From Missouri to Music City, you could say MCA recording artist David Nail has come quite a long way. On Sunday, April 18, Nail will find himself in the audience at the 45th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, in Las Vegas, waiting patiently to see if he scored a win for Single Record of the Year for his hit song, “Red Light.” You know the song. Yes, everyone knows THAT song.
“I really don’t think I have a chance in hell,” Nail told Country Music Pride. “But I’m very humbled and blessed to even be a part of it.”
Nail’s road to success started off bumpy, and began when he landed in Nashville after graduating from high school. Finding little momentum in his career, Nail left for home, only to return two years later, where he spent time helping an old buddy coach a baseball team until he finally found his path.
“I think my hardships and my troubles and my weak moments were amplified that much more because I knew in the back of my head if this doesn’t work out, my Plan B was limited that much more because of my lack of education,” he said. “But at the same time, I think it allowed that hunger inside of me to win over in the end, and I think that desperation lead me to take chances I wouldn’t have taken if I knew I had a legitimate Plan B.”
He didn’t need a Plan B.
“I’m About to Come Alive,” the title-track to his first album with MCA Nashville, released in 2009, and the second single off the album, “Red Light,” peaked at No. 7 on Billboard’s top country chart.
Originally not part of the track-listing for the album, “Red Light” is Nail’s first Top 10 hit. “It really did change my life in so many ways,” he said.
Next week, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Nail will be up against major recording artists like Lady Antebellum, for “Need You Now”; Billy Currington, for “People Are Crazy”; Zac Brown Band, for “Toes”; and Miranda Lambert, for “White Liar.” The show kicks off at 8 p.m.
As the night approaches, Nail’s biggest concern: “I’m really just looking for something to wear – seriously.”
CMP: Do you think you’re going to win?
DN: No!! But I’ve said it before when I’ve been asked, and I mean it sincerely: If I win, it will without a doubt be the greatest moment in my life (aside from getting married, of course).
CMP: What do you think of your competition?
DN: I do not have a personal relationship with Zac Brown Band at all, but the other people in the category, I know them all very well, and some of them extremely well. Obviously having a front-row seat to see the success that the other people in the category are having, and adding on to the personal relationship as a friend and a peer, it’s impossible to not be just ridiculously proud. With Lady A, what can you say? In 10 years of being in the business, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen; I’m so happy. With Miranda, you would almost think she’s a new artist. It’s her third record, and it feels like she’s just now finally getting the recognition she deserves. She is the absolute definition of the term “superstar.” I couldn’t think of a better group to lose to.
CMP: Originally you didn’t have “Red Light” on the album, correct?
DN: That is right. We [first] released the song, “I’m About to Come Alive,” to more or less reintroduce me as an artist. As it often happens. when the chart began to slow down, almost simultaneously, “Red Light” came across the desk and people thought the song was special. They said, “Man, this would have been great for David.” After a series of meetings and realizing the record actually wasn’t out yet, they played me the song and I spent a weekend with it. It wasn’t rocket science. I knew very quickly it was something special. It’s amazing what that song’s done. It gave me another year to go out and play shows now where people are coming to see, “Red Light-David Nail.” I almost feel cheap saying it changed my life.
CMP: How has the album changed your outlook on your career as a whole?
DN: I definitely know where my career is from a mental standpoint. I’m thankful that it happened after I got married. I think it’s very odd that when I first moved to town, I more or less became obsessed with being young. I thought it would set me apart by being young. The people I was competing with were older than me. I got consumed with thinking I was the young guy. It’s ironic now that I didn’t have any success until I turned 30. And I’m more or less gone every day. It takes a toll on you physically and mentally. It’s tough at 30 — I can’t imagine being 22 or 23 and single, and not really having those life experiences to educate you and support you.
CMP: Are you bringing your wife to the awards show?
DN: It’s weird, I’m not. My wife came to my first award show, and she wasn’t my wife then — we had just started dating. Most importantly, it’s going to be a really busy three days, and I don’t know how much legitimate time I would get to spend with her. I told her I’d rather her take her couple of days of vacation when I can actually be a part of her being there. She really wants to go, but I’m having to put the foot down.
CMP: What do you have planned for while you’re in Vegas?
DN: We’re opening for Lady A on Fremont Street, and we’re opening for Gary Allen at the Mandalay Bay. These three-day award show trips don’t allow you to just show up and play. There’s a lot of extra-curricular stuff that makes it not just a celebration. We’re going there with a job to do, until Sunday, after the show’s over; then we’re off the clock.
CMP: Are you much of a gambler?
DN: I’m not a huge gambler because I don’t have much money. If I did, the whole concept if you win is great, but I’d much rather lose $100 on a shirt and have something to show for it, as opposed to giving some strange person $100 of mine. “Oh, wow, that was fun … ” It’s definitely something I do randomly at times, but I’m very responsible; I never let myself get too far out of whack.
CMP: You recently had the opportunity to play with Train. What was that like for you?
DN: Ask me in a few months when it sinks in. It was weird. I was very aware of what was going on, but I sat there and thought, “I think I met one of my idols.” I think a lot of what makes me the singer I am today is from many hours of singing Train songs and listening to their records. Dissecting lyrics and his approach to a song, the dynamics of his voice – to stand up beside him on stage … I was as nervous as can be. It was surreal. There’s been so many moments in the last 12 months; they all probably led to each other in someway shape or form. The one true core reason behind them is the success of Red Light, and it was special. It’s one of those things that if it all ended tomorrow, what a pretty sweet thing to be able to go back home and say, hey, it’s one more amazing thing I got to do. It was great. Down the road, when there’s a break and I’m able to digest everything and it hits me, it’ll be very emotional.