Country star Brett Young is without a doubt one of the biggest stars of modern Country music.
With seven consecutive number one singles under his belt, Young recently released 8-track collection ‘Weekends Look a Little Different These Days‘, the follow-up to 2018’s ‘Ticket to L.A.’. Featuring the number one smash ‘Lady’ and new single ‘Not Yet’, the set hints that the singer-songwriter is starting to explore his sound.
I caught up with Brett earlier this week to talk about the collection, discuss his new children’s book, and to find out what he’s learned about himself during the pandemic…
I can’t believe we haven’t seen each other since 2018! A whole lot has changed since then and we’re hopefully finally on the way out of this global pandemic. How has the last year or so been for you?
All good. I think we were really good stewards of our time. We took the time to write new songs, get in the studio and record a new album. I mean, I made a baby so I was productive (laughs). It was a weird year. We didn’t get to get in front of fans and I think that’s what we’ve all craved, since this whole thing kind of shut down.
The title of your new release, ‘Weekends Look a Little Different These Days’, is so fitting for what we’ve all been through. Why did you decide on that for the title?
I just feel like my responsibility has been to continue to be vulnerable with the songwriting. The only way I know to do that is to write about what I’m going through, at whatever stage in life that I’m in. We wrote this record, and we picked songs for this record, and there’s obviously a few outliers on the record. The one that stood out the most as the most clear example of the body of work was ‘Weekends Look a Little Different These Days’ and that is literally what my life is right now. In trying to be transparent and authentic, and vulnerable, it just felt like the right song to name as the title track. If I continue to ask people to invest in me as an artist, and in my life and my family’s life, I think that that’s the right road to go down right now.
The track on this collection that strikes me as the most different is ‘Leave Me Alone’, which is a little more blunt and abrasive lyrically than we’ve heard from you before…
Yeah, I think one of the biggest difficulties with writing this record was stretching myself, because I always write about what I’m going through in my life. We realised with this record that if I did that, I would write a lullabies record or something to that effect, and that wouldn’t work. There needs to be something for everybody. As we went down the line, ‘Leave Me Alone’ was was really an up-tempo version of ‘Like I Loved You’ from my first record where it sounds happy, but if you really dig into the words, it’s angry and sassy. I saw how much my fan base appreciated that type of song and I wanted to have some version of that on this record. You never want to put out a record where you’re like, ‘hey, unless you don’t have kids and are newly married, you won’t be able to relate at all’. I wanted there to be something for everybody. That was a song that we actually chased down on purpose for the people that needed that one.
It’s a great song, it’s probably my favourite on this collection. I’m a big fan of it!
Your song ‘Lady’, which is on the new collection, has been another number one hit for you. I hear you’ve turned the song into a children’s book. How did that opportunity arise?
I can’t really take credit for the idea, I would have never had the idea. The publishers actually came to us and said, ‘we heard this song, we had this idea’ and my first initial reaction was, ‘that’s a great idea. This should be a children’s book’. Then I was like, ‘hold on, I think maybe me and my wife could kind of work on this together’ and (the publishers) were great partners and it snowballed into this great project to take on as a family working with this incredible publishing company, to do something that will serve our children and be cool for our kids for the rest of their lives. It was a little bit stressful because writing a book is something that I’ve never done before, it’s very different process than writing a song, but it was cool. It was something that Taylor and I got to do together. I’m just excited for the girls to get to read this book, and maybe even sequels of this book to come.
There’s definitely series potential with the idea. What an incredible way to capture this past year…
Yeah, it is like its own version of the time capsule. I think you’re right. I think about the song ‘Lady’ all the time and what that’s going to mean to Presley, because that song was to her about her mom. I worry about what song I’ll write for our next daughter will be and I feel the pressure of that all the time. The thing about a book like this is we can read that to them every day and they can know that that was born from our family and our story. I think it’s a really cool little thing.
I know you’re going to be getting back out on the road soon. Is that going to be harder now you’ve had all this time with your family and you have another daughter on the way?
Yep (laughs) it’s gonna be hard. It’s very conflicting. I’m so excited to get back to work. We’ve been kind of on our island for a year and a half now. I’m excited to get back to work, but it’s going to happen right after our second daughter is born. I’m gonna miss my girls more than I could ever have imagined. But also, I know that we don’t pay for the life that we enjoy if I’m not out at work. It’s this dichotomy of trying to figure out the balance. I can’t wait to be in front of fans. We got to do it recently in Texas and it was incredible, and I forgot what that adrenaline felt like but also, I’m gonna miss my girls. It’s a weird combo.
I know you were supposed to be here for C2C in 2020 but that didn’t happen. Are you hoping to bring your tour over to the UK maybe in 2022?
Everything that we’ve had to cancel is something that wears at us and we don’t feel good about so we want to make it up. This would have been our second time coming for C2C, but also we came over with Lady Antebellum what’s before that, so this would have been our third time playing those arenas. It was a bummer to have to leave. We knew we had to make the right decision for everything that was going on in the world. I’ve said this to you before, those are the best fans. They don’t learn the hits, they learn every song on the record so when you play a show over there they’re singing the deep cuts word for word. We’ll be back. We’ve already told that festival specifically, let’s make up the dates. As soon as you guys open back up, we’re going to be the first ones on a plane to get over there and do that.
On the plus side, you’ve had two more bodies of work out since the last time you were here so there’s plenty of songs you can pick from for the setlist that we’ve not heard live yet…
We were we were coming over with ‘Lady’, which would have been the first song of this record when we had to go home early. We were just about to go play new music over there. Now with the new album coming out right after that, we’ll have a new record to tour when we come back next. There’s gonna be a lot of new material for sure.
You’ve had a really busy 12 months with the new collection, a new daughter on the way and your first book. Did you find time to pick up any new hobbies during the pandemic?
Yeah, I’m not proud of it. I would hope that it’s something that I’m working on. I realised with the extra time that I’m pretty selfish about my time and that doesn’t work as you’re growing a young family. It’s been really good for me because it was an immediate recognition and something that I’ve been able to actively work on ever since it came up for me. It wasn’t a bad thing, it was a good thing. It was just me realising that I’ve got a family that needs me and I need to check in more often and be more present. I think it’s served me in my life as I’ve started to work on it. As I hate to be the guy that says this pandemic for the last year and a half was helpful for me and my family, I think it was. I think it brought me back into perspective. I think it was the reason that I was able to make a record and get in the studio. I have a lot of silver linings that I can take away from this last year and a half and that was a big one, just kind of getting over myself a little bit.
Brett Young’s ‘Weekends Look a Little Different These Days’ is out now. Watch the video for ‘Not Yet’ below: