Matt Stell is not your average country music artist. Though Stell’s first radio single was a love song, he and his band describe themselves as a rock band with a bit of twang.
“We get after it pretty hard,” Stell said in an interview with Whatzup. “We like to party and play our guitars loud and jam out. It’s definitely a rock show.”
Stell had a later start into the music industry. As a college basketball player, he turned to music to fill his free time.
“It’s a winter sport, so you’re on campus the whole winter break, and you have a lot of spare time when you’re not practicing or traveling for games,” Stell said. “I got kind of tired of playing PlayStation with my teammates, and asked my mom to bring up a guitar she’d gotten me when I was 12 that I never really messed with.”
Once he had his guitar, Stell would sit in front of his computer screen and learn how to play old country, bluegrass, and southern rock songs.
One thing led to another, and soon, Stell was writing his own songs.
“Then, there was a venue that opened up, and they catered to that kind of thing,” Stell said. “So, I started haunting that place while I wasn’t traveling, and then I stuck with it and kept playing while I was in school.”
After receiving his master’s degree, he stayed relatively busy playing music, but also carved out time to help his dad’s construction business and his grandma’s farm. Ultimately, he chose the music path.
Stressful and rewarding
Music has been challenging over the years for Stell since it was all uncharted territory.
“I had a few markets I could go play and people would come before I moved to Nashville, but not really,” Stell said. “Especially not places that I’d never been before.”
This has been one of the most stressful aspects of going out on his first headlining tour, specifically during the first week.
“You’re doing this tour and you’re hoping that anybody shows up,” Stell said. “Then when they do, luckily, it’s really great.”
While at first he didn’t know what to expect, Stell said this tour has been amazing.
“We’ve been having great shows,” Stell said. “They’ve been packed. And, I’m getting to play with Ray Fulcher and Chris Bandi on the tour, and we’ve been having such a great time together.”
Stell will perform at The Clyde on March 19. In addition to this tour, Stell will join Rascal Flatts’ farewell tour and Toby Keith’s tour.
“Everywhere But On,” Stell’s latest radio single, is out now and is one of Stell’s favorite songs he’s ever written.
“I’m really living the dream,” Stell said. “I get to write music when I’m not traveling to play music, and it’s a ton of fun.”
New music is set to be released this summer, and Stell has already introduced some of it to crowds.
“We were coming to these places having to play some songs that people know, hopefully, but a lot of stuff they don’t,” Stell said. “It’s been fun to watch what songs catch people’s ear. We’re having a lot of fun playing new music.”
Writing songs that matter
For Stell, the most rewarding part of this career is making something people care about — that was his goal from the start.
“Music means something special to me, and nothing makes me feel like my favorite songs,” Stell said. “If I can write songs that matter to people in the way that songs matter to me, and people come out and they’re singing the songs back, that’s the most gratifying part for me.”
Having started his music career later in life, Stell might’ve done some things differently, but he couldn’t imagine having a better situation in terms of everyone involved with his music.
“The team is so great that if the timing would’ve been different, that might not have been something I would’ve had,” Stell said. “I hesitate to second guess, but I spent a lot of time in a van and trailer just trying to play music all over Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, just kind of that mid-south area.”
If the opportunity had presented itself earlier, he may have moved to Nashville sooner, as that is where he ended up finding a home.
“I sort of resisted it for a while, so I might’ve done that differently, but again, if that meant that I couldn’t work with the people I work with now, I wouldn’t want to trade that,” Stell said.
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