Gabbing with Chance McKinney


We recently had the chance (ha!) to chat with rising country star, Chance McKinney! Get to know him in our exclusive interview.

Q1. Can you tell our readers a little about your background and how you got into performing?
A1. I actually got picked up by a Motown Revue at a karaoke bar in Seattle one night after I first moved there to work for the Seattle Seahawks. Having grown up in Montana, I really didn’t know much Motown. Within two weeks of rehearsals we had 55 songs down and we were off and running throughout Canada, up and down the West Coast and even into Australia and the Virgin Islands. I left the group, began writing music (which came out country, of course), then cut a CD with 9 of the first 13 songs I’d written. I took it to the 7th largest country station in the nation and got obliterated by the program director. Two weeks later, I got asked to open for Kenny Chesney. All pretty standard stuff, really… ha.

Q2. You recently released your EP, I. Can you describe it in 3 words?
A2. I can do it in 2… “Industrialized Country”

Q3. Do you have a favorite song on the EP?
A3. Each one has a place in my show and each has an answer for my different moods. I could be all in on “We Good” one moment and then see the crowd’s reaction to “Take It Back” and be all in on that the next. “She Wrecked This Town” is the epitome of what we do and “Everybody Wants You” is the song we all need at one point in our lives’ every day.

Q4. Can you talk about how you chose “Take It Back” as the first single from the EP?
A4. With much difficulty. Instead of choosing the single in advance and pushing, pushing, pushing, we released all four songs off I and then tested them across multiple platforms – colleges, socials, media outlets, radio personalities and of course live shows. “Take It Back” won Every. Single. Time. The other three swapped spots here and there, but “Take It Back” tested the highest in Every. Single. Category. Different people on my different teams wanted various songs, but after seeing the results of “Take It Back”… it was unanimous.

Q5. Do you have a process for writing songs or do you just write when you’re struck with an idea?
A5. I have a process, but pre-meditated songwriting rarely goes the way you foresee it. I usually write best when I’m exhausted or sick. I find that my subconscious rises to the surface at those times and I get some of my best work when I listen to that little voice that doesn’t exist in my rational moments.

Q6. In 2009, you won CMT’s Music City Madness competition – What was that like?
A6. Chaos. It was cool, but it was chaos. I was forced to leave teaching/coaching which I’d done for a couple years after college because touring and teaching don’t co-exist. Apparently, they want teachers present in the classroom… who’da guessed? But, the competition did open up some doors for me which wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. I got calls from Dwight Yoakam, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, etc. for short runs and I jumped at ‘em. CD releases got more exposure. Show opportunities came easier. It was either jump on board and run with the gift I’d been given or wonder “what if” for the rest of my life.

Q7. If you could tell readers to listen to only one of your songs to best summarize you as an artist, which song would you choose and why?
A7. I’ll narrow it down to three… “Be Real” (my first CMT #1), “Boys’ll Be Boys” (my first million view song on YouTube) and “Take It Back” (my first national radio release). If someone doesn’t get a good sense of who I am after those three, then they probably won’t get me at all.

Q8. Do you have a favorite song you’ve written?
A8. I have about 25 songs (out of 300-ish) that I’m proud of… but none of ‘em are a favorite.

Q9 . What’s one song by another artist that you wish you had written?
A9. “Honkytonk Badonkadonk” or “Body Like a Backroad.” There’s some genius in there because of their longevity and crossover potential. I’d take a couple of those in my career… actually, I’d take a half one of those in my career!

Q10. You’ve opened for a lot of big name artists (Luke, Blake, Dierks, etc.) – Who has been your favorite and what do you learn from guys like that?
A10. They all had moments of “favorite” for me…otherwise I wouldn’t do what I do. I’ve learned to surround yourself with people you genuinely like being around (Dierks). Have a little “outside the box” fun (Luke). Be yourself and screw what everybody thinks you should be (Blake). And most of all, I learned that the people you climb over on the way up will also be there on the way down (from Kenny Rogers)… so take care of everyone.

Q11. You can only listen to one album for the rest of your life – What album do you choose?
A11. Jake Owen’s Greatest Hits album. That’s got a little bit of everything in it… some country, some island music, a little rock – you name it. Add “The Bad In Me” from his Startin’ With Me album and you’d have some metal too and then I’d be all good.

Lightning Round:

Favorite ice cream flavor: Chocolate Chip
Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC: Will Smith (I’m sure you meant to put him in the choices)
Go-to karaoke song: Are there any Chance McKinney songs out on karaoke?
Guilty pleasure: Wake Boarding on Lake Powell… go ‘til you drop.
Dream duet partner: Today… Thomas Rhett. Tomorrow… who knows, Chance the Rapper?