By John Benson
What you see (or hear) is what you get from Brantley Gilbert. Such is the case with the country singer’s latest album, “The Devil Don’t Sleep,” which came out late last month and already features top-10 radio hit “The Weekend.”
Now comes the fun part for the 2014 American Music Award winner who brings his The Devil Don’t Sleep tour through Youngstown for a Friday show at Covelli Centre.
Concert-goers can expect to hear new material, as well as No. 1 tunes including Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” and “My Kind of Party,” along with “Country Music Be Country Wide,” “Bottoms Up,” “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do” and “One Hell of An Amen.”
The Vindicator talked to Gilbert during a recent Valentine’s Day phone call to his Georgia home.
Q. Brantley, happy Valentine’s Day. What’s going on?
A. My wife’s a chocolate fan, so we did chocolate and some other things.
Q. Are you the type of guy who goes over the top for Valentine’s Day?
A. For sure. I do a lot of things over the top, man. She asked me to tone it down this year, so I’m playing by the rules, which isn’t my favorite thing in the world.
Q. What did you do last year?
A. Let’s just say I did more.
Q. Fair enough. Congratulations on “The Devil Don’t Sleep.” What were you going for sonically with this album?
A. All my records are chapters in my life. And I really don’t set out in the beginning to try to find a different direction sonically. We have a sound that has a lot to do with what my band guys bring to the table. I can tell you on this one I had fun as a writer. I tried some different styles – writing with tracks, writing two songs with a guy over the phone. I’d never done that before, and some of them ended up being cut.
Q. Tell us about the album’s lead single, “The Weekend.”
A. It’s a party song, man. It’s a breath of fresh air. With everything we’ve had going on lately, a breath of fresh air wasn’t a bad idea. It’s fun to lead off a record with a party song, because it’s something we can put in our set right off the bat and start getting feedback. The best litmus test for how a song is going to be perceived is what it does with a live audience.
Q. What’s great about “The Weekend” is its double meaning. Sure, it’s a party song, but it also delves into what happens when that weekend starts to last until Wednesday.
A. Yeah, man, I haven’t been drinking for five years, but before that my weekend never ended. Everything was a weekend.
Q. For a guy who is lumped into bro country, can you talk about the new album track “Bro Code,” which seems to be commenting on the trend.
A. It’s like, when I came on the scene I feel like I was kind of just being in your face and what you see is what you get. When the bro country thing came out, I was kind of like, “I don’t really know what that’s about.” The song is kind of a little bit of a play on that. That’s why it has the obnoxious “bros” in there. It sounds like that talk. It’s kind of a little bit of a stab at, I guess, stereotypical bro country.
Q. So you have the new album and massive tour. What’s the next mountain you want to climb?
A. Man, to be honest, I learned a while back that long-term goals are not as good for me when it comes to motivation and drive. I’ve really concentrated on short-term goals. It’s been far more productive for me. I guess that started when the whole quitting drinking started about five years ago. It’s kind of that day-to-day thing.
Q. That kind of sounds like the message behind “The Devil Don’t Sleep.”
A. That’s right. “The Devil Don’t Sleep” is just being conscious of whatever your devil is. It’s always right around the corner. You have to stay on your toes.
Q. Regarding that Valentine’s Day chocolate, is that your devil?
A. Oh, yeah (laughs), I’m having to stay at least 10 steps away from this box.