Brett Young’s Co-Write With Gavin DeGraw Came With One Rule
To call Brett Young a Gavin DeGraw fan is an understatement. "I pretty much stalked Gavin for a year's worth of shows 12 or 13 years ago," the singer explained to The Boot and other media at a recent press event. "I went to 13 shows in a year, and the last one was in Hawaii. He was playing the Honolulu Marathon."
Young and DeGraw had already met once before the then-aspiring performer traveled to Hawaii to attend that concert. During that first meeting, Young told his idol about his plans to release a debut EP, and the singer offered him a piece of advice -- "[don't] change so much to lose the fans that you have, but ... change enough that you can hopefully go out and grab some new ones" -- that Young has used as a blueprint for his career.
Then, in Hawaii, when they met for a second time, DeGraw remembered Young and asked him how that EP had turned out. "His memory's incredible. I mean, anybody that's met him knows that," Young adds. "But he was like, 'Hey, man, listen, what are you doing after the show? I'm staying in Hawaii for the whole week ... Let's grab a beer.' We've kept in touch ever since."
Over the next decade-plus, the two artists remained friends, and Young's star as an artist eventually began to rise. He never wanted to ask DeGraw for a musical collaboration, though, because he didn't want to take advantage of their relationship.
"I've never in 12 years wanted to mix business and pleasure," Young admits. "I didn't want him to have to question my motives as a friend, so I just never asked."
However, when Young set out to write the music for his second album, Ticket to L.A., it seemed as though it might be the right time for the country star to fulfill a long-held dream and work with his icon. "We were both living in Nashville and hanging out quite a bit," Young recalls. "I just went, 'Alright, here's the deal. I've never asked, but I'm writing [an album], and I really wanna write [a song] with you.'"
To his amazement, DeGraw said yes -- on one condition. "He goes, 'Alright, one thing though: You keep telling me your label wants that song that's not about a girl, that they want a life song. We gotta write your story,'" Young continues. "That was his stipulation."
The result is "Chapters," a song that DeGraw both contributed vocals to and co-wrote. Young says that having DeGraw's perspective on the track is especially meaningful to him because of their shared experience of becoming performing artists in one of the "chapters" of their lives.
"The happy coincidence is that the third chapter of my story is music, and that's Gavin's story, too," he notes. "So the writing process was a blast. We got to bring in [co-writer] Ross Copperman, who's a huge Gavin fan as well. And on top of getting to write with him, getting to feature him on the record -- it was all pretty special."
Ticket to L.A. is slotted for release on Dec. 7. To pre-order the album or browse special limited-edition bundles, go to Young's website.
Watch Brett Young Perform "In Case You Didn't Know" in Nashville