Scotty McCreery Lived A Lot Of Life to Get to ‘Seasons Change’

Scotty McCreery lived a lot of life in between his album releases and its aptly displayed in his latest project, 'Seasons Change.'

Scotty McCreery Lived A Lot Of Life to Get to ‘Seasons Change’
Scotty McCreery; Photo Credit: Jeff Ray for Triple Tigers Records / Sony Music Entertainment

When it comes to album titles that perfectly sum up an artist’s recent life experience, Scotty McCreery’s new project, Seasons Change, couldn’t be more appropriate. The 24-year-old singer/songwriter has done a lot of living since he released his last studio album, 2013’s chart-topping See You Tonight, but he’s back with a No. 1 single, “Five More Minutes,” an upcoming wedding and a new album featuring the most personal songs of his career.

“In ‘Seasons Change,’ they are going to realize how persistent I am and how much I really love what I do,” McCreery smiles as he settles into a chair in the Sounds Like Nashville offices. “A lot of folks might have rolled over and played dead after they got dealt the blow that we were dealt in 2016, and for a little while that’s kind of how it felt like. I’m a very competitive guy, a persistent guy and if somebody tells me I can’t do something, that’s going to add fuel to my fire. They’ll see all that in this record.”

The songs are a vivid portrait of McCreery’s busy world. “There’s been a lot of life lived over the past seven years,” he admits. “I’ve been on the biggest TV show in the world and traveled the country and the world playing country music. I’ve gone to college, moved out on my own and started paying my own bills. I’ve been robbed at gunpoint and been engaged and am about to get married. That’s a lot of life. I’ve definitely gained a lot of perspective through all that.”

Indeed the past few years have had their challenges but American Idol’s season 10 winner, never gave up. “We had a full record ready to go in 2015. That would have been about two years removed from my last record, which is about more normal,” says McCreery, who won Idol at 17. “We had a single that didn’t work out with my previous label and they made a business decision just to part ways and it’s all good. It’s business.”

Though he understood, it was still hard. “It took me a while to pick the pieces up,” he admits. “I had a lot of transitions going on so that was a full calendar year of just figuring out our next move and how we were going to get my music back because I didn’t own my music at that time. They did, so I had to get everything back. It’s just incredible all the stuff that goes into putting new music out there. Finally in 2017, I got new management and a new label and finally got new music out. Now we have a new record. It took awhile, but I’m glad we’re finally here.”

One of the songs that Scotty fought to take with him as he moved into the next season of his career was “Five More Minutes,” a song he’d written with Frank Rogers and Monty Criswell about the passing of his grandfather. “I think everybody has been there. That song is a universal song about life,” he says. “We all have those moments that we wish we could go back to and times that we enjoyed that we can’t do anymore. I could go play baseball, but getting 18 guys together to play isn’t easy and I haven’t since high school, and then loss of family and friends is a part of life too. Everybody has those people that they wish they could say one more thing to or spend just a little more time with, so it’s universal meaning that the song has. I think that’s why people just relate.”

Scotty McCreery

Pictured (left to right): Scott Stem (McCreery’s Manager, Triple 8 Management); Bob Morelli (President, RED MUSIC); McCreery; Norbert Nix (Partner & GM, Triple Tigers Records); and George Couri (McCreery’s Manager; Partner, Triple 8 Management; and Partner, Triple Tigers Records); Photo Credit: Laura June Kirsch

“Five More Minutes” connected so strongly that it soared to the top of the charts, an unusual feat considering that when McCreery released the song, he didn’t even have a record label behind it. “Looking back, it was definitely brave and maybe a little crazy,” he laughs, “but I’m glad it worked out. There were some labels we were talking to, but we didn’t find the right deal early on and I knew that it was make or break with the next song. You don’t often get a second chance in Nashville once you get dealt a blow like we got dealt, so I knew we had to make this work. And if we were going to bet on a song we were going to bet on ‘Five More Minutes’ because of the response we were getting on the road and just all the feedback we got.”

He felt he had a winner so he decided to roll the dice and go for it. “We put it out there and we had some programmers who loved it and said they’d play it even though we had no label,” he says. “Pretty soon afterwards it became the first song on an indie basis to chart in the top 50 with no label and that’s when some more labels started ringing the phones and were like, ‘Hey, what you got going on?’ So we got Triple Tigers and went on from there.”

McCreery is now signed to Triple Tigers Records/Sony Music Entertainment. “Everybody has the same vision, which is what I really love about this format, this setup that I’ve got,” he says. “The team feels great from management to the label and my attorneys and everybody. It’s one team, one goal. Everybody has the same ideas and we’re all fighting for the same thing. It’s all working out good.”

McCreery got the news that “Five More Minutes” was No. 1 after he returned from filming Family Feud in Los Angeles. “I was in the mountains in North Carolina,” he says. “We were tired and it was late at night and my fiancée and family were there. I was like, ‘You all can go to sleep. I’m going to be up because once the clock strikes midnight, I’ve got the No. 1 song in the country!’ So they stayed up with me and we popped some champagne. It was a fun night and they all went to bed after that, but I was up until like 5 in the morning because I was just so jacked up and excited.”

He’s anxious for fans to hear the entire album. McCreery co-wrote each of the 11 songs, including the next single, “This is It,” a highly personal song that shares the story of how he proposed to fiancé Gabi Dugal. “I wrote it two weeks before we got engaged. I had it planned,” he smiles. “I knew where I was going to ask the question and how we were going to get there so I told –[co-writers] Frank Rogers and Aaron Eshuis, ‘I plan on proposing to Gabi in two weeks, so I’d like to write an engagement song.’ I told them the story and we just kind of wrote the song around that. The song is really a blueprint for our engagement. It’s exactly how it happened. I didn’t play it for Gabi until we got back from the mountains after she said, ‘Yes.’”

The couple will be married this summer. McCreery’s face brightens into the biggest smile at the mention of her name. “I knew she was the one pretty early on after we started dating because she’s just incredible, so sweet and such a strong woman,” he says of the girl he’s known since kindergarten. “She’s a pediatric cardiac nurse. She’s an angel. She does the important stuff. I get to sing and have a lot of fun and I know music is a big part of healing for folks, but she is physically trying to make people better.”

McCreery’s father will be his best man and as far as music, he wants to incorporate “This is It,” but isn’t sure yet if he’ll sing it live or just play it. “It’s got to be in some part of the wedding,” he grins. “As far as colors, it’s going to be a very classic black and white wedding, with probably a hint of purple. That’s Gabi’s favorite color. We haven’t figured out our first dance song or anything like that yet.”

He’s excited about getting married and starting this new season as husband and wife. “We both have our own lives, but now it’s going to be our one life together,” he says. “You always hear people talk about how much work it is. It’s fun, but it’s not easy just figuring out all the new things that come with having a life partner. The exciting thing to me is we’ll get to spend a lot more time together because we don’t live together now. So when I come home, I go back to my place and she is at her place, but after we’re married, when I go home, I’ll go home to her and she’ll be there. That will be really cool for me to just always get to go home to Gabi.”

Dugal also inspired the beautiful love song “Still,” one of the highlights on Seasons Change. “I’ve had that in my head for years and I could never figure out quite how to write it,” he says. “I sat down with Aaron [Eshuis] and I was talking about Gabi and the song title. We both wrapped our heads around it like it was nothing and I was like, ‘Man, I’ve been thinking about this forever and all of a sudden it just clicked.’”

In addition to songs inspired by his fiancée, McCreery’s album also spotlights other sides of his life such as “Boys from Back Home,” which celebrates his friendships, “Barefootin,’” a playful tribute to his beloved North Carolina beaches and “Home in my Mind,” a James Taylor-influenced homage to his home state. “No matter if I live in Nashville or out in Colorado, Carolina will always be home,” he says. “It’s where my roots are, family and friends. I do a lot of traveling and a lot of thinking back to where I come from. I love to reminisce. I love to think back to the good times. That song just kind of takes me home every time I sing it or hear it.”

McCreery has been in the spotlight since winning American Idol at 17, so fans already know a lot about the young artist, but what does he think fans will learn that they didn’t know when they hear this record? “Probably how big of a softie I am with all the love songs on there,” he says with a grin. “It’s a very optimistic sounding record, a really feel good record. And I feel like the only person who could tell that story with how things have been was me.

“I’ve lived a lot of life and had a lot of cool experiences to be just 24, sometimes it’s crazy to think everything that’s happened,” he continues. “And I’m still so young which is great. It gives me a lot of hope and optimism in moving forward. We’ve got the best days ahead of us and are going to keep climbing this mountain to get to where we want to go. I’m not sure I was ready to do all that at 17, but I’m glad I got the chance because now I feel like I’m ready to go.”