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Greg Bates stays true to his Nashville roots – Interview

Ever had one of those days? The kind that end with you curled up on the floor, consuming copious amounts of boxed wine and gummy bears?

To each his own coping mechanism…

Well, the day I was set to interview Greg Bates at Dave and Buster’s began with a 2 am doorbell ding from Franklin’s finest, informing me that someone had sleep-driven into the back of my car (don’t drink, drive, and doze, kiddos).  A mountain of paperwork later, my dear Bubba was over par in the PGA Championship and I was already over this day – not to mention, I was late. Frantically scurrying across town, I inadvertently made an illegal U-turn, resulting in my second meet-and-greet with the law within 24 hours.  After a warning and extensive refresher course on traffic signage, I pulled into the Dave and Buster’s parking lot and reached for my notebook – only to find, obviously, it wasn’t there.  Grabbing a fortuitously-placed spare, I rushed through the doors while desperately attempting to yank any coherent thoughts out of my hopelessly frazzled brain.

Enter the adorably handsome Greg Bates.

With the patience of a saint, the Nashville native infectiously grinned through my fumbled mess of an interview, answering any questions I could muster.  I have to say, there are few things I love more than discovering the man behind the lyrics is as sweet as the song itself – and I don’t think I have ever found that to be as true as it was with this guy.

“Did it for the Girl,” the singer/songwriter’s lightheartedly romantic single, was released earlier this year and has breezed up the charts to take its place as an anthem of summer love.  Stripped of any overbearing instrumentation or computer-enhanced vocals, the song is honest and playful, reminiscent of the King of Country Greg is so often compared to.

The set list was comprised of the five songs off his now available EP, including my personal favorites, “Fill in the Blank” and “Lost in Caroline,” along with his repertoire of covers which, much to my delight, included one of my eternal favorites, Dwight Yoakham’s “Fast as You.” The whole performance felt less like a concert and more like a friend playing around on his guitar – he was enjoying himself, and from what I heard around me, the crowd was definitely enjoying itself.

Long story short, if you have the opportunity to see Greg Bates live while he’s touring this fall, by all means, take it.

CMP: You played the Opry for the fifth time last night – how surreal is that experience for you, especially after being raised here in Nashville?

GB: It’s crazy, the first time I did it has got to be the most intimidating thing I’ve ever done. I don’t really remember the first time I played, it went so quick and I had like 80 family members in the audience. It was a lot of fun, but since then I’ve gotten to enjoy it a lot more, get up there and be part of the family. It’s an unreal experience getting to do it.

CMP: Your single, “Did it for the Girl,” has really put you on the map, what was your inspiration for that song?

GB: That was a song I wrote with Rodney Clawson and ­­Lynn Hutton – we just got to talking about how guys will do anything for a girl, but at the same time we tell our buddies we never will [laughs]. As soon as she asks us to do something, we’re all about it. It’s something I think every guy goes through, we just wrote a very simple song about it, in a very short amount of time, and it seems to really connect with people.

CMP: How did you go from attending Belmont to where you are now?

GB: I graduated from Belmont two years ago, and right out of school I signed a publishing deal with Super 98.  They wanted to set it up as a development deal without me signing a record deal, and they wanted to kind of throw me in with the wolves to go write songs. And that’s really what I wanted to do, I just wanted to go write as much as I could, and write my first record.  They let me do that for about a year and a half and then I started working with my producer Jimmy Ritchey on demos, and from there it just came together very quickly and I met Jimmy ­­Harnen over at Republic.  It was such a quick and easy thing, and it has been since then. We’ve just been working really hard and trying to get the song up the charts.

CMP: Did you know, growing up, that you wanted to be a singer and songwriter, or did you mainly focus on one?

GB: I was drawn to songwriting primarily because I grew up around it in Nashville, I was always a fan of the songwriters and the stories behind the songs, and once I got to school and really started focusing on what I wanted to do, songwriting was priority for me. So I started writing a lot and then the singing was an extension of my songwriting – no one wants to hear the song you wrote if you can’t sing and play it. I really started working on that and it all came together into one thing.  I love doing both equally now.

CMP: What do you do for fun when you’re back in Nashville?

GB: It’s interesting because before I did this for my career, it was my hobby. So when people ask me what I do for my hobbies, you know, my hobby became my job. But I love sports, football, baseball, basketball, I watch a lot of sports and I love to fish. When I’m back in town I just like to hang out with the people I don’t get to see very often.

You can catch Greg live on tour with Brantley Gilbert and Uncle Kracker beginning at the end of September. You can also pick up his EP, including “Did it for the Girl,” on iTunes now!

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