Last month, CCMA Award-winning and chart-topping Canadian country artistChad Brownlee, returned with his new single The Country Kind via The Orchard. With over 125 million global streams and numerous gold and platinum-certified singles, we were excited for Chad's first release since 2020 and jumped on a zoom call across The Atlantic to find out more about the track and what he has been up to in his time away from the music scene.
Good evening Chad Hey Ian, thanks for having me on.
It’s great to catch-up. Are you currently at home in British Columbia? It looks like we are in the same room with the sofa and cushions behind you, but I’m actually in the south Okanagan Valley in Penticton and you guys are all the way over in the UK.
That’s right. So, I guess we have to start with a congratulations as your new single is now officially released to the world Thank you. It’s felt really good to get some new music out man, I can’t overstate that.
It’s been three years since you released new music, were nerves creeping in as the release date ticked closer? Yeah, I think the nerves were more excitement and anticipation as it’s been two years since I wrote Country Kind with Dave Thomson and Tina Parol, so I’ve been sitting on that song for a while man! When you write a song that you love you want everyone to hear it that day, so I’ve been waiting a while to finally get this one out there but now that it is it feels so good.
What made you choose now to release it? There was a lot to get ready being an independent release. There’s a lot of behind the scenes things, especially making sure it was the right timing. There was a lot of things in my personal life that I was moving through and now was just the perfect time to get going. It feels real good.
I understand the song was originally part of a zoom write? It was. It was a time where we couldn’t travel very often or far. The only thing you can’t do in a zoom is sing together. You can’t harmonise or play the guitar together as there’s just that little delay between it, so you have to adapt. We made it work and the ideas flowed so it was one of those writes where withing three or four hours we had the song completed. Dave is also a producer who has worked with Lady A and Washboard Union; Tina has a huge catalogue of hits too so when you get in a room with the heavy hitters it moves the process along but is still great fun.
Does it still feel natural to write over zoom compared to in person? Not at first. It was a little weird, as the in-person experience offers this energetic exchange whether someone is giving you ideas or not, just the energy in the room effects the whole flow and ideas offering a real authenticity. I’ve gone down to Nashville for many years and have been in writing rooms with co-writers and it’s a magical experience. You walk in with a list of song titles, and you walk out with an entire song that didn’t exist the morning you woke up. It is an amazing process, whether that be in a real room or a virtual room.
Have you done more zoom writes recently or are you moving back to in-person writes? I’ve been doing a little bit of both. I’ve been doing some writing myself and it’s always nice when you spin your tires and when the idea tank begins to empty it’s always nice to bring in your buddies and co-writers to help you out. I guess zoom is much more budget friendly than a flight to Nashville too! That’s definitely true!
This release is going to be part of your upcoming album Reason To Love – your sixth album. We are probably going to do about two or three singles before the full album release. We are shooting for next fall for the release. In the new year we will have single number two with a duet with a female artist that I’m so excited to get out, and then the final single will come out towards the summer. Things are happening and it’s nice to get the gears moving again.
If the nerves weren’t too bad on this first release, surely, they’ll be all over the place come next fall? Oh yeah. It’s literally like Christmas all over again. As soon as you release these songs to the world it is out of your control, other than when you play them on stage, how the general public and the listeners react to it is completely out of your control. You have to trust that you’ve created a piece of art that’s going to resonate with the listener, and it will mean something to them. Going back to pre-2020, you were on a roll with releases, getting top 5’s as well as gold and platinum singles. Has that kept the momentum going despite the gap in releases? Yeah, I’ve been fortunate that I have a real loyal fan base that have stuck with me these past few years despite me not releasing music. My last record did really well for me with some of my best performing songs. I think there is still momentum that has carried over, so for all my fans reading this I feel so fortunate that you are still listening, streaming and requesting, and for all the new fans I want to say welcome, and I hope you like the new stuff and the old stuff.
Is it now nice to reply yes when people ask is there music coming? I’ve had a lot of messages and have said thanks for your patience a lot so it’s great now.
You’ve not been completely quiet though in the last few years, as you have done some acting. Yeah, Range Roads. What a fantastic time that was. When I was a kid, I was in musicals and the Grease production in Middle School. I was actually in the Tooth Fairy movie with The Rock as an extra as one of his hockey player buddies. There’s about three seconds on the bench where he’s flying out and I’m behind him and that’s my scene over. My first big picture moment wasn’t exactly the longest! Being on the set of Range Roads was fantastic and it was a bigger role and I hope to do more of that in the future as it was great fun.
In twenty years, you’ve gone from being an NHL Draft pick with the Canucks; to releasing platinum, number one singles; to staring in movies; and now back to releasing music. Does it feel crazy to say you’ve done all that? It kind of feels like I’ve lived two lives already. I think back to my hockey days, as I stopped playing when I was 23, and that was all I thought about from the age of 5 to 23 – to play in the NHL. It was a big goal and was something that I put my whole life’s attention into. Music was obviously in the background, but more as a hobby, and almost as soon as hockey went into the background music was there to fill that void with all of my attention. I took all that determination and attention from hockey and put it on a different set of tracks. Despite both being in the entertainment world, there still was a shift. Despite both being on a stage – a different kind of stage – there’s a lot of pressure that comes with it. Thinking back to those hockey days feels like a dream – like I was a different person altogether.
Being a few hours drive from Vancouver, do you still manage to get to some Canuck games? Yeah. I skate with the alumni games every year as they do several charity events. It’s such a great group of guys and I’ve got some good friends down at those events. Do you get to mix the two and play some songs after the game too? The last event I did was an NHL alumni event in Truro, so I skated on the ice and actually pulled my groin in the second period; but it didn’t stop me singing an acoustic event that evening at the reception! Both my worlds combined within two or three hours is always nice to do. Hockey is a lifetime sport and it’s definitely still something I will do for the rest of my life.
Are there plans to get back out on the road with this new record? We have been fortunate to play some Canadian festivals the last few years, so we are looking forward to returning to some festivals next summer with new music and we will supplement it with a cross Canada tour at some point. We are going to be getting on the road quite a bit here. We have had plenty of Canadian’s over here lately, do I need to drop some hints to you? I’m overdue man, a visit is high up the list. That’s what we like to hear! I guess for now though we just have to listen to Country Kind and wait for 2024 as it sounds like an exciting year ahead. It will be. Thanks for all the support and I appreciate the support.
Chad's new single The Country Kind is out now - listen now
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks