After a year without spontaneity, country music star Johnny Gates celebrates the endless potential of ‘Typical Nashville Friday night’ in ‘Flirt,’ a song he tells HL is all about the spark of new love.
Many things have been lost in the first (and hopefully, last) year of coronavirus, including the opportunity to randomly falling in love after meeting some cute stranger at your favorite bar. This excitement at the unexpected encounter lies at the heart of “Flirt,” the new song from country singer Johnny Gates. The song, premiering here on HollywoodLife, sees Johnny trying to get to know someone new, asking “where you from / tell me how much you hate that town,” and the countless other questions you have when you find someone that makes your heart skip a beat.
For Johnny, this new song is his best shot at capturing a slice of life that, due to the pandemic, has become all too rare. “With ‘Flirt,’ I was just really trying to describe a typical Nashville Friday night with my friends,” Johnny shares with HollywoodLife, “probably at Red Door, and maybe meeting someone new and just really living in that moment with them and keeping it cool. Learning about where she’s from, stories behind tattoos, and just talking until last call.”
If you sense a bit of rock edge to “Flirt,” that’s not a coincidence. Johnny formerly inhabited the rock sphere, having started a band at age 18 called the Runaway Saints. His early influences were Dashboard Confessional and The Get Up Kids, not the type of musicians you’d expect in a country singer’s repertoire. However, hearing Taylor Swift’s “Tim McGraw” on the radio, a merging of pop and country, sparked a move to Nashville from his native Rhode Island, after Johnny connected with Taylor’s then-producer, Nathan Chapman. Over the following years, he and the group toured alongside groups like Paramore, Butch Walker, Rod Stewart, and more. After an unfruitful stint in Los Angeles, Johnny knew he was destined for Music City, and he returned to Nashville.
Some might also recognize him from The Voice. Johnny was part of season 12 of the singing competition in 2017 and made it all the way to the knockout round. Afterward, he doubled down on his dream, and last year, it saw success. Johnny signed an exclusive publishing deal with Deluge Music in May 2020.
Though 2020 put nights out at Red Door and music on hold, Johnny kept busy. He released a demo for his song “Sucker Punch” and followed it up with a trio of tracks: the intoxicating “Can I Buy You A Beer,” the heartbreak anthem “Loretta Lynn,” and the ode to endearing all the bumps and bruises of love, “Scotch Tape.”
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