Country singer Granger Smith released his new album, Country Things, Vol. 1, on Friday (Sept. 25). The eight-song collection is his tenth overall and the first half of a two-part album. Some of the song titles on the new project include, “Heroes,” “Hate You Like I Love You,” and Smith’s clever play on “If You’re Happy and You Know It” called, “Country & Ya Know It,” which features the singer/songwriter’s famous country boy alter-ego, Earl Dibbles Jr.
Unlike his earlier projects, Smith, 41, touches on his role as a father in Country Things, Vol. 1, particularly in the song entitled, “I Kill Spiders.”
“There was never an entire song about my father-son or father-daughter relationships,” Smith says of “I Kill Spiders” in a quote posted on his official website.
The born-and-bred Texan began prepping for his new album back in early 2019. But, his whole world took an abrupt turn in June of that year, following the unexpected loss of his 3-year-old son River, who sadly died in a tragic drowning accident. Smith’s music was put on hold and his studio-sessions were canceled. And it wasn’t until a trip back to his parents home near Waco, Texas, that he found new inspiration to pick up music again.
Influenced by the death of his son, Smith re-imagined his recently released single, “That’s Why I Love Dirt Roads,” which appears as the fourth track on Country Things, Vol. 1. Smith, who gave listeners a taste of Country Things, Vol. 1 in October of 2019 with the release of “That’s Why I Love Dirt Roads,” hopes to continue to inspire others through his music.
Smith, who also recently unveiled the Fall launch of his outdoor apparel company, Yee Yee Apparel, caught up with Country Now to share more about part one of his double album. Read on to learn more about Country Things, Vol. 1, in this exclusive Q&A with Granger Smith below.
Congratulations on releasing Country Things, Vol. 1! How does it feel to have new music out?
It feels good! It’s a huge relief. It’s been a long process, about two years in the making, so I’m super excited about it!
So this is your tenth album so far. How does this one differ from your previous projects?
Well, Covid-19 is a big difference for sure. There are 16 songs on Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 combined. Vol. 2 will probably come out at the end of November, and there’s a pretty significant line that you can see between the songs I wrote before Covid-19 and after Covid-19. I think some deeper songs came out of this. Hopefully, I think you’ll be able to take from it that it’s a little more well rounded [than my previous albums]. I always like the albums that are like a roller coaster, where they can take you for a ride in all different kinds of ways, and I think this one does that for me.
The title of the album is called Country Things. What does that title mean to you?
It has a couple of meanings. I wanted to title the album after the first track on the album. You could take it very light-hearted and say country things are simple things, or what gets you going, or what rejuvenates you, but the deeper thought to that is, there are things that money can’t buy, or that a career can’t achieve, and it’s right here in front of all of us. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in the woods or a field. It could be watching the moon come up, watching it rise, watching the sunset go all the way down behind the horizon, stopping for a minute to hear the birds singing, or feeling the breeze in your face. It’s things that so often we overlook, and yet they tend to be the most important things for our happiness and our peace.
You started working on this album in early 2019 before the loss of your son River. How did the loss of your son impact this project moving forward?
Losing River was my first major obstacle. I had already been writing songs for the project. I was scheduled to go into the studio right around when it happened. My life kind of shut down and everything got put on hold. I didn’t think about music. I didn’t want to play music, and I stopped thinking about the album. It wasn’t until early 2020 when I started thinking about putting out music again and revisited some of those songs. Then Covid-19 hit. So there were a lot of things that happened to me, most importantly, River. But, I’ve always looked at my albums as ways to express myself, ways to heal, ways to smile, ways to remember, and, in some ways, ways to forget. This album probably speaks to those things more than any other project I’ve ever put out.
Has getting back into this album helped you at all in the healing process?
For sure, I mean, if anything, staying busy has helped me out. That’s my personality. I like staying busy and being passionate about something that can help me heal and discover deeper meanings to what I’m feeling at the time, and this album, in general, has helped me in a lot of ways.
You highlight fatherhood on Country Things, Vol. 1 in the song “I Kill Spiders,” why was touching on your role as a father important to include on this project?
That’s something I’ve never done before. I’ve never talked a lot about being a dad, and If I did, it was not the main purpose of the song. It was just in a part of the song, maybe on the bridge or in the second verse. But this song is all about that. There’s another song on Vol. 2 that’s all about that as well. It just felt like the right time to make that the forefront because it’s such a large part of who I am as a person. I never wanted to be an artist that was the “dad singer,” but it was impossible to avoid something that’s a part of my life. So it needed to be included.
Were there any difficulties coming up with the lyrics for this song since you have never previously made fatherhood the focus in your music?
No, because it’s such a big part of my life. My songs have always been about where I am at the time, what job I’m working at, or what girl I’m dating, or whom I just broke up with. My songs have always been a reflection of what I’m living.
One of my personal favorites on the project is “Heroes” because it seems fitting for the time we’re in right now. Can you talk about that song, and did you write it during quarantine?
I actually wrote that one a while ago and put it on the shelf. But, it was during quarantine when I remembered that song. To me, the original melody and the beat of that song weren’t right. So I rewrote it in March with a new mindset in rethinking what was going on in the world. I rewrote the second verse and gave it a new melody, a new feel, and slowed it down a little bit. So it was a product of quarantine, although the idea came before that.
Is there a song in particular that you’re most proud of on this project?
It’s hard to say. I’m very proud of the eight songs on Vol. 1, the collection of them as a whole. But, I go back-and-forth on what my favorite is. Sometimes I say “Hate You Like I Love You” because I’m a sucker for happy-feeling songs that are sad too. I love that dynamic of happy and sad. A lot of times, that one would be my go-to.
What differences are there between Vol. 1 and Vol. 2? Also, why did you decide on releasing a double-album versus sharing the full track listing with the fans?
There are 16 songs total combined, and I felt like that would be a little bit too much for somebody to consume, all of that without it being or missing a message from one of the songs. I wanted to make both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 equal as far as having fun songs, deep songs, faster songs, and slower songs. I wanted to have a nice mix of all of those components separated into two volumes so they can live on their own as two different pieces of one body of work.
Earl Dibble’s Jr., your famous alter ego, is featured on one of the tracks. For those who don’t know the story, how did that character originate?
My brothers and I were trying to promote an album nine years ago, and we came up with the character, just a funny, ultra-country boy, alter-ego with a simple personality, and that video went viral! We started chasing it on a small level, and it became part of our live show! It continued every year for the last eight years. Earl had pieces on albums too, and it felt appropriate to include him again on this one!
Speaking of family members, your brother, Tyler Smith, is going to be on the upcoming season of The Bachelorette. Can you tell us anything about that?
Yea! He met the producer of The Bachelorette when I was playing a show a couple of years ago with my band. He’s my manager, so he was with me, and he developed a relationship with that crew. Then they asked if he wanted to audition and come on the show and be one of the contestants. So It’s been a fun experience for him. He’s back now, and he finished filming. I think the first episode of that show will be coming out in a couple of weeks here in October, so it will be exciting to sit and watch him be on there.
Aside from music, I saw on social media that you just adopted a puppy! How’s life been incorporating the new pooch into the family dynamic?
It’s been one of those moments that’s like, ‘You know what? There’s never a right or wrong time to get a puppy.’ We had been thinking about it for a while. My wife had been talking to this breeder for a long time for about two years. Finally, she gave in and said, ‘You know what? You only live once. Let’s go pick up this puppy.’ We already have two dogs at home, so adding a third dog has been a little crazy around the house, but it’s worth it!
Aside from all of that, what other projects do you have going on in quarantine?
I have been putting a lot of effort into YouTube, and we started a lot of different YouTube series’. We are rebuilding an old truck, and we are rebuilding a house, and we have a family blog. We put out at least one video a day on YouTube, and we have seen a great way to build relationships with fans through that on a personal level. I think, in a way, we will look back on 2020 and be happy with what we were forced to do.
What are you looking forward to the most for the rest of 2020?
I think we all feel like things are lightening up a little bit in all aspects, and I’m looking forward to seeing the next phase of how humanity comes out of this and the growth we have. The return to normal is going to be a big celebration for all of us!