Brantley Gilbert is looking forward to a busy 2017 but he’s getting the ball rolling now with the release of his current single, “The Weekend,” the first tune from his upcoming album, The Devil Don’t Sleep, which will be available in January 2017.
Although Brantley, who was known for his rough-and-tumble partying ways, has changed over the years, the new single takes him back to his roots of those raucous country-rock party anthems he’s known for.
“I’m not quite as wild as I once was, but for me, when I get up onstage, ‘The Weekend’ gets me ready for the shows, the runs and the tours, because every weekend we’re showing up,” Brantley tells Nash Country Daily. “These people have been waiting on this night for months. For us, we get three of them in a weekend. It’s a party, and it gears me up for that, but it’s a good timing song—a feel good song—especially at a time when I feel like our country’s a little stressed.”
What isn’t stressed is Brantley. The laid back, fun-loving singer finds himself at a good place in his life—married to his wife, Amber Cochran, for a year and a half and sober for five years after hitting rock-bottom. Under that rugged and tough exterior, Brantley is in stark opposition to how one might construe him to be. The tattoos, piercings, leather jacket and beard may have some folks weary of the Georgia native. But what they don’t outwardly see is his kindness, his faith and a heart as big as they come.
“There was a time in my life where I think I had a misconstrued meaning of what tough was,” Brantley says of a period in his life that saw him quick to snap. “December 18 will be five years alcohol-free. Alcohol-free is a big thing for me. I think since then I don’t find myself in very many situations where I need my fists as much. It’s more about being spiritually tough and morally tough for myself and the people around me.
“I’ve always been a believer first above anything else,” Brantley continues. “I feel like I’m like any other Christian. I think I’ve definitely strayed from time and time, and my relationship has not always been the best, but I think that’s always been a part of my music as well. When I created that space bad things happened, but lessons were learned. Blood was spilled, tears were shed, but lessons were learned. It’s kind of cliché, but it’s so true. I wouldn’t take anything back. I don’t regret anything, which is kind of hard to say, because there’s a lot of bad things. If you flip back a few pages in this book, it gets pretty dirty. It gets pretty rough. But had it not been for that, I don’t think it would be as good as it is now.”
The Devil Don’t Sleep is Brantley’s fourth studio album—the follow up to 2014’s Just As I Am, which spawned No. 1 hits “Bottoms Up and “One Hell of an Amen.”
“All of my records are chapters of my life,” explains Brantley. “They always cover the good the bad and ugly. With this one [The Devil Don’t Sleep], I kept waiting on the ugly. In the past, my life has been a constant cycle of doing really well and then straight to rock bottom. For some reason my rock bottom has a shovel at the bottom of it [laughs]. I don’t understand. It’s kind of a constant cycle. But with this [album] it was really interesting because I really was waiting on more of the ugly—which is a terrible way to live waiting on something terrible to happen. But getting back with my wife and being married and that whole chapter of my life is really a lot of good. It’s been an extremely blessed chapter of my life. Probably the most blessed chapters that I can think of.”
But what about the albums name? Would a person who is happy and in a good place want to conjure up images of his reckless ways. For Brantley, the title is a reminder to him to keep him from returning to the temptations that have veered him off track in the past.
“The Devil Don’t Sleep is really all about just being conscious of the temptations and the traps that I’ve always fallen into—the bad decisions that I’ve always reverted to, said Brantley. “Those bone headed moments of my life, they’re always there. Decisions are always there to make.The Devil Don’t Sleep, for me, is always just being aware that I am an addict. I’m a recovering addict, but I’ll always be an addict. Those temptations are there. There’s a lot of roads that go left. It’s about just appreciating the fact that God has blessed me so much in this chapter of my life and appreciating my marriage and that relationship that is so fulfilling to me. It’s my life. She’s my best friend. She’s the best player on our team. It’s just about appreciating those things but at the same time, being conscious that the shadows are right around the corner.”
The “Bottoms Up” singer has a lot more to appreciate these days as he gears up for a headlining tour, The Devil Don’t Sleep Tour 2017, that will kick off in February 2017 along with opening acts Tucker Beathard and Luke Combs. The album will offer 16 brand-new songs penned or co-penned by Brantley and will be available in two versions, Red and Blue.
“You got the Red version and the Blue version,” Brantley explains. “As we’ve been playing shows throughout the years, there are songs, work tapes or demos that people have asked about—that they could find them in random places—but we finally wanted to make them available for everybody. There are two different versions that you can pick up. We’re extremely excited about it. Again, this is another chapter of my life, and we’re really stoked about this. I don’t know if I’ve ever done [an album] that is as back and forth as this one is. It covers a lot of ground as far as just making the genre versatile. It just does a little bit of everything. It yins and yangs a lot in the weirdest way. It’s awesome. I’m stoked about it.”
Photo by James Minchin/BMLG