Mitch Rossell has been forced to make quite an adjustment. But it’s not like he’s complaining. Discovered just a few short years ago in an airport bar by Garth Brooks, Rossell has been thrust into playing arenas as one of the country superstar’s opening acts on the 2016-2017 leg of his North American tour. “Well, for one, you walk on an airport bar stage and you’re not about to pass out,” Rossell says of the adjustment.
The arrangement for Rossell to open for Brooks came after Brooks asked him if he could record one his songs, “Ask Me How I Know,” for an upcoming album. Rossell says he had a funny feeling which one, explaining, “When I wrote it I could kind of hear him doing it, you know? And he goes, ‘Ask Me How I Know’, and immediately I felt that chill that just runs through your whole body.”
The Rossell-penned song about pushing away true love is Brooks’ second and most recent single off of the 2016 Gunslinger album. In the vain of Brooks’ classics “Shameless” and “More Than A Memory”, “Ask Me How I Know” is a hard-driving song about a man so in love, he becomes his own worst enemy. But initially, Rossell says, he was not looking for the country icon to cut his music. He just wanted some of Brooks’ thoughts on his new songs.
“He actually invited me over to his house. And I had sent him a few songs that I had just kind of done on my own. I had played a few different instruments on them and I had kind of sent them just to give him some new tunes that I was writing as ideas for my record. I just wanted his advice.”
And it was that search for advice that led him away from that secluded airport bar to traveling the continent on a record-breaking concert tour. What does Rossell say to those that want to find success like his? “Stay true to yourself and do it from your heart. You just gotta pull it from there because people can feel it. They can feel it when it’s not from there, too.”
“Ask Me How I Know” continues to climb the radio charts and Mitch Rossell will continue opening for Garth Brooks through the tour’s end in late 2017. See below to read my exclusive article for The Music Universe. You can hear even more of my conversation with Rossell on my podcast, Talk For Two.
What has the transition been like from airports to the concert stage?
Well, for one, you walk on an airport bar stage and you’re not about to pass out. It’s been a crazy transition, but you know what? The people have been so nice to me, so it hasn’t been nearly as tough or as challenging as you would probably think. I’ve been welcomed with open arms. Every crowd, the reception has been amazing. And it just makes you feel comfortable. You get up there, and you just saddle right in because they just give you that energy. It’s amazing.
How did Garth tell you he was going to do “Ask Me How I Know?”
He actually invited me over to his house. And I had sent him a few songs that I had just kind of done on my own. I had played a few different instruments on them and I had kind of sent them just to give him some new tunes that I was writing as ideas for my record. I just wanted his advice. But he invited me over to his house, and as we were talking he was like, “This one’s great, that one’s great.” And then he goes, “There’s a song in here that I want to cut.” I kind of had a feeling which one it was, because when I wrote it I could just hear him doing it, you know? And he goes, “Ask Me How I Know”,’ and immediately, I felt that chill that just runs through your whole body. It was like, “Oh my gosh.”
What did it feel like to hear it on the radio for the first time?
You know, I haven’t had a chance. People have sent me videos of it playing. I haven’t been home in Nashville very much in the past couple of weeks. We’ve been on runs in different cities. When I am home, I’ve been driving around some and I just haven’t caught it yet. I haven’t been able to drive a ton because I’ve got so much going on that I have to finish between shows. I’m only home for a couple days. So I haven’t gotten to hear it. People have sent me videos of it. I heard it on SiriusXM The Highway, that was cool. and I heard it on the Garth Channel a number of times. But I’m still waiting to hear it on terrestrial radio. When we go to these cities, I don’t have a vehicle, and so I don’t have anywhere to listen to the radio!
Do you prefer writing or performing more?
I can’t really answer that. I can tell you this: If you put a gun to my head and said, “You can only do one for the rest of your life,” I would probably be a songwriter. But that’s a real tough decision. They are apples and oranges.
What was Garth’s advice to you as a songwriter and performer?
You know, Garth gives great advice. It reminds me of almost how my dad was. When I would ask questions, it’s not that he would give me answers, but he would make me think about it. It made me a thinking man and a guy that likes to think from all angles. Garth is similar. But really, the overall message is to just stay true to yourself and do it from your heart. And I think we both believe that. And you just gotta pull it from there, because people can feel it. They can feel when it’s not from there, too.