Originally from East Tennessee, singer-songwriter Mitch Rossell moved to Nashville in 2010 and has been perfecting his craft writing and performing ever since. Rossell recently debuted his new album, Raised By The Radio, a collection of eight cleverly written, heartfelt and relatable tunes. On a break from supporting Garth Brooks, where he has been easily garnering new fans nightly, Rossell took the time to talk about the new album, working with Brooks and what's ahead.
In late July, you released your new album, Raised By The Radio. Were all of the songs for this record written since your last record or were there older ones as well?
They were pretty much all written in that time frame. Over the past few years, I feel like I took a big step forward in my writing; I came into my own space and found out who I was. I tried to write quality songs whether they were fun, sad, chill or whatever. Out of all of the songs I wrote and chose for this record, I tried to pick what flowed best and made the best album possible instead of a bunch of singles. I wanted to make a record you could just play, enjoying the entire thing as it took you on a journey.
The writing is real storytelling but done in often clever ways. If someone looks at a title, they might think it plays out one way, but when they listen, it’s something totally unexpected.
I grew up on 90’s country where, when you got to the hook, you just wondered, “How did they do that?” I take writing very seriously and in mine, I try to write something that provokes thought. There can sometimes be a pitfall when writing clever hooks though because you can forget you’re writing something you want people to feel - you don’t want a song to be so clever that the emotion is taken out of it. The goal then, for me, is to find the marriage between a song that people can relate to while at the same time, saying, “Man, this is really clever.”
Why did you choose to title the album Raised By The Radio, which is also a track on the record?
That was a fourth quarter move. People kept asking me what I was going to call the record, and I really didn’t know; I felt like the title is something that should just come to you…and nothing ever did. Then one day, we were sitting there talking about the artwork, finalizing the photos and I suggested calling it Raised By The Radio, which was fitting because I grew up taking long car rides every other weekend with my dad where we would just jam out to 90’s country. I liked that while it was true to me, it could also apply to many, these days music is so interlaced in all of our lives that we’re all raised by it to some degree.
The title also fit in with the design of the album. The inside of the cd is like a radio, you have the dials on one side and the other is a speaker cover and when you pull it off there is speaker cone. Everything turned out pretty cool.
I wanted to ask about a particular song, “The Rain.” Is there a story behind that song, which closes the album?
“The Rain” was written about some dark times in Nashville, but was written in one of the brightest times for me - shortly after Garth Brooks responded to an email. He basically told me I was in the top 1% of writers in this town and that eventually, I was going to have my day to shine. I knew deep down in my heart that I was doing the right thing by not selling my soul to have some commercial success. I knew that I was supposed to be doing this and in that moment, reading his email, I felt so much reassurance knowing that God had bigger plans for me. I was overwhelmed and that song just came. You know, we all enjoy the sunshine and good moments, but if we only had good moments we wouldn’t know how good they really were because you don’t know how bad you could feel. The things we enjoy are great, but it's the moments when things might not be going so well that define and shape us.
And out of that email has come a friendship and a mentorship with Garth, which must be kind of a pinch-me moment.
It’s definitely surreal and I say all the time that it just doesn’t make sense. I compare it to when you’re young and you think about dying – you just don’t think it’s possible. I’m a very realistic, logical person which some people think means I’m negative, but I just don’t get my hopes up…in this business you have to be that way. I mean there are some people who move here and suddenly their career takes off or great things happen to them, but I totally didn’t expect this. It’s definitely the most divine thing that has ever happened to me.
You produced the record with Garth. How did you find working together, was it a collaborative process or did he lead the way?
He kind of let me take the reins. Garth is so humble; he said to me, “If I can help you, I’ll help you, but I want you to take the lead on this.” He’s very knowledgeable and has great input, but his trust in me is pretty remarkable.
That must be so reassuring!
You have been supporting him on select dates and from the reactions on social media, the fans are absolutely loving the music.
It’s been one of the coolest things so far. The average consumer has some pretty keen observations on songs, but the people in the business have gotten it too. I had a vision for this record – I wanted to make something that felt reminiscent, where people felt comfortable and nostalgic, while also being fresh and new. So a cool moment for me was when the people who heard the record before it was released basically said the record came across that way, without me prompting them. It was such a great feeling to have a vision and have people get it.
What does say, the next six months hold for you?
Hopefully, we’ll get some songs on the radio, maybe The Highway or the Garth’s new channel [on Sirius XM]. I’ll be out on the road with Garth in California and have some of my own gigs in Oregon and North Carolina. Playing with Garth is great because even though he draws a huge audience, it’s not about the size of the crowd, but the quality of the listener. His fan base likes the more substantive, storytelling music and so it’s been a good fit. I’ve been having a great time.
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