Exclusive: Dakota Bradley on auditioning for Tim McGraw, his drug addict step-father and upcoming debut album


Newcomer Dakota Bradley's influences range from Tim McGraw andKeith Urban to global superstar Taylor Swift. His current single "Somethin' Like Somethin,'" which was the last song recorded for his forthcoming debut album, is a sweet uptempo number ripe for the summer months. With a vast well of experiences to draw from, Bradley promises that his 18 years of life is tightly wrapped and explored on the upcoming record, projected to be released later this year or early 2014.

Nashville Gab recently sat down with the rising star about his debut single and upcoming record, as well as what it was like to audition for McGraw, his appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show and a song called "Cherry Bomb," a tune written by Florida Georgia Line (and much more).


Nashville Gab: Your debut single is “Somethin’ Like Somethin.’” How did that song come about?

DB: I’m sure for any artist, it’s just such a unbelievable opportunity to have a single on the radio. For me, it’s such an eye-opening experience. I grew up listening to the radio, and to be driving somewhere and to hear my song, it’s not what I thought it was going to feel like, but it’s similar (in a different way). All the hard work is paying off. They single was given to me by Byron Gallimore [and his] wife in the studio. They’ve been really key in finding songs for Tim McGraw over the last…however long Tim’s been a superstar. We were done cutting the whole record, and Byron walks in with that song for me. I just had to cut it. It was the last song we cut.


NG: There’s an old saying that “you have your entire life to record your first album.” How has the process of recording been for you?

DB: It’s totally true. All the stuff I went through growing up led me to all the ideas I had when I was writing for this album, which during the time, I didn’t know that. It really did have to do with everything I’d ever learned. It’s totally true that everything you do [leads you to the first album]. My whole life has lead me [here]. I mean, I grew up with a step dad who was a drug addict, and I have a song called ‘Addict’ on my album, which is a play on words because it’s really about being addicted to love. Everything I’ve been through growing up is all wrapped up in my album.


NG: How did your experience with your step-dad shape you as a person?

DB: My mom and dad got a divorce when I was one or two. My mom got remarried and so did my dad. My dad has been married to the same girl his whole life. My step mom is amazing. My stepdad, on the other hand, was in my life for 15 years and raised me equally to my dad. I spent a little more time with my step dad, which I wish I could have changed when I was little. I learned what not to do and how not to treat people growing up with him. I was too young to know what was going on, but I would sit there like ‘I know that’s not what you’re supposed to do.’ I feel like for 18 years old, a lot of my friends couldn’t handle what I’m doing right now.


NG: Why did you decide to go into music (instead of sports) as a career?

DB: I’ll put it this way. When I would pick up my guitar, I got a certain response [from people]. Then, when I was playing football and all the marbles were on this [one important] play, [I would] dropped the pass for the touchdown, I got a certain type of feeling. I liked the music feeling a lot more than that feeling. I just didn’t like the whole coaching and judgement of sports. But I love playing basketball. I play pickup basketball almost every day that I can.


NG: I hear you auditioned for Tim McGraw.

DB: I moved from St. Louis when my house burned down. We lost everything, and me and my mom decided to move to Nashville. First month I was here, I put a YouTube video up, and it got me on the Ellen [DeGeneres] Show. Then, I met Byron, and he gave me a record deal and a publishing deal, which changed my life forever. He called me one day and said ‘hey man, want to meet Tim McGraw?’ I was like ‘sure, I’ll see what I can do.’ I went to Blackbird Studios, and I didn’t really know [what was going to happen]. I brought my guitar and walked in. I was nervous as can be. I sat there and auditioned for Tim. He just looked at me and said ‘let’s make history.’ We went into the studio the next night and started cutting records. He took me under his wing that day, which was pretty awesome.


NG: So, you appeared on the Ellen Degeneres Show with your friend CJ Holland for ‘The Girl is Mine,’ correct?

DB: That was awesome. I met CJ the night we put the video up on YouTube. We got together, and we’re like ‘let’s just do this video.’ To look back on it now is insane, because CJ is doing equally as I am on the pop side. He’s got some huge stuff going on, too. I was talking to him yesterday. I was like ‘can you believe? I met you two years ago, and we couldn’t walk on our two feet without someone helping us. Now, we’re going on tours by ourselves.’ It’s just crazy, man. Ellen was great. The cool thing about Ellen is she didn’t let us meet her until we walked on the stage during the live show. So, it was really organic. You had to walk out there with no script and just do it. [It] was my first time on national TV. I was kind of sitting there with my arms crossed looking awkward.


NG: Who else, besides Tim, has influenced you and your music?

DB: I grew up on hard rock like Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses. I think I was probably 13 when I bought a Stratocaster guitar, and I heard a Stevie Ray Vaughan record. I just fell in love. That was my first love [was] with Stevie Ray Vaughan music. I spent like two years learning every riff and note [of his]. I fell in love with Buddy Guy, which led me to John Mayer. Ultimately, John was the reason I started writing songs. I loved the way he went about songwriting and how honest it was. I thought that was great songwriting, and then I heard Country music. That is songwriting at its finest. Country music is a complete story laid out, front to back.


NG: Are there any current artists that have impressed or influenced you?

DB: Obviously, Tim McGraw. One of my biggest influences of all time is Keith Urban. I think he’s the epitome of a rockstar. I love Jason Aldean. I was never too into Blake Shelton, but I’m really starting to get into his music. He’s such a good singer. Brantley Gilbert’s songwriting is unbelievable. Florida Georgia Line wrote a song on my album, so I gotta support them. It’s a song called ‘Cherry Bomb.’ It’s pretty interesting.


NG: What’s ‘Cherry Bomb’ about?

DB: This is a song that was on hold for Tim. He gave it to me in the studio, which is insane. It’s honestly just about a hot girl’s lips. That’s all it’s about. There’s a lot in the song, ‘she puts the flavor in the flavor saver.’


Read the full interview here.


Photo Credit: Facebook

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