Now, adding the title of recording artist to his resume, Sanders talks to us at Celeb Secrets Country about learning to embrace his unique ‘made for country radio’ voice, which is on display in his new single “Make ‘Em Wanna Change.”
Written with Adam Craig and Dallas Wilson, the new single follows “Ruled the World,” which featured 7 singer-songwriters and a music video starring Tracy Lawrence, Aaron Tippin, Marty Raybon and Mike McGuire that garnered over 1.4 million views. Adam is also about to reach 100 million streams across his streaming platforms.
Celeb Secrets Country: Tell us about your brand new single “Make ‘Em Wanna Change.”
Adam Sanders: “I wrote this last summer with Adam Craig and Dallas Wilson, and me and Adam just have a sort of, a cool friendship. We really love 90s Country Music, but we even take it a step further and we love like, ’96-’99 90s country, that era. Like the early Tim McGraw records and the early Kenny Chesney stuff, so anytime we’re together we always listen to that stuff. We get in the room to write that day and I had this title in mind and I just start playing this little lick and we kind of joked like, ‘man, this belongs on, like, a [Tim] McGraw Everywhere album or something’, it just kind of had that vibe about it. So we wrote the song and loved it, and for whatever reason we never got a demo for it. I just kept listening back to it on the work-tape and was like, man, there’s just something really, really cool here and I was trying to figure out if it was just the love of traditional kind of sound that it had or if it was as good as I thought it was. Finally I asked them if I could have my producer Jacob Rice help me record the song and they were all for it. As soon as we got it back I was like, ‘okay, there’s something really here’ so I decided to test it out and I posted a piece of it on social media. I started doing that over the last year or so and really just kind of let my fans pick what songs I release based on their engagement and what they kind of gravitate towards. I’ve just kind of learned to listen to them. If I’m writing all of these songs I want to put out stuff that they want to hear. The minute I teased it I got flooded with comments and texts saying ‘you have to release this, this is awesome’. So that’s kind of how it all came to life, I started to build a short list and that’s the song everyone kind of gravitated towards and I just think that it’s awesome…I just think its really authentic to who I am and my influences growing up. And I think the message, what girl hasn’t really wanted to change a guy for the better in a sense? And I think the guys can relate to it because its kind of saying in a tough way like, you know, look we just need to find the right person that will make us want to change and be the best version of ourselves.”
CSC: Sounds awesome! And a lot of country fans say they’re missing the “old school” 90s country so it’s awesome you stayed true to yourself and kept that in there.
AS: “Since I started releasing music as my own and making a transition from being just a songwriter, I think I always sort of ran from the fact of how country my voice actually was. I sort of tried to hide it, I guess, in a sense, and now I feel like I’ve learned to be myself and realize that what I can do naturally is better. I’ve just really, really, really leaned into that twangy-ness of my voice and all of the elements of the 90s stuff that I grew up on and I think this song is a reflection of what I want to say and how I want to say it.”
CSC: Before the interview you had mentioned you just got back from filming the music video for the song [‘Make ‘Em Wanna Change’]. What can fans expect from the video and what was it like filming it?
AS: “Austin Peckham shot the video and we had actually worked together on the last 3 or 4 releases. I wanted to do a little something different for this video and we decided because it has such a throwback feel to it, it felt like the video needed to be shot in Texas; west Texas somewhere in an open area. I had a friend that I called and we went out to this ranch in Orla, Texas, and shot a lot of open landscape stuff, but I’m super excited about it. It’s very different than anything I have done before geographically and its definitely something I am super excited about. It just feels like it fits the message of the song.”
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CSC: You’ve written hit songs for Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan, just to name two out of the many artists who have recorded your songs. What about a song makes you want to keep it for yourself to record instead of demo it to pitch for other artists?
AS: “What I’ve honestly always tried to do is, I don’t think I’ve ever really taken the approach of whether I was trying to write songs for other artists or me. I just try to write the best song I can write that particular day. Now, of course I’ve written songs with other artists and we’re there to write for them at that time, but the majority of the time I’m just writing the best song I can write. My thought is if it’s meant for me to record, it will show itself. I think a big example of that is my first #1 I have ever had, it was ‘Ain’t Worth The Whiskey’ for Cole Swindell and we (me and Cole) and co-writer Josh Martin wrote the song like, 6 years before it was ever even recorded or released. That song was on hold for so many other artists; Montgomery Gentry, Easton Corbin, and Luke Bryan had it on hold at one point. We sort of joked like, ‘hey out of the three of us one of us is going to record it’ and it happened to be the artist that got a record deal and put it out and it was his third #1. Now when we hear him sing it in stadiums we’re like, ‘now we know why that song didn’t get recorded for 6 years’. Same thing with a lot of other stuff. I’ve got a song I wrote back in 2015 that is supposed to be on a Shenandoah collaboration album that Blake Shelton is going to sing on with them, and same thing, that song has been on hold for so many people and now they’re recording it. I think they [songs] just end up where they’re supposed to end up. I pitch everything that I write, but I think I’m starting to get a vibe and sort of a brand about me that now when people hear songs, I’ve had a couple of people tell me, ‘man that’s an Adam Sanders song I can’t sing that’. Just like Luke Bryan has Luke Bryan songs and Jason Aldean has Jason Aldean songs, you just sort of know that that’s their kind of thing.”
CSC: What did it feel like when you had your first #1 as a songwriter?
AS: “It was awesome. I honestly look back and it all happened so fast that I wish I would have taken a little bit more time to enjoy it because it was a little different for me. My first two singles that I had as a songwriter were released to radio on the same exact day-which is crazy to even think of. One was ‘Ain’t Worth the Whiskey’ and the other was ‘Hell of a Night’ for Dustin Lynch, and ‘Ain’t Worth the Whiskey’ took 24 weeks to go #1 and ‘Hell of a Night’ took 56. I actually had the #1 parties backward, so we celebrated the second #1 before I was ever able to celebrate the first #1. When I had my first #1 celebration it was sort of, in a way, I hate to say it, almost old news and I remember my publishers saying ‘hey, you need to sort of relish in this and really soak it in because you only get one first’, and I was like, ‘well, I’m already onto the next; I’m ready for #3’. So it was kind of a weird time, but I can say as I’ve gotten older now that I have learned to really, really kind of slow down and enjoy them because you never know when you’re going to get another one. Definitely a lifelong goal to get that achievement that I’ve worked really hard to get.”
CSC: We’ve heard that you have never taken a formal guitar lesson, so tell us about the time when you picked up a guitar for the first time and had the desire to learn.
AS: “When I was 10 years old my dad showed me 3 chords: G, C, and E, and gave me a Capo [guitar chart] and it was a self-taught thing. A lot of my family is musically inclined so I think a lot of my musical talents were born in me and sort of God-given talents. I had a couple of people to sort of lean on that were musical, too. I just started singing and playing when I was so young, like 3 or 4 years old, and it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do; I never went to college for anything and I sort of knew I was going to move to Nashville as soon as I graduated high school and here we are!”
CSC: Is this new single the sign of new music to come? And what about a tour in 2020?
AS: “We had planned on having a headlining tour this fall, but unfortunately the Corona Virus stepped in and said, ‘nope-that’s not gonna happen’. So far I have just released singles and I released 1 EP a few years ago; I’ve never done a full album. Our goal is to release this single, then release another single in late summer, and then the goal is to have a full-length album released, probably in the beginning of 2021. I can’t giveaway all of the details about what it’s going to look like and that sort of thing, but we do have a full-length album that we’re going to do in a cool, sort of different way, that I think most people may not expect.”