Texas native Stephen Chadwick's latest album, 2014's Let's Do This Thing, was considered one of the best releases of last year (it made the first round of Grammy nominations for Best Country Album). His new single from that record, the lively ”Hell Of A Time To Go Crazy," just entered the Texas Music Charts. Stephen's music is country to the core. It features a traditional sound that is helping to establish him as a standout emerging artist on the scene. Stephen recently took the time to talk about his musical childhood, the record and what he is looking forward to this year.
You were introduced to music at a very young age when you began performing with your Dad.
I guess you could say I have been singing pretty much my entire life. My Dad was a singer who had a band even before I came along. He would sing and play in Katy, Texas at nursing homes and festivals. When I was four or five years old I would go on stage with him and sing, one arm holding onto his leg and the other arm around the microphone. At seven years old I would sing on my own, playing parties and stuff like that. I was also in a youth group and sang with them too. At sixteen I learned the acoustic guitar and started my own band playing with guys that were two to three times older than I was. That’s all I did--attend school during the week and sing on the weekends. I really had no social life because I was always playing music, but that was my choice and I loved it.
You played in a rock band, but ultimately circled back to country music. Is that where your heart is?
Country is where my heart is, yes! I have two extremes: I like traditional country music and old school R&B. When I was seven years old and performing, I couldn’t always sing country songs due to some of the negative content, so I would sing R&B, like “I Feel Good,” “Cupid,” and “My Girl.” I loved it! If you were to see my live show now, I throw in some Otis Redding and other R&B songs. I love both of those genres because I enjoy their traditional sound. They both have a lot of soul and for me, they’re just real music.
Your music is reminiscent of the country music of the late 80's and 90's. Do you have any particular influences on your sound?
One of my biggest influences is George Strait; also Merle Haggard, Hank Williams Sr. and Ray Price. On the R&B side, there is Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and The Drifters. Of course, there’s my Dad too, who is also one of my toughest critics. He influenced me a lot, not only with playing, but especially in teaching me how to be a story teller and portray a song when performing it.
What does it mean to you when you describe your music as “true country?”
My music is straight down the pike fiddle and steel country. It goes back to the time of Hank Sr. and then George Strait. I think you can really tell where my influences come from when you listen to my songs.
Lets Do This Thing was released last year and contains ten songs that range from ballads to dance hall tunes. How involved were you in writing for it?
Let’s Do This Thing is my second record, but the first time people really know who I am. The first record I made, which I wrote 95% of, I sold on bandstands and is still on iTunes. That record though was a case of me surrounding myself with people who really did not have my best intentions at heart.
With Lets Do This Thing, I wrote two of the songs, “She Might Be A Love Song” and “Waitin’ On You.” I’m not the type of person who will say that only songs I write can be on my record. If I like a song, think it might be a hit and can portray it in a way that will win over the audience, I am going to cut it. I was lucky enough to have eight great songs come my way; I did not want to brush the opportunity to record them off of my lap. Cutting those songs also fostered relationships with the songwriters, who I hope will want to write with me in the future.
The current single is the humorous “Hell of a Time to Go Crazy.” What’s the story behind that song?
When I heard that song, I knew I had to grab it, because being a musician I have lived that song and I think other people have too! I liked it because it was a fun little song, but not too cliché or hokey. It has a great big honky tonk, roadhouse kind of groove, which I love. It’s so much fun to play live and it really gets people on the dance floor. It also became my two year old's favorite song when she heard it, so I knew I had to cut it!
The song recently made it's way onto the Texas Music Charts and the title track of the record received national exposure on the ABC television show Nashville.
I am so grateful and excited about the whole thing! I’m like a little kid checking the charts to see where the song is at and if people like it! I am totally blown away because I was unsure if Texas listeners would embrace it or not because it is so country. Then I realized that Texas has artists like Cody Johnson, Kyle Park and Josh Ward, who have opened up a sound that wasn’t in a lot of Texas country before, which is basically all 90’s country that they’ve tweaked a little bit. I thought that if the song did chart, I would fall into the same category as those guys which is actually where I want to be.
I just did my first radio tour which was so new to me, but great. I really enjoyed it, especially meeting the people that play my music. It was nice to find out that people out there like what I do, like the fiddle and the pedal steel in the music which is great because you never really know what people want to hear.
Let's Do This Thing being on Nashville, that’s all thanks to Brandy [my publicist], she made that happen. The song is on there on the last five minutes of the show, but it’s on there, and I am so, so grateful!
You have spent time in Nashville, and have even played an industry showcase there. Did you make this record in Nashville or in Texas?
The entire album was recorded in Texas with Tommy Detamore. It was the best experience I have ever had in the studio. We went in on a Monday and were finished with my portion on Wednesday. It went really well because it was done with the right people. It was such a comfortable situation. Tommy has such a good bedside manner; he really let me do what I wanted to do. It was more than I had ever hoped for!
Being that Nashville and Texas are so different, where do you see yourself fitting in musically?
Back in the day, I was more of a Nashville listener, but I want to be able to play my style of music and stay true to myself. Of course I’d love to go for the brass ring; everyone wants that even if they say they don’t, but I don’t know where I would fit in in Nashville. The people that I have met there love what I do, but it’s not what’s selling. Music coming out of there [Nashville] right now is interesting and I don’t know if I could fit in. If I had chance to take it to next level I would, but only if I could stay true to who I am. That’s the biggest thing. Even in Texas, I’m going against the grain a little bit but maybe it’s gonna pay off because I’m different than a lot of things that are out there right now.
What would you like to accomplish professionally this year?
I want to get the music out there and start playing live more. Right now I play in Texas, so I would like to branch out with my shows. The coolest thing for me would be to play a ninety minute show and look out into the crowd and see people singing along with the songs. I have been in the business a long time, so I know I have to pay my dues, but hopefully that will be something I get to experience.
I also really want to meet the fans! I want to learn what they like and what they want from me and the music. Finally, I’d love to collaborate with more writers, and get to know other artists.
The airplay on Texas radio is starting to get the machine fired up and I’m ready to start moving!
For more information visit Stephen's official website
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Purchase Let's Do This Thing here