Country Superstar Brantley Gilbert Dishes On Fatherhood, His New Album & Why He’s Getting Fired Up

With six #1 hits already and set to release a new album next week, country superstar Brantley Gilbert doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

The “Bottoms Up” and “One Hell of an Amen” singer/songwriter’s new 15-track album due out next week, his first in nearly three years, was either written or co-written by Gilbert with a focus on being a husband and fatherhood. (“Fire & Brimstone” also features guest appearances by Alison Krauss, Jamey Johnson, Willie Nelson and Lukas Nelson, Lindsay Ell and Colt Ford).

We caught up recently with the Georgia native to talk about fatherhood and his new album, and give us a sneak peek at next year’s “Fire It Up” tour.

Photo Credit: Jeff Nelson

First off, congratulations on your new baby girl. How has fatherhood changed you?

Thanks, it’s kind of tough to find one thing that has changed. Really, everything changes. I wouldn’t know where to start. It changes the way you think and do with everything that you do. Every decision that you make affects somebody else and someone relies on you now for everything. When it comes to sleep, I’m sort of a vampire. I am going on fumes lately now [laughs].

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind “Man That Hung The Moon” and why it is your most personal song to date?

For sure. It was one of those things that as a songwriter when everyone found out my wife was pregnant, they were all asking when I would do a song about it. It was something we had to pray about and put a lot of effort into it. The moment the baby is born is life changing so I thought maybe I could write a song about that. I wrote about a concern about being a dad, which has worked out well for me. It’s how people relate. We live in a glass house. I don’t have to keep up with a story. I can be me; what you see is what you get. I have always been upfront with my struggles and mistakes. The song lets my kids know I am not a superhero. I didn’t hang the moon, but the man that did will always have your back. I hope a lot of parents can relate to it.

How would you say you have emerged as an artist today?

I’m being honest when I tell you it has been a bit of a blur. I’m guilty for not slowing down and smelling the roses. It’s just that I really like the grind and for it to be a continuous grind. I may miss taking a minute to soak it all in, but we have been blessed with a lot. It has been fun to watch the whole team, our family, that’s really what we all are is family. That’s been the most fun. This thing has evolved into something we are all proud of. I feel like we do a good job of complementing each other. It’s a big family effort. Taking credit is not a strong suit of mine; it’s a team effort. The personal growth I have seen in me has been becoming a husband, a dad and then a dad again.

What can fans expect to see on your new album, “Fire & Brimstone” set to release next week (October 4)?

That’s the next chapter of my life. As a songwriter, it gives you the freedom to bounce out of a genre. I want the songs to be what they want to be. I also want this to be one of the most creative projects, so we really threw the rules out the window. Outside of that, we did let the songs be what they wanted to be. I am as country as it gets. I still live at home in the same small town I grew up in and have a lot of friends who aren’t scared to hold me accountable if I stray from being who I am.

What do you hope fans take away from this album?

I feel it’s the next chapter in my life and this album embraced the journey. It’s not so much a snapshot of my life; the writing tells a story in a story of the journey from boy to man and the spiritual side of my life. Again, it’s definitely a glass house; what you see is what you get. The “no rules” aspect of this album is cool. I remember going to buy tapes and CDs and listening to them the whole way through. I think today, we are now finding a way to give each song a life of its own by releasing them on their own. That’s encouraging as a songwriter. It really does make you feel good about the album as a whole. Nothing feels forced on this album and we carried that energy throughout the album. I think that gave it some continuity. I am really excited to see how people respond to it. It’s always exciting to see how listeners respond and what they’re taking from it.

Why do you think country music is so popular here in New England?

A lot of people have said through the years that we tell stories. Our whole deal is pretty much a story. I am not sure if folks just get into that storytelling aspect, and it’s also family friendly music. Country music is something we communicate that people just understand. Songwriting and singing are emotional things. The material thing country music talks about are pictures they paint and are a lot that people have seen and can relate to. By the way, I think Boston has the most noticeable accent in the country [laughs]. When I am up there, I am asking myself if we are speaking the same language and they are asking themselves the same question thinking it takes us three hours to speak. I have a lot of biker friends from Boston, but I have to say Boston and Georgia are the extremities [laughs].

Photo Credit: Jeff Nelson

You have often referred to yourself as a songwriter first. Can you elaborate on that for us?

I have always written everything I have done or co-written it. The songs just detailed and supported the theme. That has always been the favorite part of my job. Songwriting has been important to me outside of prayer. I am impressed with the power of music and the power of words. That’s where I have to keep my priority because that’s where it all starts for us. We are all looking for the right songs, but I’m writing them. That has been one of the foundations of everything we’ve built. Finding a way to share it with people may be the reason we have been blessed with such a loyal and dedicated fan base. We communicate with them on a granular level.

Tell us a little bit about your “Fire It Up” tour happening next year and how it will differ from this year’s “Not Like Us” tour.

It’s a little bit longer. We went through some transitions this year, getting used to dad life. The “Not Like Us” tour was almost like an end of the year, going out right and a way to set up for 2020. I’m with a new management company, so I am learning how that machine works. “Not Like Us” was awesome. It has been cool to perform with Michael Ray, who is a really good friend of mine and Lindsay Ell. “Fire It Up” will be full speed ahead. There is going to be a lot happening in 2020 and all that energy will be insane. I feel like it’s already starting to build.

Photo Credit: Trevor Forbess