Kentucky-born Dustin Collins has already had a bit chart success under his belt. His single “Cold Dead Hands” hit number one on the Billboard Hot Singles Sales chart. Now signed to Colt Ford’s Average Joe’s Entertainment, Collins plans on taking a giant step forward with the Aug. 3 release It’s Been Awhile, his new album. Billboard is excited to bring you an exclusive first listen to two songs from the album. Having this new music before fans is something that Collins takes very seriously.
“My mentor and best friend Dave Long really encouraged me, and now seeing one believer turn into two and three and four and the amount support that we're getting to release this album is making me real hopeful,” he tells Billboard. “We released 'The Barn' as the first single. I mean, we got thousands streams in a couple weeks f the first singles record. I'm just excited about the rest them coming out in just a few weeks.”
Collins insists that he wouldn’t be here with this opportunity were it not for his team. He credits his band for really leading the push and keeping him motivated.
“I love all the guys in my band. They've stuck with me for years now. Lots road dates. We've really come up with this cool sound and when I wrote these songs it was important to me to try to keep true to what we were doing as a band. Even though on the name the album, you see my name on it – there's so many people that have helped and put their self out there for me. I have a lot awesome people behind me to help and get advice from and draw from their inspiration, too.”
Growing his career organically has proven to be a success for the traditional-minded singer. “Every time I get a message on Facebook or I get a tweet and somebody saying, ‘I love your songs’ or ’I love your music,’ it hits my heart real heavy. I started f playing in small bars. There were about forty people in there, and half the time they were watching the ballgame,” he says with a chuckle.
When it comes to his influences as far as entertaining goes, he says that one current hitmaker stands pretty tall. “Jason Aldean just lights it up every time he steps on stage. It's big, it's powerful, it's like going to a rock and roll show. That's all I've ever wanted with my show is just to bring that excitement to country music. Even the intro music before everybody comes out — it just gets you pumped up and ready to see the show.”
He says whenever he goes to a show – regardless who it is on stage – he’s taking notes.
“I try to pay attention to the kind songs that people are singing. The kind songs that people are writing, and the kind songs that people are cutting. I watch everything, down to the way they interact with the crowd. Hopefully, leaving a show I hope I feel inspired to step my game up just a little bit more.”
What are the goals that Collins has for his music? He says he just hopes it will do well enough that he can do more.
“I just want to play. If I can have a career in music to where I get to go out and play my music for people that love to hear it, that's my goal. Sometimes there's times when I feel like I've made it because I'm playing with a couple other bands that I really look up to and get to share a bill with guys like that and to see everybody smiling, that's what we do it for.”
One track that has particular meaning to the singer is “It Always Starts With You,” which he says “The world can be an ugly place sometimes. We see it on the news every day. I wrote that song just because everybody wants change in the world but not a lot people just sit down and say, 'You know what? It starts with me.' If I change one or two things about being ugly at somebody, you know one smile can change somebody’s life.”