Granger Smith Talks Life on the Road, His Plan to Call Every Person Who Buys Album From Pre-Order Through First Week
Granger Smith has been a touring artist for close to two decades now, and his career has taken him all over the world. Still, between his current headlining tour and a stint opening for Luke Bryan this fall, he tells Billboard that he can’t remember ever being this busy. But he admits that the speed is rather intoxicating. “The past six years have probably been crazier and I have had more things happening than any other group of years in my career."
Smith, whose new record When The Good Guys Win is out today (Oct. 27), admits that there are times he feels guilty for being away from his family. At the same time, he says that he feels like he is a man on a mission -- and when the crowds respond to what he is doing, he knows he’s in the right place. “The stage and the audience never gets old. That’s the reward for working hard, and being away from the family. I know they’re back home, and I start questioning myself, and asking myself if I am being the best husband or father that I can be, or am I being selfish for being out on the road like this. Then, I walk out on stage at a show like that, and I see the reactions of people to the music. Then, I feel the responsibility that I need to be delivering music, and a release -- something to be able to be entertained. Then, it all starts to feel worth it. It’s my calling. When you have a calling, you stick with it through the good and the bad.”
The album kicks off with “Gimme Something." “That song was the result of something that happened to me where I was in the bus writing with one of my friends, and he said he had just finished something up last week, and was wondering if maybe we could work on the second verse, and maybe tweak the bridge. I asked him to play it. After I heard it, I told him that not only did I not need to touch the song, I also wanted to record it. It was the first time I’ve taken on this responsibility of being the voice of one of the songs that my friends have spent so much time creating.”
In addition to his music, fans can also see his infamous alter ego, “Earl Dibbles, Jr,” as part of CBS’s Inside College Football. He’s done the weekly comedic feature since 2013, and has a blast doing it. “It’s been great to combine two things that I love -- country music and college football. It all started where we decided to go in and make a parody where Earl picks the games depending on which team is more country. It only took us one week before CBS called and wanted to run with it. It’s been fantastic.”
“Dibbles” is still very much a part of the Smith brand, though he’s been silent on the Bryan tour. “Earl has been such a part of our live show, but we’re not bringing him on the Luke tour, which is interesting for us. It’s the first time consecutively that I’ve had shows with no Earl. We don’t have enough time on the set. It takes a little more time to introduce and digest Earl than a twenty-minute set, but we’re still having him in the headlining shows. I think it’s neat that Earl has become something that you’re not guaranteed to see every single night.”
When The Good Guys Win is full of songs that run the stylistic gamut, including “Happens Like That,” which sits at No. 38 on the Hot Country Songs chart this week. One of the more meaningful tracks for the singer on the album is “Home Cooked Meal,” of which he says “I am proud of that song. It’s a song that when you’re putting an album together, and you have about twenty-five songs -- which is what we had before we had to narrow it down to fourteen -- it’s not one that you’re going to jump up and down about because it’s a radio single. But, I was adamant that it was a song that I wanted to be delivered, and that message needed to be heard. I wanted that song to be the last track -- the last feeling, the last spot before the album is over with. I know that in this world today, sequencing and order of songs really doesn’t matter like it used to. It’s kind of a lost art. Songs like ‘Home Cooked Meal,’ for a lot of people won’t be heard, but I love it. I’m proud of it. That’s one that is very important to me.”
That song talks about a slower pace, but Smith definitely isn’t stuck in a time warp. The singer has parlayed his “Yee Yee” catchphrase into a successful line of products, and has even launched a successful podcast, which allows him to connect with fans in a deeper manner than just tweets or Facebook posts. “I started it as an answer to the quick pace of social media, which seems to be getting faster and faster. We started with these three-minute ‘Yee Yee’ episodes, and incorporated a one-minute recap of the weekend. Then, we started doing recaps of the shows that we would put on social media. That’s when it occurred to me that there needed to be an alternative. Those quick flashes on social media are so important. But, I also wanted to do something that would deliver the entire message that someone could listen to if they wanted to dig in a little bit deeper. That’s where the podcast came from. I really enjoy make them.”
Smith plans to alternate between his own tour and Bryan’s this fall. He says he’s hoping to absorb all he can from the CMA Entertainer of the Year winner. “I can’t think of a better person to take us out and someone that we can kind of use as a mentor. Hopefully, we can soak up some of his fans, and try to convert them to be my fans too, and use that as an opportunity to play some of the songs that we have had on the radio where people will go ‘Oh, that’s the guy!' Hopefully, we can emulate what Luke has built.”
And, one song he will be singing is the stirring title track, which he says he hopes applies to him. “I’m so happy it’s the title track, and that this is the message we’re sending out by putting out this record. The record has two gloves on the front, which are my dad’s work gloves. The message and the thought behind the song just makes me happy. It makes me feel good inside. You’re not born a good guy, you have to work at it. You have to earn that title from other people. You can’t claim it yourself. You have to wake up in the morning, and decide you are going to be a good guy. I think that’s why everyone loves it when the good guy wins. I’m glad that’s the message that we’re putting out.”
Fans will have the chance to receive that message beginning today, along with something a little more personal. Smith announced via social media that he will personally call every fan that purchases the album from pre-order (Oct. 6) through release week. Go to CallFromGranger.com to enter.