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Read or Watch as Brantley Gilbert talks to Kelleigh Bannen about new album ‘So Help Me God’

Brantley Gilbert joins Today’s Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen for a charming and candid look at his latest album ‘So Help Me God.’ Gilbert shares the story of the late night karaoke outing with HARDY that lead to his collaboration with personal heroes Blake Shelton and Vince Gill on “Heaven By Then.” He and Kelleigh also dig into Gilbert’s journey through recovery from alcohol abuse and the inspiration for the album closer “So Help Me God.”

Tune in and listen to the episode in-full this Friday (December 2) at 11am PT / 1pm CT / 2pm ET or anytime on-demand at apple.co/_TodaysCountry.

Brantley Gilbert Tells Apple Music About His Approach for This Album

We had to make this one count. I’m at a chapter in my career where a lot of guys go away. That, and historically on my albums, they’ve been these big 18, 20 something song albums that tell a story and they’re a chapter in my life. If you listen to all of my records up to this one, you might as well be reading a book about me. And I always took pride in that. And that was something I really loved about writing an album. And this one, we kind of took a different approach, and it’s more like a mix tape, almost. Different vibes and different genres melted in. Traditionally for us, what’s worked for other people hasn’t necessarily work for us. And what works for us sometimes doesn’t work for other people.

Brantley Gilbert Tells Apple Music About Writing “Heaven By Then”

Every year we take a trip to Texas, and it’s me, HARDY, Brock Berryhill, Will Wedley, Randy Montana, Hunter Phelps. It’s just a who’s who of guys that are really writing good stuff right now. Every night we do something a little bit different. One night we’ll go to this local hole in the wall bar that is literally held up with toothpicks and cardboard, but it’s the karaoke joint. But that night we got back and as you can imagine, it’s three in the morning. So the guys that drink have been drinking. I had to quit drinking a little over 10 years ago. I’m allergic to it. Man, I’ll break out and handcuffs and bad decisions. So we’re all sitting out there just hanging out and HARDY picks up a guitar, and if that dude… That’s one dude, if he picks up a guitar, it’s like… everybody just starts paying attention. And there was so many… I don’t remember how many writers were on the song. It was everybody that was outside on the porch when it started. Taylor Phillips was talking about something and he said, “Shoot, man, I hope I’m in heaven by then.” And HARDY slammed his fist on the table and stood up and he said, “Damn it Taylor.” He said, “Why would you say that in a room full of 10 writers?”

Brantley Gilbert Tells Apple Music About Having Blake Shelton on “Heaven By Then”

I’ve been a big fan of [Blake’s] for a long time, man. And Blake’s one of those that he’s always been nothing but kind and cool to me. When I came on the scene, especially back when I was drinking, I was a little different. I looked a little different, acted a little different than a lot of these cats up here. And it never bothered him a bit. He’s just always treated me the same and been kind to me, and I’ve always appreciated that. And I feel like he’s… He kind of slid under the radar on how talented he is, how knowledgeable about music he is… And how much he cares about music. And that’s always spoke volumes to me. I just got a lot of respect for him, man. So outside of being a fan, it was kind of… If I had a bucket list, he’d be on it.

Brantley Gilbert Tells Apple Music About Having Vince Gill on “Heaven By Then”

I’m sitting there with my co-producer Brock Berryhill, and there’s an undeniable high part, the high harmony that needs to be there, but I wasn’t getting there… I mean, it was almost immediate. You just know when you hear that part, it’s like, “Dude, if Vince Gill did this, it would be unreal.” I mean, what are the chances of getting two legends, in my opinion, on the same song? And he signed off on it and did it, and it came back and it sounded like… It was just a pinch yourself moment. I’ll never be able to tell those guys, but even for a songwriter it’s hard to find words to thank somebody for that.

Brantley Gilbert Tells Apple Music About Alcohol Having Control Over Him

I’m a guy that says if I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it or die trying. And with alcohol, it got to a point with it where I knew it was something I needed to change and cut back on and I said, “You know what? This has a little more control over me than I like, and I just need to get it out of my life,” and couldn’t do it. Physically. That really frustrated me. Going in and being open to a different route of not being able to do it by myself was kind of humiliating and almost embarrassing to an extent, for about a split second. And then the thought was, “Dude, get it out of your life.” I wasn’t valuing or prioritizing the things in life that I was raised to value and prioritize. This chapter of my life, I didn’t plan on making it to 30, to be completely honest. I didn’t ever think I’d be married or have kids. Like, I wanted to be a biker.

Brantley Gilbert Tells Apple Music About The Moment He Decided to Get Sober

One night, I’ll never forget, we had when “[Country Must Be] Country Wide” went number one, we threw a little celebration out on the road. Man, I kind of looked around and had this thought. It was like, “Man, we’re supposed to be celebrating something that an overwhelming majority of people that try to do something with music will never accomplish experience.” And we’re not really celebrating. We’re doing the same shit we do every night and it kind of got lost in… Just to getting wrapped into every day and every night being a party. I went back on in the back of the bus and called my… And that was literally a moment where I was like, “Hey man, let’s find some time and I need to do whatever it takes to get this junk out of my life.” That’s kind of where that started.

Brantley Gilbert Tells Apple Music About “So Help Me God”

This song, you’re dipping back into an uncomfortable place. And in my actual recovery itself, it was not fun, obviously. So going back to that place, it’s not overly comfortable. This song, although it is talking about drinking, it kind of has a multi-meaning. To me, it’s anything in life. How many times have I been in a situation where I’ve been either too proud, too stubborn to accept help, whether it be from God or from a friend or from anybody. I’m supposed to be a rock, man. I’m supposed to be able to handle anything on my own, this, that, and the other. And it’s kind of like that saying a lot of people say, “God won’t put you through anything you can’t handle.” And I just feel like it’s so far from the truth. He will on a regular basis. That’s when you’re supposed to surrender a little bit. And I sucked at surrendering. But once I made that choice to surrender to that and not to surrender to the addiction, but surrender to getting it out of my life. That song was kind of about accepting that and being all right asking for help and more or less just realizing that you don’t have to take on big stuff alone. You know what I mean? There are people that we have in our lives that will give anything for us to reach out.

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