Episode 08: Cole Swindell


It’s 10pm backstage in a dimly lit room, stocked with whiskey and glowing in black light. Country music star Cole Swindell huddles up with his bandmates as shots are poured for a little known pre-show ritual. As the shots of whiskey are raised, Cole exclaims the bands mantra “win the night!” Just before exiting to take the stage the shots go down in unison, then Cole makes his way through the back halls with the enthusiasm of a high school football team taking the field, “let’s do this damn thing.” As he gets closer to the stage the noise from the awaiting audience grows louder and their excitement is palpable. You can literally feel the ground vibrating from the applause and boots stomping on the floor. We are in Sugar Land TX and this is Cole’s first headlining tour, Reason To Drink Tour.

Cole’s rise to the top of the Billboards may have come on quickly, but like so many successes stories it was earned, not given. He started his music career with one of the more humble jobs in the biz, selling merch for Luke Bryan. In the early 2000’s Cole began playing cover songs in bars, driven by a love of entertaining no matter the audience size. While this love never wavered, what did shift within was his desire to have the words fans were singing be words he wrote, and this is what he attributes his success to.

In 2010 Cole was signed as a songwriter, and prior to the 2013 release of his first major hit “Chillin’ It,” Cole wrote songs recorded by some of country music’s biggest acts. This passion for songwriting was fueled early on by a fellow Georgia Southern fraternity brother and musician, Luke Bryan. Cole recalls emailing Luke, who he didn’t know at the time, for advice on songwriting. He received a reply with a one-word answer, “Live.” To quote Cole now, “You live, you learn and you write about it.” Of all his life lessons put into lyrics “You Should Be Here,” a song written for his father who passed suddenly holds a spot as his favorite. “Putting myself out there, writing about real life experience. I knew I needed to hear it, but I don’t think I knew how many other people needed to hear it.” This is music for Cole. Sharing his talent, experience and passion in the hopes that others can connect and learn more about themselves.

You will be hard pressed to find someone who’s job is up on the stage yet is most at home with the crowd. Performing his songs in front of his fans is not something he takes for granted. That the difference between himself and those who have the talent, and paid their dues, but have not yet caught a break isn’t lost on him. “One day people aren’t going to want a picture. Without the folks in those seats out there every night, I can’t imagine what it would be like.” Pictures, autographs, or a quick high five, Cole takes time because he appreciates his opportunity. He is a fan, showman and songwriter, this is his Life on Tour.