He finally made his first trip to the UK last weekend to perform at the festival and he wowed the crowds. His set was definitely one of the biggest surprises of C2C and he certainly brought the party to The O2 in London on Saturday night.
I caught up with Dustin ahead of his performance to discuss his first time in the UK, find out about his plans to return for a headline tour, and to talk about his new E.P. Ridin’ Roads.
Welcome to the UK!
Great to be here. Finally! I’ve been counting down for years and years.
You’ve been on the top of most people’s lists when it comes to who they want on the C2C line-up every year…
Are you serious?
Yes. Every year people hope you’ll be announced…
Oh I love hearing that. I didn’t know that! We’ve got one night under our belt. It was great. First night in Dublin was wonderful and The O2 tonight… a dream come true.
What had you heard about UK crowds before coming here?
Nothing but great things. I’ve watched from afar for seven years now I think, that my friends have been coming over. I actually had a buddy of mine, Rhett Akins came over here, and played some shows and he said, ‘dude they sing every word to every one one of your songs I played’. I knew we had some fans so that’s when the real countdown began. That was a couple of years ago.
You’re going to get a really good reaction tonight. Last night everyone sang every word to every song performed…
I hope I don’t break that streak.
I don’t think you will but it’ll be awkward if that happens now I’ve built your expectation up… (laughs).
(Laughs) Yeah, right!
You just dropped a new E.P. Ridin’ Roads. Tell me a little bit about it…
That’s our new single release and the E.P. has Red Dirt, Blue Eyes and Little Town Livin’ as well. They’re just a few songs that I’ve been working hard on and loving. The way I write and record music these days, I kind of piece everything together and live with it for a while. Both Ridin’ Roads and Red Dirt, Blue Eyes I got to live with all last summer and work on those and play them for my friends when we were all hanging out on the lake. just whatever doing life. I played them a lot of things I’d written. Those are a couple ones that kept coming up over and over again, which is always a great sign. We decided to start working on them in the studio at the end of last summer and we were trying to be ahead of the game. Then Good Girl exploded like it did and luckily we had these songs to back it up with.
The track that really caught my attention if Little Town Livin’. It’s a bit different for you with spoken-word and it’s so catchy…
We actually had a little writer retreat out at Thomas Rhett and Rhett’s, his dad’s, farm. Me and my producer Zach went out there with Rhett and we were writing for a few days. That’s the first song we wrote. I don’t know how or why we ended up with spoken word verses. My instinct is melodies and that was just something that kind of fell out. Zach just started it from scratch, a little track thing, the first line fell out and we just decided to roll with it. It’s a wonderful song for me because it takes me back home. That’s why I love writing music. It takes me back to simpler times in life with my friends and family.
I feel like with every release that you and with every album you push boundaries further. You’re an artist in the country genre that pushes the boundaries of what people would consider country. You’re never afraid to keep pushing. Do you ever have inhibitions about doing that or do you follow your gut instinct and go with it?
I follow my gut. I think we have to remember a lot of times when I’m writing I have to remind myself, ‘hey you wear a cowboy hat and sing country music for a living’. (laughs). My favourite band on earth is Incubus so I pull in from all genres. If I’m in the gym I’m listening to rap or R&B or some sort of EDM mix or something. I listen to all different types of music. I pull from all those influences and I think now these days I’ve been doing this long enough, especially with this E.P. and moving forward, I’m writing with intention and we’re recording with intention. When Small Town Boy came out we invented this character, if you will, and that’s the guy and that’s the brand we’re shooting for. I say that because when I’m writing I can picture this fictitious character that is in my hometown or a couple towns surrounding it. I know what he drives, I know what kind of tobacco he chews… that’s the guy, that’s the person I write from in his shoes. That’s what’s steering this E.P. and then the album going forward.
Your music is always so damn catchy. Every time I hear one of your songs I can never get out of my head. How do you come up with such catchy music every single time?
It’s just melodies man. I’m addicted to great melody. I didn’t realise that till after writing for so many years and I realise it really is all about the melody for me. I will sit there for days and days on end. I mean Ridin’ Roads was a four-day across four months process for us to get it before we were ready to go in and try and record it, and just get the exact phrasing and melody right. Some songs fall out instantly, some melodies fall instantly and some others you gotta massage on for a long time. That’s what makes the song for me. I think the words fall into place after I found that magic ear candy melody.
What you’re doing is obviously working. You have six number ones under your belt now…
We’re off to a good start.
Do you feel more pressure every time you release something because you’ve had so much success already?
There’s definitely pressure yeah. I think there’s pressure but also with the pressure there’s confidence. With the first few thought maybe I just got lucky (laughs) and now I’ve just got a great team surrounding me. We’ve really fallen into sync of how to do this at this level but with that comes the pressure of a growing tour and with that comes a growing band and crew and touring family. I have a lot of guys and girls that rely on my success at radio and in the studio to put food on the table so there’s definitely a pressure with that.
Are you already thinking about coming back for a headline tour?
Oh yeah. That’s happening for sure. Without a doubt. I want to make this a regular stop each year and if not once, twice. I realised on the way over here my first time, two days ago it’s an easy commute. It’s not too bad. I want to get back over here as quick as we can and as quick as my schedule allows us to come over here and dive in and start building from the ground up.
Artists tend to come here for the first time and leave wanting to come back pretty quickly. Ashley McBryde just announced a headline tour before she’s even performed this weekend…
Oh great. That’s awesome!
It does seem to be infectious once you come over here…
Yeah. There’s so much. I’ve never even got to come over here as a vacation. Selfishly it’s going to be great come back on tour (laughs) and maybe build some days around it to really sink in and take in some of the sights too.
You mentioned earlier that you’re writing and recording with intention at the moment. What is the plan for new music? More E.P.s or a new album?
I don’t know as far as how we’re gonna release it. We record as we get the song so there’s not that window of, ‘hey we’re going to record an album in June and it’s gonna come out’. It’s whenever we feel like we write the songs and we come across the songs to record. I think we’re all gonna know when this is the final deal. I don’t know if that’s going to be another three songs or six with these three or what it is. I’m just going to let the songs dictate that and also my schedule too. Being on a major tour this year is pretty strenuous but luckily it’s a tour where I’m going to get to write a lot with a lot of great writers so I’ll be creating all along.
Will you be on the road for the majority of this year then?
Yeah. C2C kicks off my tour for the year so we’ll return back to the states and go straight to California and kick off what’s going to be a whirlwind of a crazy summer. We’ll all do our own tour up until the end of April and then jump out with Thomas Rhett throughout the year.
How do you prepare for those gruelling tour schedules?
Well there’s no days off that’s for sure. I mean even when we’re off the road I continue to stay in the gym and try to keep my health at tip top shape. That’s really what does it for me. I think after doing this for so long you just get used to it. This is a passion man, it’s a love and you just get used to no sleep and bouncing down the road in a bus your whole life.
You mentioned that you’re going to have writers with you. Do you find you’re more creative on the road or is it a little bit harder?
I find it helpful that I have songwriters out on the road because they’re reminded why we do this. Why we’re writing songs, it’s not to impress ourselves. For my show it’s to create a party and create that moment and that vibe for all the guys and girls to be a part of and be present. When I get you know songwriters out on the road they get to see our show, they get to see who’s in the crowd and they get to see what we’re about and the message we’re delivering. I think that really helps us hone in on what to say.
We can expect a party at C2C then I assume?
Without a doubt. A big, big party. I hear that the crowd here likes to drink so that’s going to help out a lot.
There were a lot drunk people by the end of the day yesterday…
Just don’t do what Keith Urban did last night and pick the drunkest guy at the front of the audience to bring up on stage. I think he’ll be surprised to find out this morning he was on stage for Keith last night…
You’re not going to get any time to sightsee on this trip are you?
Zero. On the drive here we went through the scenic route, not on purpose, it was just kind of how we got here. We went by and saw all the sights we could from the road. I’m kind of glad it happened like that because it gives me another reason to look forward to coming back.
Next time you’ll have to build in some time to see all of our little pubs around the city…
That’s what I’m really going to miss. I’m more of a pub crawl do the local thing fan then going and looking at a building that was built that I’ve seen in movies my whole life. I’m looking to come back and do the pub crawl.
Dustin Lynch’s E.P. Ridin’ Roads is available to stream and download now. Listen to the title track below: