Interview: Cole Swindell Hopes to Be ‘Real to Everybody’ With ‘You Should Be Here’ Album
Cole Swindell will release his sophomore album, You Should Be Here, on Friday (May 6). The record's title track and debut single, written by Swindell about the death of his father in 2013, is what kicked off the entire project, but the 32-year-old promises that it includes a wide range of material.
""You Should Be Here" set the tone that, alright everybody, I want you to listen to this album," Swindell told The Boot and other reporters at a recent media event. "But there’s also stuff like "Flatliner" ... Having that kind of song, I think, for the live aspect -- it’s gotta be the most uptempo song I’ve ever recorded or ever written; it’s insane how fast it is.
""Remember Boys" is one I didn’t write, but I thought it was perfect for the last track on the album, because it’s kind of where I am in life, I feel like," he continues. "Songs like "Broke Down," "Middle of a Memory" ... I’m so proud I wrote those, because those are real things that I think we’ve all been through, and this album is, whether it’s fun or not so fun, I hope it’s real to everybody, and everybody listens to the whole album."
Although Swindell wrote all but one song on his eponymous freshman record, released in 2014, five of the tracks on You Should Be Here were not written by him. More than anything else, the artist says, that's a testament to the strength of Nashville's songwriting community.
"I’d have been fine with writing all 12, but I don’t think me or the people on the label or my management or anybody is going to let me settle for songs just because I wrote them," he explains. "I think it’s easier to tell your stories when you’re writing them, but the best country songwriters in the world are right here. You just don’t normally get lucky enough to get your hands on them ...
"Nothing changed as far as wanting the best songs. Fortunately, I felt like I was in a position to get better songs," Swindell adds. "I wrote the ones I could, and there are some phenomenal ones that I bet I wouldn’t have had a chance at on the first album ... Whether I write them or not, I think all these songs are on a different level for me as an artist."
If you’re real and honest and open up to the fans and everybody, they’re the same way ... It matters if people believe you or not.
As with Cole Swindell, the Georgia native let songwriter and producer Michael Carter helm You Should Be Here, which gave Swindell a much-needed feeling of security.
"As an artist, I can say, ‘I love that. Whatever he just did, I can’t spell it or pronounce it, [but] I love it,'" Swindell notes. "Having Michael there to be able to talk to the band -- him being around me since the merchandise days, we just know it without having to say it to each other ... I think that makes a big, big difference, when you’re comfortable with your producer."
As Swindell says, he's hoping that fans will listen to all of You Should Be Here, but he knows that, at least early on, album sales will be based on its true-life (and hugely successful) title track.
"I moved here to write that kind of song," Swindell says. "I didn’t know that was the song I was going to be writing, but that’s the kind of song that made me fall in love with country music. It just shows you, if you’re real and honest and open up to the fans and everybody, they’re the same way."
"You Should Be Here" is a different sound for Swindell, after earning hits with tunes such as "Chillin' It" and "Ain't Worth the Whiskey." The singer-songwriter knew that it was necessary to be vulnerable if he wanted his fans to continue on his musical journey with him.
"It matters if people believe you or not," Swindell shares. "The songs you record, I think you have to believe them as well, and that was one that was very, very believable for me. When I was writing it with Ashley Gorley, I had chills the whole time ... I didn’t know what a game-changer it was going to be, but I remember when I wrote it that it was one of those things that I hadn’t written about; I lost my dad, but I hadn’t really sat down and wrote a song about it. The first album, I lost him by then, but I wasn’t ready to sing about it."
As an artist, as a person, I don’t want to be here for just a little while ... I don’t want it to just be cool for a second and be gone.
Swindell found success early in his career -- his first three singles have been certified platinum, and his fourth went gold, among other accolades -- but he isn't resting on his laurels. Rather, Swindell wants to keep that streak going, and he's putting in the work to make it happen.
"As an artist, as a person, I don’t want to be here for just a little while. I want to be somebody, a person, first that people remember, but also I want music that I release to still be around. I don’t want it to just be cool for a second and be gone, " he admits. "I think this album is going to take people a lot of places that they miss, or haven’t been."
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