It was almost a year to the day between Corey Kent releasing his version of Tyler Joe Miller’s Wild As Her and making his international debut on the spotlight stage at this years Country to Country Festival. 2022 was certainly a breakout year for the Oklahoma native, which saw Wild As Her climb the country charts and getting his major label deal with Sony Music Nashville. The last year has been life changing. Less than two years ago I was working at a pavement company and now I’m playing at the O2 in London; I’m halfway across the world and people are singing my songs back to me. It’s hard to believe!
Did the music dream begin fade when you had to turn back to a day job? At the time, I was playing music most of my adult life and had a wife and two kids with a third on the way and the world shut down so music couldn’t pay the bills anymore. You couldn’t play live music anywhere so I had to learn how to do something new, so I went to work at this pavement company in Texas and was doing what I had to do for my family. We didn’t know if live music was ever coming back, we just didn’t know. It crossed my mind that this could be my new reality forever but thankfully things started opening back up and when that opportunity presented itself we were never going to be outworked. I had tasted what it was like to not play music for a living and I had a whole new appreciation. For a whole year in Texas we lost money every night, every single night, but I was so happy to be playing music that I didn’t care. I was paying my guys but it was an investment and I believed it was going to pay off and here we are. At what point did this trip feel like a reality after all that? I think it’s really going to set in when I have an hour at home once I get back and will realise that I just played in London at the O2. Not just a small club, there was over 10,000 people in there last night! I don’t think it’s quite set in yet and am taking it one show at a time having just got off stage from my third and final show here and now I’m going to jump on a train to Paris to visit there for a couple of days and then we’ll be flying to Australia for some shows. I’ve never been outside the US and here I am playing in London and Australia in the same week – via Paris! We’re taking full advantage of no kids, so we’re going to do the things we can’t normally do.
What are the family saying back home? They’re really excited for us and know what a cool experience it is. We’ve never seen anything like this and it is a culture shock and I feel like at any moment everyone will be like, just kidding you’re in Florida! We don’t actually talk this way.
How have you found playing so many sets across the weekend, including inside the arena? Today there were quite a few repeat people and some that have been at all three of my sets, which is an honour as they had so many options – great options. Then there were people who it was their first time seeing me at each show and the cool part is this gave me the opportunity to win people over. The amount of people after each show that told me they had no idea who I was but I was their favourite was a huge compliment. I’m just like wow, have you seen the lineup! The fact they even chose to be at that show was even enough for me. I’ve played a lot of festivals over the years and at 11am not often do you have a packed house but to they showed up to my surprise. The cool thing about London is the people are hanging on every word. They are like, OK, American country artists are coming here so we’ll shut up and list to what they have to say, and that’s really rare. In the States, I’m used to people throwing beer bottles when you play the Honky Tonks in Texas so it’s a really cool dynamic and you can tell they want to follow along with the story and the song. Did you notice people know your music too? What I did notice is we put out music back in 2017 and there’s people who know those songs from 5 years ago and I’m not expecting anyone to know that music, but I’m out here and they do. I was told that when the fans here see the lineup announcement they’re going to deep dive into your music and they want to be a part of it. I think that is so refreshing that people will go backwards to your previous stuff and educate themselves before they see you. It makes for a great live experience.
Is that the kind of thing that makes you want to keep building a fan base in Europe? As far as international countries go for someone from Texas, it’s London and it’s Australia. They are the two hot spots, but I think there are people who really want to build here and I can tell you that after my first experience I have a connection with a fan base here. It might be small but it’s mighty right now and I want to build that. I’ve already told my team this weekend that we need to book some club dates here as I want to come back. Everybody has been so great and they care about the music so let’s build this. Can we add you now to the list of artists who we can expect to move their way up the London capacity venues then? I’ve was talking to Thomas Rhett after the show last night and he was telling me that he came here five times before he could really do it the way he wanted to. He was still selling everything out but it is a true investment in your career here and now he can come over and headline C2C. You’ve got pay your dues and you’ve got to invest. Thomas has done it and played to 20,000 people last night as the headliner. That’s insane and it’d be like me five times from now, so four more times is the goal. If Thomas did it in five, maybe we can do it in four. Healthy competition!
C2C: Country to Country will return to the O2 Arena in London and OVO Hydro in Glasgow on 8th to 10th March 2024 where the festival will also head to Belfast at the SSE Arena for the first time. Early Bird tickets were released on Friday March 17th where full ticket information is available on the WEBSITE and socials (INSTAGRAM / TWITTER / FACEBOOK)
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks