Sitting in his garage one evening with Tim Montana, Scott Brown of the Scooter Brown Band turned to his longtime friend and collaborator and asked, “Is this the country station?” When he confirmed that the noise coming from the radio was from the local station, Brown laughed, “if this is country, then I don’t know what I am anymore.” Montana shook his head, adding, “it ain’t country at all.”
The line stuck. And the two fervent disciples of traditional country music picked up their guitars to pen the Scooter Brown Band’s new single, “Country At All.”
Who in the hell put this music on my radio / And where’d all the outlaws and good ole’ boys go? Brown laments, introducing the predicament.
The artist expresses that it is not so much a jab at mainstream country music, he and Montana respect all types of music and creative expressions, but he would “like to see more space on country radio for traditional sounds.”
“I don’t hear many stylists anymore,” Brown clarifies about this stance. “When you heard Reba on the radio in the ‘90s, you knew it was Reba McEntire. The same goes with Garth Brooks—you knew it was Garth, Patty Loveless, Faith Hill, Clint Black. They were stylists with their own unique sound that set them apart from everybody else.”
The soulful track is Brown’s third single following his 2017 album, American Son. His career kicked off in 2009, after serving over four years as a United States Marine with two tours overseas, one in combat in Iraq.
The stage performer in him is partial to the gritty Southern-style rock he performs at his show that electrifies his loyal fans. Not wearing that hat for the past year has left him “musically confused.”
“Music is an outlet for people,” Brown begins. “And the amazing thing about a concert is you can get lost in that 90 minutes, and not have to think about your troubles, whatever they might be, and just an escape. The cool part of being a performer is being that escape for people. Not serving that purpose for my fans has been a huge downfall of this year.”
Maintaining an income in the streaming age is hard enough. A pandemic and social media surge certainly doesn’t ease the pressure. Brown describes seeing peers announce their departure from the industry this year, taking corporate jobs to support their families, as “heartbreaking.” Live streaming doesn’t make up for lost income, and social media is a double-edged sword. Brown appreciates the social media-born notion that “anyone can make it now, one fan at a time in a grassroots way.” The flip-side is that the digital demand requires more than just music from the artist who wields these platforms.
“It’s almost like we are all social media figures that happen to play music,” says Brown. “It’s not just releasing music. You have to have content and videos, TikToks, Instagram Reels. I feel like I’m an actor, a model, a songwriter, a performer—doing all of those things to keep those likes and clicks coming.”
As a road warrior, Brown sees this unprecedented time at home with his family as a silver lining. But he admits this hiatus has not been very fruitful for his songwriting. The songs he has shared, like “Something Waylon Would Sing” and “Leave It To A Woman,” suggest a sonic path that is more reflective of his roots. Stripping it back helps Brown cut through the confusion.
“Country At All” is Brown’s most honest attempt to cut through the noise and deliver something authentic of his influences. The steel guitar’s searing nostalgia and Brown’s raw lyricism obtained the seal of approval from the artist’s longtime friend and greater musical influence, Randy Travis.
The two became close after Brown sang at their mutual friend, Chris Kyle’s funeral. Kyle was later honored in Clint Eastwood’s film, American Sniper. On Travis’s 60th birthday, Brown invited him over for a steak dinner. Sitting there at the table, Brown pulled out his guitar and played the tune he and Montana penned.
“I was very nervous once I got started, but you could tell as he listened he was happy,” Brown recalls. “When the hook came, Randy started laughing. He totally got the message we were sending.”
The song, which he ironically performed at the Scooter Brown Band’s Opry debut, calls out country music for its commercial-pop-leaning tendencies. Brown hopes the sentiment is widely understood and not something to take offense to. Looking to the likes of Whiskey Myers, Tyler Childers, and Cody Jinks, the artist wants record labels and country radio to consider how these independent artists are selling out venues like Red Rocks.
“Some of what they call “Americana”—what everyone else considers country music—is extremely wanted and still sought after by real fans,” says Brown. “Some of that stuff modern country stuff is cool, but stop cramming it down our throats. Show us something more.”
Listen exclusively to the Scooter Brown Band’s latest “Country At All,” below. Pre-save the single before its February 26 release.