Adam Sanders has been writing some of the biggest country radio songs you know for a while. He co-wrote “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey” for Cole Swindell, the massive 2014 breakout hit for the latter. He also co-wrote a number one for Dustin Lynch, “Hell of a Night.” He’s spent the better part of a decade working Music Row, writing songs for Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley and Tyler Farr, among others. Now, at 32, he has a feeling he’s ready to do it on his own. What if he’s right?
What if I’m Right? is the title of his debut album and the lead single. He had released a few singles before the record, including “Damn Strait,” a song that speaks a bit to one of his influences, though the Lake City, Florida native says that Alan Jackson was his biggest influence as a kid.
He and I talked about that sound, what country itself sounds like and the risk that he took to find out if he’s right.
How did “Daddy, Jesus and Earnhardt” come to be? Are you still a big NASCAR fan?
I wrote this one with my buddies Cole Swindell, Taylor Phillips and Brock Berryhill. One weekend, Cole had asked Taylor and I to jump on the bus to go down to the NASCAR race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. As we were driving down we started talking about the day Dale Earnhardt died, and how NASCAR shaped our childhood. Later that night around 1 a.m., the rest is history. We wrote that song right there in turn four of the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Definitely, still a NASCAR fan today. I’m pulling for Martin Truex these days.
How did your relationship with Cole Swindell begin and how have y’all grown together?
Cole was literally one of the first people I met when I moved to Nashville. We met through a mutual friend who was also the third co-writer on “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey,” Josh Martin. Since those days, we’ve been able to share the stage together and he’s a guy who’s always championed what I’ve done in my artist career and continues to give me advice.
How does it feel to finally have your own record at 33? Is this the path now or will you continue to write for other artists?
It feels like a lifetime in the making to finally have this album out and I’m so grateful. I truly believe this is just the beginning of what’s to come. My goal is to show up every day to write the best song I can and let the cards fall where they may.
And you sold all of your previous publishing rights to make this happen?
Yes, I took a big risk and basically bet that farm on this album and funded the entire project myself because I believed in myself and the music that much. It’s the reason we decided to name the album What If I’m Right.
You’ve mentioned that 90s guys were a big influence on you, guys like George Strait and Alan Jackson, and this sound kind of fits into that mold a little bit. It’s certainly a lot more “traditional” to what we grew up on than the sound of the past few years. Is that what you were going for?
Yes, I wanted this album to be the perfect fit between 90’s country and today’s country and have a sound that could appeal to an audience all across the world.
It’s funny, I was thinking about it recently–my grandpa loved country music in the 60s and that was “real” country music to him. My dad loved country music in the 70s and 80s and that was “real” country music to him. And I grew up on 80s and 90s country music. Country can sound like a lot of things, even though people always think that their version is the best.