Thomas Rhett has written songs for such country musicians as Lee Brice, Jason Aldean and the band Florida Georgia Line. But now, it’s Rhett’s turn to take the stage.
Releasing three country singles in less than two years, singer-songwriter Rhett has reached the Top 20 Country Airplay charts for each hit, and plans to debut his first album on Oct. 29.
“Going from the first single I put out to now, it’s been cool to see the fan base grow,” Rhett said. “To see the kind of success we’ve had … in the past years has been amazing.”
Rhett plays at Washington State University Sunday.
In early 2012, Rhett released his debut single “Something to Do with My Hands,” followed by “Beer with Jesus” later in the year, in which the song’s narrator imagines a conversation with Jesus in a bar. Rhett wrote “Beer with Jesus” in college, and said he knew he was going to catch flack for it, especially in the Bible Belt region.
“I believed in the song so much that I knew it’d change my life … and I think it did just that,” Rhett said. “It makes you stop and think about your life. That’s been one of the most polarized/receptive songs that I’ve written.”
His latest, “It Goes Like This” has made it the furthest on the charts, stopping at No. 4 for Billboard’s Hot Country Songs. While Rhett didn’t write the single, Jimmy Robbins, Ben Hayslip and country musician Rhett Akins, who is Rhett’s father, did. Akins is known for “Don’t Get Me Started” in 1996, and wrote “If Heaven (Wasn’t So Far Away),” a tune made popular by Justin Moore.
“A couple (my dad and I) wrote together, and a couple he wrote himself,” Rhett said about the songs on his upcoming album, which he estimates to be about 70 percent Rhett-written. “He’s had a pretty big part in this record.”
In the beginning, Rhett was skeptical about co-writing with his father.
“But he’s been one of my favorites to write with,” Rhett said. “Being in the music business, we share the same profession, we see each other a bit and we have a lot to talk about.”
While Rhett isn’t sure how his father came up with the idea for “It Goes Like This,” Rhett has titled his upcoming album the same, and he tells his wife of one year that the song is for her. The couple tries not to go a week without seeing each other.
“It’s a different lifestyle, but she understands it, and she’s a trouper,” Rhett said.
Rhett has spent the majority of the year traveling on the Night Train tour with Jason Aldean and Jake Owen, making time to sleep, gain a social media following and write music.
“You get to see so much on the road, that there’s never really a shortage of ideas,” said Rhett, who has tired of traveling on a bus. “Talking to rednecks is a pretty good way to get ideas (for songs). People say some pretty funny stuff, or at least some cool ideas. I keep song titles in my iPhone.”
So far, Rhett’s favorite part of the tour was playing at Fenway Park in Boston.
“That’s an experience that I don’t think I’ll ever relive,” Rhett said. “It’s one of the oldest baseball parks ever. We played two nights there and were the first country act to play there ever.”
While the tour is coming to a close, Rhett said he’s looking forward to his future, when he believes he may be able to team up with more country artists. His dream team? Partnering with Eric Church or singing a duet with Sheryl Crow.
For now, Rhett said he’s excited to release his album and keep playing to the masses.
“Expect to rock,” Rhett said in reference to his Sunday performance. “Be ready to get up on your feet and rock with us.”
Treffry can be contacted at (208) 883-4640 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at: @LindseyTreffry.
->if you go:
WHAT: Thomas Rhett performs
WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Compton Union Building, Washington State University campus, Pullman
COST: Tickets are $15 for WSU students with a valid Cougar card and $22 for the public. Tickets are available at the Cougar Card Center 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or online at TicketsWest.com.