Now and then, a song and artist can't be denied.
Last year, Cole Swindell was nothing more or less than a terrific songwriter with a Nashville publishing deal and a growing reputation as one of the city's most exciting young performers. Now, he's on the road to stardom.
The gateway is "Chillin' It," a song as infectious and groove-laden as anything out there, with a laid-back summertime charm that perfectly captures the guy who wrote and performs it. Independent radio airplay on SiriusXM and social media quickly turned it into a sensation. A sold-out performance at a 600-seat club in Atlanta did the rest. It was attended by Nashville label reps wanting to see if the guy from tiny Bronwood, Georgia, could put on stage what he had put on CD. The offers that poured in from virtually every major label meant the answer was an absolute "yes." The success of “Chillin’ It” garnered the highest selling debut single from a solo country male in 2013, and while sales continued to rise, “Chillin’ It” marked the first Gold certified single in any genre for 2014, now nearing Platinum certification.
In fact, Cole's high-energy show wins converts every time he steps in front of a crowd, whether as a headliner in a club or as an opening act in front of 20,000 people.
"Honestly," he says, "I just want it to be fun. I get people who see me on stage who say, 'Hey, it looks like you're having the time of your life up there,' and I really am. Every night is just a blast and they join in."
Not bad for a guy who just three years ago was selling merchandise on tour with Luke Bryan, whom he'd once opened some shows for in Georgia. But such was his drive that there wasn't a wasted moment on the road. He watched Luke and every act he performed with, learning what worked with crowds, and he poured what he was learning into the songs he was writing.
Eventually, those songs earned him a staff writers' gig at Sony ATV, and with each co-write he expanded his circle of supporters.
"The publishing company told me, 'People are calling back and wanting more dates,’” he says. “’It seems like this town is getting behind you.' So I kept writing and paying my dues, working hard to get to the point where I deserved to be in the room with the major writers, people whose songs I was singing in college bars just a few years ago."
Meanwhile, he kept up his performing chops with solo and opening slot gigs, and finally his abilities as both a writer and performer came together on "Chillin' It," which captures all the restless energy that makes his one of the most compelling and high-energy shows in the business.
"My band laughs at me because I'm a pacer," he says. "I get anxious every time I go on stage. My music means the world to me, so if I wasn’t jumping around backstage getting amped up for the show, something would be wrong. Then, when I hit the stage, I just want to get those first lyrics out. It's like football in high school. On the kickoff, once you get that first hit in, you're in your groove. From then on, it's wide open. I'm having fun."
Then he works to keep them that way.
"I don't want to have a song where people feel comfortable going to get a beer," he says. "Once we get started, I don't want them to risk missing what's next. I want them to leave saying, 'That's the best show I've ever seen.'"
As anyone who's seen him perform can attest, it's working, and now, with "Chillin' It" hitting airwaves everywhere, fans nationwide can get their first look at one of country's most compelling performers.
"The folks who are buying music just want to have fun," he says, "and 'Chillin’ It' is the perfect song to introduce me to them. It isn't a full-out party song, and it isn't serious. Like it says, it's just a chill song, and that's just me."