One of the most comical musicians I’ve interviewed, Jake Owen
sure knows how to make those around him laugh. When asked about his dog touring with him, Jake informed the press room that his dog was just neutered, adding, “I realize I need to get neutered. I would probably chill out a lot if that happened.” Coincidently, the room erupted in laughter.
While his debut album, Startin’ With Me has garnered much success, recent release, Easy Does It isn’t too far behind. With first single, “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You,” winning praises from critics and fans alike, Owen is sure to be following in the footsteps of country’s great legends. Whether it’s his heartwarming ballads or edgier, rowdy tracks like “Eight Second Ride,” Owen brings his diversity to the table, always leaving room for the unexpected.
After he hurt his shoulder wakeboarding, Owen picked up guitar during rehabilitation and the rest, as they say is history. Performing this year on LP Field, Owen talked about the thrill to perform on a stage, where two years ago he didn’t even have access to, the songs on his latest release Easy Does It and what he thinks about while onstage performing. Read on for more and stay tuned for video footage of my interview with Jake!
How do you feel the recording process was different on your latest release, Easy Does It than your debut album?
I think it was a lot more fun this time around making the record, because while I was making it I was out on the road. I was able to play a lot of the songs I was writing for the record live for people so I got that fan interaction that I didn’t have on the first record because no one knew who I was.
Being on tour, do you feel you had a lot more stories to share? Did the writing come easier on this album?
Yeah. I don’t really write for records. I just write what I feel like writing. I had a lot of songs to choose from and I felt like it was a really good test out there on the road. Almost a little test ride of songs. People are so honest and truthful and if they don’t like songs, you can see it written all over their face. And, if they love it their face lights up and people let you know too.
What’s your typical writing process like? Do you carry a notepad everywhere you go?
No. I always keep it up here in the noggin.
A lot of your songs are about relationships. Do you feel a song comes out better if it actually happened to you?
I don’t know. I tend to write about the things I know about. But at the same time, I find it a lot of fun sometimes to sit down and completely make up a story and write about it. It’s like when you’re a kid, you can just make up a story. That’s what a love about music. As long as you have a melody, you can put anything to that melody.
Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
Yes I do. I think it was just a silly song I wrote about a girl I hadn’t seen in a while and I believe it was called, “It’s Been A While,” ironically enough.
I wanted to ask about your song, “Who Said Whiskey (Was Meant To Drink a Woman Away).” Was that about a specific person that you always see in the crowd?
Yeah. When I was in college I used to sit on the bar stool and it [the song] says, “Oh boys, you all see that girl in the back standing with the bachelorettes.” Any girls that were going to get married would always come in with their bachelorette party and they would always start way in the back, toasting and wearing that thing around their neck saying what they were supposed to do.
In all the old country songs everyone sings about how they would drink whiskey to get a woman off their mind and keep them away from them. But as I’ve come to notice, whiskey, when mixed with women, they just tend to get closer and they become more friendly. So that’s where that came from.
The meaning behind your song, “Green Bananas” is very moving. I was curious as to what inspired it.
I had a friend of mine who had a boat called Green Bananas growing up. A friend of his passed away of cancer. Needless to say, he named his boat Green Bananas because his buddy told him in the hospital, “Don’t ever buy green bananas because you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.” And I thought, what a great way to look at life.
What’s your favorite song to perform?
I like “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You.” That was my first, big, big hit. It went to number two on the chart. I just love singing that song. It takes a lot of effort and I like putting everything I have into music.
Do you have a favorite song that you’ve wrote?
I really like “Tell Me,” which is the first song on my record. I think it has a really cool melody and it’s very mysterious, I like that a lot. I didn’t write “Cherry On Top” but I like that song. It’s got a very sexual connotation to it.
What do you think about when you’re onstage?
Depends who’s in the front row. [Laughs]. I mean, if there’s a guy in the front row with an unbelievable mullet, I’ll get on the talkback mic and tell my band, “Wow, that guy has an unbelievable mullet.” If there’s a girl that’s in the front row and she’s pulling her top off, I’m probably going to think about that. It just depends on what’s in the front row.
Tell me about “Eight Second Ride.” Why’d you decide to re-release it?
I don’t know what it is about that song. I really don’t. I wrote that song when I was in college, which was almost eight years ago. When I wrote it, I was tired of playing “Sweet Home Alabama” and I wanted to play one of my own songs on the bar stool that people didn’t get up and get a drink when I put in an original tune so I had to write something rockin’ and uptempo. At the time, my brother and I both had big trucks and Jarrod does a lot of spittin’ tobacco and he always had a cup that sat on the console and I’d climb in his truck and he’d say, “Hey man, watch out. I’ve been spittin’ in that cup.”
So, there’s a line in the song about, “Climb on up, but honey watch the cup where I’ve been spittin’ my dip inside.” But, people tend to get the connotation that I’m saying, “I’m sticking my ….” but they don’t pick up on the fact that I wouldn’t stick my dick in a cup. [Laughs]. I think it’s just the fact that people let their mind wander. Anyways . . . I don’t know what it is. It was on the first record and people loved the song so we put it on the second record and here we are. We play it at all of our shows and before we get to the end of the show people are already c
hanting, “Eight Second Ride.”
I’m excited that it’s a song that’s lived that long.
How does the Nashville music scene differ from the rest of the country?
Well, definitely for country music, it’s Music City. It’s the birthplace of country music. I love how the city is filled with other people who have the same emotion and passion for music, not just country music. There’s a brotherhood here. Whether you are a so called “star” or whether you are someone trying to make it, people embrace you and they want to help you. Everyone here is great people. It’s very comforting to live in this town.
You’ve been pretty creative using Twitter to invite people to dinner, to hide backstage passes. Are you constantly thinking of ways to use Twitter or do you happen to be going somewhere and think, “I’m going to hide a pass under a trash can?”
For a while, before everyone caught on and began Twittering nonsense, I was using it for things like that. I got away from it for a while and I realized how people were really upset. They thought I died or something because i didn’t Twitter in three days. I think anything, especially now with the electronic world and to be able to keep in touch with folks, it’s a great way to do that. I think the first major Twitter that I did was, I was flying into Dallas and I was hungry and I said, “The first person to get back to me wins dinner with my tour manager and I.” And sure enough, we took her out to dinner and it was a great time. It just spreads. I’m doing anything I can right now to gain fans and friends and popularity and I think that’s a great way to do it.
What’s the coolest thing a fan has ever said to you?
This goes to show you the power of a song, especially one like “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You,” which is probably my favorite to date that I’ve released. I met Tony and Terri in Phoenix, Alabama, just the other day. I noticed they were standing outside of the bus for quite some time, so I finally walked out and introduced myself and Tony introduced me to his wife Terri and [told me] they had been married for 28 years.
He said, “We have four kids man, and we never get out of the house. And they’re finally old enough where we can sneak away and come out to your show. We drove two hours to get here and the only reason we came tonight was to hear that song, ‘Don’t Think I Can’t Love You’ ’cause it talks about them big diamond rings and those big ol’ houses and how just ’cause you can’t afford it don’t mean it. That’s our song, ’cause to be honest with you Jake, I can’t buy her shit.” And he’s like, “But she loves me and that’s all that mothers.” And I go, “Thank God my music touches people.”
There are stages set up all over town. What’s it like to play LP Field?
You don’t understand the happiness and joy that I have to be able to play on this stage tonight. Just two years ago was my first year playing on the River Stage and my mom and dad were in town. We came over and I really wanted to go backstage because Hank Jr. was playing and so was Skynyrd. My dad was with me and he’s a huge fan, being from Florida Skynyrd is a huge deal. Obviously so is Hank Jr. We tried to sneak down and the guy was like, “Sorry you can’t get down.” And I was like, “Man, I played the River Stage earlier, seriously, I’m an artist.” And he’s like, “I don’t care. You’re not getting down there” So, somehow we snuck around him and got backstage. Well, we get backstage and I run into Newman from WSIX and he’s like, “Hey man, you want to introduce Hank Jr. with me?”
I went from not even being able to get onstage to introducing Hank Jr. All the guys that were up in the suite who were from my label and said that I would never be able to get down there because I didn’t have a pass, got to see me walk onstage and introduce Hank Jr. So, it’s pretty cool tonight that I’m getting introduced to play my own show. It’s a really big deal so I feel flattered.
For more on Jake Owen, be sure to check him out on MySpace or follow him on Twitter.