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Monday, September 22, 2014

Dustin Lynch Sits down with Fort Thomas Matters

"Where It's At" the title track from Lynch's new album is a two-week #1, reaching the top of both the Billboard Country Airplay and Mediabase charts

Merchants and Music headliner, Dustin Lynch, recently spoke with FTM about upcoming concert in Fort Thomas, what makes a good music venue and who is his current "girl crush."

Lynch (29), originally from Tullahoma, Tennessee moved to Nashville to pursue music in 2003 when he was 18. He has released two albums - Dustin Lynch (2012) and Where It's At (9/9/2014). The hit single "Cowboys and Angels" was released in 2012, and was named one of the Top 5 Country Songs of 2012 by Billboard. His newest album, Where It's At, was released earlier this month, and has reached the #2 position on Billboard's US Country Chart.

Lynch was recently named one of People Country's "2014 Sexiest Men of Country" and his weekly Facebook engagement surpasses 5 million users. Since the release of his hit song “Cowboys and Angels,” Lynch has joined Keith Urban’s Light The Fuse Tour, received over 1 million new Facebook likes and been lauded by Rolling Stone as “The New Hat in Town” in 2013 Best of Rock Issue.

FTM: Growing up in Tennessee, one can assume that country music was a major part of your life. At what point did you realize that you wanted to pursue country music as a career?

DL: I always wanted to be a country music singer and I blame that on Garth (Brooks). At 18 I finally got the guts to move to Nashville and was dumb enough that I could do it. 

FTM: There's really no such thing as an "overnight success." How did you get your start in music, and what was that moment that you would consider your "big break" in music?

DL: It was a lot of little breaks. I used to grind away at the Bluebird CafĂ© (in Nashville) to try to figure out how to write a good country song. Back in the time of Myspace and years of doing that kind of thing led to a phone call from my now-manager and it moved pretty quick after that. I worked hard and got a good break. 

FTM: In recent years, there has been a strong crossover by county music into the pop world. Why do you think that this has happened? What does this mean for you as a country artist?

DL: It’s a great thing for me as an artist. It means the genre is evolving, our shows are packed and tickets sales are up. Lady (Antebellum) and Taylor (Swift) have had a lot of success doing the crossover thing and it had drawn a lot more fans to the genre. Country music has its arms wide open to these fans and its as healthy as its ever been. 

FTM: Your new album, Where It's At, was released recently, and is already climbing up the charts. What was the writing process like for this album? For the songs written by other songwriters, what is the song selection process like for you (what do you look for in a good song)?

DL: It was a 2.5-year process. I was writing a lot of it on the bus and on the road while touring with Keith Urban. Those shows were always so big that I think a lot of the energy from those concerts rubbed off on this album. There’s a lot of energy on the album. 

FTM: Who has given you the best advice about music, and what advice would you pass along to other musicians?

DL: Patience, man. After 11 years working to try to make it, patience. Everything happens for a reason. Growing in the industry and working so hard to a place where things are finally starting to take off has allowed me to handle success. I appreciate where I am now and stopping to smell the roses a bit is something I still like to do. 

FTM: You've played some huge shows in the past, and also some smaller shows. How does the size of the crowd and the venue impact your performance?

DL: Every show is different. I’ve been at shows that has 40,000 and it’s great because there a lot of people there, but its generally very spread out. I’ve also had shows where 50 people are there and if they all know the words to your songs, have their hands in the air and are dancing around, those shows are great too. Whatever energy we are getting from the crowd is what we try to give back. 

FTM: What do small town gigs like Music and Merchants mean to you as an artist?

DL: We love them. They are usually a smaller stage so we’re all over the place and we generally are the main attraction in the city that night, (laughs) unless there’s a high school football game that night. But yeah, we like to shut down the city. Our hope is that when people look back at this concert in five years, they say they had a great time. 

FTM: Rolling Stone recently said that your new album "pulls inspiration from George Strait as much as a pop Top 40 in his new 15-song collection." Your album has also been described as a "mash-up" with the title track including some hip-hop inspired beats. Who all influenced this mash up of music?

DL: I listen to a lot of different kind of music. Anything from Meryl Haggard to of course Garth, George (Straight) and Alan (Jackson). But I also listen to bands like Jay-Z, Incubus and Drake. I think what we’ve produced, especially on this album, is a cool combo. It’s a new sound and we’re proud of what we’ve got right now. It’s a unique sound. 

FTM: If you could organize your dream music festival with any type of music acts, who would you put on the lineup? Where would the festival take place?

DL: Red Rocks. I’ve never played there and that would be cool. Gotta go with Garth, George, Little Big Town singing back up vocals with Keith on the guitar. Throw in Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake. 

FTM: Like most artists today, you have a strong social media presence. How Important is social media to you, and how do you feel social media has impacted the entertainment community?

DL: Social media is great for us and been apart of me since our founding. If you can reach out and touch fans, touch a person that’s a good thing. There’s no filter on social media so it’s a good way to get feedback. You can tell which songs people are digging but if someone comes to your show and doesn’t like it, they’ll tell you it sucked on Facebook. 

FTM: You have kept a lot of the classic country iconography intact - you still wear a cowboy hat, and you have talked about hunting and fishing while growing up. How important is it to you to maintain some of the classic country stereotypes?

DL: It’s becoming a cool thing now to wear a hat, but I’m happy to be on the few that’s always worn a cowboy hat. It’s pretty much part of my body and who I am. 

FTM: Did you realize that when you google “Dustin Lynch” one of the related search terms is “Dustin Lynch without a hat?”

DL: (Laughs). No, I didn’t realize that. That’s funny. 

FTM: What do you personally think are the elements of a good country song?

DL: A melody that’s infectious. Combine that with something that’s real. A lyric that people can relate to. All that and try to do it in a way that no one has heard. 

FTM: Speaking of upcoming shows, your schedule is packed for the next few months. What are the best and worst things about being on the road? What can't you leave home without?

DL: I can’t leave home with my guitar, boots and hat. I love traveling and meeting new people and ingraining myself into the local culture. The worst part is that I get away from some of my hobbies; hunting and fishing. Relaxing moments don’t come often anymore, but when they do I really try to cherish them. 

FTM: If any Hollywood director could direct your next music video, who would you choose? And what actor would you want to star in it? Who would be the girl opposite?

DL: Robert Redford, if he ever got into that sort of thing. And Matt Damon. Reba McIntyre has always been my girl crush, so it's got to be her.  

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