Canadian country music star Brett Kissel can’t wait to be back in the Maritimes. With his performance at Moncton’s Capitol Theatre on Wednesday evening marking his first show in the city in almost three years, anticipation is high both from the audience perspective as well as Kissel’s.
“It never was a matter of whether we wanted to come back. It was more a matter of ensuring that we had the right opportunity and right venue lined up before we made the trek east,” Kissel says.
Kissel’s earnest attitude and down-to-earth nature makes it easy to forgive the singer for having stayed away from the region for such a long time. To Kissel’s credit, however, it’s not as though he has been simply sitting on his hands these last three years.
After having released four albums independently, the first of which was released in 2003 when he was just 12 years old, Kissel signed a national recording contract with Warner Music Canada in late 2012. His major label debut, Started With A Song, was released in October 2013 and quickly vaulted to the top of the Canadian Country music charts, driven by the success of singles “Started With A Song,” “3,2,1” and “Something You Just Don’t Forget.”
Success didn’t stop there for the Alberta native.
Following a pair of Juno Award wins in 2014 for Country Album of the Year and Breakthrough Artist of the Year – the latter of which was the first time in 17 years that a country music artist won the award – Kissel walked away with two Canadian Country Music Awards that fall.
Going into the making of Pick Me Up, Kissel’s latest studio effort that was released in September 2015, the singer admits feeling a tremendous amount of pressure to deliver a follow-up album that could stand shoulder to shoulder with what he created on Started With A Song.
“I was certainly feeling the pressure from the outside, but the most significant amount of pressure I had to deal with was coming from myself. I’ve always been a perfectionist and with Pick Me Up, I really wanted to shatter expectations and reach for the stars. I was lucky enough to have great success with Started With A Song, but my goal was, ultimately, to blow that success out of the water,” he says.
“Even with feeling so determined, though, it didn’t change how nervous I felt in the studio and on stage singing these songs for the first time.
“Airwaves,” the first single released from Pick Me Up gave the 25 year-old Kissel a glimpse into the future. Not only did the song work its way up the Canadian country singles charts, its reach seemingly outpaced any of the singles from his previous effort.
Subsequent singles released from the album – “I Didn’t Fall In Love With Your Hair” and “Pick Me Up” – handily sustained the momentum that started with “Airwaves.” And, not surprisingly, Kissel found himself on the receiving end of even more awards in 2016, earning his third career Juno Award for Country Album of the Year.
It was at last year’s Canadian Country Music Awards that Kissel’s star power was confirmed. At the end of the night, he had earned a total of five awards, including his third Interactive Artist of the Year Award. He also managed to snag the Fans’ Choice Award, which was no small feat for the singer, considering the caliber of talent that he was up against in the category, including Johnny Reid, Dean Brody, Dallas Smith and Quebec’s Yoan.
“I tend to overthink just about everything I do,” he says, with a laugh. “Making Pick Me Up was no easy task because I was constantly thinking and worrying about the songs appealing to the right demographic. It was like a puzzle that you don’t know if all the pieces will fit, but at the end of the day, it’s nice to be recognized and feel appreciated for what you’re doing.”
Given the rousing reception that has been afforded to Kissel’s current cross-country tour, there should be little doubt in his mind as to whether his work is appreciated. The bulk of his tour has been played before sold-out houses from coast to coast.
Playing live is a specific point of pride for the singer. In effort to keep things fresh for both the audience as well as the band, Kissel performs a different set list each night, thus ensuring that every performance is unique from the ones that preceded it or that will follow.
“It’s good to keep everyone on their toes,” Kissel notes, referring to his decision to routinely change the songs he and his band perform each night. “Delivering my fans a unique concert experience, something they are going to remember, is what we work hard to do and is something we are incredibly proud of, as well.”
What: Brett Kissel
When: Wednesday Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Capitol Theatre, 811 Main St., Moncton
Tickets are $39. Advance tickets are available at the Capitol Theatre Box Office, by phone (506) 856-4379 and online at capitol.nb.ca.