Country artist Brett Kissel has been crossing the nation with his Airwaves Tour that includes a Red Deer stop on Nov. 22nd at Cowboys Bar.
After the success Kissel had with his major label debut CD Started With A Song, it would be tempting for anyone to kick off their boots, crack a cold one or two and imagine things couldn’t get any better. His latest disc, Pick Me Up, was released this past September. The first single, Airwaves, shot to number one earlier this year and the latest single – the title track from the record – is proving to be a hit as well.
“It’s been incredible – one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” he said regarding the current tour. “Lots of sold out shows and we will have played every province by the time the tour is done. We are very, very lucky.”
As for Pick Me Up, Kissel said the vision from the start was simple – to harness the energy he sees in his live shows and inject it into the recording process. And for those tunes with a comparatively happy lyric, he wanted listeners to be able to ‘hear’ a smile.
“I wanted them to hear great energy and excitement,” he said, adding he wanted the emotions to shine through on the ballads as well. There’s no question he has succeeded, thanks also to producers Bart McKay and Mickey Jack Cones.
Kissel said both men contributed enormously to the project, and Cones in particular helped him explore some fresh territory as the well-known producer comes from a, “Completely different side of country.
“I think that allowed me to do something different with the record, and make it sound a little bit more modern,” he explained, adding that much of the CD was recorded in Canada. “That was a very special thing for me, and something that I’m really proud of,” he said. “I think we are able to officially over the next few years, be able to bridge the gap between what can be done in Nashville and can’t be done in Canada. Now, there is nothing that we can’t do with the technology because of the production (capabilities) and the talent up here in Canada.”
Meanwhile, his Juno Award for Breakthrough Artist marked the first time in 17 years a country act earned the honour. He had five Billboard Canada Top 10 singles, two number one videos on CMT’s Top 20 Countdown and a leading eight Canadian Country Music Association Award nominations, of which he won two.
It hasn’t been too long since Kissel was last in town – he performed at Westerner Days in July of last year and hit the stage with Brad Paisley in the fall of 2014 as well.
Originally from Flat Lake, Alberta, Kissel’s passion for music was sparked early on. And his folks have pointed out that he’s been an attention-seeker his whole life. He was given a guitar at seven and it wasn’t long before a gift for making music was very apparent. At 10, he was playing three-chord Johnny Cash songs at talent shows.
“It was a house of music, although my parents didn’t play anything,” he recalls of his growing up years. “They didn’t play or sing. My grandparents didn’t and my cousins didn’t. Not even a single person in the entire extended family was really involved in music.
“We loved it – we went to concerts and listened to the radio a lot. My dad and I listened to bands like the Eagles or Alabama and my mom and I listened to George Strait all the time. My grandparents listened to traditional country all the time also.
“So I was influenced by music, even though we then had nothing to do with the music business,” he said.
“My parents would say that from a very early age, I was an attention seeker, I loved the spotlight and I was always performing,” he said. “I was singing as a little, little kid – at seven years of age I got my first guitar and I’d be strumming Garth Brooks songs and singing along to the radio.
“But I think I really started to dive into it when I was 11 or 12. I was entering competitions and performing a lot locally.” He also starting landing paid gigs. “Before you know it, I’m 14 years old and my dad has to set up a bank account for me because I was working every Friday, Saturday and Sunday! I’d be doing homework in the van as we drove down to Red Deer or up to Cold Lake,” he recalled.
One thing was for certain – there was no looking back. Kissel said he’s always felt very much at home onstage. “Music is the only thing I’ve every really wanted to do,” he has said. “And being onstage is my favourite thing – there is nowhere else I’d rather be. Being able to entertain is the best thing in the world. There is no way to describe that feeling.”