Cole Swindell

Cole Swindell

Jim Wright

2014 has been a banner year for Cole Swindell. Between his own singles "Chillin' It" and "I Hope You Get Lonely Tonight," as well as writing such hits as "Roller Coaster" for Luke Bryan and Thomas Rhett's "Get Me Some Of That," Swindell has seen some of his biggest dreams come true.

"I am so happy to be able to do what I love. To have the songs I've written for other artists go No. 1 and my songs go to No. 1 has been amazing. We're going to keep writing and making new music and see what happens."

Swindell has an early Christmas present for his fans: new music. The Georgia native just released a new five-song digital EP this week titled The Down Home Sessions. "When we were making our debut album, I just knew that we weren't going to be able to put all of the songs that we cut on the album. Not all of these songs are those, but a couple of them are. Fans would hear us play different ones, and ask why they didn't make the cut. I would tell them that you can only put so many on the album."

Cole Swindell Tips His Hat to Luke Bryan on Eve of Album Release

He is grateful that Warner Bros. is allowing him to release some new material for his fans. "The fact that my label is behind me and supporting me and letting me put a few new songs out there - some of which I feel people should have heard on the first album – is great,' he says. The EP release coincides with his headlining tour of the same name, as he will be hitting the club circuit through December after opening for Luke Bryan this year. "Hopefully, we can do this every year - go out and play some of the clubs. I've been on some crazy stages this year with some big artists, but to go back to the clubs like I started, and getting in front of the fans, that's going to be fun."

Swindell says it's been interesting watching the charts this year -- especially with "Roller Coaster" and "I Hope You Get Lonely Tonight" both vying for the top spot. "I think you have to enjoy it. A lot of people ask, 'Why didn't you keep those songs for you?' I've been here for seven years, and some of those songs have been pitched to every artist in town, and finally, they got to make my album. To have my single go No. 1 and have Luke at No. 2 with a song that I wrote is nerve-racking, but it's not really something you can complain about. I still get to play them live, and as a new artist, you don't have that many songs on the radio. So to be able to play songs that I've written that have gone No. 1 will do a lot for my live show. It would be nice to have some of those songs for myself, but you never know how long this is going to last." For the record, he went two-for-two on that competition, with Bryan's single succeeding the Swindell track at the peak of the Billboard Country Airplay chart.

Opening up for the CMA Entertainer of the Year has been an eye-opening experience for Swindell. "Walking out in front of that many thousands of people going crazy for every song -- that makes it real," he says. "Everything has changed so much. We were direct support for Luke on the tour this year, and this one was the best one that I've ever been on. I think that's a result of the year I've had and the support I've had."

Headlining his own shows is a challenge, but one he says he relishes. "You have to approach it a whole different way. You've got to take care of yourself and your voice. These fans are buying tickets. I don't want to let them down, and not be able to do it. Ninety minutes is a lot different than twenty-five. I want them to have the best time they can. I'm going to be comfortable, as they are there to buy tickets to see me, not Luke or somebody else. I will feel more like it's my deal."

Swindell has just released his third single from his self-titled debut disc, called "Ain't Worth the Whiskey," which he has a lot of high hopes for. "Coming off of two No. 1 singles, you want to come with another one. This is a country ballad, which is so special to me because it came from a real place. I had just broken up with this girl, and I could not shake it. One of my buddies threw out the title, and I said, 'I know somebody who might not be worth it that we can write this about.' I'm glad I'm getting to put out a country ballad because with me growing up listening to '90s country, there were so many great songs. I want people to know that I'm not just 'Chillin' It.' I'm a real person. There's heartbreak and trials, and I hope I put that in my music. It's always gotten a great reaction live and has always been one of my favorites, so we'll see what country radio thinks."

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