Todd O'Neill Talks Brand New Single #LoveAgain
Todd O’Neill recently won the Nash Next competition, which delivers an impressive prize package. O’Neill won a record deal with Big Machine Label group (the same label who has Taylor Swift, Thomas Rhett, and Reba on their roster), radio air play from Cumulus, and his single was produced by Rascal Flatts, Jay DeMarcus.
O’Neill’s brand new single, “Love Again,” has officially hit the air waves, and it’s one that you’ll be jamming to from the car to the dance floor!
We sat down with the Louisiana native right before the single released, and talked about everything from choosing the single, to the legacy his dad left with him, to O’Neill’s kids following in his footsteps.
O’Neill has the craziest story about how he got “Love Again” as his single. Country star Brett Young is one of the writers on the song, and had the song on hold for his next album. All thanks to a snowstorm, O’Neill got stuck in New York, near where Young was playing, so he decided he would head over to the show and see if he could chat with Young. After Young got off the stage, the two met and chatted, and Young told O’Neill he could record the song for his single! This exchange is something that is definitely not typical in country, and a huge deal that Young lifted the hold, and passed it on to O’Neill to record as his brand new single.
Although this is O’Neill’s first single with Big Machine, this isn’t O’Neill’s “first rodeo,” he’s been tirelessly working to pursue his dream in music, and had over 150 live performances just last year. He’s even joined the same bill as country superstars Jason Aldean, Frankie Ballard, and Billy Currington. So, to say that hard work, patience, and sheer hustle pays off when pursuing your dream is an understatement, and O’Neill is proof to that statement. O’Neill’s single, “Love Again” is already climbing the country charts since it’s release on Friday.
Watch our Interview or Read Below:
If You Can Dream It Do It: Can you talk about the competition and how you got involved?
Todd O’Neill: “Sure, it was a really funny situation. I was either emailed or texted within a 24 hour period I had 3 different friends email me the contest information. They said, ‘Todd you should look into this.’ So, I forwarded the email to my manager Barbara, who read over everything, and called me shortly after. She said, ‘Todd this is a really cool opportunity, you’ve got to do it!”
If You Can Dream It Do It: “Amazing, and you get radio airplay, a deal with Big Machine. How has your life really changed since winning the competition?”
Todd O’Neill: “It’s been a whirlwind situation. It really has. The caliber of places that I play have gone up. The caliber of musicians and people and everyone I get to work with now. There’s publicists involved and managers, it’s been really, really cool. Kind of crazy, but cool!”
If You Can Dream It Do It: Your single is out April 14th, and Jay DeMarcus from Rascal Flatts produced it, what was that like working with him?
Todd O’Neill: “Jay is such a character! I’ve been following his music, and Rascal Flatts, since ‘Praying For Daylight,’ and been a fan! So, I was well aware of who Jay was going into this thing. What was kind of intimidating at first was working with somebody of his stature, but getting to know Jay is really cool. He’s probably one of the funniest human beings on the planet! One of the funniest guys I’ve ever met.”
“He can make everyone in the room feel like they’re welcome, and they’re supposed to be there.”
He’s just hilarious, to know the guy, is to know he almost missed his calling as a comedian. To get in the studio with him is a whole other level of respect. To watch this guy produce, sing the parts to you that he wants you to sing, and kind of coach you along. We took a great song, that was written by Jesse Fraser, Cary Barlow, and Brett Young, who’s now a friend of mine. To see us take that demo, and make it something really cool, and something different in the studio. The production on that is just sub par to none. Jay is my new favorite guy, he’s my new hero!”
If You Can Dream It Do It: Speaking of Brett Young, the single really came out of fate, and can you talk about how a snow storm led you into securing the song, and everything surrounding that journey?
Todd O’Neill: “That’s a really cool story, and I think everything happens for a reason, and I was up there in New York, playing in a place called Printer’s Alley. I played on a Wednesday and was supposed to fly out on a Thursday, well a snow storm came in and snowed us in, and we were stuck there until Friday afternoon. My manager called me that morning, we were just going to stay in our pajamas and not really get out. Well, my manager called me that morning, and said, ‘Todd really cool, tidbit of information you need to know. Brett Young is actually playing Printer’s Alley tonight, we need to go, and you need to talk to him!’
Which, back tracking, I picked ‘Love Again,’ at the plug meeting, I just fell in love with the song, because it’s just such a great song. I found out out Brett Young had written it. It went up the chain of command, and I turned in my top 5. Scott Borchetta (CEO of Big Machine) actually picked that song, which was my favorite of the 5 that I sent.
So, there we were in New York, it’s almost fate. I go, and I talk to Brett. I went to his show, and you know I didn’t know him, he didn’t know me. I introduced myself, told him what was going on, told him about NASH Next, and that we were looking for a single. I told him, ‘I really love your song ‘Love Again.’”
“He said, ‘Man, you should cut it!’
I said, well I can’t, because the label had told me he had put it on hold for a following project, for his follow up album. Which, he was just about to release an album, and he was in New York promoting it at the Today Show, and performed at Grand Central Station for Victoria’s Secret, which was not a bad gig, by the way.”
“Anyway, I go and talk to Brett, and he said,
‘Man if you want that song, and you’re ready to cut, Jay’s producing, you should do it!’
“So, I went back to the label, and told him what was going on, and they said, ‘woah, woah, let’s just make sure he wasn’t being nice.” Sure enough, “Big Machine texted him, and he said, ‘yeah let Todd had it. Then 4 days later, we’re in the studio with Jay DeMarcus,” recording the Brett Young song ‘Love Again.’”
If You Can Dream It Do It: What did that mean to you to have Brett give up his song that he had on hold for his next project, and let it really be your single shining moment?
“I think it speaks volumes of the person that he is."
One, to give up something like that. I’ve written several songs, and Keith Urban said it one time, ‘each one of my songs is like a child.’ It’s like I have 17 babies, or whatever it is! But, going back to it, I think it speaks volumes as well to Jay DeMarcus. I think Brett knew Jay was going to be producing, it says a lot!”
If You Can Dream It Do It: What was that like when Brett heard the song, have you sent it to him, or what was that process like?
Todd O’Neill: “Really, really cool experience! I keep bumping into at Brett. I bumped into him at CRS. I bumped into him in New York, and oddly enough he was down in Louisiana during Mardi Gras.”
“I went and talked to him, he’s a mountain of a man. Look, I’m 6’1 with boots on, and he towers over me. I told him, ‘Brett I’ve never felt so safe and so intimidated at the same time in all my life.’ I actually had a rough mix on my phone, and he took my phone and stuck it to his ear, which is terrible, because you can’t really get a good sound off that.”
He said, ‘Dude it sounds INCREDIBLE!’”
“He said, ‘Man, look take my number, when you get a final mix, call me, text me, email me whatever you need to do!’
We’ve been in touch through the recording process, through the single release, and he’s been such a nice guy through everything, and very down to earth. Very humbling.”
If You Can Dream It Do It: After the Nash Next competition I asked you about a struggle or a hardship that really defined you, and you talked about losing your dad. What did your dad teach you about following your dreams, and pursuing music whole-heartedly?
Todd O’Neill: “You know I think indirectly, watching my dad and watching him work so hard. He wasn’t a musician, he was a tug-boat captain. He was a crew boat captain for 30 plus years, and just watching him work so hard. Even when he came home, he would work out in the yard or he would work in the wood shop. I mean the guy never stopped. He was a machine! So, indirectly,
“He taught me about hard work, determination, focus, and consistency.”
Every accolade, every success story that I have, every positive thing that I do or get to be a part of, it almost hurts a little bit because he’s not around to see this. But, he always said, ‘if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to succeed. So, I have him to thank for that.’
If You Can Dream It Do It: You have two little ones who are following in your footsteps. Even your son joins you on stage, what does that feel like seeing your son singing with you on stage?
Todd O’Neill: “My daughter sings too. She loves Taylor Swift, she loves everything Taylor does, so to be a part of the Big Machine family is really cool! I hope to introduce her to Taylor one day. She’s too cool to sing with me right now….she’s 10.”
“My little boy, Briar, he’s 6, and he’s been playing on stage with me since he was 2. We just played a festival down in Louisiana, where he got up and sang ‘Hound Dog’ by Elvis Presley, and just knocked them dead! He’s got the dance moves, the lyrics, he’s go the stage presence at 6. He’s just such a little turkey, such a little ham. It makes me proud!
"I’ve got to be honest with you, he stole the show. I had more people post Briar videos than Todd O’Neill videos, people were just freaking out. He got up there and just owning the mic and owning the stage.
I hoped and prayed that my kids would be doctors and lawyers, and such. He’s got it! I hope it’s not as tough for him as it was for me, because I’ve been doing it for a really long time, and even though I’m so happy doing what I’m doing."
"It’s a struggle to be a musician. There’s not as much stability as any other job, there’s no health care. You never know where the next pay check is coming from.”
If You Can Dream It Do It: What has kept you going on this journey?
Todd O’Neill: “You know I think one, the love for music, and the love of doing what I do. I’ve got to be honest with you, to write a song, then go down to Louisiana or Nashville, wherever, and write a song, have it come from an idea, to a finished product, then go out and sing that song, and have people staring right back up at you singing those lyrics. That’s the most rewarding thing for me on stage.
If You Can Dream It Do It: "Love Again" comes out April 14th. What’s your favorite lyrics from the single?
Todd O’Neill: “Oh man, there’s a lot of favorite parts in the song. There’s this one little parts in the song, ‘settle it down, settle it down.’ It gets stuck in your brain, also there’s a bridge where my voice gets kind of low, ‘you be looking like gold when you’re wearing that diamond ring!’
I think that’s one of the most brilliant lines in the whole song.
If You Can Dream It Do It: Last question, what’s the best advice you’ve been given about following your dreams?
Todd O’Neill: “I think the best advice was here in town,
‘Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks. Don’t worry about what you think would be radio. Do what you love. Do what makes you happy. Be genuine and be real, and that’s going to shine through the mic, through the recording, and through stage presence.”
Check Out Love Again, and follow Todd along his journey: