Q&A with Thomas Rhett

Thomas Rhett's star is rising at an astronomical pace, but you wouldn't know it talking to him. We talked to Rhett about his award nominations, country music, and his favorite things.

-Adam Downer  

GGM: How are you handling the nomination for Best New Artist from the ACM and the praise? Does it come with a lot of pressure?

TR: I’m not sure if pressure is the right word. It makes you excited for the next chapter of your life. This is my first ACM nomination. I was nominated for a CMA in the same category, and it’s just fun to be nominated. It’s fun to go to these shows and have a purpose. We’re actually gonna play on this show, and all the new artists are getting to play. It’s a lot of firsts for me; first nomination and first time playing on an awards show.

Moreso than pressure, it’s being nervous about it, because we honestly have no idea, sittin’ in our seats, who’s gonna win. I think the new artist category is one of the toughest categories, especially this year. All three of us are in the same “success-bracket,” if you will. We’re all on our first album. We’ve all put out about three or four singles. Whether you win or lose, you were still nominated, and you were still on the show, and you hope that that furthers your career as one of the best new artists on the country music scene.

GGM: Your music incorporates hip-hop, retro, and disco elements. Do you think you’re actively trying to shake up the country music sound?

TR: It’s not like I’m trying to be different for the sake of being different. It’s honestly what I love to do. My first record was kinda written about where I was at that point in my life, and this new record is written, produced is more reflective of the music I listen to today. So there will definitely be elements of the first record but there will be a lot of songs on the new album that will push the boundaries a little bit. I’ve been in this kind of funky, R&B, kind of soul brain. I’m gonna make a record that I love and I’m doin’ stuff I’m excited about. I’ve been playing these songs on the road and when you see fans react to something a little bit different, it’s exciting. But at the same time, country music will always be about the stories. Whether it’s got a disco beat or a hip hop beat, if it’s sung soulfully in an R&B way, as long as the story and emotion is still there, it’s still country music. We’re excited about this new chapter in our career and we’re excited to see how this record relates to all the fans.

GGM: I was perusing your Facebook, and I saw under influences, you said “Ask if you wanna know more.” Well I’m asking! Who do you consider some of your influences?

TR: My influences range all over the board because I grew up with a dad that sang country music as well. My first concert was the Allman brothers, and my second concert was the Stones. When I was going through middle school, it was seeing The Darkness or Third Eye Blind. I was influenced by what was popular when I was growing up. Like, in 6th grade, Will Smith was the biggest thing that ever happened. And then, you know, Dad would play all the Beatles, all the Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin, Cinderella, Ratt, Poison. I grew up with such a wide variety of music coming in my ears, and I think that’s why my album sounds more “diverse,” if you will.

GGM: What were some of your favorite albums growing up?

TR: One of the albums that stuck out to me was the Wingspan album by Paul McCartney. It was a really cool record. Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones stuck out to me as a kid. But growing up, and starting to listen to music for myself, that first Third Eye Blind record—I know that sounds so dumb—but that first Third Eye Blind record is so timeless to me. I listen to it to this day. Whatever Zeppelin record “Black Dog” is on (IV).

GGM: What are you jamming right now?

TR: I’ve always been a huge Eric Church fan. I’m a huge fan of his songwriting. I’m a huge fan of Ed Sheeran. I think "Thinking Out Loud" was one of the best records I’ve heard. Also, anything Bruno Mars puts out is very intriguing to me. My playlist looks like a dang Picasso painting!

GGM: What are some of your favorite movies?

TR: Frankly, I’m a chick flick movie watcher! I got married a couple years ago and my wife and I see every chick flick that comes out. Oh gosh, [to wife] Babe, what are our favorite chick flick movies? The Notebook was one I watched with her. I used to be able to quote it. PS, I Love You, The Other Woman.

I also like war movies. Got to go Hawaii this year and Pearl Harbor is one of my favorite movies. Saving Private Ryan, the classics. We saw Fury not too long ago with Brad Pitt and Shia LaBoeuf.

GGM: Did you like it? I heard it got mixed reviews.

TR: Yeah, I really liked it. Shia LaBoeuf has always been one of my favorite actors and it was cool to see him come back into the movie world.

GGM: Favorite TV Shows?

TR: Yeah, we like to binge watch. We were like fifteen years late, and started watching Lost. We just finished The Killing, the Netflix original. We love Dexter, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, True Detective.

GGM: Favorite Nashville restaurants?

TR: Edley’s is probably my favorite barbeque joint. Taco Mamacita is my favorite Mexican place. Hattie B's is getting famous for its hot chicken, as is Nashville. Flipside is good. 

GGM: Favorite spot you discovered on the road?

TR: Of all the places we’ve been, I think my favorite city is Chicago. One of our favorite restaurants is there, RPM, this Italian place. I love Seattle too for its seafood market. The pacific northwest is my favorite part of the country, just cuz it’s so pretty out there.

GGM: Can you tell me some of your favorite clothes? Say, your favorite pair of boots?

TR: Oh yeah, I’ve only bought the same pair of boots since I was sixteen. I’ve worn Luccheses. In terms of favorite jeans, I like Fabric and Company. Anything by John Varvatos always fits and looks good.

GGM: Five years down the line, where do you hope to be?

TR: Oh god, in five years, I hope I’m making my fourth record and had eleven number 1s in a row! (laughs) Hopefully in five years I’m headlining my own tour. I’d love to be able to go to any town and sell 6-8,000 tickets.

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