New Music Friday Featuring Austin Merrill
Thank you so much for chatting with us Austin! Was there ever music playing in the kitchen growing up? There may not have been much music played in the kitchen, but I used to sing to myself while I did the dishes. I was on dish duty for many, many years, and I’ve actually written lyrics while standing at that sink. So, I think that counts.
Where is your favorite place to eat in your hometown? There’s a place back home in Bend, Oregon called Hardy’s Hot Wings, and they’re still the best wings I’ve ever had. We go all the time when I’m back home. Hardy, the owner, is a big fan of my music and he keeps tabs on my Nashville career. In fact, that reminds me, I owe him a signed CD.
If you could share a meal with any four individuals, living or dead, who would they be? In a perfect world, me, Walt Disney, George Washington, Gordon Ramsay, and Jerry Seinfeld would all drive down to New Orleans for some shrimp and sausage gumbo.
What's your favorite family recipe? That’s a tough one, because my mom is a really good cook. Her shredded beef enchiladas and her salsa are easily two of her greatest hits. She also makes really good tamales.
Did you always want to be a musician or was there a specific moment that something happened that made you think "this is what I want to do with my life." If so, what was it?
I’ve been playing music for as long as I can remember, and it’s always been a central part of my life. While I didn’t start out singing and writing country music, it was a natural progression when I moved to Nashville back in 2008. I found my calling, or my calling found me. And now country music and I go together like ham and cheese.
Where did you grow up and how has that influenced your style of music? I grew up in Bend, Oregon, and a lot of people aren’t aware that country music is huge in Oregon, especially on my side of the state. I hail from the Oregon desert, and it looks an awful lot like the lands that the cowboys have been singing about on the radio for decades.
What song that you have recorded means the most to you and why? I recorded a song earlier this year called “One More Mile”, which I wrote late last year. Almost immediately after I wrote it, a close family friend passed away and I sang it at his memorial service. That was a special moment, and I was very happy to release that song this past summer. It’s available on all streaming platforms.
You recently released your new single, "All In," that you also wrote. Tell us about the writing process and where the idea came from. My single “All In” is about having the guts to risk it all on a relationship, win or lose. Love is a gamble, and the poker references just kept coming when I sat down to write it. It’s a true story, and I’m really excited to share it with the world. I believe it’s my best work to date.
When/where do you do your best writing? Song ideas can come to me at almost any time and place. The only consistent factor is that I usually have to be alone with my thoughts. That can happen whether I’m doing the dishes or driving down the road. Sometimes I sit down with my guitar, intent on finding inspiration. But more often than not, the best ideas come when I least expect them.
1Finally, if you could be sponsored by one food/drink brand who would it be and why? Definitely Chipotle. I’m not sure I’d be alive today without them. Considering how much I go to Chipotle; the free food alone would make any sponsorship totally worth it.
About Austin Merrill:
With a rich, distinctive voice and a knack for writing powerful songs with catchy melodies, singer-songwriter and Foundry Records recording artist Austin Merrill is proving to be one of country music's brightest rising stars. Merrill’s single “One More Mile,” produced by GRAMMY Award-winning producer Mark Bright (Carrie Underwood), was released on June 26 and has already garnered over 250,000 streams. American Songwriter exclusively premiered the video, which features footage from the recording session for "One More Mile," filmed at Starstruck Studios. "One More Mile" follows Merrill's debut EP, Whiskey & Water, released last spring and also written entirely by Merrill. The lead single "You'll Come Knocking" was featured as part of CMT’s "Next Up Now" program, received placement on Spotify's New Boots Playlist and has racked up over 600,000 streams, while the title track ranked Top 30 on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Chart. Music has played an essential role in Merrill's life from an early age, helping forge a strong sense of individuality and creativity in a multicultural family. Country music was family music for Merrill, and the influences of his favorite childhood artists such as Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, and Shenandoah can still be heard in the music he writes and sings today. The Oregon native first came to Nashville as an award-winning upright bassist and accomplished sax player. After graduating from Vanderbilt University, Merrill followed another lifelong calling and joined the U.S. Army. He recently finished up his service as a Lieutenant in the Tennessee Army National Guard and released his new single "All In." As American Songwriter explains, “It’s evident not only does his heart lie with country music of the 90’s and 00’s but he has the talent to seamlessly blend the traditional stylings he grew up on with the modern sound country listeners are drawn to today.”