It’s been 10 years since Scotty McCreery won American Idol – and since then his career’s gone from strength to strength.
After reaching number one with his singles ‘Five More Minutes’ and ‘This Is It’, both taken from his chart-topping 2018 album ‘Seasons Change’, he’s continued to wow audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, including a sold-out UK debut show as part of Country Music Week 2019. Now he’s back with his first new album in three years, ‘Same Truck’.
I spoke to Scotty recently about the record, how his writing process has changed over time, his plans to return to the UK, why you won’t see him doing any TikTok dances and more.
The last time we spoke was back in 2019 when you were over in the UK – what have you been up to since then? Apart from the obvious…
You know, outside of the global pandemic [laughs]. No, we’ve been working hard. Even when we were staying home last year, we were working on the album. I’ve got a little studio that’s technically a guest bedroom but I made it into a studio. Did a lot of songwriting, a lot of recording up there over the last year and a half. We couldn’t hit the road but that didn’t stop us from working on and recording an album.
And that new album is coming out tomorrow. What can you tell us about it?
Yeah, the album’s called ‘Same Truck’. You know, a lot of these songs are really a collection of songs from over the last year and a half or so. There’s a couple in there like ‘The Waiter’ that I wrote in 2015 and ‘That Kind of Fire’ that I wrote in 2015. Most of these were written in the last year and a half to two years in life. It’s just kind of where I was at in life and where I am. You know, I think I’m in more of a mindset of reflecting and thinking about what’s important to me as opposed to looking ahead like I have been on previous albums. So I think it’s a really personal record and just kind of shows you where I’m at today.
How was the experience of making this album compared to your previous ones? And was there anything you learned from it that you’ll take forward to future projects?
Yeah, you know, a big difference for me was just kind of the camaraderie in the room. Normally you make a record and everybody’s coming through the studio. I mean friends, family, your whole label’s there, your team. It’s kind of this big camaraderie and it’s a really good feeling. And this time it’s super limited, everybody’s wearing masks, everybody’s in different corners of the room. It felt weird. It was still very doable and we made it work, but it was definitely weird.
And you know, what I learned was the work ethic and what it takes to put into a record, and that you can do it. I mean, I think like y’all I can work from home in my studio and still get results that I’m very proud of. And the songwriting for me over Zoom was humongous. ‘Cause I live in North Carolina and not Nashville, and a lot of times I wasn’t in Nashville I couldn’t join a write I got invited to. But now I can Zoom in.
Speaking of the writing for this album, were there any songs on the record where the writing was particularly easy or particularly difficult?
Yeah, you know, I’m not sure any song is easy to write or hard to write. It’s just kind of every song’s different. Sometimes you’ll write it in an hour, sometimes you’ll write it in three or maybe a few days. So from thinking, you know, ‘Same Truck’ for me I felt was a message that I really believed in and I’ve always thought. We kind of put it in terms of how I grew up and country roads. So to me that was something from the heart and something that I was familiar with, the way we wrote it. So that one wasn’t particularly too tough to write.
I read that at one point you had 23 potential songs for this record. How did you find the process of deciding which ones to include?
Yeah, that was hard. ‘Cause we had a lot of an album done prior to the pandemic and I thought that was gonna be our record and then we had all this time to write songs again and keep working. So kind of scrapped that and made a completely new record. But I still love the songs that we had before, they just didn’t really fit with where I was at. So I had 23 and had to narrow it down to 11. And then I could barely get it down to like 15 and I had to get it down to 12, so I like begged the label, “please let me get 12 instead of 11”. It was hard. They’re all like your babies but we eventually got it.
You’ll just have to do a deluxe edition at some point with the extra ones…
I would love to. Fingers crossed we can do that. That would be awesome.
It’s been three years since your last record and some of the songs on this record pre-date that as well. How do you feel you’ve evolved as an artist in that time?
Yeah, you know, I think with me and the way I write my songs, I’ve just learned that the way I write is through personal experience and what I love and what I know and what I’ve lived through. So I think the main thing for me, and this is with every record just because of how I got started so young, is just I really just grew up as a guy, you know, as a man. And that obviously influences me as an artist ’cause that’s what I’m writing from. So I think last time I was making a record, me and Gabi still hadn’t been married yet by the time the record was out, we were just about to get to that point. So I was very much looking ahead at life and excited about life and what our next chapter was gonna be. But this time I finally had time to sit down and reflect. I really haven’t had this much time off since I was 15 years old, so getting to that state of kind of reflecting and thinking about what’s important to me, I think that just kind of really influenced the album that we made.
It’s 10 years now since you won ‘American Idol’. Is there anything that you still do that’s been a thread that’s gone through your career?
Yeah, I don’t know. There’s not a whole lot that I still do from 17. I’ve kind of made a conscious effort to get away from some of that [laughs]. I was a pretty goofy kid. But as far as the music I still try and sing stuff that’s important to me. I don’t try to chase any trends or whatever and hopefully that comes through. I didn’t do that then and I still don’t do that now. If I tried to chase all those trends and dance on TikTok and do all that I would look like a dummy. So I just kind of write my songs and sing my songs. I still do that I guess.
You’ve recently started heading back out on the road with Old Dominion as well as your own headline tour. How is that experience of performing live again after so long?
Oh, it feels great. Especially with those guys, they’re awesome and they’re so good, so it’s fun getting to watch them every night and to hang out. But yeah, the fans and getting to see people in person again and playing shows… I just can’t describe it after so much time off. Me and the band are just so excited and you can tell the fans are so excited to be there. The energy’s just off the charts. So it’s been a good few months back. I’m hoping we can continue. It’s starting to look a little squirrelly out there but hopefully we can keep on rocking.
How have you found the audience reactions to the new music?
Yeah, so far so good, which is always a good sign. There’s a few songs that stand out. We have a song called ‘Damn Strait’ that we’re playing live. That one every night is getting quite a response. And then a song called ‘It Matters To Her’ as well. It’s like that 90s nostalgic kind of country feel to it. It’s almost like people try to start singing the words because it sounds like I’m guessing a familiar song to ’em, and then they kind of realise, ‘oh this is one of the new ones’. But they’re dancing and they’re moving which is great to see.
What does the next six months or so look like for you? Is touring and the album the focus for now?
Yeah, absolutely [laughs]. We’re in full album mode for the foreseeable future. Which is great, you know, you get to go around and promote something you’re very proud of and excited about and I hope people enjoy it. I love talking about the album and how we made it – kind of get those behind the scenes stories. So we’ll be doing that and then hopefully still on the road and gigging it up. We’ll see what 2022 has in store for us, you know. I’m kind of nervous, but we’ll see.
Have you got plans to come back to the UK once it’s safe to do so?
Yeah. Me and management were just talking about it yesterday, so just trying to figure out when the best time to get back would be and trying to line up everything with what we already have on the books for here. Just figuring out the best times and stuff. But it’s at the top of our list and we had such a good time going over there a few years ago that we’ve been wanting to get back. And unfortunately it’s been a few years now. But it’ll hopefully be very soon.
And lastly – have you started thinking about the next record at all yet? Or is that too far off to even contemplate at the moment?
You know, I’m still writing songs. I don’t think you ever really shut that off. I was even talking to my writers the other day and they were like “man we kind of wish we were writing with you prior to releasing it but we’re excited that this has a chance to make the next record”. So in that mindset or that aspect we’re already writing new ones for it. We’re working hard!
Scotty McCreery’s new album, ‘Same Truck’, is out on 17th September 2021 on Triple Tigers.
Scotty will be appearing at C2C: Country to Country in London, Glasgow and Dublin from 11-13 March 2022. Tickets go on sale at 10 AM on Friday 17th September 2021 at https://c2c-countrytocountry.com/. All tickets for the 2020 festival remind valid for 2022.