Brandon Ray Brings His ‘Motown Mellencamp’ Style to ‘That Could Be Us’

Country newcomer Brandon Ray had an familiar upbringing like many country stars, but his journey to country music is what sets him apart from the rest of the crowd.

Written by Kelly Brickey
Brandon Ray Brings His ‘Motown Mellencamp’ Style to ‘That Could Be Us’
Photo courtesy Red Light Management

Country newcomer Brandon Ray started out like any other country singer: he grew up in a small Texas town, played sports in high school, picked up a guitar and started making music. But it’s his journey to country music that sets him apart from any other.

A native from the Friday Night Lights-based town of Big Spring, Texas, Ray got involved in football as well as basketball and baseball as a kid. After aspiring to be a professional athlete, he soon suffered a foot injury that would put him out with two surgeries and a crushed dream. Instead of letting himself crumble over the news, Ray decided to put his energy into a new hobby.

“Throughout growing up, all I did was listen to music. My dad loved jazz and rock and blues and all that kind of stuff. He’s kind of the reason I took up guitar because he loved Stevie Ray Vaughn. So I was like, ‘Ah, I’m gonna impress my dad because I can’t play football or baseball anymore. I’m just gonna get a guitar!’ While I was laid up and my foot was propped up and I was healing, I just basically watched every Stevie Ray Vaughn video and Jimi Hendrix. I listened to every Aerosmith song and learned just every song I could, to where when I healed about a year later, I had started a band with my older brother,” Ray explained to Sounds Like Nashville.

That little band that Ray created with his brother decided to live the rock and roll dream as they headed out to California for a shot to make it big.

“We went out to the West Coast in LA ‘cause that’s where rock bands go, right? I looked up to Guns N’ Roses and Bon Jovi and bands like that, so I was like, ‘Ah! I wanna go to the Whiskey-A-Go-Go. I wanna go to the Viper Room. I wanna do all that stuff.’ So we did that. We went to LA for about six months,” Ray said.

Their time playing rock clubs eventually turned itself into a grand opportunity to take the band to the next level.

“We played at the Roxy, the Viper, all that stuff and got the attention from Sony Records in LA,” he told us. “They put us on a development deal. It’s what it is before a record deal. They’re basically just trying to see what you have, see what you got, see what you can do. Those were the days of Myspace where you had to have like something like 35,000 plays a day to just get anybody’s attention. So what happened was we met Kevin Lyman from the Warped Tour. He was at one of our shows and he just asked us to join the tour, but we were still doing dates with bands like Fall Out Boy and Switchfoot.”

Over time, the band fizzled out and his desire to write country music became apparent. After working with heroes he’s looked up to for years, he has finally found his true sound. His latest song, “That Could Be Us,” showcases how his songwriting skills have developed since the days of his rock band.

“I kinda had the idea as I was watching a cover band play in downtown Broadway and I was at a bar there. I saw this couple, like seriously it was like a movie. The most in love couple I’ve ever seen in my life. They were dancing. It was just like it was their world. It was like their bar and nobody else was there. I mean next thing you know, they were just gone! They were on to their next adventure. I was like, ‘Man!’ Every person wants that kind of love. Every person wants that kind of relationship, but they don’t always get it. We wrote it in about an hour and a half and had the track. It’s just one of those songs that I can’t not play live because it’s such a powerful, upbeat, meaningful song,” said Ray.

Fast forward to current day and Ray’s classic rock influence has carried over into his country sound, creating what he has labelled in a two-word alliterative name.

“So I sum up my music in two words. I just called it Motown Mellencamp. Otis Redding, the Blues Brothers, all of those Motown things, Aretha Franklin, and then the banging guitars of someone like [John] Mellencamp and AC/DC with that Heartland attitude. That blue collar, working man, Heartland, American attitude…that definitely makes up me and my sound.”

Fans can check out more about Ray through his Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Check out the exclusive premiere of Brandon Ray’s “That Could Be Us” acoustic session below.