Luke Combs Reflects on His Chart-Topping Single 'Hurricane' and His Hopes for New Single 'One Number Away'

Louis Browne
Luke Combs

Luke Combs admits that his path to the top of the charts was a little different from some of the other stories out there. Combs, a North Carolina native, had issued “Hurricane” himself in June of 2015 via iTunes, and watched as the sales of the song pushed it to No. 46 on the charts.

A few months later, Thirty Tigers re-released the song, which also began to garner airplay on SiriusXM. Less than two months later, Combs signed with Columbia – and the rest is history. “Hurricane” began climbing at a faster pace than ever, eventually climbing all the way to the top of the Country Airplay charts in late May of last year. Because Combs had been working at his career for a while, he didn’t receive the full radio tour treatment from his label.

“When I came in, we already had a little something going because I had been doing the Thirty Tigers thing, so I had already met some folks, and I was out on a full touring schedule by that point as well,” he says, referencing his own dates, as well as his being a part of the Brantley Gilbert tour. “So, the radio stops were spliced in between, but it was a lot of fun. At the same time, it was cool because it felt like it was the start of your dream -- ‘Hey, man. You’re really getting to do this. This is something that people really don’t get to do a lot. You have to be invited into the stations, and have people want to meet you.'"

“It was surreal,” he tells Billboard. “I remember us going to about two or three stations a day up in the northeast. That was really the only taste I got of doing just the radio tour, as I was on my own tour or out with Brantley. It was cool to just be out in a van for a couple of weeks. I didn’t realize how exhausting it was, but at the same time, it was a lot of fun.”

When asked about some of his memories at those first radio stops, he doesn’t miss a beat. “I remember Cliff Blake and I going to Havre de Grace, Maryland, and we had dinner with Brad Austin at WXCY / Wilmington... we had crab legs and drinks and seafood, and talked about things,” he says, adding that the experience made him someone he considers to be a friend.  “It was so cool because if you are going in to do a remote or a satellite thing for a festival, it’s nice to be able to say that you know people and that you have friends. I have tons of those stories from all across the USA. It’s awesome to have friends among the country music community that you know are looking out for you, and that you are excited to get to see on the road.”

The success continues to mount for Combs. “When It Rains It Pours” became his second-straight chart topper on both the Country Airplay and Country Songs charts in November, while the third single from This One’s For You, “One Number Away,” continues to climb – sitting at No. 34 on Country Airplay. It’s because of that success that Combs was voted onto the Country Radio Seminar’s New Faces Show, which will take place next Wednesday (February 7) at the Omni located in downtown Nashville. He says he’s proud to be a part of such a talent-filled lineup.

“I’m pretty stoked about it,” he confirms. “It’s a heck of a lot of support from country radio, about as much as you can get. It’s an honor -- something that a lot of people would love to be able to say that they got to do, and I’m one of the lucky few this year, and throughout history... All of the artists on the roster are incredible and have their own sound. It’s going to be a fun night.”

He knows that the crowd full of industry executives will be a little bit harder to please than his usual fan base, but he’s ready to give it his best shot. “I’ve played for a lot of tough crowds. I’m looking forward to it. I take it as a challenge,” he says with confidence. “I think everyone there will be having a good time, and will be having fun.”

He knows that it’s those PD’s and MD’s who have helped him be two of two in terms of hitting number one with his singles, and he’s hoping that “One Number Away” continues the trend. “We’re so thankful for the success that country radio has given us so far, and just hope that we can keep this magic going. The new single has just come out, and it’s been a fan favorite out on the road. I just hope our friends at radio love it as much as the fans have.”