Tennessee country singer Russell Dickerson has had a steady uphill climb on the charts with number one hits like Yours and Blue Tacoma.
Just last year, he was one of the main performers at Canada’s Boots and Hearts and this year he heads to Start.ca Rocks The Park in London on July 10 for BX93 Country Night.
Russell gave 519 a quick call to chat about life on the road playing for money and Taco Bell meals.
Things moved rather quickly once YOURS came out. Has it felt like a rollercoaster ride?
A rollercoaster is actually a great reference because for so long, it feels like you’re going up so slow like “click, click, click, click,” It’s like “Oh gosh, when is this going to happen?” And then as soon as it kicks in, it was just like full speed ahead. But I feel like we had a really great foundation for this whole thing anyway. And so once it did kick in, it’s like boom. We were ready for it. We had the infrastructure and it was just like “Yeah!” Everybody was super pumped.
Your journey didn’t begin with YOURS though. Like most successful singers you worked your ass off to get to where you are today. What do you remember about that journey?
When I first started, it was like 2011 and I was driving around the country in an SUV with a trailer and all my college buddies and my band. Just driving anywhere that would pay us gas money and Taco Bell money. We didn’t care, though. We just wanted to play music. It was just fun because it was just me and the boys driving around, and so that was the beginning of it and that was pretty much until 2016, until “Yours” came out, really. We were just on the grind. It was definitely an uphill battle.
I heard that Brian and Tyler from Florida-Georgia Line are part of the history. How do they fit into the picture?
They came to one of my very first shows ever. I don’t think they had a band name. But I was playing this place called 12th & Porter in Nashville and they came up to me afterwards and they were like “Man, great show. We should write some songs.” I was like “Let’s write some songs!” I think, it was 2009, maybe? We just started writing like crazy just because we loved the craft of it. It wasn’t to be famous or anything. And so we just kept writing and writing and here come along, they write this song called “Cruise” and I was like “Well, see y’all later, blowing up for y’all.” So it’s been really special all through these years to know that we’ve got each others’ backs through everything in this crazy industry, and Tyler Hubbard is one of my best friends and it’s one of my longest-lasting friendships in this business.
Do you think growing up in Nashville had a part in you becoming a country singer?
Honestly, I’d say more of my upbringing in West Tennessee. So I lived in West Tennessee until I was 10 years old, and that’s really where I got most of my country roots. I was raised on Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw and all that, but definitely being in Nashville, that’s where I met all kinds of country artists like Josh Turner who sang in my dad’s church choir, all that kind of stuff. So that’s just fun just being around Nashville.
I love that you write all your own songs. Was songwriting part of the equation for you from the beginning?
For me it totally was. I just felt like I had a fresh sound. I feel like I had something to bring to the table because I went to school for music, and so I feel like I could bring a fresh perspective, you know what I mean? Like I could bring my own sound and so that’s really why I started writing in the first place. And then, learning how to story-tell, learning how to be open and vulnerable and all that stuff. Really what made me want to keep writing and writing.
Where did the inspiration come from for the song like Blue Tacoma, for example?
We started writing that song and one of the co-writers had the idea – I think it was like Red Tacoma or some other – and I just started singing “Blue Tacoma California” and then at first we plugged in kind of like a hypothetical road trip, but it wasn’t until me and my wife actually took a road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway and then I came back. I was like “Guys, Blue Tacoma, I just can’t let go of this song; it’s great.” And then we went back and wrote all new verses and pretty much changed everything about the song with our real-life road trip experience, and that’s when the song just came to life.
Are you still hitting the Taco Bell stands?
Oh no! God, no (laughs). That’s another thing about life on the road out here, I have to try to eat as healthy as possible because the schedule is so taxing and you just have to sleep as much as you can. Because sleeping on a bus is like 75% of a full sleep, and so, just eating good, sleeping good, and a little Taco Bell is awesome.