Interview with country singer Ben Bradford Special

Posted Aug 22, 2014 by Adrian Peel
The exciting new talent behind one of the summer's biggest sing-a-long anthems talks to Digital Journal about his current activities and also defends the "bro country" phenomenon.
Ben Bradford
Ben Bradford
Dennis Kurtz
Born and raised in Mississippi, but now a firmly-established part of the Nashville community, Ben Bradford has had an interesting rise to prominence, especially when one considers the music that influenced him growing up and the career path he initially intended to follow.
"I didn't grow up listening to country music," reveals the rock fan, who regularly includes classic covers by the likes of AC/DC and ZZ Top in his live set. "I didn't start really listening to country music until I started listening to Kenny Chesney. 'Don't Happen Twice' was the first country song I listened to. Then I started listening to Hank and Johnny and Waylon and all those guys from before, and all the way up till now.
"But Kenny was the turning point for me. I was like, 'Damn, I love what he's doing'. I love his songs and I love who he is... I actually got to see him play a concert down in Florida. He played a free concert at Flora-Bama this past weekend. He had 50,000 people on the beach stretched out as far as the eye could see."
The career he originally had planned was also quite far removed from country music. Ben takes up the story of how his creative impulses won out in the end. "My brother's the one that got me into music. He always brought the guitar out - he's an amazing guitar player. I was always a sports guy and I never really picked up a guitar until I was about 21.
"My brother and I would always play for the family and I would do some karaoke stuff, but I graduated college with a degree in biology and chemistry. I was thinking about going to medical school... But I entered into the Texaco Country Showdown and one thing led to the next and I had some friends call me, they were like, 'You're a top ten finalist'. I said, 'Y'all are kidding me'. They said 'No, call in', so I called in and I was like, 'Oh wow, I really am!'
"So I went up and won the contest and I went on to regionals and after that I met my manager. I opened up for Colt Ford here in Tennessee and it was kinda funny... I met two guys that were opening up after us and they gave me some really great advice on Nashville.
"I talked to them for a while - great guys to hang out with - and I think six months later, they released 'Cruise', so it turned out to be Florida Georgia Line!
"That's basically how I got my start... I graduated college, I worked in a research laboratory for about a year and a half, working on Parkinson's Disease, and then got my Artist Development deal with 16 Minutes Entertainment and moved to Nashville."
The country boy's biggest success to date has been his solid debut single, an appealing tune that peaked at number five on the CMT Pure 12-Pack Countdown, entitled "
Tequila Makes The World Go Round" and I asked the young singer-songwriter rapidly growing in confidence to tell me a little more about it.
"My producers, they think they know me pretty well! So they said, 'Ben, we got you a song'. I said, 'Okay, what is it?' They said, 'It's called 'Tequila Makes The World Go Round' and I was like, 'Oh no, not a drinking song'. Then I listened to it and I was like, 'Oh yeah, I love this song'.
"I will cut outside songs, but I like to write most of my stuff. But this song it just fit me, and I was like, 'Who doesn't like tequila?!' Love that song and we shot a music video in March. We shot it in Flora-Bama down in Pensacola and we got it on to CMT Pure about three weeks ago."
Recently, Ben has been in and out of the studio, gearing up to release a six-track EP made up of three songs he had a hand in writing and three that he didn't. Did "Tequila Makes The World Go Round" make the cut?
"Actually, 'Tequila...' won't be on this EP. It'll be three new songs, as a matter of fact, that'll be added to 'Million Miles Of Free', 'Even On A Bad Day' and 'Making Out In A Chevy'."
Although he has more of a fixed idea as to when the EP will see the light of day, the star, who once hoped to make a living as a professional baseball player, is less sure about a release date for an album. "Well, that's hard to say... I'm hoping in the next year the whole album will come out. That's about as good a guideline as I can give right now!"
Discussing his overall sound, Ben is fully aware that his background is ever-present in much of the music he makes. "I am from Mississippi so I like to rock out on stage. I like heavy guitars, but I like the country elements, of course... But for our sound and everything else, it's like Mississippi blues. I kinda like putting a little bit of that into the songwriting aspect of it as well."
I broached the often controversial subject of 'bro country' - songs sung by men that tend to just be about beaches, women, beer and generally having fun - with the up-and-coming artist whose music does contain certain aspects of a sub-genre that has been rather maligned of late, most noticeably by Maddie & Tae in their recent hit, "Girl In A Country Song."
"At first, I was like, 'You gotta be kidding me...' That people kinda label that as 'bro country' because it's not the older type-style... But the bro country is the lifestyle that everybody's living. The songs are depicting truth. Thomas Rhett said this in an interview as well, but he was right. So I gotta say it too because it's the truth.
"People that I know, my best friends, are sitting on a tailgate, throwing out a fishing pole, having a beer on Friday nights - just having a good time. So 'bro country' might be what it is, but it's the lifestyle that everybody's living...
"I mean things can be a little bit monotonous sometimes in the lyrics and stuff like that, but I think those other (more traditional-sounding) songs are starting to wade back in, especially like Miranda Lambert, Florida Georgia Line and Jake Owen. Those songs are starting to come back."
Finally, Ben filled me in on his current tour, an ongoing trek that will see him out on the road well into the autumn months. He's certainly leaving no stone unturned in his quest for stardom (his dream is to fix it so that his mum never has to work again) and, trust me, you'll be hearing a lot more about him soon.
"I've been all over the dang place!" he laughs. "Two weeks ago, I was in Oklahoma, last week I was in Florida... Next week I'm going to Louisiana, so all around the south, south east region is where I've been travelling. Basically anywhere I can play, I'm gonna play it."
Ben Bradford's new EP will be released "some time late September, early October." For more information, visit his official website.