Chase McGill Talks Penning Triple Chart Toppers And Making Country His Home

Chase McGill. Photo: Courtesy UMPG

In September 2018, Chase McGill earned his first No. 1 single with Luke Bryan’s “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset,” which McGill penned alongside Ryan Hurd and Zach Crowell. One month later, he earned his second No. 1, with Cole Swindell’s “Break Up In The End,” as it topped the chart in October. By December, McGill had notched a third chart-topper, with Kane Brown’s “Lose It.”

McGill, who is signed with UMPG Nashville and affiliated with BMI, recently celebrated 109 consecutive weeks with at least one track of his charting on the Country Airplay Charts.

Earlier this year, he earned his very first CMA Triple Play Award, being honored alongside songwriting heavyweights such as Ashley Gorley, Shane McAnally and Luke Combs, for earning three No. 1 hits in a single year. “Break Up In The End” earned a nomination for Song of the Year at the recent Academy of Country Music Awards.

Not a bad start to a songwriting career for Mississippi native McGill, who first began experimenting with music by starting a band in ninth grade.

“We didn’t really have anywhere to practice, and my mom was an assistant principal at an elementary school in town,” he recalls to MusicRow. “She’d let us go to their gym and play. I was playing an electric guitar at the time and one of the teachers heard us playing and let me borrow her Martin guitar. I remember loving the sound of an acoustic and just playing it until my fingers bled. I thought I ruined her guitar,” he quips.

Though none of McGill’s directly family members played music while he was growing up, he notes that a few of his cousins were accepted into Juilliard and one of his uncles was a local gospel singer.

“My direct family sounds—I mean—horrible. No rhythm, nothing. Maybe I got my interest in music from some of my uncles.” he ponders.

McGill was also heavily involved with baseball, though he eventually burned on pursuing the sport professionally. He attended Mississippi State University, playing in bands and traveling to gigs.

“I had this mindset at the time that the whole band has to write songs and you have to write all your own stuff,” he says. “You spend several years in a 15-passenger van with five other guys and you realize, woo, man I hate writing songs with that many people every day. And honestly, after seeing a good bit of the country, I got the traveling bone out of me. I started kind of realizing I don’t actually like the performing as much as I do just creating it.”

Those years of road gigs did help McGill diversify his playing and writing, as he dabbled in Americana, country and rock sounds.

While living in Los Angeles, McGill received timely advice when a friend suggested he try moving to Nashville and writing songs full time.

“I wanted to write songs that could make you feel emotion and tug at a heart string. With country music, I knew I could do that so that was definitely part of the attraction of Nashville. A couple of months after that, I was here,” he says. “A bunch of forks in the road led to that.”

In 2012, McGill met UMPG Exec. VP/GM Kent Earls via an ASCAP representative, and three years after arriving in Nashville, McGill was signed with UMPG Nashville.

“Chase came over and played three songs, with one of them being ‘Don’t It,’ and it just blew me away, lyrically and with the phrasing. I was just like how are you not signed?

“You always look for those little moments that stand out when you’re trying to sign a writer. After talking, we knew he was going to be really a workaholic—that he was going to dive in and give it his all—and secondly, the songs were there. During the meeting I asked Chase if he knew any of our song pluggers here, and he said, ‘Yeah, I know Travis [Gordon] really well from WME.’ So it was a no-brainer to sign him.”

His most recent hit “Lose It,” was co-written with fellow UMPG Nashville writer Kane Brown.

“To be put in the room with say Kane, it just made a lot of sense, because I knew that Chase lyrically would help Kane quite a bit with what he wanted to say, and that’s what, I think, makes Kane so unique is he has so many stories that he’s lived that he needs to say, and that’s why I think they write so well together,” Earls says. “And, obviously, adding Will [Weatherly] to the session just rounds it out.”

As getting into writers’ rooms with the artists themselves is so valued in today’s songwriting economy, “I joke that we spend more money on travel than we do on demos now,” quips Earls.

“So many times between the 16th and 18th Avenues, you can get caught up on look on what we can do with this lyric or ‘Did you hear that chord change?’ What’s awesome for me about writing on the road is disregarding the things that I sometimes care too much about, and going, ‘Man, here’s what the crowd cares about.’ Which is really what it’s all about.

“And, I’ve learned so much being out with Kane, or Luke, or Cole, and everybody, and going, ‘Man, I totally get it now.’ And then you go, “Ah, okay. Maybe we should veer a song in this direction.’ And I bring that back to Nashville with me.”

“Everybody in this building has believed from day one that we would be at this point, and now we’re getting to see down the road all these incredible songs getting recorded. He’s being called by everybody to write with them. It’s just incredible, and we think this run is just going to continue. He’s an incredible lyric guy, and he puts integrity in his songs.” Earls says.

Though McGill is co-writing with many of Nashville’s top tunesmiths, he does have a few more on the bucket list.

“Probably Alan Jackson. This guy was a huge influence on me. But then, I would be okay if we had a writing session, but we sat there, talked and we didn’t write a song. I would definitely settle for a burger and a grape snow cone,” sums McGill.

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at jnicholson@musicrow.com.

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