Meet the American country star that’s about to make a splash in the UK: Thomas Rhett

Thomas Rhett, who took home Top Country Song at last week’s Billboard Music Awards for his tear-jerking ballad “Die A Happy Man,” is the the first artist to launch in the UK via Taylor Swift’s label, Big Machine Records.

In March, during his first ever visit to England, he performed at London’s O2 Arena for the Country to Country music festival. I got to chat with Thomas about his BMA win, playing country music in Britain, and collaborating with other superstars.

Outfit: Artist’s own

FAULT: Country is probably one of the most misunderstood genres in music. For the person who hasn’t really been exposed to country music, or maybe someone who only hears the country songs that become super-popular, what’s the best reason for why he or she should become a hardcore country fan? Or what was it that first attracted you to the genre?

Thomas: I grew up a country music fan because, first of all, my dad was country music singer in the ‘90s. So it was the first genre I was exposed to at young age. Obviously, I was exposed to a lot of different genres as a kid, but I think country music stuck because of the emotion of the songs and the way that the singers told stories. If you listen to country music, going back from the ‘40s to now, one of the biggest things that they’ll have in common is great storytelling. I think that’s the reason why I fell in love with it, and I think that’s the reason why people are still in love with it to this day.


FAULT: Your songs also include elements from several other genres besides country. Where did those influences come from?

Thomas: A lot of those came from my dad, man. Like drivin’ to school in the mornings, he would play songs for me and my sister—ranging from Led Zeppelin to Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin to Billy Idol. It was all over the map; it was hip hop, jazz, classical, rock and roll. So when your dad is a big fan of all of these different kinds of music, then I think you kinda follow along in his footsteps. And growin’ up in the 90’s, I think I was just introduced to a lot of music that still stays with me today.

When I sit down to write or song, or make a record like Tangled Up, I think all those influences sorta seep outta my brain when I’m writin’ songs and makin’ a record.

Jacket, Shirt & Trousers – John Varvatos / Trainers – Common Projects

FAULT: What has winning a Billboard Music Award meant to you?

Thomas: It was pretty cool, man. I’d never been to the Billboards before; I’ve always just gone to awards shows that were strictly country music. To be with that many massive superstars from so many different types of genres was crazy. You know, getting to win Top Country Song in front of those kinds of people was a really cool moment. And because “Die A Happy Man” was so special and personal to me, to win an award like that was something that I’ll never forget.

Shirt & Trousers – Libertine Libertine / Trainers – Common Projects

FAULT: How do you feel about your experience entering the British market and being in the UK so far?

Thomas: I came over here for the first time in March to play the Country to Country festival. We played in London, Dublin, and Glasgow. Honestly, the biggest thing I was shocked of was how many people knew not only my two singles that had been released in the UK, but also the songs from my first and second albums. I think that would be one of the biggest differences between UK fans and American fans. It’s not that my fans in America don’t know the records well, but it seems like the fans I’ve gotten since I came over here have really studied the albums. When they become fans, they become really, really die-hard fans, which has been really, really cool for me.


FAULT: What was the process that led to you being signed by Taylor Swift’s label?

Thomas: When I was 19 years old, I was still in college, and I wasn’t really that awesome at school. I switched my major several times because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But by the grace of God, there was guy a that signed me to a publishing deal. I was starting to get cuts on other artists in country music—the likes of Jason Aldean and Lee Brice and Florida Georgia Line. And there kinda came a point for me when I wanted to feel what it would be like to have my own voice on songs I was writing and put them out on the radio. So I went through about a year of playin’ nothin’ but showcases for record labels and really tryin’ to get a record deal. And Scott Borchetta of Big Machine, who was also the guy who signed Taylor Swift, had me into his office. I played him a few songs, and I guess the songs impressed him because he offered me a record deal that day. It’s been almost four years since I signed that deal, and I couldn’t ask for anything better.

Shirt – Libertine Libertine

FAULT: What’s it like working with Tori Kelly and Nick Jonas?

Thomas: I’ve only met Tori one time, and it was in L.A. It was when I played “Die A Happy Man” at this summit I was doin’. She came up to Scott [Borchetta] and said, “I don’t know how, but I would love to be a part of that song.” So she recorded a vocal, and we did a remix of the song. I have nothin’ but awesome things to say about Tori; her work is amazing, and she’s also a very, very sweet person.

And Nick is great, man. I’ve gotten to know him pretty well over the past couple months just running into him at various country music awards shows. And we also just did the CMT Crossroads event together. I think the way we grew up was kinda the same. We both grew up with dads that loved playin’ music, and I think we’re both fans of great-written songs. I think when we got on stage together and started singing each other’s songs—yes he’s a pop singer and I’m a country singer—but our worlds collided in a really cool way. It was actually a very organic pairing, me and Nick workin’ together. We had a good time.

Coat – Brookes Brothers / Tee – Rascals / Jeans – G-Star / Trainers – Common Projects

FAULT: What is your FAULT?

Thomas: Probably losing everything I touch—whether it’s my cell phone, my wallet, my keys. I’m a very, very forgetful person, so if I could be more responsible and remember certain things, I think that would definitely make me a better human being.   


You can find Thomas on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Words Cody Fitzpatrick

Photography Jack Alexander

Styling Rhys Marcus Jay

Grooming Lauren Griffin using MAC Cosmetics

Special thanks Hagen & Hyde