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Dakota Bradley Interview: Newcomer Talks Guitar Players, What Tim McGraw Is Really Like + More

Dakota Bradley
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Dakota Bradley is an up-and-comer in the country scene with an endorsement from Tim McGraw in his back pocket. He started out playing rock music, but quickly realized that country music was the genre he wanted to pursue, since no other style of music speaks to the listener, in terms of lyrics, like country.

Bradley, who has written with some of Nashville’s biggest producers and writers, received a fateful call from Byron Gallimore, who works with McGraw, and they rest, as they say, is history. Gallimore swiftly signed the young singer to his Streamsound label — his backing band for songs on his upcoming debut were McGraw’s Dancehall Doctors — and the ball started rolling.

Taste of Country spoke to the superstar-in-training about his slow, but steady ascent in the genre, what it was like to play for and impress an icon like Tim McGraw, working out and more.

ToC: You started doing music at 12, playing rock. What magnetically pulled you to country? The storytelling?

Dakota Bradley: When I first got into songwriting, my songs were country, since country songs are the ones that mean something. I can’t think of a genre that touches you like country music when it comes to lyrics. I was 13 when I wrote my first song. It was kind of like … my feelings put to music. The first music I was into was Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses. Then I got into blues, like Buddy Guy. Then I got into John Mayer and Keith Urban and Brad Paisley. I love guitar players.

Of this younger or current generation of good country guitar players, who is your favorite?

Definitely Keith Urban. I love Brad, but with Keith, it hits more. Or Vince Gill.

What do you love about Keith?

It’s everything. His albums, front to back, are what an album is supposed to be. He is incredible. He plays a much different style. He just plays more melodically.

You are just 18 and you’ve worked with major names in Nashville. What’s it like having a thumbs-up from Tim McGraw?

It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s really awesome. Having a thumbs-up from someone like him is so amazing.

What was it like when you first met him?

I was expecting to be intimidated when he walked in. But he is cool and like one of the guys, and he is super fun to hang with. I was nervous, I had to serenade him with a love song. That song made my album; I wrote it a week before. It’s called ‘Addict.’ The next day, we were in the studio cutting records and eating ice cream.

Can you share some inside meaning about ‘Addict’?

It means the most, as it’s the first song that I played for Tim and he liked it and it was our first real bonding moment. We literally finished in 15 minutes. It’s my favorite song. I can’t say who it’s about, but it is about someone special and about being addicted to love. It’s a play on words, since it relates to drugs, but it’s not about drugs. It’s an edgy song and it’s one of my favorites. People like it at the shows.

Tell us a little more about your song ‘Something Like Something.’

This is a song brought to me in the studio and I fell in love with it. Recording the song had two parts. One was tracking with Tim in the studio, singing scratch vocals. I was a different artist then than I am now. When I did vocals with Byron one-on-one, it was a different side of me that I did not know existed. It just works.

What’s something that you love to do not related to music?

I am obsessed with working out. It is one of my biggest obsessions and passions. I work out for two hours every morning.

Do you do cardio?

I do one day a week of cardio. I do heavy weightlifting. I did legs yesterday, shoulders this morning … I am like a beast.

Tim McGraw works out on tour, you know…

I worked out with him in Vegas and he kicked my butt.

Brantley Gilbert said the same thing — that is/was he scared of Tim McGraw’s stuff-of-legends workouts.

I’d be up for it. My mom is in the weight loss business, so it’s in my life forever.

Do you have to watch what you eat on the road?

Yes … it’s hard to not stop at every Chick-fil-A you see.

Next: Watch Dakota Bradley Ride a Bull

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