When people think of young stars in country music the thoughts instantly turn to stars like Tanya Tucker, LeAnn Rimes and Taylor Swift. Aside from the very young Billy Gilman, the discussion rarely includes boys. That changed in Canada when Adam Gregory signed a deal with Sony Canada as a 13 year old (with a voice that was mostly developed, unlike Gilman). About eight years later with three successful albums under his belt Adam has taken the United States by storm with his debut single “Crazy Days.”
Recently Roughstock had a chance to sit down with the young rising star to discuss his career and various topics like his association with Big Machine, his heroes and who he’d like to tour with in the future.
Matt Bjorke: You first got signed as a teenager to a record deal in Canada. How did that come about?
Adam Gregory: Well it all stemmed from a 5 song demo CD that I made at the time which landed in the hands of the vice president of Sony Music Canada. We had sent it around to many places, like The Oprah Winfrey Show, they called my parents and said “We think your son has something in his voice that we like.” They flew me down to Toronto and I met the president and vice president, they had me sing for ‘em and sure enough, that liked me and that lead me to signing a contract with them. Before that we had to go through the lawyer stuff. It was 13 years old. It was big thing for a 13 year old to enter into a major deal like that.
MB: Listening your first three records from Canada is like listening to you grow up. How did you handle being a recording star at such a young age?
AG: I never really thought of myself as a star per sae, I guess as well as any 13 year old would. People said I acted older than my age all of my life. I just kinda knew my direction and what I wanted and went for it. I was in Jr. High and High School when I was touring off and on. Thankfully I had forgiving teachers who would let me take my homework on the road. I was touring with Lonestar and The Wilkinsons and shows with folks like Ronnie Milsap, so I had good exposure. To come back to school to tell those stories at school to my friends, they thought it was amazing.
MB: How did you handle going to school while touring?
AG: The best that I could. There were a lot of people who asked for my autograph walking down the hall and there was even the odd person who didn’t like me before and they wanted to be my friend now (laughs). You know that common story…But everyone was supportive and understanding. Really a stress-free thing for me
MB: Did you miss anything that you might have wanted to do, like play team sports?
AG: I Grew up playing soccer and I was given the choice to sing or play soccer and I knew the direction I wanted to do. So once I started doing it I kinda noticed what I was in for. I love to sing it’s in my blood.
MB: Did you have a favorite artist to tour with while you were a kid?
AG: That tour with lonestar was a really good thing, lots of memories made. The exposure was incredible, we played lots of coluselums and stuff. Richie (McDonald), the singer at the time, was pretty kind. I was able to talk to him a few times. To have a big act like that give a little guy like me the time was pretty great
MB: When you decided to come to Nashville to pursue your career further, was it just a natural course of action?
AG: I think it was always the plan in I always had in my head, to pursue the music. I managed to build up a pretty big fan base in Canada. I always wanted to do it. I remember as a kid, always watching the ACM’s on TV and always wanting to be on there. That goal never failed. I never let it go, kept at ‘er. I took the stepping stones along the way to here.
MB: How did you hook up with Midas Records?
AG: Well, I was in a not-so-good deal in Canada and (aristoJeff Walker, who I’ve known for quite a few years, had taken me around to quite a few labels and he took me to Keith Folesse’s house where I met Keith and Brad Allen, who were just getting Midas up and running. They weren’t, at the time, ready to sign an artist like me but kept the interest saying that they’d look into me in a few years or something if I was still available.
A few years had passed and I came back to Nashville and I wanted to get myself established in Nashville, Jeff Walker was helping me again and he introduced me to Lawrence Mathis. Lawrence was going into retirement but Jeff thought he’d be the perfect manager for me because of his previous work with Jason Aldean. So he got Lawrence involved and revisited the Midas thing. At the same time, Lawrence was getting me out of that not so good deal I was in in Canada, which took about a year. Now I’m with Midas and with Big Machine Records now…
MB: Now Midas has teamed with Big Machine Records. That’s has to be amazing for you given their track record with other new artists like Taylor Swift.
AG: They know how to make stars out of their artists and it's exciting to see what they’re gonna do and where they’re going to take me. I’m anxiously waiting.
MB: Maybe you’ll be on Taylor Swift’s tour…
AG: That’d be cool. It’d be a good spot for sure. The population she can bring out in a crowd can’t be anything but good for me, for sure.
MB: How does it feel to have your USA debut single “Crazy Days” doing well on the American charts?
AG: It’s incredible. I’m thrilled about it. No likes, it’s taken a whole lot of work to get it that far, on everybody’s part, a team effort. I go out and do the radio tours all over the country. At the same time all the reps at Midas are making all the calls to get it up there. So I’m thankful for the team effort. I know it takes a lot of work to get into the Top 10 and the Top 5. There’s no dobut that Big Machine that has the push and pull to help me get up there.
MB: Did you write any songs for the record? If so, with whom?
AG: I did. Probably 9 of the 11 tracks are ones that I’ve co-written (Including single "Crazy Days," with Lee Brice). I’m thinking that when people hear this album they will get an insight into who I am as a person, Through the messages and just the direction the album takes. It takes everything from spiritual to breakups…It’s a life story kind of thing. It’s very universal and I think people will relate to it.
MB: When looking for songs, what are you looking for?
AG: Well, I won’t sing anything that doesn’t ring true to me. Just because I don’t want to have people get the wrong view of me. I’ve been known as a ballad singer in Canada and can sing them very well. I love singing them, and getting the meaning across. When I listen to a song, I listen to the tempo, the beat. When I love the music I listen to the words even more. I give every song a chance.
MB: When you set out to make this record what were your goals with it?
Just getting my story across. I now own my publishing, so it’s just a matter of building my catalog and I now have more of a chance to tell people who I am through the songs.
MB: Sometimes, many times, a label will tell you what you can and cannot record. Did you have any creative control on this record?
AG: With the last albums I did, I was with a major label and there was a 50-50 kind of split and say in the album. But they got a final list and say of what went on the record. Fortunately on this album, I get more of a say, which is incredible.
MB: Who are some of your heroes?
AG: I grew up listening to Vince Gill, Garth Brooks and George Strait. Vince Gill, I’s say not only as a singer but as a person. He always came across as being genuine and that you could talk to him. Garth Brooks, for how he took the world by storm and brought something new into country music and started a new generation.
MB: You actually recorded a Garth song, didn't you?
AG: I did, Its called “Sweet Memories.” When I was younger I met Bob Doyle, as I was looking for managers; he said he was happy to stay with Garth but did have a couple songs to play for me. How could I turn down a Garth song?
MB: If you could tour with anyone, who would it be? Why?
AG: Well, we already discussed Taylor Swift and our label connection but another one is Garth Brooks. If he went out on tour again, and it might be a slight chance but I’d love to get out on tour like that.
MB: What are your thoughts on the internet and how it relates to an artist’s career?
AG: I think if the record label can use it to the best of its ability. I think that the days of the record are limited and selling records has become like iTunes and if you can get ahold of that like the label has done with Taylor, she’s conquered myspace. To use their methods and stuff. It’s the way of the future and a real popular thing, for sure.
MB: What would you like to say to the people that are reading this interview at Roughstock?
AG: I can’t wait to get to all of you and I’m excited. Thank you for all of the support and God bless you all.