Tebey may not be a household name for American country fans, but the Canadian artist has already made his mark as a songwriter, with writing credits for country artists like Justin Moore and pop acts like One Direction. And now he’s poised for a country breakout with The Good Ones, an eight-track collection that explores both his country roots and his penchant for playing with genre. "Every time I make a record, I try to push the envelope as much as possible," Tebey tells Apple Music. "I grew up listening to all different kinds of music. And I think with this record, you can hear a lot of the influences other than country music." Tracks like "Bad for Me" and "See You Around" flirt with pop and R&B, while "Shotgun Rider" and "Happened on a Saturday Night" recall American heartland rock. Closing track "Doing It Again" is a straightforward country ballad, channeling Tebey's love for living legend Tim McGraw. Below, Tebey shares the inspiration behind each of The Good Ones' tracks.
"'Shotgun Rider' was actually one of the last songs that we wrote for this record. I wrote it with my kind of standard co-writers, Danick Dupelle and Jimmy Thow. The day that I walked into the studio, I had the title, I had the idea for the song. It was just a matter of trying to find the right groove and the right melody."
Happened on a Saturday Night
"I'd been sitting on the title 'Happened on a Saturday Night' for a while, and I wasn't sure exactly if it was something for myself or if I was just going to write the song to write the song. It's definitely a song that I think people are going to relate to, because no matter what generation you grew up in, everyone has some pretty epic Saturday night stories in their past, right? So I think people are really going to relate to that lyric, and hopefully it'll take them on a little trip down memory lane."
The Good Ones
"I didn't write it for myself. It was just one of those things that I kind of came back to the song because the song's three or four years old and no one had recorded it. I like to let songs marinate. If I can come back to it a year later or even two years later, and it feels good, it still feels good, and it gets me excited, then that's when I know that I need to record that song. And we were looking for a duet partner, and Marie-Mai's name came up. She's a massive pop star in Quebec and across Canada, and we were looking for someone outside of the genre to work with. I love collaborating with people, and I thought it would be extra special for the listeners if it wasn't a country artist."
Song of the Summer
"I had the title going into the writing session. And this one took a little bit more time to craft because I really wanted to try and do something different, both with the production and also melody. I thought that it would kind of stand out to listeners because when you see that title on a track listing, you don't really know what the song is about. And for this couple in the song, the characters that we created, this song was their song. So yeah, it's one of those things where a song takes them back to the time that they were together, which is when they were presumably teenagers, but I don't think we ever actually say that in the song."
Bad for Me
"I knew I wanted to write something very uptempo, because not only is it great for the fans when they're driving around in their cars, but also for the live show. And on the Good Ones tour, my first ever headlining tour last year in February, right before the shit kind of hit the fan, we got that done, and it was the first song. We opened the show with that, so we kind of were able to give the fans a little taste of the record before it came out."
"I remember sitting down in the session with my co-writers, and Jimmy [Thow] tossed out the idea 'Good Jeans.' And he's like, 'You know, man, it's like she's got good genes, the way she looks,' obviously G-E-N-E-S, but then also, she's wearing a really good pair of blue jeans. And I thought it was very clever if we could write it the right way. We spent a good 20 minutes on Google trying to find out if that concept had been written before, and we couldn't find anything. It's one of those titles where you don't really know what the song is about before you listen to it, and then once you get into that chorus, you kind of realize—I guess it would be a double entendre—and I think it's really clever."
See You Around
"I really wanted to kind of dig into my influences growing up, and I love urban music. I love R&B music, and I really think that you can hear those influences, especially in the verse of 'See You Around.' The cadence that I sing with and the way the lyric flows, well, it's definitely not country. Yeah, it leans more towards the R&B pop side of things, and that's exciting to me to be able to bring these influences into the music."
Doing It Again
"'Doing It Again' is probably the most country song on this record. It's kind of got hints of Tim McGraw. I actually wrote that song in the Dominican Republic, which is kind of cool. I was down there at a songwriting camp. I said to my producer, Danick [Dupelle], I'm like, 'I would really love something a little bit more country on this record,' because, I mean, obviously I'm in the country music genre. So I just wanted something a little bit more country on the record, and that's the song that we decided to cut, and there you have it."