Since winning Season 2 of “The X Factor,” Tate Stevens has been on a surreal ride. But make no mistake, it’s a ride that Tate has been on for many of his 37 years, only now it’s moving at warp speed.
“Now I get to do what I truly love to do. It’s all I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid,” Tate said in a phone interview last week. “Other kids wanted to be a fireman or policeman. This is all I wanted to do.”
And he’s also glad to not be doing asphalt work anymore in his hometown of Belton, Mo. “I don’t miss it at all,” he said.
Tate will take the grandstand stage at The Great Frederick Fair at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15. Tickets are $32 for reserved track seats and $27 for reserved grandstand.
Tate’s real name is Stephen “Tater” Eatinger. In the mid 1990s, he was working on a record deal with Warner Bros. “Tater,” he was told, is a great name, but not marketable. After a little brainstorming, the name Tate Stephens was suggested as being country and marketable.
A singer and songwriter, Tate said that winning “X Factor” put him in a position to do great things. Among them perform on the Grand Ole Opry stage (he’s done that three times), and write songs with his country music hero Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie. (Blame it on Aldean!)
“Joe is a super, super great guy,” Tate said. “He’s my favorite country singer.” The two have co-written songs, including “I Got This” on Tate’s debut album, and they’ve done shows together. The day before his fair show, he will be participating in Craig Morgan’s seventh annual Concert and Charity Ride in Tennessee.
Tate wrapped up “The X Factor” on Dec. 20, 2012, went home for a few days, then went to Nashville to write songs for his album on Jan. 3.
“We were doing two to three songwrites a day and listened to hundreds of songs. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun,” Tate said. It wasn’t as physical as the road work he was doing, but the days were just as long.
“A lot of people don’t know that side (of the business),” he said. “They just see us get off the bus. They don’t see all the background work, the rehearsing.”
But he’s been performing since 1994, “just not at this level,” he said. “So I was kind of prepared for what it takes.”
Performing at the Opry is right up there with the birth of his two kids (they still hold the number one spot as the coolest!). And meeting some of his music heroes has been amazing, he said.
“I Got This” is the first track on the album, co-written by Tate, Joe Diffie, Wade Kirby and Phil O’Donnell. “I think Joe had the hook for the song,” Tate said. Diffie threw the thought out as an idea he had been working on. “People say, ‘Let me get this’ or ‘I got this.’ It’s written from a working man’s perspective,” Tate said.
“Ride It Out,” written by Tate, Shane Minor and David Lee Murphy, came out of a brainstorming session and is based on how when things get tough people will tell you to just ride it out, Tate said.
The debut single is the powerful “Power of a Love Song,” cowritten by Jeremy Bussey, Bradley Gaskin and Marcus Franklin Johnson.
In his spare time, which is rare these days, Tate likes to hunt (whitetail deer, turkey, upland birds) and fish, and just be outdoors.
That’s where his Harley comes in, errr, out to play. “It’s my little getaway,” Tate said.
He’d like to start traveling with the Harley, but there is little downtime on the road with setups and sound checks, he said.
Fair concert goers can expect to hear songs from his album, covers of classic and traditional country songs and some of the songs he performed as a contestant on “The X Factor.”
“And a little classic rock here and there,” he said.