Cole Swindell's breakout country career was built on collaborations with other artists.
The Georgia native got his start writing songs for the likes of Luke Bryan, Craig Campbell and Thomas Rhett, before ultimately signing with Warner Bros Nashville in 2013. He's been on a serious roll ever since, releasing seven hit singles from self-titled debut album and his follow-up, You Should Be Here.
Swindell's latest single, "Flatliner" is a rockin' country tune that Swindell recorded with Dierks Bentley, whom he cites as one of his longtime musical heroes. Check out this exclusive behind the scenes clip of the duo's recording session here:
Maxim caught up with Swindell during the What the Hell Tour with Bentley and John Pardi. He opened up about the making of "Flatliner," his ultimate country crush, and even his favorite truck.
Tell us about your new song with DB, "Flatliner." How did you guys end up collaborating together?
It’s a pretty crazy story. Before I got my record deal, I wrote songs for a living, and I’d send my songs to a bunch of other artists. I wrote "Flatliner" with Dierks Bentley in mind in 2013. I still have the email when I sent it to my bands the day I wrote it and I just said, “Hey guys, I wrote this today and it’d be fun to play live.” And that’s all I sent. I don’t know if Dierks never heard it or what happened, but it never got recorded. Then after I got my record deal, and I told him that story, and he told me to send it to him, so I did. He emailed me back and said, "That’s a hit song, it's awesome. I wish you’d sing it with me." We just kind of joked around about it forever until finally it got recorded. And now here I am on tour with him, and my seventh single on country radio has Dierks Bentley on it. That’s a dream come true, because I’m such a big fan of Dierks.
It’s just a fun loud song. I have other songs like “You Should Be Here” that can bring a tear to your eye, but then you’ve got to have these songs to pick everybody back up.
How long did the whole thing take to record?
It took several hours to track the song because there’s so much going on in it and it’s so full of energy. But it took longer than any of the other ones on the album because Dierk has his own schedule and I have my own schedule. Trying to get in the studio to get the vocals down and all the ad lib took a little bit but we found a day to do that, but after that it needs to be mixed and mastered. It can take a couple of months to get a song how you really want it. His part didn’t take long, he came in one day and did vocals in three hours, and we laughed a lot. But when you’ve got somebody who’s a hero of yours on a track, you want it to be the best thing possible.
Obviously, the song is about a drop-dead gorgeous girl (yep, pun intended). Is there a particular lady you’re singing about?
Ha! Dierks and I didn’t even think of that one! Nah, no one in particular. We’ve all been out and seen those girls that we don’t have a chance in hell with. The subject isn't serious at all.
Are there any other artists you'd love to collaborate with in the future?
There’s so many, but since I’ve got the song out with Dierks, I think it’ll have to be a duet with one of the ladies in country music.
Would you rather have dinner with Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert or Loretta Lynn?
That’s a tough one. I mean Loretta Lynn is awesome, but then again I’ve always wanted to talk to Taylor Swift about her songwriting and how she’s connected with her fans. No disrespect to the other two, I love Miranda Lambert and Loretta Lynn. But I’d probably have to go with Taylor.
Do you have a celebrity crush you'd like to give a shout out to? She'll be impressed, I promise.
I’ve got a lot of them. Can I go with Taylor Swift again?
Definitely. So what are your current favorite artists that you're listening to right now?
I’ve always been a huge Eric Church fan. I’ll never forget being in college listening to his first album and how much it inspired to write my own music. I’ve also done a cover of one of The Chainsmokers' songs “Closer” with a mashup of one of my hits “Let Me See Ya Girl” in concert, so I wouldn’t mind going to see those guys in concert. They’re a great group.
When you're not touring, what's the car or truck you drive the most?
You know, I only have one. It’s a new truck. There’s a dealership in south Georgia where I’m from that hooked me up with a ride. All I’ve ever wanted is a nice truck, and that’s what I got. It’s a white Chevrolet Silverado Z71. It’s not great in traffic, but it’s perfect for riding around back home in Georgia.
When you're done with this tour, are you taking a break or heading back into the studio?
That's the question now. At the end of last year I was pretty tired, and I decided I wanted to focus on what shows I really want to do and make sure I gave myself a little time off, because you don’t want to drive yourself crazy. And it’s not just me, I’ve got a whole crew and they’ve got families to think about. We’re on the Dierks Bentley tour now, but in September after this tour wraps up it’ll be close to studio time, although I can’t stop touring for the rest of the year in September. All I can really say is that I won’t be done touring in September, and I’m hopefully going to find time to record some new music.
Got anything else you want to share with Maxim readers?
I want them to know I’m a normal guy from south Georgia that’s getting to do what I love. I’ve realized from being around the business for so long before I got my record deal that starts to careers don’t happen the way mine did, so it’s easy for me to always thank people. I want people to know that I appreciate every piece of music they buy and every concert ticket because that’s what keeps this going. Knowing that people are coming to the shows and enjoying my music makes every long day worth it.