Country music artist Drew Gregory is stepping back into the spotlight with a brand-new single titled “Neon Time,” promising to deliver that honky tonk flavour that fans have come to know and love. The Western Canadian music staple, known as much for his down-to-earth farming roots as his accomplished music career, spoke candidly about his latest track and how his two careers intertwine.
Gregory is no stranger to accolades. A three-time winner of the Country Music Alberta Award for “Horizon Male Artist of the Year” (2015, 2019, 2022), the $50,000 winner of the Project WILD Development Program (2022), and numerous other awards and recognitions testify to his enduring talent and appeal, his music has resonated strongly with audiences, racking up over 22,000 spins on Canadian radio and over 1.8 million digital streams across all platforms.
Born and raised in Standard, Alberta, Gregory divides his time between working the farm and crafting country hits. “I still farm with my family in Southern Alberta. It’s always something I want to stay involved with,” says Gregory. “I feel very fortunate to have two careers I couldn’t live without.”
Asked about his latest single, Gregory recounts how he was inspired during the lockdowns to create a honky-tonk track. “It’s always been the rocking honky tonk songs that get the crowd moving,” Gregory explained. “After explaining this to Bobby Wills from Willing Records one night, he hooked me up with Wade Kirby and Jim Collins, two legendary Nashville songwriters. Wade came in with the ‘Me On Neon Time’ hook, and with their pro songwriting skills and my years of experience playing the honky tonk bars, I think we wound up with a hell of a song!”
Working with renowned songwriters Collins and Kirby was a fulfilling experience for Gregory. “Wade wants to get a great melody before even starting and then go to an even better melody when you hit the chorus and then have something even better mid-chorus that just makes the song undeniably great,” he shared, highlighting Kirby’s strong focus on melody.
Gregory’s farming roots play a pivotal role in his songwriting process, often shaping his lyrics and influencing his musical style. “I can’t think of too many of my song ideas that didn’t come from long days in the tractor,” he said. “I try to stay pretty true to the way I live in my lyrics.”
Although he’s been strumming since 15, Gregory has continually evolved as an artist. Crediting Eric Church’s first album, Sinners Like Me, for his songwriting inspiration, Gregory has focused on crafting lyrics that resonate with authenticity. “I’ve worked hard on my vocals and shows and the business, but it’s always been important to me to have that believability in the lyrics.”
“Neon Time” was produced in collaboration with Bobby Wills and Mike Pyle. “These guys were a blast to work with,” Gregory said of the experience. He detailed his trip to Muscle Shoals to meet Pyle, where he felt the soul of the musical town and got to know Mike before officially working together.
As for balancing farming and music, Gregory admits it’s “constant chaos but a chaos filled with joy”. He relishes both his careers and believes it’s a blessing to love two professions so passionately. He ensures there is a balance by dedicating weekdays to farming and evenings to music, reserving weekends for road trips and family time.
Gregory’s creative process involves a mix of melodies and lyrical hooks. “I generally need a lyrical hook,” he revealed, “The phone’s voice memo app has become the most used app by songwriters.”
Gregory’s music career began with the resounding success of his EP “Good Place To Start,” which made its debut in June 2018. The EP soared to the #1 spot on iTunes upon release, catapulting him into the spotlight. He reflected on the impact of “Good Place To Start” on his career, stating, “It was the last thing we released before the lockdown, and I’m not sure I had a chance to build on that success right away. But in some ways, I’m happy about the way things played out because we were able to do The Barn Sessions EP, which I never would have been able to do had we not been able to take the time we needed to build a temporary recording studio in a barn. And that album had the biggest impact in the way we’ll make music going forward.”
Amassing an impressive track record of accolades, Gregory has claimed the Country Music Alberta Award for “Horizon Male Artist of the Year” on three occasions (2015, 2019, 2022), earning the respect and admiration of peers and fans alike. When asked about the significance of such recognition, Gregory humbly acknowledged, “I really respect the Country Music Alberta Organization and more so the people in it, so it means a lot to be recognized by that family for what we’ve been able to accomplish!”
A defining moment in Gregory’s career arrived when he clinched the CMAB Horizon Song of the Year Award for his chart-topping single “Better in A Bar” in 2019. Reflecting on the song’s origins, Gregory shared, “I wrote it with Aaron Goodvin, and I think we just both love being around people we love. In good times or bad times, I think it helps to be around people, and I think the song is more about that than it is about the bar itself.”
In a testament to his commitment to artistic growth, Gregory participated in the esteemed Project WILD Development Program in 2022, where he emerged victorious, claiming the $50,000 prize. The program offered an invaluable platform for honing his craft and provided a transformative experience. Speaking about this milestone, Gregory elaborated, “Project Wild is an artist development program put on by Wild 95.3 in Calgary with some huge prize money on the line, but also some great education for those lucky enough to be in the top 12. We were fortunate to walk away with the $50,000 prize and learned so much along the way!
His fans, old and new, can look forward to “Neon Time” and more songs to come – songs that reflect Gregory’s genuine nature and life experiences, all while keeping listeners on their toes and the honky tonk bars buzzing. For Drew Gregory, whether it’s his music or his farming, it’s always harvest time. Watch for him on tour across the Western provinces this summer.
Visit Drew Gregory online at drewgregorymusic.com.