Mic Check: Country singer Brian Callihan breaking through with new album

Country singer Brian Callihan hails from Little Dublin, Georgia and recently released his self-titled debut album.
Country singer Brian Callihan hails from Little Dublin, Georgia and recently released his self-titled debut album.

Credit: Courtesy

Credit: Courtesy

Editor’s note: With live music and concert reviews on hold due to COVID-19, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is focusing on how Georgia musicians are spending their time in our feature, Mic Check.

Brian Callihan knows songwriting.

Since the age of 12, the country artist who grew up in the “little stoplight town” on the east side of Dublin in south Georgia, channeled his experiences into lyrics, and when he moved to Nashville, found quick songwriting bonds with Josh Martin and Cole Swindell.

Since his first publishing deal in 2011, Callihan has written for Trent Tomlinson, Dylan Scott and his buddy — and fellow Georgian — Swindell, while also piquing the interest of Scotty McCreery and Dierks Bentley with his offerings.

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But in addition to writing for others, Callihan is scoping a path as a solo artist, having released his self-titled debut in November following the well-received singles “Broke It Down” and “Hometown Boys.”

Calling from his current home city of Springfield, Tennessee, a couple of weeks ago, the quietly thoughtful Callihan talked about his Georgia roots and the inspiration behind some of his songs.

Q: You played a lot around Georgia when you were a teenager. Where were some of the places you performed?

A: I played my first little gig in Capital City (Bar) in Milledgeville. I started playing in Statesboro when all the bars were down there — that was the place to play 10 years ago, and that’s where I kind of cut my teeth. Playing for college crowds, they’ll listen to anybody; it don’t matter what you play! I played some originals but also covers. There were a handful of people there who knew my stuff.

Country singer Brian Callihan hails from Little Dublin, Georgia and recently released his self-titled debut album.
Country singer Brian Callihan hails from Little Dublin, Georgia and recently released his self-titled debut album.

Credit: Courtesy

Credit: Courtesy

Q: When you started working on your debut album, had the pandemic arrived? Was it always a plan to record and release it last year?

A: We had planned that timeline, and when (pandemic) things starting happening, we chose to move forward and record and release. We started recording about a year ago, maybe March (2020), at Station West in Nashville.

Q: You work with a lot of top songwriters on the album. What do you like about the collaborative process?

A: Some of it probably polished some of my stuff up a little. I just wrote what I thought and felt. I never thought about trying to say a line a different way, but when you start writing with hit songwriters, you figure out why they’re hit songwriters. You learn about saying the same thing in a different way or a shorter way.

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Q: Tell me about your history with Cole Swindell. Was your Georgia background a bond?

A: Yeah, we kind of knew of each other when we lived in Georgia. We met up in Nashville. He’d been in there about a year or so before me, and we started writing together and hanging out.

Q: The song “I See Ghosts,” is that inspired by your hometown?

A: Yes. I wrote that with Matt Rogers and Wynn (Varble). We all put pieces of our lives and where we’re from into (the song). Wynn is from Georgia, too. Matt is from Pennsylvania and grew up on the outskirts in a rural setting, so we all put it in there. Small towns are disappearing.

Q: Who have you been listening to lately?

A: I listen to a lot of old stuff, like George Jones. I’m big into the new Morgan Wallen and some Riley Green. Even some of that Tyler Childers stuff has a good vibe to it. I guess anything that really sounds authentic. Real stuff. Stuff that isn’t just about a girl coming up in a truck. Keith Whitley is one of my all-time favorites, and I listen to Merle (Haggard) and Randy Travis, George Strait, Tracy Lawrence. I like (Jason) Aldean, too, his earlier stuff, especially.

Q: What do the next few months look like for you?

A: Hopefully shows kick up. We’ve got some stuff starting to get booked in the Midwest, South Dakota and Texas. But I don’t know about this year. I think everyone is waiting to see what states will let you play. I think everyone is over livestreams. It’s just not the same. It’s fun, but it’s still not the same. I’ll be writing and hopefully, starting around April, a few things will be coming in, but May or June is what it’s looking like for the full band. Hopefully touring returns back to normal and we don’t have to wear masks.

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