job at a bank, where he quickly got promoted to manager-in-training. Even though his 9-5 job proved secure, he took his shot at pursuing a career in songwriting full-time.
Green’s hard work and dedication paid off, and he ended up co-writing Florida Georgia Line’s song, “Colorado,” with HARDY and Hunter Phelps, for their No. 1 album, Can’t Say I Ain’t Country. In November 2018, he signed his first publishing contract with Brett James’ Cornman Music, a co-venture with Warner/Chappell Nashville.
Although Green solidified himself as a songwriter in Nashville, his talent to perform didn’t go unnoticed. On June 10, he began the transition from songwriter to artist, signing on with Villa 40/Sony Music Nashville, a new label imprint co-founded by industry veterans Joe Fischer and Brad Margolis.
Green has so far released two songs under his new label contract: his debut single, “Little More Be Alright,” and current single, “Right Where I Be.” The latter of the two is all about living in the moment. The accompanying video for the feel-good song features a cameo from ABC’s The Bachelor contestant Danielle Maltby. Together, both songs have already amassed over 3 million on-demand streams.
Country Now recently caught up with Green to learn more about his background, current music, his transition from songwriter to artist, and more.
Read on to find out more about Drew Green in this exclusive Q&A.
You made the transition from being a hit songwriter to a full-fledged artist. Was that always the plan for you when it came to pursuing a career in music?
That was always the dream for me from day one. I always wanted to [do both]. Over time, though, I became pretty content with just being a songwriter because I had a family growing. I love songwriting, and I still do. I can’t do anything without being a songwriter first because I start to go crazy if I don’t write songs. So I think, first and foremost, I’m a songwriter more than anything.
Growing up, who would you say were your biggest musical influences?
I grew up listening to country music. That’s my roots for sure. I grew up on a tree farm in McMinnville, Tennessee, so I listened to a lot of Alan Jackson and Sammy Kershaw. I used to listen to Alan Jackson’s albums all of the time. I still do. But, in high school, I remember being obsessed with Dr. Dre and his producing elements in the way that he was so fresh and current. I also grew up a lot on Craig David and Usher. But I also listened to Matchbox Twenty. So, I guess you could say I have a pretty eclectic taste in music.
What kind of changes have you had to make since stepping into the role of being an artist in comparison to a songwriter?
There’s a lot more [to do]. Once I got comfortable with the people I was writing with and had a little click of guys to write songs with, I was able to open up more. The transition has been a little different with the coronavirus. It hasn’t been as crazy as it probably would be. So I’m still getting to write songs about as often as I was before. I usually take 1-2 days a week now to work on artist stuff, such as today. Typically, we’d be in a write right now, but it’s been pretty equal. I haven’t felt like it’s been overwhelming or anything like that. It just adds a little more to the plate, I guess.
Is it difficult to decide which songs work best for you versus for other artists?
It used to be when everything was still up in the air. When it was still like, ‘Am I or am I not making this transition?’ Back then, it was a little more confusing. But now, it 100% happened, and I got a deal. Technically, I’m supposed to be writing for me. But if we’re writing a song and we get halfway through it, and it just sounds like Blake Shelton, you know, I would be like, ‘Well, let’s try to get that to him first, and if he can’t do it, or if he doesn’t want it, or if someone else doesn’t want it, then maybe eventually I will.’ But, when I write, in most cases, whatever it is that makes me who I am, is all over it.
Being well known in the songwriting community and as someone who has had a cut on Florida Georgia Line’s album, does that make it difficult for you to take outside songs?
Well, we’re just getting started right now with my artist stuff, so we’ve got a lot of songs in the bag right now that we’re recording and hoping to get out soon. However, I’ve had a few pitched to me recently, and they’re great! That’s another part of the dream, having someone pitch songs to me. So it’s pretty awesome to listen to songs that I didn’t write that people think I should sing. There’s a couple that I’ve heard that I like. Usually, it’s songs that people don’t pitch to me. So one of my buddies showed me a song that he wrote recently, I’d be like, ‘Man. If no one picks that one up, hook a boy up!’ But, as of right now, it’s pretty hard to look at other people’s songs because I’m having trouble figuring out which ones of mine I’m going to cut.
Can you tell me about the inspiration behind the song “Little More Be Alright?”
Well, I had just signed my deal with Villa 40/Sony Music Nashville, and I was driving back from my hometown of McMinnville, TN. I was getting ready to play a show up there. I was opening up for Darryl Worley at the time. The guy who was booking the show was on the phone with him. He was talking about this land that he wanted. He passes it every day going to and from work. He’s like, ‘Man. I would love to buy this land, even though I don’t need it.’ For some reason, that stuck out to me. I didn’t have a title for it, but just the thought of that. So I wrote that down in my little hook book, and when I was writing with my producer, Mark Trussell, we were supposed to have like a three-way write that day, and the third guy didn’t show up. I said, ‘Well, I’m already over here, so let’s just piddle around.’ He started playing that lick, which is the introduction to that song. I said, ‘Man, that sounds great. I’d like to figure out what that song is, and it felt like that song.’ And, it started to fall in our laps, and we fell in love with it. And I thought, ‘This is me. I have a feeling that people are going to like this, and I think this is going to be a single.’ And it got to be my first one, so I’m super excited! I’m getting great feedback and comments on it. And having somebody, like a random person, mention to me that it means a lot to them is like the best feeling in the world.
How about your current single, “Right Where I Be.” Can you tell me about that one, and why you chose it as the follow up “Little More Be Alright?”
When I was writing that one, I knew the minute I started writing it, that it was 100% me. It was new, fresh, and it had this feeling. For me, it set the bar of, you know, new country music. I love the story it presented, and I wrote that with my producer as well. It was the second song we wrote together that was a song that told me that Mark would probably be my producer. He read my mind on how to produce it. The label liked it. It felt new, and it just felt right.
The music video for “Right Where I Be” features Danielle Maltby from The Bachelor. Can you tell me about that video?
As soon as I saw the spot where we were filming, I was like, ‘Wow!’ The producer of the video read my mind on how I wanted it to look. When I was writing the song, the picture in my head of what was going on, that was it! When I pulled up to the shoot that night, I knew it was going to be quick and easy. It was surreal to have a crew out there and all the lights. I was like, ‘This is awesome!’ Also, I was happy with Danielle the minute I saw her. She crushed it! I got to know her a little bit while she was getting ready and while I was getting ready to perform it. So I’m so glad she got to be a part of it. Then, when we were filming it, I don’t think they had yet gone into full shutdown mode. However, it was still where everybody had to wear masks. So we didn’t shoot our scenes together, and you can see in the video, you’ll notice that, and it was all due to COVID-19. So it was all very well under control.
Can you tell me the story behind how you got your label deal?
Well, for me, it happened so fast. So, I texted my publisher, Brett James, and this was about a year ago, last summer, and I was like, ‘Hey man. I’ve got some songs that you haven’t heard.’ At that time, I wasn’t pushing the artist thing. I wanted to show him some songs for pitching purposes. So we had breakfast that morning at Fenwick’s 300 in Nashville. He sat in my truck and listened to like 28 songs. I figured he’d listen to two or three of them, but he listened to all of them. He didn’t say much at the time, but he called me that night and said, ‘Man, I think you’re ready for a record deal if that’s something you desire.’ I was like, ‘Well yea, of course!’ That was on a Friday, and he said, ‘I want to take some low key meetings and see what other people think.’ So he met with Jim Catino, who is the A&R guy at Sony Music Nashville, the next Monday. Jim loved my stuff, and he met with Joe Fisher, who is the CEO of Villa 40. I played for Sony on Friday, and they offered a verbal deal on that day. So, it was a week-long process, which we expected lots more. It was fast compared to the Nashville norm.
How have you had to shift your creative focus since signing on with Villa 40/Sony Music Nashville amid COVID-19?
It’s been a little different, but we’re doing the best we can. Luckily, I have a great team, so it’s not been that difficult for us. The hardest part for me personally would be songwriting on Zoom. It’s great that I get to write in my pajamas, but it’s a lot harder when we’re on a three-way call because it’s like, one person talks and then another person talks. But, when we’re all in a room together, we can all be singing, and it’s a different vibe. But, I’ve learned to enjoy it. It’s become natural now because I’ve been doing so much since Coronavirus started. But, the hardest part is the songwriting, more so than interviews. I’d love to be in-person doing interviews, and I’d love to play a lot more out right now. Hopefully, by next year, it’ll be behind us, and I’ll be on the road.
How about your family? Is it difficult to continue your music while in quarantine with them?
My wife is my biggest supporter. She’s been on me since day one. She’s seen everything happen, and she’s the one I go to and cling to. If she doesn’t like a song, that pretty much narrows it down for me because I want to make her happy, too, with certain things. I always ask her questions, and she’s always been there for me. When it comes to being busy and before I had my deal, I felt like I was busier because I wanted it so bad. I was writing two songs a day, and I was gone from 11:00 a.m.- 11:00 p.m., two or three days a week. So for her, to have me change from songwriter to artist doesn’t change that much. Eventually, when this stuff clears up, I will be gone four days a week or longer on the road. We’ve talked about that before, so she knew that I was shooting for that from day one. And, she’s independent, so she doesn’t need me to be happy.
What’s next for you?
We’ve talked about releasing one more song, hopefully, in the next couple weeks. We’re not sure yet. We’ve also talked about putting out an EP or album by the end of this year. But it’s not been confirmed yet. Hopefully, we’ll be getting out on the road soon. I can’t wait to start playing shows again and hopefully get on a tour to wrap up coronavirus with getting out something and playing constantly. I can’t wait to play. But, fans can look forward to a lot more songs coming out soon too.
Fans can keep up with Drew Green on Instagram.
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