Who’s Next: Chris Stapleton
For the past year I have been doing a monthly segment which I’ve entitled “Who’s Next”. This month’s post is a bit different because its dedicated to an artist who I feel is going to break out as a solo artist, yet has seen various forms of success over the past decade. He has penned over 150 songs that have ended up on major artists’ albums, such as Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Dierks Bentley, Adele, Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker, and Gary Allan. He was the lead singer of the bluegrass band, The Steeldrivers, for a few years, and even founded a rock band called The Jompson Brothers.
However, on May 5, 2015, Stapleton released one of the most refreshing albums I’ve heard in years, entitled “Traveller”. The album has such an organic and traditional sound filled with songs that are edgy, dark, and moving. The present day’s climate of country music makes the genre seem more like pop music with many of the artists making songs that are shallow and meaningless. Yet, with “Traveller”, Stapleton wanted no part of the bro country phase and instead created a masterpiece from start to finish complete with songs with meaning.
I got to sit down with Stapleton for a few minutes while I was on official assignment for countrymusicislove.com before he performed at New York City’s 1st ever Farmborough Festival on Randall’s Island (you can see my recap of the Festival here: http://www.countrymusicislove.com/country-music-news/the-big-apple-goes-country-with-first-ever-farmborough-festival/). Check out my interview below:
MTMS: Do you take a different approach to songwriting when it comes to your solo career as compared to making a song for other artists?
Chris Stapleton: Not really, I just try to write the best song I can each day. That is unless I am writing with another artist specifically for a project. But, I do not sit down with any other intent than to write the best song I can write for that day. Some days you get lucky and make one that someone wants to cut or can be a hit. Other days I just take it as practice at writing a song.
MTMS: When did you start writing songs?
Chris Stapleton: I’ve been writing songs since I was teenager. Professionally, I got my first publishing deal when I was 23 in 2001.
MTMS: Have you recorded any of the first songs you ever wrote?
Chris Stapleton: You know, some of the songs that are fourteen, fifteen years old are on this record. “Fire Away” and “Might As Well Get Stoned” are in that range. I have songs that other people cut that I wrote before I even moved to town. Like “Nobody’s Fool” that Miranda Lambert cut, I wrote that when I was 18. Songs hang around and they will find a way if they can do the job.
MTMS: Did you expect the huge critical response you’ve received from “Traveller”?
Chris Stapleton: I don’t think you can ever expect anything like that. You just have to try to write the best songs you can and sometimes you get lucky. I will say this was a really wonderful and beautiful experience and probably the best one I’ve ever had. It all flowed together organically and if you step back and look at things, it all came together.
MTMS: Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Chris Stapleton: They are all my favorite songs because I don’t look at them as individually songs, I look at them as a body of work. They span such a long range of time so they are pieces of phases until they ended up on the record. I really can’t pick one because I think they flow together. I really like albums as a whole as much as I can appreciate individual songs, so these all tying together meant a lot to me.