Illinois native Brett Eldredge is an artist who needs absolutely no introduction whatsoever to country music fans anywhere in the world. A CMA Award winner with 5 back-to-back top 5 albums that have collectively delivered 5 number one singles and on stage is regarded as one of country music’s most electric live performers. Eldredge first visited the UK in 2016 before playing at Country 2 Country Festival in 2019 and being one of the last Nashville artists to tour the UK before the world changed a little in 2020. Ahead of his upcoming return to Europe in May, we caught up with Brett over Zoom to get an update on forthcoming new music and how excited he is about his upcoming European tour. “I cannot wait. I’ve been chomping at the bit. I haven’t got to go outside the States for quite a while and the fact I get to go and play music is even better so I can’t wait to get back to it. It’s literally a couple of weeks away and it feels pretty great.”
“2016 was one of my favourite years ever. The Cubs won the world series, I got to go over there and do all of these amazing things, so I’ll always remember that, and it takes me back, but I want to come back every year. It was tough to not get to go back and some of the last shows that I got to play before the pandemic were on the UK tour and in Europe, so now I’m so ready to play!” Brett has been coming over here for a while and these UK and European shows will be the first shows he is playing this year. We have seen the number of US artists that have been booking shows for this year on this side of the Atlantic, but what it is that keeps him wanting to come back? “I remember as a kid dreaming about, what if I could sing songs around the world? As a kid the world is that little town that I live in of Paris, Illinois which is eight thousand people. Then I got to tour around the US and now heading back over to the UK for the third time is insane. I think the draw there is to finding a new excitement, like a new conversation when you meet someone new. I love to travel outside of what I do but the fact I get to do that and play music in front of people that I’ve barely got to, because I have a little bit. It’s just the respect that I get from fans over there and everybody just makes you feel special, like what you’re saying is important even with the deep cuts from the albums where people really care. These will be my first shows of the year so will be a really good way to really energise my music spirit and this is the right place to do it.”
We hear how the north Americans feel about audiences over here and given the radio aspect is very different, so it does present an alternate way to approach shows compared to back at home with being able to delve into the back catalogue further and what is regarded as a great place to try out new material. “Some of the first songs that I played from the “Sunday Drive” album were over there when they were songs that I was testing for the record and I got such great reaction there, then I didn’t get to play them live after the release until mid-last year so the only time I had really played those was before the album came out. To get to try out all of these new songs for people that really care about listening to them is really fun, not that people here don’t care about listening to them it just there is this respect between the fans and the artist where they see you took the time to make this trip over and there is this respect there with a gratitude from both sides of the crowd and the stage. I don’t take that lightly and I really take that opportunity to bare my soul, try some new things and maybe play some songs that I wouldn’t normally play. That’s what you live for, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of hits and also some of my favourite songs were never hits that have just as much weight, of course I’ll play the hits too but can play some songs I wouldn’t normally get to do and make it a more unique show.” This as a result must allow for more flexibility and the ability to pull audibles and vary the set on a night by nigh basis? “I love it that way. I remember at one point in my career when people were saying you should put tracks in the song and everything, but I hated that. I tried it for a little while, but I love music. I love giving the guitar solo a few extra bars to my guitar player instead of like a track or something where the band is playing but there are more parts to make it feel fuller or whatever and it feels like being on a leash where you can only go so far with this. I realised I wanted to be able to switch up the set every night if I wanted or if I see a sign to play a song, I might break something out because some of my favourite shows I have seen were like that. There are certain parts of the show that for continuity, you keep pretty solid but there’s always wiggle room if you give yourself some and that’s what I like to do.”
“Sunday Drive” came out in July 2020, where we have since had a Christmas album and more recently a pair of new tracks; “Holy Water” and “Want That Back” so a new project was appearing on the horizon, so I asked Brett for an update on where we are in terms of a new album? “It’s going to come very soon, literally by the day I am finding more and more about it. I get to make the records, write the songs and everything then get really smart people that know when to put it out. As an artist you just want to make the music and I want it to be out today, but people remind you that you don’t want to rush it out and have got to have the right thing, get it to your fans in the right way but it is getting very close! It is close to done now. You go through the photos, videos and all the things but the music is right and that’s what drives everything. I’ve hit a really good stride with this new music, it’s pretty profound and powerful, and I really discovered over the last three months that I had this whole new excitement to start the year. I’m trying to wrap it up now and it should be announced pretty soon when it’s going to come but it will be this year, I know that!” We had begun our chat with Brett noticing that during our Zoom call I was representing my beloved Dallas Cowboys (in a retro Tony Romo jersey) and me enquiring about where his allegiance lay as his hometown in Illinois is closer to Indianapolis in neighbouring Indiana to the Bears up in Chicago, but he sticks with his home state. I always enjoy talking about pro-football (or the NFL to British fans) whenever I can but I had to round off talking to Brett about his friendship with one of the, if not the greatest quarterback of all time and how he got Peyton Manning to join him on stage in Denver last October. “He is such a cool guy! I kind of got introduced to Peyton in the craziest way. One day I got a message on my phone which was like a three- or four-minute-long voicemail from Peyton Manning saying how much he loved my music and that his mom was a huge fan of my music too. He asked me to be a guest at an event, which I went to and we just hit it off as he’s such a nice guy and loves to tell stories, he’s just really down to earth and a really solid human. We just really connected, and he asked me to play his charity event for the children’s hospital that he has out in Indianapolis, which I was jumping at the opportunity to do that which was such a cool thing to be able to play for that to raise money and we kept staying friends and kept in touch.”
“When we were playing out in Denver, he had said he would love to come to my show tonight and the next thing I know. He goes to dinner, he gets there, and I wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to make it or not, but I look over and he’s standing side stage towards the beginning of the show. I always like to ask somebody if they want to come on stage or they just want to enjoy the show, but he loves to ham it up. He just knows how to perform and have fun, he just loves the energy of the stage which you understand that when he played in front of the amount of people that he did. One of my crew guys came up and said Peyton will come up and sing if you want him to! I was like really? What song does he want to come up and sing? I had said we could do this one or this one, but he said he really loved “The Reason” which is a deeper cut but a popular one amongst my crowd. I’d already sang it but thought I don’t care, we’ll sing it again. We came back at the encore and thought this was the perfect opportunity, so I bring him out there and people went nuts. He just had so much fun and belts it out no matter what note that it hits, he’s up there for the performance, the energy and the support, I’m grateful for his friendship.” The latest track from Brett Eldredge is “Want That Back” which is out now and available HERE. His European tour kicks off on May 2nd at O2 Academy in Glasgow along with shows in Belfast, Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester, London, Berlin, Munich and Amsterdam. You can find all of the dates and ticket information on his WEBSITE and keep up to date with Brett socially on INSTAGRAMTWITTERTIKTOKFACEBOOK or YOUTUBE.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks