Cole Swindell on Touring, Success & Being Asked to Sign a Chicken Finger: 'I Messed Up My Sharpie'

Courtesy of Warner Music Nashville
Cole Swindell 

Singer kicks off 16-date Down Home tour on Nov. 11.

Cole Swindell has had plenty of career highlights in 2015, taking home the new artist of the year trophy at the Academy of Country Music Awards back in April and adding to his growing list of hits, with "Ain't Worth the Whiskey" topping Billboard's Country Airplay chart in April and current single "Let Me See Ya Girl" moving up to No. 7 on the chart this week.

The Warner Bros. recording artist tells Billboard that he's still surprised by his continuing success. "Every year since we got started, I think that it's going to get harder to top it, but with all the support, somehow things keep getting better. That must mean we are doing something right, so we're just going to try to keep doing what we're doing."

Cole Swindell, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan & Other Georgia Natives Rep for Their Home State

The singer spent 2014 opening for Luke Bryan, and this year has seen him opening Jason Aldean's Burn It Down tour. Those experiences have given him an education in how to conduct yourself on the stage -- as well as off. "Anybody in my position who isn't trying to learn everything they can from guys like that are crazy. It wouldn't make any sense not to be. We're out here trying to learn every night -- from the show to the production. I'm sitting here on the bus in Canada looking at all of Jason's semis right now. I am looking forward to having that someday. To be out touring with them is amazing. I know when I'm headlining -- hopefully, I will one day -- I'm going to take good care of my support acts. Obviously, mine have taken great care of me."

Between his own experiences as a touring act and even selling concessions for fellow Georgia Southern alum Luke Bryan, he says he has seen some crazy things backstage -- particularly in the autograph line. "There were always a lot of strange things back there," he recalls. "People brought dip cans, and I remember one night someone brought back some chicken fingers. I don't think they were being serious, but they asked if I wanted to sign one of those. I think I messed up my Sharpie. I don't really know if they wanted to be in the meet-and-greet, but I signed it. I don't think it stayed on there very well. You never know what you're going to see in the autograph line."

Cole Swindell Says Hearing Himself on the Radio the First Time Is When His Career 'Felt Real'

As the Aldean tour comes to an end, Swindell is excited about going back out on the road on his own. Starting Nov. 11, he will kick off his Down Home tour, a 16-date run of smaller clubs and venues. It's the same way he ended 2014, and he's looking forward to the sequel. "My band and I are really fired up to hit the clubs again. I love the fact that we are getting to be out on the stage a little bit longer." And, he will have some new music for his fans, with a sequel to last year's The Down Home Sessions EP coming in November. "No matter how big things get, I still want to go out and play some of the clubs in front of the fans and give them a little more of an intimate experience. I feel so comfortable in there and can't wait to give the fans a show that they haven't seen yet."

In between the tour, Swindell says he plans to spend some time at home with his family in tiny Bronwood, Ga. -- a place that will always hold a special place in his heart. "It's just a little small town. There's no Walmart or anything like that. We still have two caution lights. There's not a lot of people knocking down the door to get in as their destination for vacations. I think about losing my grandmother earlier this year. It's one of those towns that a lot of people grow up living there and die there. I'm glad I got out of there, but I've still got family that love it there. There's not a lot to do, but people there appreciate hard work and everything they have. I think that upbringing helps me remain grateful about everything that happens. It was a special place for me. I may have to move back there one day."