Country Newcomer Kane Brown Talks New Single, Touring with Florida Georgia Line
RCA recording artist Kane Brown spent most of his childhood on the move. The singer, who has just released a new single, “Thunder In The Rain,” says that family economics dictated those moves.
“Growing up, we really didn’t have a lot of money,” he recalled to Billboard. “It was hard finding places to stay, and a lot of time my friends would take me in, and I would just go to that high school. I went to a lot of elementary schools growing up, maybe as many as I did high schools.”
Once he hit his high school years, however, he became a “Trojan,” as a member of Soddy Daisy High School in Tennessee. He said he has plenty of memories of life on the football field – including his first play from scrimmage.
“In the first game I ever played in high school, I had a pick-six for a touchdown,” he recalled with a laugh. “That was a fun memory.” When asked about his favorite teams, he mentioned the Carolina Panthers in the NFL and Georgia and Kansas State on a collegiate level.
His school path took him to Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School, located just over the state line in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. It was there he would share the choir stage with Lauren Alaina, another rising talent with stars in her eyes. Brown says he knew the future American Idol star was going far.
“We were friends before we were in choir. I used to date her best friend. Then, we had choir together," he said. "We always hung out, and talked about doing a duet together in choir, but we never thought we’d be doing this. I had a feeling that Lauren would because she would sing all the time – even if she was in the car, she’d sing over the radio. You’d have to tell her to shut up,” he added with a laugh.
In 2014, Brown began to post video clips of himself performing hits from Brantley Gilbert, Alan Jackson, and Billy Currington. His video of George Strait’s “Check Yes Or No” netted over seven million views. The attention he received prompted him to push for a career as a musician. “I guess I knew I wanted to pursue it after my first couple of videos went viral. I started seeing all the likes and the shares. As well as the reactions, and I started to think ‘Maybe, I could actually do this for a job.’ I was working my butt off at both Fed Ex and Target, and only making $7.25 [an hour]. I knew I couldn’t do this. So, I decided I was going to try the music thing, and run with it, and hopefully, I can make it,” he said humbly.
He said learning the viral game has been an education, but one that he has enjoyed immensely. “I honestly got lucky with people starting to like the first video, when it went viral, and people started following me. I just kept posting, and really was just trying to keep people’s interest," he said.
The strategy of promoting himself on Facebook was more complicated than he imagined. “Instead of getting people to like stuff, what you really want to do is get them to share it. It creates a lot more followers," he said. "On my posts, I would tell people ‘If you like this, give it a share.’ If you go online and look at my videos, you might see where I have 80,000 likes, but 525,000 shares. That’s where you gain more people as followers coming in. It took me a second to learn it all, but now that I have, it’s been a blessing and a curse.
Brown’s fans helped the singer record a six-song EP entitled Closer, which he released last summer. Without any major radio airplay, the project landed in the Top 30 of the Billboard Country Albums chart. In turn, Randy Goodman and Sony Music Nashville were impressed, offering Brown a contract in early 2016. His first release for the label is Chapter 1. When asked how it feels to be on the same label as acts like Waylon Jennings, Kenny Chesney and Keith Whitley, the newcomer didn’t miss a beat. “It feels awesome. I was singing in my bathroom, and thought that was as far as I was going to get. To be called by a major label, I thought they were pranking me,” he said sheepishly.
The singer is wrapping up a run with Florida Georgia Line before he begins headlining his own Ain’t No Stopping Us Now tour, scheduled to beginning in November. “I’m super excited, partly because I’ve got Jordan Rager out with me, and I feel like he’s going to bring some fans out, too. I feel like it’s going to be really fun. I’m also looking forward to getting to add a lot of the songs off of the album into the concert rotation, so it should be a blast.”
What has he learned from FGL's Brian and Tyler on the “Dig Your Roots” tour? He says a lot. “I’m really learning how to work the crowd, and talk to them, tell them stories between songs," he said. "I’m also learning to play to the back of the crowd in arenas. When you do that, you’ve got to remember to play for those that are at our back instead of just at your feet. The people at the back are sometimes your biggest fans, they just might not have the money to be up front. They’ve also taught me how to stay humble, because of them bring humble guys. Between them, the Cadillac Three, and Cole Swindell, it’s all been an awesome experience.”
Brown hopes fans will gravitate toward the new single, saying, “I found the line in a magazine, and thought it was a really cool title. I took it in, and we started brainstorming. I came up with the idea to just talk about two unstoppable forces in a relationship, and how nothing would come between them.”
The singer said he's trying to grow as an artist all the way around – including as a songwriter. “It’s been neat to find out different writing strategies,” he said. I’ve been in the room with so many different writers. Sometimes, you write with tracks, and other times, with acoustic guitars. That’s been really a cool thing, because it brings out different lyrics with you. I know that sounds weird, but it brings out different emotions, and you have all the different writers.”
He's still proud of his early efforts, because back it was all for the love of the music – before sold-out tours and EP’s. “It’s been a lot of fun, because before I was just writing with my friends," he said. "None of us had a publishing deal. We just all wanted to write. That’s been a huge difference for me in the whole writing process.”
Kane Brown “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” Tour Dates
November 4 Detroit, MI Fillmore
November 5 Cincinnati, OH Bogart’s
December 15 Indianapolis, IN Egyptian Room
December 18 Minneapolis, MN Varsity
January 12 Las Vegas, NV House of Blues