Scotty McCreery made his national singing debut on season 10 of American Idol while still a junior in high school. His rich voice, natural stage presence, and amiable personality made him a fan and judge favorite, which ultimately led to him being tapped as season winner.
Although McCreery began his career thanks to American Idol, the singer/songwriter has become a country star all on his own. In the past eight years, he has recorded four albums, with the most recent release, 2018’s Seasons Change, solidifying his place in country music.
The album features 11 tantalizing tunes, the most familiar being “Five More Minutes.” The first single from Seasons, the song was inspired by his grandfather’s passing. An intimate snapshot, the tune’s poignant lyrics and ear-wormy melody touch on a universal longing for more time — with a loved one, for a favorite moment, etc. The song became McCreery’s first No. 1 hit on the Billboard charts. The second single from Seasons, “This is It,” followed suit, hitting the No. 1 spot after its release in May 2018. “In Between” was the third single released from the record on April 1, 2019.
McCreery is currently on tour with a stop scheduled in Solvang, Saturday, April 27, at the Solvang Festival Theater. I recently caught up over the phone with the singer. The following is an edited version of our conversation.
How do you sustain yourself touring for over a year?
Yeah, well in country, we mainly just do weekend clubs, so I’m normally home Sunday through Wednesday, typically, and then Thursday through Saturday we head out. So, I get home enough to recharge the batteries.
Had “Five More Minutes” been brewing in your head for a while before you recorded it?
Not really. … The thoughts and the sentiment of it for sure, but we were just chanting that day in the room. One of my cowriters, his name is Monty, [and I], we were just talking about my granddaddy. He was like, “Man, it’s just like you wanted five more minutes with the guy,” and that’s kind of where the song came to be.
How long have you been writing songs?
I always kind of dabbled. I’d probably say early high school was when I started writing the love song, breakup song kind of stuff, but nothing that was too good.
Has it slowed down since American Idol?
Well, anything’s considered a slowdown from the Idol days, because that was seven days a week, 24 hours a day. But as far as the career, we’ve just tried to keep on trucking. I mean, we’ve been at it eight years now, which is crazy, and just making sure we’re always writing and recording and staying on the road, and so far, it’s worked out all right. We’re having fun out here.
Was music something that you wanted as a career before you went on to American Idol?
Music was always a passion of mine, and I always wanted to make it a career. I didn’t think I’d get into it as early as I did, but I’m glad I did. I’m loving it, but it was definitely a little unexpected this early on.
Do you feel like you missed out on regular teenager stuff?
I definitely missed out on some stuff for sure that the folks back home were getting to do, but I tried to squeeze as much of it in as I could. Being on the road, you miss a little bit, but I always try to have one foot in my normal life and one foot in the crazy music life.
Is the video for “This is It” actual footage from your wedding day? It feels so intimate.
Yeah, it was our wedding day. That was what we wanted to do: invite everybody we could to the wedding without having to invite everybody. So, if “This Is It” was going to be the single, we kind of felt like that was the best way to do the video.
Are there any of the songs that you play on that album that you think, “This is a great song for recording, but this isn’t necessarily going to translate live”?
I’m always just thinking about the project as a whole. I’m still kind of old school in that aspect. So I’m not thinking too much besides what I think will fit on the album, as far as ideas and thoughts and themes. Then once we kind of get into the live show, we’re like, “Oh, that works,” and, “That doesn’t work.” But I’m mainly just thinking album when I write.
You do a lot of philanthropy. Can you tell me a little bit about those causes?
Yeah, I think it’s important. One of the big things I like to do is giving back to folks here at home and overseas that don’t have the means we have here. Operation Christmas Child is something I’ve been involved with over the years, since I was a kid really. You pack shoeboxes of gifts and things they could use like toothbrushes and toothpaste and then they [are sent] overseas or to kids here in the States who aren’t going to have any Christmas presents that year. I got to deliver the shoeboxes one year and that was a pretty awesome experience for me as far as just seeing the impact it had and the perspective it gave me.
4•1•1 |Scotty McCreery performs Saturday, April 27, 8 p.m., at Solvang Festival Theater (420 Second St., Solvang). Call (805) 686-1789 or see solvangfestivaltheater.org.