Saturday, May 25, 2024

Rising Country Artist Austin Snell Talks Summer Touring, Rock Music Influences And The Best Fried Chicken In Nashville

Austin Snell is a self-made country music artist originally from Georgia who has created his own sub-genre, full of grunge and rock elements. While serving in the Air Force and having grown up around country and rock music, Austin bought a guitar and began teaching himself to play.

As his guitar skills took off, Austin tried his hand at writing music to express his emotions. In 2022, Austin moved to Nashville and soon fell in with a group of other writers and musicians. His first hit, “Excuse The Mess” was co-written with Presely Aaron and Christian Yancey. This power ballad went viral on TikTok and landed him a publishing and record deal.

Austin continued his musical journey and released other singles like the heartfelt “Pray All the Way Home” and his cover of Casadee Pope’s “Wasting All These Tears.” Just last month, he released a new single, “Everybody’s Friend” where he tells a hopeful tale of remembering that you’re not alone. His debut album, Muddy Water Rock Star was released in 2023 and contains 7 catchy country rock tunes. 

In March, Austin had the opportunity to support country artist Chase Matthews and will be tagging along with Jason Aldean on his Highway Desperado Tour, performing at every show. In the short few years that have made up Austin’s career, he has proved he is a force to be reckoned with and could soon be making his way into mainstream country music.

Austin is set to perform on the Riverfront Stage at the CMA’s in June. He will also be performing at dozens of music festivals and one-off shows throughout 2024. We talked with Austin Snell about how the Air Force prepared him for the music industry, his current favorite bands, and his must-have truck stop purchases. 

I am a big fan of, “Pray All the Way Home.” It’s one of my new favorite songs. I wanted you to tell me the story behind that. 

I wrote it with Michael Whitworth, Andrew Baylis and Cam Walker. We were kind of just talking about our faith. Growing up, my mom made sure I went to church and she would send me Bible quotes. 

When I lived in California for a while, she would send me Bible quotes every day. She’s always been the one that’s kind of pushed that on me and has helped me out when I’ve struggled with things. So, we were kind of just talking about that. We ended up writing that song. Michael Whitworth had the title, and it’s really just about no matter how many mistakes you make in life, there’s always another side to all of that. There’s always a better side. That’s kind of what we try to convey. 

I try to write my songs in a way where anybody can relate to them, but that’s kind of how I take it. We put that song out last year and it’s doing really well for us. It’s the song that everybody sings at my shows now, which is awesome because beforehand, I put out a cover of “Wasting All These Tears” and that was the song that everybody knew that I would play and I would have them sing it back to me. That was always cool. I always wanted a song of my own that I wrote and I was a part of that, you know, people did that. So that’s now our song. I’m super blessed for that.

I drive a lot and I only listen to The Highway on SiriusXM, usually. The Highway has got behind you in a big way over the past year.

I’m super blessed that this early on in my career I have so much support from so many different people. The Highway on Sirius has been super great to us for sure.

You were in the Air Force. How did the Air Force prepare you for the music industry?

I think it did in a lot of ways. It’s kind of what I always planned on doing just because I was never good at school, I always had horrible grades. I knew I wasn’t going to college. My parents made sure that I had a plan. I always just wanted to join the military and do my thing there. I think that taught me a lot about work ethic, for sure. 

I can’t speak for everybody, but I know when I moved to Nashville, it seemed like there were a lot of people that got caught up in the lifestyle of Nashville and the party scene. There are bars everywhere. There are people everywhere. There’s always a reason to go out and not focus on what you’re doing when you move to Nashville. 

I think when I moved here, I really moved with a sense of purpose. I had my head down and I knew what I wanted to do. I was willing to work as hard as it took for me to get to where I wanted to be. I think the military really, really did that for me in a big way, for sure.

You were just recently out on tour with Chase Matthew. What was the highlight of that tour?

All of it really. He has his whole crew, and his camp, they’re such good people. I have been on the road with or played shows with other bands that don’t treat their opener the best. His crew was so kind to us and really just took us under their wing and wanted to hang out with us and that’s not a normal thing in the music industry. 

Usually, when you go out on the road with a band, you do your thing, you have your green room and they have theirs. Sometimes there’s some separation. But I think one of the highlights of the whole tour was just getting to know those guys and making a lot of new friends and playing for his fans. I think Chase and I share a lot of the same fans. It was super cool because it was all meshed together and it felt massive. I don’t know if I could pick out one specific show or time, but I mean, it was all super cool.

What’s your perfect day in Nashville? Where would you go? What would you do?

I would go to Midtown. I would go to The Gulch. They have a lot of good restaurants in The Gulch, so I would probably go there, shop a little bit and get some food. 

Any favorite restaurants?

It depends on if I’m wanting to spend money or not. If I’m going out to a nice restaurant, I’m going to Kayne Prime, which is like a steakhouse, chophouse thing. If you’re celebrating something, go to Kayne Prime for sure. If I’m just going to eat somewhere, probably McDougal’s. I love fried chicken. They have the best fried chicken in Nashville. 

Austin Snell Talks Summer Touring, Rock Music Influences
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

I love rock and country music. I think that’s why I gravitate to your music. I know you’ve talked about Nickelback and some other bands in the past, but what are some of your current favorite rock bands or songs?

We just actually played a show with Nickelback this year, so I’ve been listening to a lot of Nickelback anyway. I recently got into metal music, like actual pretty hardcore metal stuff over the past year. Whereas beforehand, I was just listening to classic rock and grunge stuff that my dad loved growing up. I Prevail is one of my favorite bands ever.They’re a go-to for me. I still haven’t seen them live. Bad Omens. All the mainstream metal stuff I’ve been really loving lately.

Actually, my drummer comes from the metal world. He played for a band called Hollow Front before he moved to Nashville. If you’ve seen any of our live shows, you see this bald dude in the back just absolutely shredding the drum kit on a country song.

Tell me about “Muddy Water Rock Star.” What do you want people to know?

When we sat down to write that song, I didn’t have a song that really described me as a person. I feel like that’s a story to tell on its own just because there’s a lot that goes into why I make the music that I make. The reason it sounds the way it does is because I grew up listening to all the rock stuff, and my dad was obviously a big rock fan, and my mom loved country. 

We sat down to write a song and they were kind of just asking questions on my sound and stuff like that. I kind of just started telling them about how I grew up and they were like, ‘Why don’t we just write a song about how you grew up and why you do what you do?’ So that’s kind of what we did. We named our whole tour Muddy Water Rock Star last year. It’s really me showing who I am as a person and as an artist.

What’s your favorite truck stop purchase while out on the road?

Well, if there’s a Buc-ee’s in between where we’re going, we’re stopping there for sure. I’m getting a barbecue sandwich from Buc-ee’s. We don’t run across a lot of Buc-ee’s, so we usually stop at Love’s, and I’m usually getting a Slim Jim and some ZYN’s probably.

I just discovered Buc-ee’s last year, and I don’t have them near me either. I stopped on the way to Dollywood last week, and I got beaver nuggets for the first time. Those things are so good.

My girlfriend actually convinced me to stop at my first Buc-ee’s. I’d always heard people talk about it, and I was like, ‘it’s just a gas station.’ We stopped for the first time and I talked so much smack on this place. I will forever stop at that place if we see one now.

What’s your perfect vacation?

Somewhere on a beach, probably. I hate the cold, so I don’t want to go anywhere cold. Any kind of beach or island vibe probably would be my go to. I want to go to Greece at some point in my life. Anywhere that’s not cold, I’m cool with.

Austin Snell Talks Summer Touring, Rock Music Influences
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

What are you doing in your downtime on the road?

Sleep. We don’t we don’t get a lot of rest on the road, so I sleep any chance I get. We play golf a little bit. I haven’t brought my clubs out with me this year yet, but I want to start finding some golf courses to go play on when we have a day off.

What’s in store for the rest of 2024?

A lot of shows, a lot of music. We’re doing the whole Jason Aldean tour in July. I think it’s 36 shows. That’ll take up most of our touring season. We’ve got a lot of new music coming out.

Any places you’re looking forward to visiting on the tour?

I’m actually looking forward to playing in Savannah because I’m from Georgia. I didn’t actually get a chance to play a lot of shows in Georgia last year, so I’m looking forward to going to Savannah and playing the big arena that they just built.

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Amy Harris
Amy Harris is a writer and photographer who has been traveling for 20 years and flown over 2 million miles to visit over 80 countries on 6 continents. She is a freelance photographer for Invision by Associated Press, AP Images and Rex/Shutterstock. Her work can be seen in various publications and websites including: Rolling Stone, AP Images, National Geographic Books, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Forbes.com, Lonely Planet Travel Guides, JetStar magazine, and Delta Sky Magazine.

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