Cole Swindell‘s new album, You Should Be Here, is finally here and available for purchase today (May 6). It’s twelve songs of pure fun, heartbreak and loss. It’s Swindell’s most diverse album to date and he can’t wait for his fans to hear it.
Is it May 6th yet? It feels like it. It’s coming up, so I’m ready,” Swindell said during our exclusive interview with the country singer.
Swindell talked to us about the different songs on his new album, his emotional hit “You Should Be Here” and its music video, as well as his experience working with Dierks Bentley and Florida Georgia Line – make sure to read the Q&A below to see his answers!
For this album, Swindell partnered with the United States Organizations to make it possible for fans to send copies of You Should Be Here overseas to active military service, so everyone is highly encouraged to share their love of Swindell with others.
You Should Be Here is now available on iTunes. What are you waiting for?!
Celeb Secrets Country: Can you give us a home plate overview of the record?
Cole Swindell: “I think everybody is wondering what is coming next because of my first single off of it. I want everyone to know its not twelve ‘You Should Be Here’ songs, they all can’t be like that. I think that’s what makes that one so special. There’s fun stuff on this album, but then also, it’s not just dealing with loss. There are five songs on this album that I did not write that I wish I had written. You work really hard to be able to say that your favorite writers are sending you songs. I honestly know how hard it is to get songs, to write them, and I think I have put together an album to have twelve great songs – I want to have people buy the album and not have to switch a song.”
Celeb Secrets Country: How did you get to do a duet with Dierks Bentley?
Cole Swindell: “It’s a cool story. Before I ever had my record deal, I just had a publishing deal over at Sony ATV and I remember I had that title, ‘Flatliner,’ and just the idea of a girl just stopping everybody’s heart. When we started writing it, I had Dierks in mind, like man this feels like this could be a Dierks Bentley song, so we just kind of wrote it like we should send it to him. We didn’t even have a good contact for Dierks at the time, so I don’t even think he actually heard it, but we had him in mind when writing it. A couple of years later, after I did get my record deal, I sent him a copy of this song because we had been talking about it and he thought it was a smash, and so I told him maybe we could sing it together one day, kidding, and we joked around about that when we’d see each other for a year or so. Sure enough, when it came around, we contacted his people and he was willing to do it. It is pretty crazy that at the time all I was trying to do was to get people to record songs I was writing. I wrote it for Dierks, and years down the road, he’s singing it with me on my second album. I’ve stopped questioning how things work, you work hard and kind of let your team take care of the rest because it ended up right where it was supposed to. I’m glad it’s going on my album, but maybe we’ll get to perform it together one day – we’ll see.”
Celeb Secrets Country: You wrote with Florida Georgia Line, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Cole Swindell: “I wrote ‘Party Wasn’t Over’ before my first album ever even came out. It is kind of tough when you’re writing with other artists, but that’s what’s cool about it. Both of the Florida Georgia Line guys are great writers and we had fun in the room. Everybody on my team loved it, I loved it. A lot of artists are writing together, it doesn’t matter who records it, as long we get to get our music out there. The fact that I’m going on tour with Florida Georgia Line coming up real soon, right when the album comes out, I didn’t plan that, but that’s pretty awesome. We get to start a brand new tour and I get to play these brand new songs. Its going to be a fun year.”
Celeb Secrets Country: What is the story behind ‘No Can Left Behind?’
Cole Swindell: “The reason we recorded that is, as I always say, 90’s country music is what turned me onto it. This song feels like it could have come out in about ’93 and it would have been fine, and I love that. Even the production on songs like ‘Broke Down’ might not sound like this, but its not far off. Lyrically, it is relatable. ‘No Can Left Behind’ is the fun kind of party song. You got to fill up the album with stuff and have fun. Any entertainer would agree that the songs allow you to do that. ‘No Can Left Behind’ was a title that I had – I already have an idea for the video, like James Bond, we’re going in, me and the team, to save all the beer. You see all these things when you’re writing. But ‘No Can Left Behind,’ I love it and I think the crowd will love it, and it will be a fun song to perform live.”
Celeb Secrets Country: When you wrote ‘You Should Be Here,’ did you have any idea it was going to be a single and a game-changer for you?
Cole Swindell: “You know, I didn’t. I remember when I wrote it, it was one of those things I hadn’t written about. I had lost my dad but I hadn’t really sat down and written a song about it. On the first album, I lost him by then, but I wasn’t ready to sing about it then. I think it matters if people believe you or not, and the songs you record, you have to believe them. That song is very believable for me and I had chills the whole time writing it. Songs like this, you get that feeling where you want to play it for somebody before you’re even done with half of it. That doesn’t come along everyday so I knew it was special to me and I knew people had been through the same thing, but I hadn’t heard from those people and I hadn’t read their stories, and I mean it’s the most heartbreaking, but humbling, to know I had my dad for 30 years and for some people it’s helping them and their dad has been gone for 30 years, and I’m working on about three years. Stuff like that, it’s helped me just as much. I’m glad that everybody in the community, it’s that kind of song that I think some of us in all ways, whether you lost or just miss somebody, can relate to ‘You Should Be Here.'”
Celeb Secrets Country: The video for ‘You Should Be Here’ is one of the most emotional videos, can you talk a little bit what it was like filming that?
Cole Swindell: “That was honestly the toughest video, yet the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. This song means that much to me, but I didn’t know what life that video would give the song. What this video did was let everyone know how I take this song and what it means to me. As much as you want people to relate to it, it hits people the hardest that have been through that, or even people who haven’t lost anybody, but it makes them call their family more. Even if that’s all it does, it is worth it. I think people know, but if not, that was my first time back to my dad’s grave. A lot of it was me being busy, but just as much of it was me putting it off. To be honest, I thought that was weird, but me just putting that out there, the flood and responses of people that still haven’t been back or still don’t want to face that, because once you see your last name in stone like that, it was finally real. We didn’t even know if that was going to be on video, the cameras were way off and they gave me my time. The clip is so real, there’s no second takes on that one. I think it made the video more powerful and that was not planned, my brothers at the end, they had seen enough of me sitting out there by myself, so they just came and put their arms around me. That kind of summed it all up. Very special video, if seeing my tears or seeing me get upset helps anybody else, then that’s what I’m here for.”
Celeb Secrets Country: Can you talk about how people can gift the album to soldiers overseas?
Cole Swindell: “Absolutely. The USO [United States Organizations], getting to partner with them on anything, is an honor. I think ever since ‘Ain’t Worth the Whiskey,’ one line in a song, what impact that had on military families, and kind of the same with ‘You Should Be Here,’ I never planned on it being so big. The men and women that serve our country, I can sit here and say there is no way I can do what they do. It’s unbelievable. I think a lot of us get to do what we love because they are away from their families and they’re over there not knowing if they’re going to make it back, and I’m up on stage smiling for 90 minutes. It doesn’t seem fair sometimes, but for me and the fans, that’s what’s amazing, it’s not just me, it’s the fans that are gifting the album. They are buying themselves an album, and for a special price they can gift one to an active service member and I think it’s going over well, just to see their support as well. You can see how passionate our country is about that and you know, just for me to be involved and help out in any way I can, because they have the ultimate sacrifice being away from their families and they know what ‘You Should Be Here’ is all about. So I hope they enjoy it. Just from some of my friends in the service, and their team listening to my first album, getting pumped up and working out and stuff, it’s just I don’t know if you can get a compliment any more than that. It’s crazy that they’re actually listening. I just want them to know that any way we can help, and not just their families, we all miss them back home. It’s an honor to be a partner with the USO on this. It’s a big deal for me too.”
Celeb Secrets Country: On the record you have a song like ‘Flatliner’ that’s different from ‘You Should Be Here’ that’s different from like ‘Remember Boys,’ can you talk about the diversity of the record?
Cole Swindell: “Songs like ‘You Should Be Here,’ I think, kind of sets the tone, I want y’all to listen to this album. Then there’s ‘Flatliner’ that will hopefully get to be a single someday, having that kind of song, for the live aspect, has to be the most up-tempo song I have ever written or recorded. It is insane how fast it is and I can’t wait to play live. You mentioned ‘Remember Boys,’ that song I didn’t write, but I thought it was perfect for the last track on the album because it is kind of where I am in life. As an artist, as a person, I don’t want to be here for just a little while. I want to be a person first, but I also want music I release to be around, I don’t just want it to be cool for a second. I dream of getting to where Garth and Chesney and all these people are. They’ve done so much for me and I hope I can get to do that for new artists that I believe in. This album is diverse. ‘Broke Down’ is a breakup song but one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. So I think ‘No Can Left Behind,’ straight parties, 90’s song, we tried to cover everything and have a little something for everybody. There’s several more, I love them all. I’m trying to record the best stuff I can.”
Celeb Secrets Country: Do you have any particular song on the album that has a deeper meaning to you than your fans would automatically assume?
Cole Swindell: “I think ‘Remember Boys’ demonstrates how I feel and where I am in my life personally. Just the lyrics, you have to listen to that song. Songs that hit you, like you’re not sure if you can even sing that, but to me, ‘Remember Boys,’ I was ready to say that. I want to be around for a long time and be one of those guys that girls can trust. You have to listen to the song, it’s a great song and I think that the fans will see a different side of me, it is very well written.”
Celeb Secrets Country: How do you think that this album demonstrates your progression and maturation as a country artist?
Cole Swindell: “I think just songs like that and having some success, four number ones and a platinum album, off of your first album usually just doesn’t happen. I think that success is how I was able to get some of these songs that I didn’t write. I think I was ready to sing about the loss of my dad, about heartbreak and songs like ‘Broke Down,’ I mean as a breakup song, hearing a song and having to pull over, it puts you in a place. I think those are the kind of songs I love and I can’t wait. Is it May 6th yet? It feels like it, it’s coming up, so I’m ready.”
Celeb Secrets Country: Do you have any funny stories from Good Morning America or David Letterman?
Cole Swindell: “My debut of my first album, it was February the 18th, I’ll always remember that, that’s the day the album came out, and I played David Letterman, my first live TV event. I remember it was maybe three minutes before I was supposed to go on and I had my ear buds and I reach back and I did not have my pack, I left it up in my dressing room. My manager had to run up, and you think it would be fast, but the elevators are slow and old and freezing, that’s how Letterman liked it, and so she’s going up the elevator and I’m just kind of freaking out of course, trying to play it calm, I’m waiting behind the curtain and she gets back with my pack, I plug it in, and I bet I didn’t count to ten until somebody just pushed me out there and it’s like out of a movie. I’m like okay, you got to do it, you don’t have a choice when it’s live TV like that and you’re recorded and you’re given one shot at it. I was pretty nervous but now going into it, it’s like anything else. I don’t think you can really prepare for that moment other than having been there before. I haven’t done Kimmel, so I don’t know, but I think it’ll be fun. It wouldn’t have been funny if she hadn’t gotten back down there in time.”
Celeb Secrets Country: How has ‘You Should Be Here’ changed you?
Cole Swindell: “Even the video, that moment of getting however many minutes I got there by myself, helped me. It just didn’t seem real. You release a song like this, and some people are like, ‘what if this is your career song,’ and I am fine with that. If I’m going to pick a career song, it is this one. There is nothing I feel more passionate about and I think we’ve got some other great songs on this album, but how do you top a song like that? That’s what makes it so special. This is just one of those moments where it was meant to be. I’m trying to do what he would have done and when people say that I remind them of him it is the biggest compliment, bigger than any musical compliment I could ever get.”
Photo by Isabel Baldinger