1. Hi Austin, can you tell me a little bit about yourself before you became a country musician?
Well, I started singing and writing country songs when I was 18, so I guess before that I was a professional child. But more recently, I was a lieutenant in the Tennessee Army National Guard prior to becoming a full-time musician. I actually just finished up my time in uniform. It was the honor of a lifetime to serve this great nation, but I am happy to close that chapter of my life and focus entirely on music.
2. What made you decide to have a career in country music?
Music has always been a passion of mine. My mom and dad played almost exclusively country music in the car and at home, so when I started expressing myself through original songs it was only natural that I drifted toward the genre that I knew best. I love country music, both old and new, and I try to show that through the songs I write.
3. Do you have a favorite lyric in your new single “All In?”
“You’re the jackpot, I’m a longshot. I might win, then again I might not, but I’m all in.” I think those two lines sum up the story as good as any others. Love is a gamble, and sometimes you have to risk it all by putting yourself out there for someone. You might win. You might lose. But you’ll never know until you try.
4. Who are some of your musical icons?
I grew up on all the 90’s country greats. Basically, every artist from that era and beyond had at least a couple of hits that have influenced my sound and style. If I had to choose a few in particular, I’d say Vince Gill, Alan Jackson and Keith Urban are the artists that drew me in the most. They each have very definable, unique sounds, and I enjoy and appreciate their music to this day.
5. How would you describe your music in 3 to 5 words?
Haha, that’s a tough one. I guess I’ll choose the words: different, new, and familiar. I think my voice and songwriting style live in their own space and have a uniqueness to them, but listeners will still hear elements of traditional country music that are very familiar to them. I may bring a fresh sound, but people can tell I’m a country boy at heart.
6. What are a few of your favorite venues or events to play at?
The coolest show I’ve ever played was in downtown Nashville at a venue called Acme Feed & Seed. I got to open a sold-out show for the band Shenandoah, who is one of my all-time favorite bands. That was a surreal moment. Marty [the lead singer] even brought me back up on stage to help them sing their classic hit “Church on Cumberland Road.” It doesn’t get any better than that.
7. What do you like to do in your free time when you are not working on your music?
I think it’s important for an artist to have hobbies completely unrelated to music. It helps provide balance. I’m a lifelong snowboarder, and I play a lot of disc golf when the weather is nice. I’m also a good hackeysacker. If I’m walking by and I see a good hack circle going on, I’m absolutely joining in. But try as I might, even during my free time I’ve got a song in my head I’m working on.
8. What is one of your favorite quotes?
Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Unless a man is master of his soul, all other kinds of mastery amount to little.” A career as a recording artist can be a rather selfish endeavor, and I believe it’s important to pursue anything in this life only for the right reasons. If the music I create helps someone through a tough time in their life or helps them process certain emotions, then it’s all worth it. Whatever we do in life, it has to be with others in mind.
9. Is there anything else you would like to share?
I’m really excited to release my new track “All In” to the world, and thank you for the interview. If people want to join me on this crazy journey I’m on, follow me at @austinmerrillmusic for updates on new songs, videos, tour dates, and everything else Austin. Take care and stay safe out there.