Riley Green’s life has been a whirlwind of studios, writing rooms, tour buses, and radio station conference rooms since he signed with Big Machine Label Group barely 16 months ago.
He’s earned a No. 1 single with “There Was This Girl,” and released his four-song EP Get That Man A Beer last month. His follow up single, “In Love By Now,” is climbing the radio charts.
“I don’t know if it will ever really sink in, all that is going on,” he says. “I couldn’t even dream that I would have a record deal, so that was kind of a victory in itself. The other thing is, we had the number one single, and I think we put the next single out the next Monday, so it never stops, it’s just kind of wide open.”
Alabama native Green had been making regular trips to write songs in Nashville–“There Was This Girl,” written with Erik Dylan, was the result of one of those regular migrations. After an indie EP in 2017, Green found himself in a four-way bidding war among several Nashville labels, before signing with Big Machine in March 2018.
“I ended up with four different labels, Warner Brothers, Universal, Big Loud, and Big Machine,” he recalls. “They were all great. At the end of the day, a lot of it has to do with where I felt I was going to get the most attention. Big Machine came to me with ideas they loved, I really felt they were going to stick by my brand that I had already built.”
He recalled signing his deal at Joe’s Bar in Chicago. “Jimmy [Harnen] and them gave me a bottle of Crystal and we walked around the streets of Chicago. I didn’t sign that night, but we still drank the champagne.”
“In Love By Now,” is a slice of heartbreak wrapped in up-tempo ‘90s reminiscent sounds. Green penned the track alongside Marv Green, Ben Hayslip and Rhett Akins, the artist and writer behind ‘90s hit “That Ain’t My Truck,” which can still be heard on country radio.
“That guy in the song I think plays pretty well the aw shucks I lost her kind of thing. I grew up listening to that kind of country music, but also I was writing with a lot of ‘90s country guys and that doesn’t hurt at all. It just gives a different way to write a song that’s been written a lot of times, I guess.”
Green is the sole writer on another standout song on the EP, “Numbers On The Cars,” written about his great uncle’s battle with Alzheimer’s.
“I watched him kind of go from the guy who was always talking, always cutting up, to the quietest one in the room. He was the big NASCAR Fan, a big fisherman. That was one of those things I just knew he’d always be able to tell me, who drove what car and what the numbers were, who the sponsors were. So it was odd to do a song about Alzheimer’s and NASCAR I guess, but it’s cool to see how people can take it and make it about their own situation or their own family member.”
Green has seen first-hand the impact of those songs on fans over the past several weeks, as he’s been on the road opening shows for Brad Paisley.
“Going out in front of someone else’ fans is something I’ve never been able to do. His fans are more traditional country music fans and Brad’s whole team is great. That’s the one good thing about country music, is all these artists who have been doing this for 20-something years, he was where I was at one time and he gets it. Everyone helps each other out. I can say we’re not roughing it on this tour. He’s got catering and he rented out a Laser Tag and Go-Kart venue after a show in Montana. He takes good care of us, but I’m sure the pranks are coming,” he says of Paisley’s notorious tour pranks.
Given the hectic schedule of touring, and time spent in the studio working on a full album, Green hasn’t yet splurged on much to celebrate his success.
“I’ve talked myself out of a lot of things because I don’t have much time. There’s no reason to buy a big fancy truck because I wouldn’t be able to use it, I’m on a bus or a plane all the time. I will say that since I’ve had a little bit of success, I don’t mind spending money on guitars anymore. I don’t think I ever had a really nice guitar until I signed a record deal. I thought, ‘Well, I’m doing this for a living now and I can make money off of it. So now I have a little collection of like 12 or 15 guitars.”
He jokes he still has a long way to go to catch up with Paisley’s collection.
“He’s got like 15 guitars on stage at all times,” he jokes. “If I have a career like he does, I’ll get plenty of guitars.”
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