Walker McGuire are a duo on the rise following the success of their single Til Tomorrow.
Amassing more than 20 million streams on Spotify, the single lead the duo – Jordan Walker and Johnny McGuire – to sign a record deal with BBR Music Group’s Wheelhouse Records. Earlier this year Walker McGuire made their debut at the Grand Ole Opry and recently they played their first shows in the UK as part of Country Music Week.
I sat down with the guys backstage at The Borderline to talk about their success so far, discuss the importance of playing at the Opry and find out how the UK has been treating them.
We’ve been supporting you on EF Country for a while now, since you guys signed to Wheelhouse Records last year. Til Tomorrow has been a breakthrough hit for you and that led to your record deal. What has that experience been like for you?
Johnny: It’s been awesome. We released Til Tomorrow back in 2016, I around March so it’s been out for a while. It really helped get us our record deal. It got put on Spotify and it really was the song also that we formed our band after. We were writing a bunch of songs four and a half, maybe five years ago when we started the band. That was a song where we went from saying, ‘man we’re writing some really cool songs to our voices sound cool together. We can probably start a band if we wanted’. That was the song that was the pinnacle of all.
Til Tomorrow is always going to be pretty poignant for you guys then?
[00:01:00] Jordan: Yeah I think anytime you go to Country radio with the first single, like Austin for Blake Shelton which has been almost 20 years and he still plays it every night at the end of the show, it’ll always means something. It’ll always be that first time that the crowd was singing back every word. We love that that kind of represents who we are because we wrote that song so long ago and it really developed our sound. We love the idea and we love what we did with it melodically. I think it’s a good first song to get out there.
You made your debut at the Grand Ole Opy back in July. What was that like for you?
Jordan: I always say this and I don’t want to be cliche but it was a dream come true. Whenever you move to Nashville there’s certain bucket list list items – a publishing deal, a record deal – but playing at the Opry is at the top of everybody’s list. We got to play there not once but twice in a month. It was crazy! They called and they want us back again, I don’t know what’s wrong with them (laughs.
Johnny: As Jordan said it’s something that when you first move to town you imagine what that would be like. After about five years of sleepless nights driving through country and doing 250,000 miles on the highway you get to do it and do it twice in our case. It was a dream come true. Hopefully we’ll continue to do that as often as they’ll have us.
When you play at the Opry, is it one of those milestones that lets you know you’re on the right track?
Johnny: It’s definitely more of a Nashville family type thing. I think if you’re playing the Grand Ole Opry, you’re doing something that’s making some kind of impact. I haven’t really thought about it in that way as much as it was just such an honour and it’s such a tradition in Nashville. It’s almost like a baptism into the next stage of your career.
Jordan. Usually to play the Opry you, (as Johnny) pointed out, have to have something going so it was kind of like a pat on the back for all the hard work we’ve put in over the past five years is really starting to show. We’re excited to be where we are and if they keep calling we’ll keep coming back no doubt.
I find it funny the amount of artists in Country who are labelled ‘an overnight success’ and people have no idea how hard they’ve worked to get as far as they have.
Jordan: Yeah, people hear our song on the radio and they’re like, ‘man you came out of nowhere’ but I’ve been writing songs for over a decade now and Johnny’s been writing for a long time.
Johnny: The nowhere we came out of was the small towns we’ve been playing for five years.
Jordan: A lot of people would just go, ‘I’d never heard of you guys and I looked on y’all Spotify and y’all have 20 million streams’. There’s a lot of people that have been with us since day one since the first shows that we played out in the Midwest. There’s a lot of what they call ‘overnight successes’ that were 10 years in the making!
Yes, it’s funny how that happens isn’t it?
Jordan: It’s good though man because if we go out there and play tonight one more person likes us on Facebook or followers us on Twitter or Instagram, then did our job. If we gain one fan a day then we’re doing something right.
Johnny: The real overnight successes, there’s really nothing wrong with that either. For us, I think the cool thing about really putting in the work for five years on the road is that once we finally got a buzz and we got asked to play the Opry is that the appreciation was there. We’ve probably lost years off our life doing this job.
Jordan: A lot of drinking and falling asleep in a van…
Johnny: …and hoping we don’t crash! (laughs.
Jordan: I think the hard work that you put in to become an ‘overnight success’ is what makes you appreciate whenever someone does call you that.
You’ve been in the UK all week for Country Music Week. How have you found UK Country music fans?
Johnny: They’re awesome!
Johnny: They are so appreciative because maybe they don’t get as many American Country artists over here but they’re also a listening audience.
Jordan: Seeing people standing in the crowd, being very attentive and just following the story of the song… we both moved to (Nashville) to be songwriters. We always wanted to be artists but we knew how hard it was so we thought maybe if we break in as songwriters, maybe something will happen. Our number one passion in the world is to write songs and seeing people stand there and really appreciate the first word and the last word is the dream as a songwriter. The crowds here have been incredible. We’re already planning our trip back next year.
We’re pretty well known over here for knowing the words to everything.
Jordan: That’s amazing! That’s something y’all should really take pride in. That’s really cool!
Johnny: I’ve heard some English people ask what the Bluebird Cafe is like because they’ve heard so much about it. I want to tell them that it’s kinda like what you guys have here. People are quiet and are listening and it’s really rewarding for the performers and songwriters.
Jordan: The Bluebird Cafe is an amazing place, and obviously a historic place, but there clubs we’re playing are just like bigger Bluebirds. People are sitting there with two guys on guitars and listening to every word. It’s really cool.
Thanks to the TV show Nashville, the popularity and awareness of the Bluebird Cafe has really increased here in the UK. They recreate it every year at C2C and they’ve done it again for Country Music Week..
Jordan: That’s really cool. I hate to admit it but I’ve never watch the show Nashville, and I don’t think Johnny has either, just because we’re on the road so much.
Johnny: We’re living it so it would be tough for me to watch it and not say that’s wrong or that’s how it is. I’ve heard from a lot of people that they love the show and people ask us if that’s what it’s like. I’ll say, ‘ I couldn’t tell you because I haven’t seen it!’
Jordan: It’s great for the city of Nashville. The tourism that’s coming in and people are flooding into the Bluebird and all of the bars Downtown. There’s more people walking up and down Music Row more to see the buildings. It’s really cool to see the insight that has brought to the town. I’ve never seen Nashville but I know they do shots as the Bluebird, which is really cool.
Johnny: We know Charles Esten.
Jordan: Yeah, we went to the Bahamas with him!
Johnny: He’s a great guy. We’re all for that show. It brings a good little vibe and awareness to Nashville.
I’m pretty sure it’s nothing like the industry that you know…
Jordan: Yeah. I might have to watch an episode or two. My girlfriend’s mom watches it all the time and she’s like, ‘oh my goodness I can’t believe this happened.
What’s coming up next for you guys? Are you working on album album or an EP?
Jordan: Yeah we just finished up the record. It’s been four years working on it and we started recording music three or four years ago. We got 14 songs and we don’t have an exact date but it will be out before the end of year so December, the next two months I guess. It’s been a hell of a project. We just wanted to put it together so it told the story of who we are and encompass who we are as people as well as songwriters and vocally. It’s exactly the sound we wanted to do. Our producer Mickey Jack Cones is probably the most talented guy we’ve ever met. We’re doing some tour dates with Kane Brown…
Johnny: Yeah Kane Brown’s this fall and then we’ll take Again a week off and go home for Thanksgiving. One thing that we’re both excited, and both nervous, about is singing the National Anthem for the Green Bay Packers.
Jordan: I’m a big Packers fan man! I’m more nervous about the game than the anthem but I think it’ll hit me when I’m standing there.
Johnny: One of the most nerve wracking songs to sing is our National Anthem because if you forget the words.
Jordan: If you nail it, then nobody cares.
Johnny: …but if you forget the words you get roasted (laughs) We’re really excited and we’re going to be so busy until the end of the year. It’ll probably fly and maybe we’ll be here again next year, you never know!
Jordan: Touring, singing the National Anthem and the record. That’s the big three things on our list right now.
Is the record songs specifically written for it or a culmination of all the writing you’ve done over the past 5 years?
Johnny: 10 of the 14 songs on record were either written or co-written by both of us. Til Tomorrow is the first song that we really decided to become a band on and that’s on the record. Ol’ What’s Her Name, which we wrote at the same time is on the record. There are songs we wrote over the past year that we really fell in love with so it’s really just a whole picture of what we’ve been doing…
Jordan: … and how we’ve grown as songwriters. With 14 songs there’s a lot of stories to tell. When we put out Til Tomorrow then Mama’s Kitchen Table, people really fell in love with the sound so we told Mickey, our producer, and said ‘let’s just hone in on this for our first record and stay true to who we are’. We have fun songs we have serious songs, we have love songs… we wanted it to be just like a book and as you listen listen you don’t want any weak songs. You want people to listen to 1 through 14 and listen to all of them. We take a lot of pride in that.
Walker McGuire’s single Til Tomorrow is available to stream and download now.