Dustin Collins, 30, originally from Bardstown, Kentucky, says that for him, music is about the experience.
"To me, rock and roll has got to be live." Collins said. "It's all about, 'can you play? Are you actually playing your songs or are you running tracks?'"
Collins is a country musician, who has to date released three studio albums. His brand of country mixes diverse influences, though.
He enjoys a broad range of music, according to Collins. "I love Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Reed, Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Jr. I also love Van Halen, and all that 80s music."
His love of 80s music is apparent. His songs, predominantly swift and catchy, are not simple pop-country puff. Instead, screeching guitar solos, robust country rhythm guitar, and Collin's own voice, wide-ranged and pleasantly ragged (think Hank Jr. or Merle Haggard) weave a tapestry of music that is conversely jagged and sensitive.
"Cold Dead Hands," Collins' single from his self titled third album, is a raucous southern rock, pro-second amendment anthem.
Lately, Collins is getting a lot of attention for his music, but he's been making music for over half his life.
"I started playing guitar when I was eight," Collins said. "I started writing songs when I was fifteen." In the early days of his career, he wrote prolifically, he said.
"It's amazing how you can't get some of that stuff down," he said, laughing, referring to his older music. "I'm not ashamed of it or anything, I just wish we hadn't recorded some of it in the garage."
Collins says he maintains his productivity by staying disciplined in writing.
"Everybody does it different," Collins said. "I know some guys that get rip-roaring drunk to write songs." Collins said his method is not quite so outlaw country. He writes two hours a day and writes down any song idea that enters into his head immediately.
"If I don't write it down I'll lose it," he said. "And I just need two hours a day. I need that structure."
At The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Collins played at a small charity event with his band. His setlist included many of his original compositions as well as covers of notable artists such as The Allman Brothers Band, Jason Aldeen, Hank Williams Jr., and Black Sabbath.
According to Collins, life on the road still holds its luster.
"We've been all over," he said.
Collins has no intentions of putting aside his touring ways any time soon. He'll soon be staring down a new docket of shows for next year, according to Collins.