Like many young talents that move to Nashville seeking stardom as a country music artist only to find themselves roped in and caught up in the songwriters legion of Music City, Brian Callihan’s story is a familiar one, but (pun intended) he is still very much writing it. He left his little hometown in rural southern Georgia with ambitious designs on Nashville and spent years on a tight rope in a balancing act between his need for the stage and the demands of a published songwriter. As a kid he was able to do this with greater ease because a tough childhood and the lack of contentment at home made plenty of room for the pursuit of escapism…and that’s what music was for him.
In early 2020 he began working on his new album. If you consider that the entire album is Callihan’s personal country boy declaration all dressed up in Wranglers, boots and a cowboy hat, then “All A Man Needs” is the theme song. It’s an old dog, and old car, and an old time type of country living that marks the essentials in life. In an ode to his grandfather, “Proud” is a two-sided coin representing both the legacy of such a full life led, and the pride in sharing that family name.
Raised on a small farm in South Georgia, your focus was on playing sports (baseball and football) and hunting until you heard Keith Whitley’s Greatest Hits album. What about Whitley’s music changed your life?
It was the emotion in his voice and how vocally he could bend the notes to match the lyric. Keith was one of the best.
Growing up, which blues and Southern rock artists were your favorites to listen to?
You purchased a guitar with extra money earned from catching overpopulated wild hogs on weekends. How does one catch a wild hog?
I grew up catching hogs with dogs with my daddy and started very young. I purchased the guitar with side money I made not just by catching hogs.
When you moved to Nashville at 21, you already had nine years of songwriting experience. You built up your catalog and connections (including Cole Swindell, Josh Thompson, Adam Sanders) from the start, signed publishing deals, had other artists record your songs, and performed at the Key West Songwriters Festival and CMA Music Festival. Now, a decade plus later, comes your self-titled debut album, which is already in the iTunes Top 15 for country albums pre orders. Given the release date is around Thanksgiving, what/whom do you give thanks for with this release?
To everybody who has stuck with me in this crazy dream …way too many names to mention that’s been there from the beginning.
“Friendships get a whole lot of songs cut.” One of your all-time favorite songs you’ve co-written (Matt Rogers, Wynn Varble) is “Living Room,” which was a hit for Dylan Scott. How did Scott come to record the song?
That song got passed around for a little while before it got cut. Justin Moore had it on hold also Casey James before it finally landed with Dylan Scott. I believe it was Word Entertainment who pitched the song to Dylan.
“Even broke it down to a total stranger and he couldn’t even tell me why you’re gone I ain’t full of hate or anger girl right now I’m just broken down.” The album’s first single was “Broke It Down,” co-written with Harrison Kindy and Larry McCoy. Parade Magazine wrote that the song’s video “transforms the lyrics that show the vulnerability of a past turned into something beautiful.” Putting together the storyboard before filming with director Dylan Rucker, whose idea was it to put together a broken-down man in a serene setting (Mount Pleasant, Tennessee) to tell the song’s story?
That is one of the farms I am blessed to be able to hunt on. A good friend of mine owns it. Mount Pleasant is beautiful.
Brian Callihan Premieres His Celebration of "Hometown Boys"
Brian Callihan would seem to be the perfect all-American guy. Raised in a small town in Georgia and currently residing…
American Songwriter Magazine said, “Hometown Boys” … relates to every man.” What makes this song an anthem for how small-town, country life, with its lessons about respect, honor, and hard work, has shaped you?
It’s definitely made me who I am, and every time I kinda get out of line a little (haha), I’m reminded of my upbringing.
Warning whoever is next … “Same Thing She Told Me” might be the male version of Carly Pearce’s “Next Girl.” Can you describe day you co-wrote the song?
It was one those days that everything was just working. We all put a little of ourselves in it.
Staying up-to-date with ever changing technology throughout the creative process. What other challenges did you overcome as you self-produced your first full length album, alongside engineers Bart Bush and Jacob Rice?
I didn’t really have any challenges. I just sang it the only way I knew how.
Golf. Fishing. Archery. Hunting. What else have you been up to these past few months?
Been writing a good bit and playing some live stream shows. I’m ready to be able to play some full band live shows.