It sounds like the ultimate cliché: “Country Music, Girls, and Trucks.” But for High Valley and fellow country artist Granger Smith, it’s a simple description of an authentic life experience.

Smith and High Valley’s Brad Rempel chatted with Music Mayhem about their friendship, shared what happened behind the scenes of their music video, and revealed details about an upcoming collaboration on a movie project.

As a songwriter, Rempel has worked with Smith for several years, pitching him songs to record. Smith has recorded “That’s Why I Love Dirt Roads” and “Buy a Boy a Baseball,” both penned by Rempel. “I just trust the songs that Brad sends to me and he doesn’t send that many,” said Smith. “I mean, what do you send Brad? Do you send like six per year or something? And I cut like 50% of those.” Rempel chimed in, “I’ll start sending more.”

When it came to “Country Music, Girls, and Trucks” (written by Brad Rempel, Micah Wilshire, and Jaron Boyer) the High Valley singer decided to take a different approach. “I got a little selfish. I didn’t just wanna pitch it to Granger. I was like, man, I wanna see if I can convince him to sing on the record.” Smith agreed with one condition. “He twisted my rubber arm and said I needed to come out to his farm out there in Texas to shoot the music video. So that was the trade-off.”

Smith, also known for his alter-ego Earl Dibbles Jr., was eager to record the track once he heard it. “This was just a fastball right up the middle for what I like to sing about and what I like to do.”

For the music video, Smith had a vision to leverage “Yee Yee Day” on his Texas farm. The annual event began as a celebration of the “Yee Yee” company, which was born in April 2011. About three years ago, he invited content creators from all walks of life to his farm to film a music video. It turned into an annual event. “When this song came up with Brad, I was like, hey, the best opportunity to film a cool music video would be for you to come out here and we’ll bring a videographer and we’ll film the whole thing with this whole party going on in the backdrop.”

One of Smith’s favorite memories from the video shoot was mudding. “I just think it’s so fun to watch these guys come in and girls with their trailers and they’re bringing some kind of elaborate vehicle with them. Either it’s got huge tires or it’s got tank tracks on it … one guy brought a five ton military truck and decided that he was just gonna drive it through a pond.”

Rempel was in awe of Yee Yee Day, which made him feel a little out of his league. “I thought I was a pretty country kid, you know, grew up on 1400 acres, farming, driving combines and tractors and I get out there and Granger’s friends are there. A girl who knows how to catch catfish barehanded and a guy who builds army trucks from scratch with a welder and the world’s strongest man.” When it came to mudding, Rempel was not prepared for what Smith had in mind. “Granger asked me if I wanted to go mudding, which seems like a good idea for the music video, but what he should have said is, ‘do you want to pray more than you’ve ever prayed in your life that you won’t die and get nauseous for 30 minutes and try not to throw up in my truck.’ So either way he’s got a lot more street cred than I do.”

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“Country Music, Girls, and Trucks” is just one of 13 songs co-written by Rempel on High Valley’s new album, Way Back, which is a compilation of songs to help people slow down their fast-paced lives and reflect on what matters most.

“I always write with three kinds of unrealistic goals in mind,” said Rempel. “I wanna stay young forever. I wanna remember every beautiful moment that ever happens in this life. And I want my kids to just be kids forever. I hope even though I know those things are impossible. I hope when people listen to this record, it can just press pause ever so slightly.”

“Country Music, Girls and Trucks is supposed to celebrate all the same themes that we’re always talking about,” Rempel added. “We snuck in a lot of literal country music references from Tim McGraw, Dolly Parton, and obviously Alabama in this song, but as tongue in cheek and as ridiculously on the nose as the title is, if you actually listen to the lyrics, in my opinion, it’s telling an actual story that’s true.”

Rempel once heard a quote from songwriter Tom Douglas that resonated with him and his approach to storytelling. “‘I don’t tell my story because I think it’s the best story, but I tell my story because it’s the story that I know the best.’ … I’m like, you know what, I’m gonna stick to that. I’m always gonna tell my own story. The one that I know the best and in fun ways and sad ways and sappy love song, romantic ways, whatever ways you can do it.”

Way Back track list
“Way Back” (Seth Mosley, Ben Stennis, Brad Rempel)
“Run Outta Somedays” (Ben Stennis, Jon Nite, Brad Rempel)
“Somebody Tell That Girl” (Feat. Anne Wilson) (Jason Gant, Matt Rogers, Brad Rempel)
“Do This Life” (Phil Barton, David Thompson, Brad Rempel)
“World Could Use a Dirt Road” (Claire Douglas, Josh Ronen, Brad Rempel)
“Prayin’ Woman” (Seth Mosley, Allison Veltz, Brad Rempel)
“Country Music, Girls & Trucks” (Feat. Granger Smith) (Micah Wilshire, Jaron Boyer, Brad Rempel)
“Whatever it Takes” (Ben Stennis, Jon Nite, Brad Rempel)
“All My Lovin” (Blake Bollinger, Phil Barton, Brad Rempel)
“Remember You Now” (Ben Stennis, Jon Nite, Brad Rempel)
“Be That For You” (Sam Ellis, Dave Sampson, Brad Rempel)
“She Loves” (Sam Bergeson, Jaron Boyer, Brad Rempel)
“Never Not” (Ben West, Matt Willis, Brad Rempel)

Granger Smith also revealed that he already has another collaboration with High Valley on the horizon for later this year. “He [Rempel] sent me another song that we wrote together that I ended up cutting for a movie that’s coming out in the fall.”

Not only will it be on the soundtrack, but it will play a prominent role in the film as well. “It’s a movie about a country singer and he’s playing in a dance hall. And the first time he plays, that the audience actually watches him sing, is this song ‘Never Been’ and he plays the full length of it in the dance hall. It’s just a great upbeat song that feels like it would be a smash hit for the character in the movie.” Smith added, “Imagine like Pure Country where you’re hearing the character Dusty sing songs that used to be hits for him, but in reality, you’re trying to make a soundtrack that just sounds like they used to be hits, but they need to be hits right now. That’s what this song is. I love it.”

The bond between Smith and Rempel is easy to see when they talk about what they’ve learned from each other.

“It’s been really inspiring for me to learn from Granger over the years that you can have country radio success, but you can also have, in my opinion, even more success outside of the radio by really zeroing in on what makes you unique and what makes your fans unique and where that kind of marriage is where this magical moment happens,” says Rempel. “I think Granger really has taught me and inspired me to be the best at exactly what is specific to your calling and your brand and what resonates with your fans.”

“High Valley and I have been kind of coming up in the same class, releasing singles at the same time,” added Smith. “We’re about the same age. We have families that are with kids about the same age. Just because of that, we just always clicked and we’ve always understood each other… We grew up like 4,000 miles apart, but the distance really has never had anything to do with it. It’s the lifestyle we live of faith and family and blue collar people is what bonds us together.”

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