Festivals Interviews

Lady Antebellum

Festivals Interviews

Brad Paisley

Photo Credit: David McClister

Far from a newcomer to the country music scene, Brad Paisley is what legends are made of. A three-time Grammy award winner, Paisley has secured 14 No. 1 singles and recorded eight albums which have amassed to over 10 million albums sold. Hard to believe it all started just a decade ago with his debut, Who Needs Pictures.

Since 1999, Paisley has secured himself as a talented singer-songwriter and admired entertainer. His concerts are known for their interactive and animated backdrops and energetic performances, as Paisley can be found continually running around the stage between his breathtaking guitar solos. A stand-out performer at this year’s CMA Music Festival, in the press conference Paisley discussed visiting the festival before he was a country star, his current tour and album, American Saturday Night, and the freedom he felt making his previous instrumental album, Play. Read on for more.

How does this year’s CMA differ than previous years?

It’s great. It’s come a long way since Fan Fair of ’99 [which] I think was the first time I played, back before anybody knew who I was. For me, I used to visit Nashville during Fan Fair. I came down a few times before I had any real reason to be here than just to watch and so it’s an interesting thing to see it evolve. I think it’s really important for a couple of reasons, the big one being this city. Having a music festival that is country in Nashville is very important. They have great music festivals everywhere else and one of them needs to be here. I think they’re doing a great job here. The lineup is great and everybody seems excited. Last night I did a performance at 1 in the morning at a club downtown and the crowd was young and just excited and it just feels like this festival is still young, in a good way. It feels almost new and that’s a good feeling.

Why is it important for Tennesseans to support CMA Music Fest?

Well, because it’s ours. It’s something that brings a lot of money into this city and keeps it the center of country music’s attention. We shouldn’t be getting on our busses and only playing other places. It’s a big deal that we actually present what we do here to some degree, even though all of us go out there and it’s a different thing than putting on your full production. It’s a good thing to have this celebration of our music, which is largely, probably 90% recorded on these streets.

You kicked off your “American Saturday Night Tour” this past weekend. How did it go? Why did you feel your opening acts were the perfect fit for this tour?

I’ve got Dierks [Bentley] and Jimmy Wayne out. I just like what they’re doing and it’s a great thing to have. Also, they’re both old friends of mine. We really wanted to give the kind of show to these fans where they have gotten their money’s worth before I even strike the first note. And I think they do, they get their money’s worth with these two.

The comments from Jimmy the first night I heard about from meet and greet, and a lot of people were very excited about him. That’s not always the case. It’s not a normal thing for the fans to come to the meet and greet and say, “Oh, I love Jimmy Wayne!” Which is really great and it says a lot about him. He really relates to a lot of these people I think. As far as how the tour went, for the first weekend it really couldn’t have gone better. You walk away with some tweaks, I did, I was like, “This song needs to be here, not there” and certain things felt like they could be tighter, but we’ll get it right I think.

You’re such a guitar aficionado. Did you enjoy making your guitar album better than your vocal album?

I loved making that. I don’t know that I liked it better. I liked it from the standpoint of, creatively there was so much freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. I also felt freedom in the sense that I didn’t think that anybody was going to buy it. So it’s the kind of thing where you go in and make a different record when you’re not the least bit concerned with that. In the end, it’s done very well and I’m really proud that I did that. And it’s the reason we didn’t do an instrumental on this new album because I figured there are 10 new ones and the time to take a break from that was this new album. I didn’t need to add another one to that.

Can you talk about your pants? Are those designer paint pants or did you just add slaps of paint on them?

On the way here there were some protestors. The blue, they were protesting Smurfs. [Laughs]. No. The album cover and the whole package is about this painting that I did in an hour of the town, basically with red buildings and the sky. It’s cartoonish. And then we took photos in front of that and that’s our album cover and the entire inside is me painting that. So, we had this idea for the tour where we would just take clothes and throw paint on them, and that’s what we wear. From the first night on through this tour, we basically come out with something with stripes of paint on it. I’ve always liked that thought process of you feel like when you go to this tour, it’s launching an album at the same time. There’s a concept behind it, which is we’re coming basically to paint your town and we’re going to try to do that in one night on one of these nights when we play a city and we walk out there covered in it. I think it kind of says, “New tour. You’re in for something.”

There is such great energy behind your latest release, American Saturday Night. What inspired it? Is it something you orchestrated?

I think it’s my team. I have a really good team of writers. I co-wrote every song, there is nothing I wrote by myself. I came to the table as prepared as I can be, but I have a group of songwriters that have since gone on to surpass me and write for other people as much as they write for me. Kelley [Lovelace], Chris [DuBois], Ashley [Gorley] and Tim Owens and all these guys that started out with me in some way. When it was time to do the record it was like all of us got together and said, “What do we got?” Everybody came with ideas. Some of them had 25 on a page and one of them might be something called, “I Thought I Loved You Then” and we wrote that one.

I think my team, as far as Frank [Rogers] as a producer, it goes without saying based on his track record and what he’s doing now without me around. Both of us went to school together and we were each other’s first time . . . you know. He’s gone on and has done such great records. He is just so confident going in there, it’s almost annoying actually. Going into the studio he knows exactly what a song should be like the minute I pla
y it on an acoustic guitar. I
can play a song like “Water” and he’ll say, “Okay, it needs this and needs that. How ’bout this in the chorus?” He’s a genius. This crew, they’re really hitting their stride. That was another reason for the album cover. I feel like we got together and threw paint on a canvas and this is it, in a way I’ve never done before. It just felt right to me this time. There are other albums that I’ve done before that are different of course, that are compilations of some outside songs and things I wrote, that in my opinion are perfect the way they are. This album felt like it was time to do one of these — almost hauled up in a studio or a club and play some songs.

You started out with Frank. Were you always cool with him going off and doing so many other projects?

I was cool with it. I make a record every two years and he belongs in the studio doing this. Right off the bat he was sought after we made Who Needs Pictures album. The next album he did was Darryl Whorley and then Josh Turner’s debut, which took a few years before he came out with his first single. I’m cool with him doing any of that. I’m also really content on any album we do, whether it’s instrumental, to not produce, to not co-produce. He is the sole producer on these records.

Frank is the sole producer. He’s the guy in there directing this movie. I like that. I don’t think I’m somebody who can be behind the camera and in front of it. I’m no Clint Eastwood that way. I need somebody to tell me when I didn’t sing it very well ’cause I would go into the studio and sing a song twice if I could get away with it. And Frank usually makes me do it at least eight times on that. He knows. He knows me at this point. He needs to be producing as many people as he feels necessary, that’s for sure.

Your animation started out as a hobby and has since evolved heavily in your shows. Have you thought about taking that talent and skill and putting it somewhere else? Maybe animating movies or television shows?

Not really, but thanks. I should. I’m really proud of the new tour cartoon. The premise of the new cartoon is that it’s the first time that I’ve drawn other artists or cartoons in the show. It says, “Country music singers are under attack. Who will save them?” And I run and I leap into the air and I rip off my clothes and I’m wearing a Superman outfit and Carrie Underwood is tied to train tracks and then I fly and save her and she says, “My hero” as I fly off. And then Kenny Chesney is in the islands getting attacked by robots and I fly and save him and beat the robots up and he says, “My hero.” It also says in the beginning, “This is based on a true story.” [Laughs]. Then Reba is being chased by a dinosaur in it, which could happen. And I save her and she says, “My hero.” Then the third one you just gotta see.

It was fun to do that and also fun to do that without asking permission from any of these guys. I asked about that. “South Park” gets away with amazing stuff and I asked, “How do they do that?” and they said that parody is the broadest of basic copyright licenses. You can parody anybody and get away with it. They’re really lenient with that and I was like, “Great!”

For more on Brad, visit his Web site and catch him currently on tour.


CMA 2009: Six Artists To Watch

Photo Credit: Russ Harrington

This year’s CMA Music Festival brought country fans closer than ever to their favorite musicians through signings and fan parties. While LP Field was the place to be each night to catch some of country’s more established singers, the smaller stages throughout the four-day festival introduced some refreshing new talent to the country music scene. Give each artist a listen, I think you’ll like what you hear.

Jake Owen

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.” Coincidentally, 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.

Darius Rucker

Former Hootie & The Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker (photo above) has proven that successful pop rock artists can go country and still maintain that edge and uniqueness they’re known for. His debut country album, Learn To Live, graced No. 1 on the country charts while all three singles off the album have received similar success. One of the most down-to-earth musicians, when Thursday night’s show at LP Field was postponed three hours because of a storm, Rucker was found mingling with fans in the rain until the show continued. If that’s not a true sign of character, I don’t know what is. Catch him currently on tour with Rascal Flatts.

David Nail

With a solid performance Friday afternoon at the Sommet Stage, David Nail captivated the audience with his heartwarming ballads and onstage banter. While hit single “Red Light” is climbing the charts, ballads like “Turning Home” leave a lasting impression on the listener. It didn’t hurt that the recent newlywed dedicated a song to his wife onstage, surely making all the sentimentals in the crowd swoon. A self-proclaimed mama’s boy, be sure to visit his MySpace to hear tracks from his upcoming release, I’m About To Come Alive due out August 18.

Veronica Ballestrini

17-year-old Veronica Ballestrini has been garnering attention and numerous fans after launching her music on sites like MySpace and Facebook. Not to mention, current single “Amazing” is gaining quite a buzz. Her laid-back vocals and catchy melodies make for the perfect summer soundtrack. Be on the lookout for a digital release of her debut album, What I’m All About, and tour soon.

Holly Williams

Her name says it all. Daughter of Hank Jr. and granddaughter of Hank Williams, music runs in Holly Williams‘ blood. Her latest release, Here With Me, is a solid compilation of heartfelt tracks. Penning the majority of the album, Holly sings about divorce on emotional song, “Mama.” Telling the story of her mother and the positive attitude she displayed when splitting with her father, it’s one of the album’s most striking songs. With such a stellar release and a tour on the way, Holly continues the strong family legacy.

Lady Antebellum

Having won Top New Duo or Group by the Academy of Country Music and New Artist of the Year by the Country Music Association last year, Lady Antebellum were definitely a favorite among many at the CMA Festival. Hundreds of fans attended their fan party and autograph signing (watch live footage below) and they rocked LP Field Saturday night with hit song “I Run To You” and a solid cover of John Mellencamp’s “Hurts So Good.” Currently on tour with Kenny Chesney, Lady A is working on a follow up to their debut self-titled album. Giving a preview of one track at their fan party Friday morning, from the sound of it, the album is sure to be another smash for the trio.

Lady Antebellum Webisode of CMA fan party/autograph signing (and a proposal!)

Lady Antebellum on iLike – Get updates inside iTunes

You can also read this article on with my complete video interviews.

Festivals Interviews

David Nail

David Nail‘s foray into the music scene is an inspiring tale of persistence and dedication in the midst of ongoing frustrations and obstacles thrown in his path. From moving to Nashville right out of high school to releasing his debut album, I’m About To Come Alive, featuring tracks by Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts’ Gary Le Vox and guest vocals by Miranda Lambert, Nail has come a long way.

A self-proclaimed mama’s boy, Nail filled me in on his transition into the country music scene, the inspiration behind some of his songs and his favorite part of performing in the video below. With his debut album due out late August and a recent marriage, Nail seems to have it all figured out. Be sure to visit his MySpace to hear his current chart-topping single, “Red Light” as well as tracks from his upcoming release.


Festivals Q&A Videos

Jake Owen Video Interview

I’m sure you’ve been anxiously awaiting my first video interview as much as I have. I’m happy to announce that today marks the world debut of You Sing, I Write’s video coverage. Last week I posted the full transcript of my interview with Jake Owen at the CMA festival. Since then, Wendy and I have been working hard to edit all our video footage. Below is our first installation. Feel free to visit my YouTube channel for more clips in the upcoming days. Enjoy!


Festivals Interviews

Holly Williams

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

Music is in Holly Williams‘ blood. Writing her first song at the age of eight is just one indication. Being the granddaughter of the legendary Hank Williams Sr. and daughter of Hank Williams Jr. doesn’t hurt either.

I chatted with Holly the week before the release of her latest album, Here With Me. A solid compilation of moving ballads and timeless tales, Holly lives up to her family name. Read below as she fills me in on her songwriting process, her up-and-coming stylish boutique and the Nashville music scene.

How do you feel your new album is different from your past work?
This new album is definitely different in terms of just having the experience of touring forever, more studio experience and knowing what I wanted out of the sound. The songwriting didn’t change that much. There are a few more songs that are a little rootsier, more country sounding. This time around I wanted to have at least two songs on the record that are totally raw. There is one song called, “Three Days In Bed” which is just myself and guitar, it’s a live performance and then there is a Neil Young song called “Birds” which is just me and a piano. And then there is the big band stuff. I really wanted to have a mixture of everything production-wise. It’s just songs over the last four years, what I’ve been going through.

Your song “Mama” is very emotional. Are you ever scared to put too much of yourself into a song because it is like writing a diary?
Yeah, it is definitely like a diary. We all get along great in my family, and all the issues were discussed. But, there are always songs that are very strange to play. Whether it’s an ex-boyfriend that you wrote about who hears it, or a friend, or a family member, there just are always situations that feel sticky when you are playing songs. I can play them in front of thousands of people, but if there are the right two or three people there, that’s when it can get really awkward. But that’s what I love. My favorite artists were the ones that were really raw and sang what they wanted to sing without caring. I try not to let that fear of people hearing things change it.

You started writing at the age of eight in a notebook. Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
Yeah. I was actually looking at the notebook this morning because I was staying at my mom’s house last night. The first song was called “Who Am I” and I really wanted a publishing deal when I was a little girl. I remember calling companies. I was very ambitious and tried to get my own stuff going. It was during the years of the Tiffany and Debbie Gibson reign and it was something I wanted them to cut. But, it was very introspective for an eight-year-old. I had a really normal childhood even though my dad was Hank Williams Jr. I lived in the suburbs with my mom, so church and school and field trips. I don’t know where these songs were coming from, but they were all deeper and darker than most eight-year-olds would write. It’s similar to some subject matters today.

Your father and grandfather are legends. Did you feel pressure growing up and following in their footsteps?
Well, I never did growing up because it was never discussed around the house. No one ever said to me and my sister, “You’re all going to be musicians” or “Do you like writing?” Really, my dad never pressured me. He just said, “Whatever you want to do.” I was interested in design at the time and didn’t start playing guitar until I was 17. I was doing part-time modeling and I liked interior design. There were a million different things that I was interested in.

Since I’m ask the question so much it now makes me think, “Should I be feeling more?” But, there’s a healthy amount of pressure enough to where it makes me want to work my hardest and write the best songs I can write. Never do I feel I have to be as successful as them because that’s kind of impossible. My dad has had over 50 number one’s and over 70 albums and Hank Sr. released over 200 songs by the time he was my age. These days, it’s an album every year-and-a-half and the cycles are slower. So, it’s enough pressure to have a healthy fan base and following, but it doesn’t stress me out too bad.

You live in Nashville now and lived in LA briefly. What do you feel is the difference between the Nashville music scene and the rest of the country?
I lived in LA briefly when I was 22 and I went out there to try and learn how to play piano and I said, “I’m not coming back until I know how to play piano.” The Nashville music scene, to me isn’t really the country scene. I didn’t grow up around Broadway or the honky tonks and never even played those places. So that’s kind of the tourist music scene, you come and you go to Broadway and you see country music. But, the Nashville music scene, Kings of Leon and Mindy Smith and Ben Folds, that’s the kind of music scene I was around when I was playing around clubs.

I think that if you’re a local, you have some of the country music scene, but most locals don’t necessarily go to Broadway on their nights off to listen to music because you can have it any night and we kind of take it for granted, for the country music. There’s all kinds. There’s the Christian music record labels are here and a lot of indie bands have gotten deals, The Features and De Novo Dahl. It’s such a variety and that’s what I love about living here. Everyone from Richard Marx to Sheryl Crow now has a place here, Michael McDonald, all the country artists, so it’s a variation.

I love your necklace! Tell me about your boutique.
Well, it’s called H. Audrey and it opened a year-and-a-half ago. There just wasn’t much shopping in Nashville, there never really has been. There’s the Macy’s in the lower end and we don’t have a Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks, Barneys or anything like that and I’m a huge Barneys fan. I have everything from Alexander Mcqueen to Rag & Bone, Alexander Wang, Rick Owens, APC, just off center designers that I loved and felt like weren’t getting a presence here. A lot of stylists come in all the time. The musicians, I think feel like they finally have a place to shop.

I try to carry a lot of unique pieces. This necklace is from there and these rings, I just try to carry statement pieces, whether it’s one great jacket or one great shoe. It’s my passion and music will always be my number one, but it’s great to have this as a side project and to get off the road and have a few days of going to market, folding jeans and doing inventory. I mean it sounds boring, but it’s nice to have it on the side. I do all the buying, just seeing what’s coming new for spring and what’s coming new for the next fall and finding new lines. The website is You can’t buy off it yet, but you can see what’s there and call and order.

You’re involved in so many things. How do you prioritize and multi-task and still have a life?
Well, it’s interesting because when the shop opened I was off the road and making the album. I’m at the store every day, all day if I’m
not busy with music. These days, now especially since my album is coming out, it’s a couple hours of press each day and then I’ll go to the store. It’s definitely juggling now. I have a great store manager, so it can run while I’m not there, but I like to be there just because the racks look better.

When you’re the owner, I guess you think of it as your baby. And I have great employees, and they treat it great, but it’s hard. It’s getting harder now that I’m getting busier. I have to do a lot of the buying online, which I don’t like. I like to feel the fabrics and see the designers and I love to style people. Eventually, when I settle down and have kids and take a couple years off, that’s going to be what I’m doing. It’s definitely getting harder, but I’m still committed to both.

What’s your songwriting process like?
I don’t carry a notebook. It’s all in my head. Songs always come to me at the same time, the lyric and melody. A lot of people sit down with their guitar and play chords and find a melody or they’ll write lyrics and then come back to the instrument. But, for me it’s always been at once. The single “Mama,” I was driving down the road. A lot of times it comes when I’m driving or on a plane. It’s always at once and very quickly. Usually a 10-15 minute period and it kind of gets out real quick.

If it’s a song where it doesn’t come quickly and I have to work on it, then it’s usually not very good and not one that I want to keep. It’s few and far between. I used to write a lot more in my younger days and I didn’t get that much I liked. Sometimes I’ll go two months without writing a song and then two will come to me in one day and it’ll just all come out. So I never know. They’re like little droplets from God that I never know when they’re going to hit.

When recording, how do you decide what goes on the album? What happens to all the songs that don’t make the cut?
Well, I think the different thing about my career is that most people go in with their A&R; guy who helps them find songs and the label says, “Cut this many and then we’ll choose.” But I had an amazing amount of creative freedom here and the label’s great about it. So I actually knew what we were going to cut and I just walked in and said, “Okay, today we’re going to do these two and these three.” And for this time, especially, we did not overcut. I think we overcut two songs and then took them off. I like to have things planned out before and go through [the songs] a couple weeks before the studio starts and see what are the favorites. Since I write most everything, I don’t search as much for outside songs and have more of a grasp on what I want to record for sure. It’s always about a two-week process before the studio starts to really nail it down.

What’s going through your head when you’re onstage performing?
I’ve been performing for a really long time. I started when I was 20 and I’ve probably done 1500 shows. So, I’ve finally gotten to the point where it’s really just living in the moment and I’m so comfortable with the songs. Sometimes I can be in the middle of a song and think, “Oh my God did I let the dogs out?” I’m so comfortable with certain songs at this point that I really am just able to live in the moment and enjoy singing it. It took a few years to get to that point. I used to stare at my feet the whole time. I wouldn’t look at the crowd. I didn’t want to talk about the song, I was really nervous. Now, I’m usually really in the song and really in the middle of it and just telling the story and connecting with it. I’m always thinking about, “I wonder who’s out there that can relate to this” or “I hope someone is familiar with this story and has lived through it.” It’s always about people being able to relate to it.

For more on Holly and her new album, be sure to visit her on MySpace and for all you fashionistas out there, check out her store H.Audrey.

Festivals Interviews

Rascal Flatts

No new name to the country scene, Rascal Flatts have released six studio albums where 10 of their singles have hit No. 1. Not to mention, their fan base spans worldwide. With a summer U.S. tour in the works and new album, Unstoppable climbing the charts, the trio had much to say in the CMA press conference. Whether it was joking about Cascada’s remake of their hit, “What Hurts the Most,” or talking about their current tour, one thing is certain: Rascal Flatts is one class act that’s not going anywhere.

This is the only music event that allows you to go one-on-one with your fans with meet and greets and signings.
Joe Don Rooney: It’s a wonderful opportunity. This is the only thing this town does where you can get as many country music fans in one place at once. And it’s really great for us too because we get to see a lot of the artists that we’re friends with that we don’t get to see all year long because we’re all busy and we’re all on the road. It’s a chance to reconnect with some of our friends in the business as well.

The best part is being able to see so many fans at one time. It’s just a wonderful event. I think we’re probably the only genre that does this kind of event where artists are so accessible to the fans. We’re very proud to be a part of that.

Jay DeMarcus: That’s what I’m most proud about too: that we’re the only genre that gets to do it. Even people in other genres, when you go to the Grammy’s and AMA’s and that kind of stuff, like Snoop, or someone will go, “I think that’s the coolest thing, having all your fans there. Ya’ll crazy, but man that’s cool.” We’re really proud to do that.

Did you hear the dance version of “What Hurts the Most?”
Gary LeVox: Yeah, that’s the thing that hurt us the most. [Laughs]. [In London] they thought that we were doing the remake. They’re like, “You’re doing Cascada’s song.” We’re like, “No, no. That was our song first.”

Jay DeMarcus: Every time we did an interview over there they were like, “Why did you remake Cascada’s song?” And we were like, “Nah-uh. You got that backwards there pal.”

You just launched the “American Living” tour. You have a few stadium dates, Wrigley Field and then are going home to Crew Stadium.
Joe Don Rooney: Chicago is going to be fabulous. Brian O’Connell with Live Nation brought that to the table a few months back and asked us if we’d be interested in doing Wrigley Field. I think we said, “Are you crazy?” It’s going to be awesome to go back and play. We’ve got Darius Rucker with us and Vince Gill is going to come out with us. I don’t know how we talked him into it, but he’s going to come out with us, which is great.

Gary LeVox: It’s really cool to be able to do Wrigley because we’re the third act ever to do Wrigley. I think Elton John and U2 maybe.

Joe Don Rooney: I do think Jimmy Buffett was one of the two. It’s going to be crazy with all this history with Wrigley Field, which never had to do with music, but we’re taking music to Wrigley Field, which is really special. It’s going to be a great night.

Jay DeMarcus: Columbus Crew. It’s funny because growing up all I wanted to do was to play soccer and there was no soccer stadium. So, now there is and now I’m playing music in it. It’s actually the last night of the Ohio State Fair so it’s great to be home and it’s great to play outside.

Your fans voted for you in two categories for the CMT Music Awards.
Gary LeVox: Fan-voted award shows are our favorite. I wish all of them would be fan voted. When we go into the studio to make an album, to make music, to go tour, they’re our employers. That’s who we make the music for. It’s great that they have a voice in it and we’re honored every time that we’re up for a fan-voted, fan-nominated award show. It’s a great honor. They’re the reason we make music. It’s great that they’ve nominated us for things that we’ve done in our careers. It makes it big. We’ve enjoyed doing it for them. We do have the greatest fans on the planet.

From the start, your career has gotten bigger every year. How big can it be? What’s the ultimate show for you to put on?
Jay DeMarcus:
I think we’re going to get so big we’re going to explode one of these days and have to go right back down to an acoustic. I don’t know. It presents its challenges year after year to try and top what you’ve done and try to be bigger and better than what we were the year before. Actually, what we did this year, is we scaled back a bit. We made it more about the music.

The set’s a little more simple and a little more sleek. It’s still a great show with a lot of interactive video and lights. But, we made this show, and this tour in particular, more about the music and we’ve tried to cram as much music into 90 minutes as we possibly can. People are going to be very disappointed that I don’t get to do a standup routine this year. It’s going to disappoint a lot of fans. We’re really packing a lot of music in and I’m proud of that. We’ve taken a step back from the big, bombastic sets we’ve done in the past.

Does that feel more comfortable?
Jay DeMarcus:
It’s a change. The last couple tours we’ve done have been huge and the sets have been gigantic. You get to rely on those things; those technologies and the things that make your show spectacular. Now, the entertainment value is squarely on our shoulders and we’re proud of that. It’s something that we look forward to. It’s an interesting challenge to be responsible for all the entertainment.

You’re so well known for putting together a well-constructed show for your fans. What’s the difference playing a shorter show at a festival like this? Do you work on your set list a different way?
Jay DeMarcus: It’s a different stage experience for us because we feel like we’re just getting started by the time that it’s over. We definitely like to take our crowds on a journey and there is very little time to do that within 25 to 30 minutes. We try to pick some songs, obviously do some of the big ones that people want to hear and do our current singles, which we’re so thankful for. “Here Comes Goodbye” we just celebrated being the No. 1 record last week. We’re definitely going to do that tonight. It’s difficult to do all the things that you like to do as an artist within a limited amount of time.

Joe Don Rooney: And we’re outside. It’s the biggest party in Nashville for country music so you don’t want to get up there and do a whole bunch of ballads.

Jay DeMarcus: Which is tough for us because that’s all we sing. [Laughs]

You can also read this interview featured on For more on Rascal Flatts, give their My

Space a listen and if you
like what you hear, catch them currently on tour.

Festivals Interviews Videos

Jake Owen

Photo Credit: James Minchin

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.

Artist of the Week Festivals

Artist of the Week: Darius Rucker

Photo Credit: Russ Harrington

He’s known by many as the former frontman of Grammy-winning group Hootie & The Blowfish and now Darius Rucker is making a wave on country radio. Rucker’s debut country album, Learn To Live, landed No. 1 on the Billboard charts and his first two singles off that album are receiving just as much success — including most recent “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” landing atop all three country singles charts.  
What perhaps is most surprising about Rucker’s music is the natural transition from his former pop songs to country music. You can feel his honest emotion on heartfelt, bittersweet song “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It.” With moving string and guitar interludes, the listener can picture a failed relationship and the resulting regrets drowned in whiskey. 
Of his transition into the country genre, Rucker has said, “So many people in pop try to write all these psychedelic crazy lyrics, and I’m sure I’ve been part of that — but that’s something you don’t find in country music. The thing I like most about country songs is that they keep it simple. I love that, and I love the melodies.”
And his melodies are what keeps the listener coming back. With haunting tales about relationships and the joys of having kids, Rucker’s release Learn To Live takes the listener on a journey. Moving ballad, “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” tells the story of a father watching his daughter grow up; taking her to pre-school while realizing soon enough he’ll be giving her away at the alter. “Alright” is more upbeat, as Ruckur sings, “‘Cause I got a roof over my head/The woman I love layin’ in my bed/And it’s alright, alright/I got shoes under my feet/Forever in the aisle staring back at me/And it’s alright, alright/Yeah,I’ve got all I need/And it’s alright for me.” 
For more on Darius Rucker, be sure to check him out on MySpace and catch a show while he’s in town. Currently on tour with Rascal Flatts, it’s definitely a show worth checking out. 
Features Festivals

Poll of the Week: Which CMA Interview Are You Looking Forward To Reading?

The CMA Music Festival in Nashville was a blast and I’m still recovering from the weekly events. I just posted my interview with Taylor Swift from the nightly press conference, but I want to know which interview you want to read next! 
I had some great one-on-one interviews with Martina McBride, David Nail, Holly Williams and Jake Owen as well as covered the press conference with acts like Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley and Lady Antebellum. Who are you most excited to read about? Vote in this week’s poll and I’ll get each interview transcribed as fast as I can. Hope you enjoyed my updates so far! Lots more to come. Thanks for reading and voting!

Which CMA Interview Are You Looking Forward To Reading?

Brad Paisley
David Nail
Holly Williams
Jake Owen
Lady Antebellum
Martina McBride
Rascal Flatts
Reba McEntire