Humble Beginnings, A Songwriter’s Heart, and Bold Songs: Meet Mitchell Tenpenny [Interview]

Mitchell Tenpenny’s much anticipated EP Linden Ave has been out for one week now, and the country music scene has been buzzing about the six tracks. Talk about humble beginnings: the Tennessee native says, “Out of college, I was working construction for this guy that was producing a record for this girl, and I told him I kinda played a little bit in conversation and he was like ‘wanna come over and sing some backgrounds, try it out?’ So I did and he said, ‘I didn’t know you actually played. I have a guy out in California that’s been trying to start a label.”

So, Tenpenny took a trip out to Los Angeles. The connection between the investor and Mitchell Tenpenny’s direction for his music was instant. So, they started working together, and after being in Nashville for a while, Tenpenny started catching the attention of major publishing companies on Music Row. “I got offered a publishing deal by Sony to write songs full time,” he shares. “That has always been my dream, the artist thing just kinda happened.”

“I don’t write for myself,” he continues. “I never do. I don’t write the best songs that way. It’s more now because of doing the artist thing, when you go in a room, people want to write for you. And I kinda don’t like that it. It changes the perspective of the song. I just like going in and writing the best song we can that day. And if I fall in love with it, then I want it. Or sometimes it takes me a week to realize ‘this song I really like.'”

Tenpenny’s love for songwriting really shows throughout every track on his EP. “Mixed Drinks” has a clever hook with a relatable topic that most guys and girls can raise their drink to because they’ve all been there. “Truck I Drove In High School” reflects on high school and takes the listener back to being a fearless sixteen year old. But arguably the most talked about track on the new EP has to be “Bitches.”

“I think it’s funny that country music has ‘rules’ since we are one of the most cussing, drinking genres there is,” Tenpenny laughs. “I don’t really like playing by the rules, but that song I never expected to get cut. The story was that I was at my old house out in Nolensville, Tennessee and my buddy Dallas came out that day to write. I just wasn’t in the mood to write that day. And two of my buddies had just been cheated on, and I really liked the girls they were with and it was just out of nowhere they just cheated. So we just jokingly starting singing, ‘I don’t deal with bitches.’”

“This is a cheating song, not about girls, not about guys, sometimes it’s the only term that evokes that emotion. It’s not about calling girls ‘Bitches,’ cause girls can say the same thing. It ends up being that song a lot for them, when a girl says ‘I know that bitch.’ That’s what I wanted, for this song to be an anthem of if you’re pissed off, just say it. We kept it light-hearted.”

Not only is the song a standout, but the video is absolutely hilarious. Let’s just say, Mitchell Tenpenny really tests his acting skills throughout the entire video and exceeds expectations. Tenpenny says, “We reached out to TK McKamy, he’s amazing and has done everyone’s stuff in town, didn’t even think he’d email back. I just sent him the song and he dug [it]. He came up with the treatment and we said we wanted to keep it lighthearted. It was out of my comfort zone. I don’t normally do stuff like that. He would act out the parts before I did them.”

Listen to Tenpenny’s EP on Spotify and download on iTunes.