The X Factor season two winner Tate Stevens is going from one big TV show to another. The country singer will unveil a new track, "Holler If You're With Me," as part of a Pepsi clip to debut during the Grammys, with a full music video available online immediately afterward.
"When I won The X Factor, part of the deal was getting to do this video shoot with Pepsi and Syco Music/RCA Nashville. They've teamed up to do this video to get America the first look at me," Stevens told Rolling Stone when we visited him on set in a very windy Simi Valley, California. "The whole concept is just people getting together, having a big bonfire party. That's the idea – you're going to a Tate Stevens concert, or party, in the middle of nowhere."
To capture that feel, the producers brought in a hundred or so extras. Stevens used the crowd reactions to the song as a litmus test. "Of course the more they heard it the more they got involved, and they were singing along and stuff," he said of the track, which he described as "an anthem-y kind of thing."
Based on that response, he is excited about bringing the song to the stage: "It's definitely gonna be a lot of fun to throw down live."
While this will be the first taste of Stevens' music fans get post-X Factor, he is not ready to declare "Holler If You're With Me" his first single. Of four songs he says he's completed toward his debut album, one called "Ordinary Angels" is "probably a really strong candidate for a first single. It's got a great message behind it."
The singer is hard at work writing his debut album, release date TBD, and while there will be more rowdy party numbers like "Holler If You're With Me" he also says fans can expect a little bit of everything that falls under an increasingly wide country umbrella, ranging from George Jones to Kenny Chesney and Patsy Cline to Taylor Swift.
"I love George Jones' music, I love the traditional country music. But I also love Kenny, I like Jason Aldean – I like what they do. I like everything in between. You put your own thing to it and you bring the best of what you can do," he said. "That's what I'm gonna try to do. Hopefully it works. You can classify it however you want – it can be George Jones or Kenny Chesney, it's all country."
Yet as viewers saw on the show, on which Stevens performed two Bon Jovi numbers alongside tracks by Garth Brooks, among others, Stevens' own musical tastes are wide -anging. "I'm an Eighties hair band guy. If you go through my iPod when I'm running and working out and stuff, there's a lot of Metallica and Mötley Crüe, it's just loaded with Guns N' Roses. I love Boston, I love Journey, I love Foreigner, I love Queen, REO Speedwagon. I have a guilty pleasure of Air Supply – that's awesome music, it's amazing," he said. "In my live shows I do some Journey and some Foreigner just to be different. How many dudes in a cowboy hat are gonna sing 'Separate Ways'? I do in my show."
With his cross-section of tastes and a musical background (his father was a musician,) Stevens found a connection with his mentor on the show, L.A. Reid. "Working with L.A. was a blessing because he knows the business inside and out, which helped me because we had a lot of conversations about how things worked," he said. "And he was always very forward, a very straight-shooting guy, and super good to me."
Reid, however, is leaving the show, like Britney Spears, which will create two vacancies among the four on the judging panel. Stevens plans to be plenty busy with music, but if for some reason things don't work out, he has a fall-back plan in mind.
"I told L.A. if this whole singing thing didn't work for me, I would come back and take his place," he joked.
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