Burgeoning country artist Sean Stemaly is getting pretty used to performing on stages in front of hundreds of people. But it wasn’t long ago that he was putting his vocal talents to the test while in the cab of a tractor. The singer/songwriter, who was born in Western Kentucky and raised near the corn-covered fields of Southern Indiana, spent his teen years working on a farm and for his dad’s excavating company. His fate changed, however, when he discovered his vocal abilities while driving tractor, singing along to ‘90s country songs.
With such promising talent, Stemaly worked up the courage to move to Nashville, where he was introduced to a whole new world. Even though Stemaly left the farm, he continues to stick close to his roots, which is evident in his previous release, “Back On A Backroad.” The Big Loud Records’ signee also shows how he has embraced neon lights and big city life in his latest foot-stomping tune “Last Night All Day,” written by Matt Dragstrem, Ben Johnson and Hunter Phelps.
Stemaly, who is currently in the studio recording more new music with producer Joey Moi (Florida Georgia Line, Morgan Wallen, Nickelback), caught up with Country Now to talk about his rural upbringing, making the move to Music City, his latest releases and upcoming projects.
Read on for our exclusive chat with Sean Stemaly.
Melinda Lorge: For our readers who are just now getting to know you. Can you briefly share your background story?
Sean Stemaly: I grew up in two towns, Madisonville, Kentucky, and Newburgh, Indiana. I didn’t grow up on music at all. I grew up driving tractors and working on farms. I discovered my voice around the age of 20 while singing along to songs on a farm tractor. I sang as a hobby for a little while. Then I joined a church group. Then I quit that and stopped singing altogether. Then I met one of my really good friends, and long story short, he convinced me to get back into music and move to Nashville. I was 22 when I started playing guitar and writing songs, and here we are. I moved to Nashville two years ago.
Lorge: Who are some of your musical influences?
Stemaly: Growing up, I mainly listened to classic rock. My dad beat classic rock into my head, which is a good thing. My main influences were Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue. Around age 15, I started getting into country music, and it turned into Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn and Tim McGraw.
Lorge: How did you navigate your career after moving to Nashville?
Stemaly: Before I moved, I visited Nashville just about every weekend for eight months straight. I made some buddies at Losers Bar [& Grill] in Midtown, and one of the first things I was told by a dude was, ‘Your network is your net worth.’ I took that to heart big-time, and I went out as much as I could and established as many connections as I could. By the time I moved here, I had already had friends. So I kept using that technique and eventually met bigger songwriters and people in this industry. I kept working my way up the ladder. Finally, it led to a showcase that we played for a few different labels, and I ended up going with Big Loud.
Lorge: Tell me about your recent single “Back On A Backroad.”
Stemaly: There are several people like me in this town, who are from the country and now cooped up in a city, where everybody is packed into one space, and not used to it. Even to this day, it’s still kind of a shock to me. So that song was perfect to release at the time. It’s relatable to a lot of people. It’s about me wanting to get back to my roots.
Lorge: How about “Last Night All Day.” What drew you to that song?
Stemaly: There have been a few instances in my life where drunk me thought that someone I met at the bar was just the best. Your drunken thoughts will think that sometimes. Then the next day, you’re still convinced about that, and that’s what “Last Night All Day” kind of says. It’s like, you think you meet someone special at a bar – and maybe you do – and you just keep thinking about it. That’s what my take on that song is.
Lorge: That song shows a different side of your sound in comparison to “Back On A Backroad.” Is that the kind of sound fans can expect to hear from you in the future?
Stemaly: It’s definitely not the same as the stuff we’re working on right now. “Last Night All Day” is, kind of, it’s own sound, it’s own animal. We tried to do a more modern western swing sound to it, where people can dance to it since it’s about people being out at a nightclub or bar. I wouldn’t say it sounds like everything else we’re going to put out.
Lorge: In terms of future projects, are there any songs you haven’t released yet that you can’t wait to get out?
Stemaly: There are a couple of songs coming up. I have a song called “As Far As I know” that’s special to me that we’ll put out at some point in the future. We have another song called “Come Back To Bed.” With what I wrote on that song, I was kind of walking on an edge as far as the derogatory stuff goes. It’s like a new peak for me as a writer that Joey and the team challenged me to do. We’re going to release that soon. It’s more of like a “Burnin’ It Down,” R&B-style country song.
Lorge: What has it been like working with Joey Moi?
Stemaly: That’s been such a highlight for me because I’ve always been a huge Nickelback fan. It’s such a cool thing to be in his shoes. He’s very strict and straightforward. He doesn’t mess around, and that’s what I like about him. You have to go into the studio prepared, or else it’s not going to work. I like discipline. I like to work hard, and that’s exactly what his mentality is. So we work well together. We’ve gotten along since the first day we met.
Lorge: Switching gears, you’ve toured with artists like Riley Green, LANCO, Chris Lane and Morgan Wallen, and are now touring with HARDY. What have you learned from bring on the road with them?
Stemaly: I like to study what they do on stage because there’s a reason why they’re where they are in their careers. A lot of these guys have become my good friends, so it’s cool to be traveling like that. But also, you need to have the mentality that you’re still at work and studying the art, which makes room for improvement down the road.
Lorge: What would you consider to be the biggest highlight of your career so far?
Stemaly: These last four months, I would say, ever since I signed my papers over at Big Loud Records. My team has grown, and I love every single one of them on it. I get to work with some of my best friends every single day. I get to write songs with some of my idols I look up to as a songwriter. A year ago, I was doing all of this by myself – booking my shows, trying to schedule my writes, and doing whatever I could. My guitar player, Dalton, and I were just trying to pay our bills. Now this year, it’s a whole different thing. It’s cool to see how things can grow in such a short amount of time.
Lorge: What’s next for you?
Stemaly: The next thing for me is touring. We’ll be releasing another single soon, and we have plans for a full-length project this year.
Fans can keep up with Sean Stemaly on Instagram.