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Interview: Mitchell Tenpenny talks about coming to the UK for C2C, new music and teases new Christmas songs

The Drunk Me singer-songwriter caught up with us ahead of his upcoming C2C performances.

Mitchell Tenpenny
Credit: Rising House/Columbia Records

Mitchell Tenpenny has been making waves with his 2018 album Telling All My Secrets.

The record housed the hits Drunk Me, which was certified 2x Platinum and Alcohol You Later. Over the past few months Mitchell has been dropping new music including the single Anything She Says with Seaforth and the rockier Can’t Go To Church.

Ahead of his first trip to the UK in March for C2C: Country to Country, I spoke to Mitchell about how’s he feeling about travelling, to discuss his new music and to find out if there’s more Christmas music in the works…

You’re coming to the UK in March for C2C. Your fans have been waiting for this for a long time. How are you feeling about coming and performing for us?

I’m so excited this will be my first time. I’ve never traveled and I’ve never been to the UK. We’ve been seeing so many great responses on social media from the UK. I’ve been wanting to get there for a long time and now we finally can. I’m so freaking excited. It’s gonna be a blast.

There’s a lot of buzz about you over here. What can we expect from a typical Mitchell Tenpenny live show?

I love to feed off the crowd, our live show depends on that. I love to interact with the crowd and feed off that and we’re expecting it to be crazy. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. We’re going to bring energy, I just love to look at the crowd and feed off, play and interact so there’ll be a lot of that going on for sure. Tons of energy, tons of fun… I want people to lose themselves for a little bit and forget about everything outside of the music venue and just enjoy themselves.

You’re going to be all over during C2C including one of the official aftershow parties, which are always pretty crazy…

Hell yeah. I’m excited. Bring it on!

Let’s talk about your music. You’ve been putting out some new tracks and you’ve got the single Anything She Says with Seaforth out at the moment. The video is really funny and shows off your personality. Tell me a little bit about the concept behind it…

Yeah, I think that’s the point that me and Seaforth wanted, to not take ourselves so seriously, enjoy it and have fun with it. That’s kind of what that song is. We guys do a lot of crazy things for the girls they love and we wanted to capture that in a funny way. We went a little out of our comfort zones with some of the costumes and outfits but it was just a lot of fun. I love the way it turned out. That’s who we are together. We have fun and we’re enjoying this. At the end of the day it’s just music man, and that’s what it’s all about.

Some of those costumes are incredible. You should bring them over for C2C because that will get a reaction from the audience…

(laughs) Oh, I don’t want to do that to the nice people. We’ve retired all the outfits. People don’t need to see my legs like that any more (laughs).

The other new track that you’ve put out there is Can’t Go To Church, which is my favourite song I’ve heard from you so far. It’s something a little different for you. Tell me about how it came together…

I always just thought that it was a unique idea. You know when you break up with somebody, it doesn’t even have to just be church it could be anywhere, sometimes you have to change some of the places you go because you want to avoid them at all costs if you want to try to get over them. I thought the dynamic of church was really cool. I broke up with a girl in church when I was in high school and I remember I didn’t want to go that same church and I thought that was such a dynamic that people could relate to. It’s like I’ve got to do anything I can to not see them in person, or I’ll break down again. The whole concept of ‘hey, God, I’ll pray somewhere else, but I just can’t pray there because I don’t want to see her’ I thought that was just a very unique concept.

I feel like this song is geared towards live performance. It really builds sonically and leans into the rock side of what you do. Have you managed to perform it live yet and will we be seeing it in March?

Oh, absolutely. Yeah we’ll be playing it live. We’ve been playing it live for a while now. It’s one of our favourite songs to play because I do love to play rock. That’s where I come from and I love to have that energy on stage and it’s fun. So yeah, we’ll definitely be playing that song.

Something I always notice about you is how versatile your voice is. It’s incredibly soulful but it can lend itself to so many different genre influences. What genres and artists have inspired your voice?

I grew up born and raised in Nashville so Country music definitely is a huge influence but I love pop music and I love rock music. I was a drummer in a hardcore band and I’ve loved everything from Backstreet Boys to John Mayer. Growing up, I was obsessed with Michael Jackson and his melodies. I just love a good melody and a great singer. I love unique singers. Growing up I would try to sound like the singers I was listening to and I think that helped develop whatever it is that I do sound wise. I try to keep it consistent story wise with Country but I love all different genres. I’ve always been drawn to everything. It’s just how I was raised, my parents listened to everything.

That’s really fascinating because there’s so much variety on Telling All My Secrets. I never know what I’m going to get from you and that really excites me…

That’s the best compliment I’ve ever got, man. Thank you! (laughs)

Mitchell Tenpenny

Credit: Rising House/Columbia Records

You’re well-known for your songwriting. What’s your process when it comes to writing?

I write all the time. I used to write every day of the week, even sometimes two or three times a day. Now we’re on the road a lot, so I don’t write as much but when I’m home I’m writing. I try to write as much as I can, just to get it out. When you’re making a record, you start looking through these songs again and you’re like, ‘where am I in life right now? What songs line up with me currently and I’m going to make people believe?’ As you write songs you change as a person, or maybe it doesn’t make sense anymore, so I’m always writing so that I constantly have something to look back on and be like, ‘OK, this is who I still am. This still makes sense to me and this is what I want to put out on the next record’.

It’s interesting that your relationship with a song can change after you’ve written it and put it to one side….

You grow and things change and perspectives change. That’s why I constantly like to write because it’s basically like a journal. For me, I can look back and be like, ‘man, I remember when that song was written and what I was going through, and it’s so crazy how I’ve matured since those years or changed my perspective on things’. It’s almost like a living journal.

As you’re releasing new tracks, presumably there’s an EP or new album on the horizon. How’s the writing process going for that?

It’s the same process. I just write all the time and I pick songs that I feel good about sining in the moment. My biggest goal is when you hear me sing a song, I want you to believe it because I’m telling the truth. I’m writing about my life and things that happened. When I’m picking these songs, it’s just all got to line up and we write so many of them. I just want to release as many songs as we can right now. I think the way we consume music, we want more songs. Of course, I’m gonna put together a record again, but at the moment, every couple months, I just want to be releasing new music. Then we’ll bundle it all into a record and put a bunch of new songs out at the end of the year. I’m still writing songs. I wrote two songs yesterday. Sometimes you think a song’s going to make it onto your album and then you love another. It’s always a fun process doing that.

When you have so many songs at your disposal that you’ve written, is it hard to choose which ones to record and which ones to put on the back burner?

Yeah, of course. I had a songwriting mentor tell me, you’re going to be buried with your best songs. Some people never hear ’em. When he told me that he gave me that perspective and it’s just something you accept. There’s a lot of songs that no one’s ever going to hear and that’s just part of being a songwriter.

You do write for other artists as well so could some of those songs end up being cut by other people?

Yeah, that’s where I started. I was a songwriter first for other artists and I still am. When I write a song I don’t ever write it for me, I just try to write the best song and if someone wants to cut that song, I love that. That’s amazing. It’s just another opportunity for your song to get out there and I can always write another one. I love getting outside cuts and I love when an artist wants to cover our song. It’s one of the biggest compliments in the world and that I continue to do that. I’m always trying to get outside cuts and have other people cut my records.

Your touring schedule for this year is bonkers. You head to Australia after C2C then you’re on the road with Jason Aldean. How do you feel about that and how do you cope with such a gruelling schedule?

I’m super excited about that, that’s going to be a lot of fun. That’s going to be a big, big time for us. It’s going to be an opportunity to make a lot of new fans and just see how a massive tour like that works. We’re earning the whole time. In terms of coping, I don’t know., It’s just going to be crazy. I’m still learning and this is all kind of new to me as it’s the of first couple years. I’m just learning every day how to take the road and I’ve never traveled like this in my life, especially overseas going to the UK and Australia and Tokyo. I’ve never been to these places so I’m really anxious and excited to get to finally come explore these new places.

A few artists I’ve spoken to have said they simply don’t look at their schedule as it’s too overwhelming…

I never look ahead. I can’t! I’m the worst person to ask about where I’m going to be (laughs), I have no idea. I just can’t do it. I just go day-by-day and I look at my calendar, I go where I go, and I’m going to give you everything I got where I’m going. I just can’t look too far ahead.

Is there anything else that you’re hoping to achieve this year?

I don’t know. I’m overwhelmed with the fact that I get to travel the world. I think it’s going to change my mind and perspective on a lot of things finally getting to see other cultures. I’m open to seeing what happens with that, what I learn from that and who I become after getting to travel.

I’d like to hear some more Christmas songs from you this year as your EP last year was so much fun…

Absolutely. I definitely want to make a full Christmas record. I love Christmas music so that’s always fun for me. We’ll definitely do that. We’ll definitely more Christmas songs.

Mitchell Tenpenny’s new songs Anything She Says with Seaforth and Can’t Go To Church are out now. Watch the video for Anything She Says below:

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