Like gold in the Cumberland River, Greg Bates is that rare find of an artist: one born and raised right in Nashville. In the most genuine sense, he is a true product of Music City, motivated not by the trappings of country-music stardom, but by the reward of a well-written lyric. For Greg, it really did all start with a song.
“I was crazy about reading liner notes,” says the 24-year-old singer, guitarist and songwriter, who is poised to release his self-titled major-label debut on Republic Nashville. “I started picking up patterns of certain songwriters and hearing them in the music, and that was always the coolest thing to me.”
Traditional ’90s artists like Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakam and Alan Jackson were an inspiration to Greg, and he soon discovered that some of the songs he enjoyed hearing on the radio were in fact composed by his classmates’ moms and dads.
“There were a lot of writers whose kids I went to elementary school with,” he says. “They would have writers’ rounds as fundraisers at the school and play their hits. Looking back now, I was really lucky to get to do that so early on. I was going to writers’ rounds before I ever went to a concert.”
“The first day that I figured out that you can tell a story with three chords in three minutes and just kill somebody emotionally, I was hooked,” he says. “The stories are what really drew me to country music.”
And what eventually drew him to the stage as a performer. With his younger brother on bass, he and his band played assorted venues around town, entertaining crowds with George Strait covers and his own material.
Still, his primary goal was not honky-tonk domination, but earning his degree from Belmont. With that mission accomplished, Greg committed himself to his craft. “All I wanted to do was write,” he says, likening his creative process to one of self-imposed isolation. “Once I graduated, it’s like I went into a cave and wrote for about a year and a half. And that’s where the majority of this record comes from.”
Greg’s self-titled debut hook-filled album, produced by Jimmy Ritchey, is a tight and often twangy collection of 10 songs, all written or co-written by Greg.
“For me, this album is about getting back to country music,” Greg says. “There’s nothing wrong with what’s on the radio nowadays, but I think there is a huge hole where that traditional sound used to be.”
“It’s all about writing and playing the kind of music that I grew up on. I know there are other people out there who love it as much as I do,” says Greg. “I just want to get out and bring it to them."
In other words, it’s “Go Time.”
viewing 1 of 1 photos