U.S. Air Force veteran Austin Snell is leaning on his faith to get through mistakes he’s made with his new single, “Pray All the Way Home.”
Written by Snell alongside Andrew Baylis, Cam Walker, and Michael Whitworth, the song draws on rock and country influences to paint the picture of being lost and found, making bad decisions yet continually returning to prayer.
Snell recently chatted with Music Mayhem about the story behind “Pray All the Way Home,” the frigid conditions he endured while filming the music video, and his journey from small-town life to signing a major label record deal.
Wrote The Song And Had The Demo Within 3–4 Hours
The Dudley, Georgia native recalls writing his latest single at the home of co-writer Andrew Baylis. After shooting the breeze for nearly two hours, they started settling into a rhythm.
“I think Michael [Whitworth] was actually the one that had the song idea. He had the title on his phone and Andrew [Baylis] had the little riff, the guitar riff in the beginning already kind of tracked out on the computer, and we just kind of had that on loop and listened to that for a little while.” After sitting with it for a bit, the song started to flow. “It was probably 20 minutes after us just sitting there, like twiddlin’ our thumbs. I sang the first verse and it kind of just happened, and it was kind of a short ride. I think we wrote the song and had a demo of it within three, four hours.”
The song’s message is reminiscent of an often-quoted, unattributed saying about insanity, that it’s “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Snell describes “Pray All the Way Home” similarly. “It’s about making the same mistakes over and over and again, kind of expecting things to be different, but why would they be different if you keep doing the same things over and over again and somehow thinking that praying on the way after making all these mistakes makes things better, which it kind of doesn’t.”
Watch Austin Snell’s “Pray All The Way Home” Music Video Below
Although this was only Snell’s third full production music video, the experience was unique in several ways. He admits that he doesn’t like being in front of a camera, but that he’s slowly getting used to it and that it was a little easier this time.
“It was my first multiple location video. So we did the first one at an old paint shop. It’s like an old paint packing factory that’s also doubled as a studio. So they had the upstairs kind of rigged up to an old jail cell. So we went in there and did half of the video there. And then we took off and went to a convenience store down the road and filmed the rest of it.”
The other element that made the filming experience memorable was the weather. “It was also 20 degrees that night. And all I had on was a button up, rolled up shirt, and in 20 degree weather. And we were standing out there for probably three or four hours. I was freezing my ass off.” Although it was a long day, Snell enjoyed the process. “I’m slowly getting used to the long days of being a musician. But it was fun. I enjoyed it.”
When you visit Snell’s Instagram profile, one of the first things you’ll see is a reference to Bible verse Romans 8:31, which reads “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” That verse came from a series of weekly inspirational texts that his mom would send him while he was in the military.
“My mom’s always been kind of that person that has kept religion in my life. She would always send me, I was in the military for four years, so I was away from home for a while and she would always send me Bible quotes weekly. I think that was one of ’em that she sent [and] it was Romans 8:31 and I think it says ‘if the Lord is for us and who can be against us.’ And that’s kind of just stuck with me through a lot of the trials and tribulations that I’ve had to go through in life. So I’ve kind of just always went back and thought of that and I actually have it tattooed on my arm.”
The 24 year-old was born in Dublin, Georgia and grew up in the small town of Dudley through his sophomore year of high school, when he moved to Kentucky.
“It was small town life, as you can probably imagine, as cliché as it’s going to sound. We used to just go outside and play war out in the woods. And I actually had a golf cart because I was too young to drive. I couldn’t have my license. So I had a golf cart that I would literally drive to the other side of Dublin to go see my friends. And we’d like all hop on the golf cart. We’d pick each other up after school and we’d just ride around on the golf cart and kind of just do whatever probably things we shouldn’t have been doing most of the time.”
Snell Never Planned To Become A Professional Musician
Snell’s mom was an event coordinator and his dad worked as a welder. Growing up, Snell felt that he was always more intrigued by music than his friends, but he never had a plan to become a professional musician.
“I feel like I would notice certain parts and songs that other people wouldn’t really notice, a guitar part or a vocal part or a production part. And I would always freak out over it and I’d tell my friends about it and they’d be like, what are you talking about?” His musical influences sprouted from road trips with his dad and a four-CD changer.
“We used to do a lot of traveling growing up. We used to race go-karts, and we’d travel all over the state of Georgia and some in Florida, some in South Carolina. But back when CDs were a thing, my dad had four of ’em that we would rotate through in the truck, and it was literally one of the four CDs every time we were on a road trip. And we had Three Doors Down, Nickelback, Creed and Alan Jackson. That’s how you get what I do for music – it’s mainly rock with a little bit of country in it.”
Austin Snell Describes His Style As “Grunge Country”
He also describes his style as “grunge country,” the combination of country music’s storytelling with the edge of rock music. “I’ve always been drawn towards storytelling and the side of country music where you get to tell a story that a lot of people have experienced, or maybe it’s just you that has experienced it. I just enjoy telling stories. So I feel like it’s kind of a mixture of both because I grew up on the rock music that I love, the storytelling, the country, and that’s kind of where I came up with the grunge country hashtag.”
In spite of his passion and influences, Snell didn’t plan on becoming a professional singer-songwriter. “I didn’t ever plan on doing it full-time growing up. It’s not like it was what I’ve always wanted to do my whole life. I knew I was always interested in music and loved it, but I didn’t really play it until I got in the Air Force in 2020. It would’ve been 2017 when I bought a guitar and kind of taught myself how to play covers and got bored playing covers and started writing songs and got bored writing songs. So I started playing ’em out in front of people and one thing led to another and ended up in Nashville.”
Moved To Nashville In 2022 After Being In The Air Force
Snell moved to Nashville in May 2022 and his time in the Air Force taught him several skills that have carried over into his music career.
“I learned a lot about work ethic, a lot about organizational skills, and mainly just work ethic, honestly, [and] I feel like I moved to town knowing that I was ready to work hard and get what I wanted [and] I didn’t expect anything to be given to me.” He added, “I feel like I had to talk to a lot of different people in the Air Force. There’s a lot of different breeds of people in the Air Force, and you kind of have to put a face on a lot of the times and when you’re talking to certain people, and I feel like it’s kind of the same in any kind of business situation or in the real world is like you how to treat everybody, and you put different faces on and you learn how to talk to all walks of life really.”
In March, Snell was named a “Highway Find” on SiriusXM’s The Highway channel, which featured his music, interviews, and news about his fast-rising career.
“I’ve gotten so much good news over the last four months, so it was kind of on a string of other good news,” Snell recalls about hearing the news from his manager. “He called me that day and said, ‘Hey bro, I have some really news for you.’ I was like, I don’t know if I can handle any more good news. I’m still on the high from the last one.” Snell says it feels like a rollercoaster that keeps going up. “I don’t know why it keeps going up, but I’m just trying to ride it as long as I can.”
Went Viral With His Cover Of Cassadee Pope’s “Wasting All These Tears”
One of the recordings that helped skyrocket his career was his cover of Cassadee Pope’s “Wasting All These Tears.” Snell had been posting covers on social media, including TikTok, and always tried to steer away from trends.
“At the time of me posting that video of me covering Wasting All These Tears on TikTok, everybody was covering ‘Something in The Orange’ by Zach Bryan. And I didn’t want to be the millionth person to cover that song. So I thought of something different and I heard that song, the cover on the radio on the way home from work one day. And I was like, oh, that’d be a cool song to cover. And I remember hearing that back in 2013 when I would scream it in the car while my mom was in the grocery store.”
He also thought that bringing a male perspective to the song would be unique. “You also don’t hear a whole lot of songs about guys standing on the corner crying.” The recording was originally going to be just an acoustic guitar and vocal, but producer Lucas Scott built out an entire track to use, which is the version that’s out now.
The good news keeps on coming for Snell, who is now signed to a record deal with Warner Music Nashville and River House Artists. He shared the news on Instagram on March 10, saying “Been dying to share this news with y’all. I’ve officially signed my record deal and proud to be working with @warnermusicnashville @riverhouseartists the absolute best in town. God is sooooo good!”
Will Soon Hit The Road With Willie Nelson
Additionally, Austin Snell is getting ready to hit the road with country music icon Willie Nelson for a handful of shows in May, an experience he says is “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The fast-rising country star will appear as a special guest on several of Willie Nelson & Family’s tour dates.
Snell is also excited to keep releasing new music. “I put a lot of my efforts into what’s coming next, and I’m super excited for what nobody’s even heard yet.”
For more information and to keep up-to-date with Austin Snell, follow him on TikTok or visit his official website HERE.