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Dustin Collins Interview by Preshias Harris for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Dustin Collins Interview by Preshias Harris for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show 
Music is a way of life for Dustin Collins. Growing up in a family where music was always present, it was a natural progression for Dustin to focus on a musical career. His music-savvy parents weren’t quite so sure, but, as he told me during our interview, he knew he had to be involved some way with music for the rest of his life.

Coming off a Number One hit, this Kentucky boy is back with a new album, due out in August. IT’S BEEN AWHILE was produced and mixed by Bill McDermott and mastered by Noah Gordon.  Dustin invests much of his time touring throughout the Midwest and his home state of Kentucky, including a slot on Aaron Watson's Vaquero Tour, as well as opening for Chris Janson, Granger Smith, Kane Brown, The Kentucky Headhunters and many more.  

He took time away from a hectic tour schedule to sit down with me and talk about his music.  Knowing he shares my love for UK (Kentucky) basketball, the first thing I asked him was, “Does your blood run Kentucky blue?”  With a wide grin, he replied, “You betcha life it does!”  I knew it was going to be a great interview!

Preshias Harris: You are quite a road warrior. You've driven hundreds of thousands of miles playing everything from honky tonks to fairs and festivals.  What are the pros and cons of touring like that?

Dustin Collins: Money! [laughs] That’s the ‘pro.’ And the ‘con!’  The pro is, you make enough money to stay on the road.  The con is, you don’t make enough money to pay your car insurance. It is what it is. But I love it. I’d rather be on the road. I sleep better in my bunk than I do in my bed. I love getting out to meet new people, to see new people, play my songs for people who never heard of ‘em. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, so I love being out there.  So anytime we get a chance to take a road trip, all my guys are the same. They’re like, “Let’s Go!”  By week two, they’re like, “Let’s go back home!”

PH: 'Cold Dead Hands' was your first Number One.  Can you remember where you were when you heard the news?

DC:  In my living room. I was doing dishes. It’s a vivid memory.  But I thought someone was foolin’ with me. I hung up on him the first time he told me. It was a guy who works over at Billboard in New York.  He called and said, “Hey, is this Dustin?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “This is Billboard. Your song, ‘Cold Dead Hands,’ is number one on the Hot Singles Sales chart.” I was like, “Whatever.” Click. I thought it was just someone who was messin’ with me. Then he called back and said, “Did we get disconnected?” and I said, “Sure did!”

PH:  You have a new album, IT'S BEEN AWHILE, dropping August 3. And the lead-off single is 'The Barn.' Tell us about this new project.

DC:  It’s a project I started last September.  We kinda finished it in January, February. It’s taken this long to get it all together and get all the promo stuff. And get ready to do the album the right way.

PH:  That’s the key word. The right way.

DC: I wrote four songs on it myself and we took three other cuts.  We had Neil Thrasher [co-writer of ‘Texas Was You’], and Troy Johnson and Jack Williams who wrote ‘The Barn.’ That’s just a fantastic song. The cuts we’ve got on this album… you know, I’ve been a big fan of Neil Thrasher’s work with Jason Aldean and Eric Church.  I didn’t know how to cut a song like that. But as it turns out, it’s pretty easy! [laughs] All you gotta do is fill out the right paperwork and you can cut the song. So we’ve got some good cuts on the record. We’ve got another Kentucky boy, [songwriter] Lincoln Parish from Cage The Elephant.

PH: That band is from Bowling Green, Kentucky, right?

DC:  Yes, they started out in Bowling Green, probably playing Tidball’s, the same bar I played in. So yeah, we’ve got some great cuts on the album. And my writing has just improved over the years. I try to write as much as possible and I’ve got some really good songs on here that I really thought people will enjoy.   

PH:  You've written four of the tracks on the new album.  I believe your goal is to try and write at least one song every day.  How do you go about that?

DC:  I force myself.  Even if I’m in the car, I’ll get something out.  I’ll get a melody that I throw on the voice recorder. Whatever scenario or situation I’m in throughout the day, I try to take some kind of story from somebody. You hear a hundred stories a day, specially being down here [in Nashville].

PH: So it’s for your ‘hook book.’

DC: Exactly. I used to have a notebook. Now it’s the phone.  If something ever happened to my phone, I’d be… [shakes his head]. You’ve got to send it over to The Cloud!  But yeah, I try to write every day. I try to write one song, at least.

PH:  You're a Kentucky boy from Bardstown.  You grew up with music as your dad was a musician.  Did that have an influence on you deciding to make your life in music?

DC: Yes, absolutely.  He didn’t want me to do it at all! [laughs]  He knew.  He’s been here. But it came to a point where everybody was like, “Well this is what you have to do now.”  It gets to a point where you’ve been wasting so much time on something that it becomes necessary [to just do it]. I’ve always been that way. A lot of people come in with a backup plan. This IS my backup plan.  I would like to be involved with music or do something musical for the rest of my life.  If you leave yourself an escape it’s always easy to just fall out of it, but if you put yourself in the mindset that this has to work, I believe that if anybody applies themselves enough to something, they can accomplish it. I was in the military, so it was like training. 

PH:  You approach your music like your military training.

DC:  If you think you can do something, you can do it.  All you’ve got to do is keep your mind focused and push over the hard times. I find that whenever you’re climbing a hill, you’ll eventually get to the top. You get ‘little hills’ in music. The first time you hear your song played on the radio, you’re like ‘Ah!’ That drives you to do the next thing. ‘Maybe I need to record some more songs.’ The first time you get five or six hundred people come to a show, it’s the same thing.  We were in Lexington, Kentucky, Saturday night, and there were people singing every word to ‘The Barn.’ And that song is brand new, and they already know the words. It grabs you. It makes you want to do the next thing.

PH:  What kind of music did you listen, growing up?

DC:  Let’s see… Thin Lizzie. My parents were huge rock fans. Janis Joplin. Waylon Jennings. Garth Brooks.  And I’m a big Steve Earle fan, so I like everything he’s done. Steve Earle was a big songwriting influence. And Townes Van Zandt, that whole era of music.  When I did my music, I felt I would like to be like the stories that Waylon told but with the guitars that Van Halen played. That’s where we got the sound from. It’s Country music and I’m singing it because I’m from the country.

PH:  You stand out from the people that I interview, and there’s a lot, but you stand out as ‘the new kid on the Row.’ You’re an individual.

DC:  That’s what I wanted to do with this album. You can hear several different types of songs on this record from ‘The Barn’ being more pop-country that you hear on the radio now. Then you go to ‘It’s Been Awhile’ and it sounds almost like a stadium ballad. And ‘It Always Starts With You’ is a real country song. Then you’ve got ‘Bonfire Songs’ and ‘Pieces’ that are more meaningful story songs. So I wanted with this album that anybody who listens to this album will find something that they like.

You can read a full bio of Dustin, find tour dates and check out his videos at his website, https://dustincollinsmusic.com/home  You can pre-order his new album, ‘It’s Been Awhile,’ here: https://lnk.to/DC_ItsBeenAwhileAW

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