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Cole Swindell: From selling Luke Bryan t-shirts to his first country hit

Singer-songwriter Cole Swindell has gone from selling merchandise on the road with Luke Bryan, to opening on tour for the superstar.  Swindell has also penned tunes along the way for several famous friends and has just released his self-titled debut album complete with the hit lead single “Chillin’ It’.” Swindell talks to FOX411 Country about the new album and how it feels with everything coming full circle for him.

FOX411 Country: What is the decision process in choosing the first single of your first album?

Cole Swindell: It's so important, obviously, it's your first single, it's your chance to get your name out and your music out to all the fans in the world and I just wanted to have something that was fun, and I'm a new artist, so I knew that they weren't going to know who I was. I just wanted something fun that was catchy and that would get their attention and then hopefully they would look in to my music and want to hear more than just “Chillin’ It,” and that's where we're at right now, putting out a 12-song album.

FOX411 Country: Tell us about the album.

Swindell: There's songs about heartbreak, there's songs about where I come from, and there's fun live concert songs, just stuff that is me, that's my life.  I'm just a normal guy from south Georgia living in Nashville, living the dream as they say, but I've been through all that stuff on my album and so that's what I wanted to do, I wanted to write songs and record songs that people could relate to and hopefully become a fan.

FOX411 Country: Is it true your first gig was selling merchandise for Luke Bryan?

Swindell: That is true, my first job ever in Nashville was selling merchandise for Luke Bryan. He's been a good buddy since we met. I was just a big fan of his music and very influenced by his songs and songwriting and performing. I ultimately moved to Nashville and I was applying downtown trying to find a job to pay the bills and he happened to need a merch guy so, man, I didn't plan it like that, but getting to learn from a new artist at that point and now he's one of the biggest stars out there… it’s pretty cool to say I went from merchandise to having my own merchandise now, so it's pretty crazy.

FOX411 Country: How were you able to learn out there?

Swindell: I remember back when he was playing clubs and I'd be at a club behind a merch table while the show's going on, everybody's up there watching, I'm not that busy so I’d be back there if I had an idea I'd write it down in my phone, or just lines, I'd be trying to write all the time.  Just being out there around it… and now as a new artist, it's like I've been here. I haven't had a chance to do it, but I've been around it. That’s all I've ever wanted to do was surround myself with good people and people I believed in and that's what I've done and I can't wait to, you know, hopefully open some doors for other people that move to Nashville.

FOX411 Country: Talk about a few of the artists you've penned tunes for.

Swindell: I'm friends with Luke, he's recorded several of songs that I've written… Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Brian and Tyler are two of my good buddies, I have their current single out that Luke's actually singing on, I wrote that with those three guys it's called "This is How We Roll." Thomas Rhett, he's another south Georgia boy, his new single called "Get Me Some of That," I wrote that. I got a song on Chris Young's new album.  I have some Scotty McCreery cuts, who won "American Idol," so  I was very fortunate to get some cuts and that helped me get my name out. I moved to town to be an artist but you gotta have the songs no matter what, so the fact that I got to work on my craft and learn how to write a song before I ever got my record deal, man, that's not how I planned it but it couldn't have worked out any better.

FOX411 Country:  Where are you headed on the road?

Swindell: We're on the "That's My Kind of Night" tour so we're traveling the country. We got to play here in New York, Madison Square Garden awhile back and we're coming back here in September.  We've been getting to do some NFL football stadiums in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Philadelphia, places like that.  The fact that I started off selling merchandise, and I remember back in 2007 I went to a Kenny Chesney concert that Luke played at, and now I'm going to be playing that same stadium, Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.  So to say things have come full circle is kind of an understatement. This is the best time of my life.

Fox News Entertainment Producer Ashley Dvorkin covers celebrity news, red carpets, TV, music, and movies. Dvorkin, winner of the 2011 CMA Media Achievement Award, is also host of "Fox 411 Country," "Star Traveler," “Fox 411 Big Screen," and "Fox on Reddit."

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