Saturday, March 19, 2011


Eric Church sat down with us on Friday morning to talk about a number of exciting things, including his Academy of Country Music award for Top New Solo Artist. He's now nominated for Top New Artist, competing against The Band Perry in a fan-voted award. But the same weekend as the ACM Awards, the NCAA Basketball Final Four championship will take place in Houston. Eric said if his favorite team, the North Carolina Tarheels, make it, he will commute between cities.

I’m a basketball nerd. Two years ago, when Carolina won the national championship, I watched it from a hotel room in Vegas. And here’s what broke my heart: I had a chance to have suite passes in Detroit, and I was stuck in Las Vegas. This year, I can get to Houston on Saturday, and get back to Vegas for the show on Sunday.

This is a unique experience because not many artists can go on an awards show having already won Top New Solo Artist. That takes a lot of pressure off. I like having won that award because we won it our own way. I’ve not had #1 songs. We’ve been different. I’m proud we got here, and I’m proud it’s fan voted. That’s why we won.

I’m competitive. I want to win every award a guy can win, then change to falsetto and win the Female Vocalist awards. I like The Band Perry, so it’s bittersweet that one of us will have to lose. I sent them a text and said, “I’ll vote for you if you vote for me.” The way I see it is I net two extra votes. But we get to play on the show and see what happens. I don’t make music to win awards, because if I have to change who I am to win awards, it’s a disservice to the music.


Toby Keith was in Nashville a couple weeks ago to unveil his own personal brand of Mezcal tequila, Wild Shot. He held a press conference at the BMI building on Music Row, where he explained his new product:

The question on a lot of minds is, why mezcal?

There has been a surge in the mezcal market. It's easy to get another tequila, but not many people are doing anything with mezcal. I saw the success my friend Sammy Hagar has had with Cabo Wabo, so instead of being a competitor in the tequila market, I wanted to do as I always do and get in on the ground floor where there is a lot of room for growth.

Will Wild Shot come complete with a worm at the bottom of the bottle?

Oh yeah, you don't want to miss out on that! You don't want to be the last guy holding the bottle either. They say the worm causes visions, but I think it's just reaching the bottom of bottle. If you're there when that happens, I don't think the worm has that much to do with it. [laughs]

Your latest single, 'Somewhere Else,' has a different feel to it. You've described the guy in it as 'the biggest loser in the world.' What made you choose it as a single now?

'Somewhere Else' is the third single off my album 'Bullets in the Gun,' and it is my favorite thing on the album. It's different from anything I've done, but at same time we didn't feel it was the right song to pull as the first single. After touring and and seeing the reaction to it, it makes you proud as a songwriter when you get that melody and word play going on. It's got a real homey, organic feel to the lyric, like you're singing about your neighbor. It's got a light feel to it, but it's about a serious issue. It's one of my favorite things I wrote last year and I am happy for it to get out.

The production sounds a little different for you, too.

When we were recording it, we wanted to take time to create its own vibe. We muted a harmonica and really spent a lot of time trying to create almost a percussion track out of the harmonic and drum sticks. I knew it would be single, so we spent more time than usual trying to create a different vibe for it.

You're nominated for ACM Entertainer of the Year. How do you feel about fans voting for the honor?
It's wonderful to have fans vote on Entertainer of the Year these last several years. I haven't been an award-friendly guy, and I kind of gave up on them years ago. I said all along if you let the fans vote, no one can complain. If you don't get nominated or don't win, you can't gripe. There's no place for politics playing into music. It's a fan-based industry; we all survive off our fans. I told a young man that we just signed the other night that all we can do is put our music out there and then it's up to the fans. Putting politics into it never made sense to me. If you don't win or get nominated, then work a little harder next year.


Trace Adkins returns to this silver screen this weekend, appearing in "The Lincoln Lawyer," a new movie starring Matthew McConaughey. In it, Trace plays Eddie Vogel, the leader of a biker gang who needs a lawyer. Enter McConaughey in a mobile office, the back seat of a Lincoln Town Car. Trace actually met Matthew last year at the ACM awards: "I've met him a few times and as long as he's not playing his bongos naked, we'll be OK."

Trace is actually only in the movie briefly, at the begining and end. But he makes his time count. So as the leader of a biker gang, does Trace actually beat someone up? "I oversee and direct a beating but I don't personally take part. I've got people who do that for me now, Lon. I just point out the victims."

Trace and his wife Rhonda attended the movie premiere, along with McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, and more.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Kenny Chesney was in Knoxville a few days ago, hosting a premiere of his latest sports documentary: "The Color Orange: The Condridge Holloway Story." Kenny was joined by a number of University of Tennessee alumni, including former quarterback Peyton Manning, and a number of ESPN hosts and analysts, including Kirk Herbstreet. Kenny spoke to us outside the historic Tennessee Theater about making this latest film, as well as his upcoming tour and ACM nominations.

What is it about this story you wanted to tell? The fact that it hadn’t been told before was something I couldn’t believe. Condridge being the figure he was, and broke such a racial barrier, and nobody recognized it. Anytime you do something first, you pay a price, and Condridge handled it with such grace and style, and with such a positive attitude and it was inspiring to me. He was such an athlete, he was Michael Vick in 1972 and 73. We know the stats, but I wanted everyone to know what kind of person he was, how humble he was, and odds were against him becoming that person. That’s why when ESPN asked us to do this, that’s why I wanted to do this film, to show people what kind of person he is.

How did it change you? Lotta people say he didn’t play in the NFL, the NFL didn’t give him a chance, but he didn’t focus on what he didn’t have. He focused on what he had, and was thankful for it. There are so many life lessons in Condridge’s story We all have adversity, we all have hurdles, I certainly have. I don’t think I handled it as well as Condridge did his. Making this film makes me wanna be a better person, and it was a gift from God ESPN asked us to do this. I would have done this anyway because he was such a huge sports figure in my life. Condridge Holloway is the reason that I love sports in the first place, so to be able to tell this man’s story, and apply it to your life, I didn’t expect that. But in ways it was a God-send.

We finished Boys of Fall film in August, and the part they loved was my connection with Condridge Holloway. When they saw what he meant to college football, and they saw he meant so much to me that I wore his orange #7 jersey to get my school picture made in, that was important to them, and they wanted to make that connection. When ESPN called me, we’d just finished Boys of Fall, and I was gonna take the next 3 months off and learn how to surf before I went back on tour. Then they said we want you to make a film on Condridge Holloway, but we want it to air in February. I was sitting with my feet in my pool, but realized I had to do this. We had a chance to make a film that was gonna mean a lot to generations of people who were invested in college football and understood Condridge’s journey. That was more important than us being tired. Once we got into it, it gave me more energy. So I’m so glad we did it.

Would you do another one? I didn’t know we were going to do Boys of Fall. It became an expensive obsession, but if you told me in 09, I’d say you were crazy. I made two films because I made too films I was passionate about. I don’t know what else that would be. If a story comes along that we can sink our teeth into, that we’re passionate about, it might be sports, but never say never. I enjoy the process, and we work well together, I enjoy taking an idea and bringing it to life on screen. It may take several years if we do it again. I gotta go on tour. I gotta think about that.

Have you rested? I have, I feel like I’ve had time off. I don’t feel like I stopped, but I’ve had mentally time away. I’m ready to go back out, I miss the energy, I miss the excitement from the first note of every night, the band’s anxious, sounding better than ever, working hard to rehearse, to have the love affair we experience with the fans is second to none, but that’s why I feel we needed the time off, I needed to protect that at any cost. Now we’re ready to go back.

ACM nomination for Album & Single: I’m very proud of them, the fact that the album was nominated, I took a lot of extra time with Hemingway’s Whiskey. I had a whole nother album done, but knew it wasn’t right. I scrapped all of it except Boys of Fall, Somewhere With You, and a song called Seven Day. But I was afforded, because I didn’t tour, I was afforded the luxury of time. That’s why I’m excited about the album nomination.

Friday, February 4, 2011


We got a chance to speak with Faith Hill last week in Nashville. She has several things to talk about, including this weekend's Super Bowl and her CMT Crossroads special with the Pretenders. While she is in Dallas for the Crossroads, she told me she'll return to Nashville Sunday for a Super Bowl party at home with family and friends.

Who is your pick for the Super Bowl? The Green Bay Packers. I don’t know why I’ve chosen the Packers, both teams could walk away with the big prize. I think it’s going to be a close game, but I have a feeling about the Packers, they look so good in the last round of games, really strong, both offense and defense, and I only go by feeling. My picks don’t have anything to do with strategy, it’s just a gut feeling.

You have heritage with the Packers: Yes, with Brett Favre playing with the Packers for so many years, a fellow Mississippian, but that really isn’t the reason, I just have a feeling they’re going to win.

Saturday night, you will do CMT Crossroads with The Pretenders. What do they mean to you? Oh my gosh, “Brass in Pocket” is like an anthem when I was in high school. “I'll Stand By You” is one of the greatest songs ever written. I always reference that song when I’m preparing for an album or writing, it’s such a powerful lyric. Chrissie has so much attitude, it just oozes out of her, she’s such a stylist, I’ve been living with all of her music for the past few weeks since we decided to do this, but we haven’t had a proper rehearsal yet. It’s a live show, we’ll keep it live, keep it real!

Which song of theirs are you most looking forward to singing? “I'll Stand By You.”

And which song of yours are you looking forward to hearing from her? “Cry.”

Her voice is lower than yours: Yes its much lower but has so much character, but it has so much charcter, she’s a stylist. Her writing, it has a lot of country influence, reminds me of Johnny Cash.,

You just released a new perfume, called True. What kind of person wears True? Someone who wants a fresh clean crisp feeling. It’s floral but not overpowering, so there’s a nice sandlewood musk on the bottom note, which warms it up a little bit, but it’s a floral scent.

Did I notice some lemon? It’s mimosa! There’s a little bit of that. But citrus? The yuzu flower is maybe a little bit, but not much.

I noticed that two hours after I sprayed it, it was still there. Why? That was important to me, cause I wanted women to spray this in the morning headed out the door for work or their day, and not have to reapply it, which happens a lot, so that was important.

How do you do that? Musk helps in that regard to give it longevity. It’s nicer too as they day goes on. It’s soft and clean and fresh.

Let’s say a couple buys their respective McGraw Silver cologne and Faith Hill True perfume. Do the scents work together? Yes actually they do. That’s a very good question! You win the prize today. Yeah they do because they’re not overpowering and they’re not offensive, which is important, especially if you live in a house where both people wear fragrance.

Explain the name True: I just felt it was a representation of first me as a woman, and it’s just genuine. I thought it was a nice strong name.

I understand you’re working on new music, and writing some songs. So talk about writing: I started writing when I first moved to Nashville, and somewhere I stopped writing and I don’t know why. My career was moving so fast, then got married and had children, and didn’t have time for it. But it’s a craft I respect more than anything as an artist, and always have, so it’s not something I assume I can do, so it’s taken a while to get back into the routine of writing. But I’ve written with a lot of people I respect, and it’s been good for my mind, I’m a little upset at myself that I haven’t done this already. But the timing is good. I realized this is what I need to be doing. Because no one knows better what you want to say.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


This week, Joe Nichols released his first Greatest Hits collection. In honor of that, I spoke with him at his record label office in Nashville. Joe had just returned from singing the halftime show at the AFC Championship in Pittsburgh, and was about to take a vacation in Cancun. He was relaxed and very happy, as one can see in this interview.

What comes to mind when you see a Greatest Hits record: I look at that list of songs, and think about each song, each memory I have during the recording process, what each song means, and its really cool, I'm very proud of what we've accomplished and proud the fans have given me a chance to keep delivering songs to them all these years, it's been a roller coaster ride, ups and downs, but it's ended up in this first chapter, and I think it's a good way to close this first little book.

What did you expect your career to be like in 2002? I didn't know what to expect, I was just wide-eyed and overwhelmed, amazed at the opportunities, meeting my heros like Merle Haggard and George Jones, hearing they approved of what I do, it was priceless to me. That first year was OMG moments. To have songs go to #1 was amazing, it was what I always hoped I'd achieved and didn't think I'd accomplish.

Your album covers have changed over the years. The first four, you were looking very serious. But you're actually laughing in this new album cover. Talk about that: I look at the progression and it's not just photos, but if you look at my life personally it's probably a mirror image of how I've gone through life. It's no coincidence of the album covers, some were dark, some were guarded, and some felt cold, but Old Things New was first stone-faced, but then they changed the album cover. As my mind gets better, as my spiritual life gets happier, it shows in the pictures we take and the music we make, and with the Greatest Hits, that's probably the happiest pictures you'll see of me! (laughs)

Let's take about the current single, "The Shape I'm In." It's included on the Greatest Hits, and you just released a video for it that involves the soldiers. Why? One of the things that happened to me when I visited Iraq, my appreciation for them increased 20-fold. You don't have a lot of admirable people today. But these military folks I met in Iraq and Kuwait, that's whow I want my children to be. I want them to be disciplined, apprciative, and proud, to serve a greater purpose than themselves. So when I went to Iraq, this video made more sense. The song is about a break-up, but we wanted the video to be broader, about the guys who come back from overseas, that are missing a limb, those guys can overcome tremendous adversity and hold their heads up. That's bravery and courage.

As part of this you're working with The Boot Campaign. Explain that: Marcus Luttrell is a true American hero. The Boot Campaign is in Texas where they take celebrities to pose for pictures in military boots, to show we're walking in their shoes, to say thank you, so The Boot Campaign hooked us up with Marcus Luttell and he had to be in this video.

You're just back from Pittsburgh, where you sang at the AFC Championship. Have you warmed up yet? (Laughs) It took a while to get over that stinging sensation after the numbness. That was a cold game, I think it was 6 degrees, I've rarely played a show that cold. But it was a great game! All the things you want in a great game, but that cold bites you to the bone.

So who are you rooting for? I've always been a Tennessee Titans fan and Dallas Cowboys fan, those are my teams now, but Pittsburgh is a great town, and I enjoyed being there, so Go Steelers this year.

Have you ever been to a Super Bowl? I got to play the Super Bowl a few years ago when it was the Patriots & Giants in Phoenix. I didn't have a dog in the fight, but I had two tickets and I had a great time. My wife isn't much of a football fan, but she enjoyed it.

Did you meet any of the Steelers? No, they invited me to meet them, but it was way too cold.

So there aren't any new songs on the Greatest Hits, so what's next for you musically? We're in the studio right now working on our next record, and it'll be out in July. I don't want to say too much because it's not set in stone, but very excited about the first single, gonna be some tempo, some fun, some springtime fun, gonna be good.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Taylor Swift Speaks Now!

We had a chance to "speak now" with Taylor on her new CD.

So what's this record about? This album is about the last two years of my life, and it seemed like every emotion I felt was intense. I feel like trying to navigate love and relationships are what I’ve written about on this album.

So at what point did you know the album was done? There was a moment when I knew this album was done. It was when I’d written a song called “Story of Us.” I knew I needed to talk about that part of that relationship in particular, and the pain it causes you. So that’s when I put it down and knew I’d written everything for this album.

That's a sad song, yet it sounds joyous: I think it’s fun to write songs where the way the music sounds is different than what the lyrics say. Like the song "Speak Now" is about a dramatic situation where you’re interrupting a wedding where your ex-boyfriend is about to get married, and you crash into the whole thing, make this speech in front of everyone, and they’re horrified that you’re there, but it’s said with an uptempo kind of glint of the eye. I like the juxtaposition of a happy skippy melody and a sinister lyric.

Why did you title the album Speak Now? For me, calling the album Speak Now comes from the song Speak Now, which is based on the moment in wedding when they say “speak now or forever hold your peace.” And I think that’s a metaphor for a lot of situations we find ourselves in life, where we wait to say how we feel until it’s almost too late.

Talk about song #13: The song Last Kiss is one of the most personal songs I’ve ever written. It talks about completely reminiscing on a relationship, almost like the last email you’ll write but never send, it’s the most desperate of desperate songs I’ve written. You wish you could say “I miss everything about you that you didn’t know I noticed. Why is this over?” So it’s a gut-wrenching song, and pretty fitting that it’s song #13.

You wrote a song on the last album for winning Horizon Award. So was there a song on this album for winning entertainer? There is a song called Long Live, the last song on the album, and it’s a song to my crew who did this with me, the fans, all the people I jumped up and down with in the last 2 years. It makes references to Grammy night, CMA night, and talks about how I feel about all of those accomplishments. It deals with it from every angle, like you never know if it’ll ever happen again, so celebrate it. That’s an important song for me and a reason why it’s last.

You recently did a songwriter benefit for Hall of Fame, why did you do a benefit for them? Country Music Hall of Fame has always been important to me, because the history of country music matters. The fact that people can come to Nashville and be reminded of that, it’s something that’s fascinating to me. Also, selfishly getting to be in the room with Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, and Lionel Ritchie, it wasn’t hard to talk me into that. I remember being blown away with how authentic those people were. Talking about life and music, Kris Kristofferson blows me away, so much wisdom. I love Lionel, the background on my phone now is a picture of us giving each other a high five.

The photos, the cover, what’s the story: Doing the photo shoot for the album booklet is important because I want to visualize all the songs on the record. There are songs that conjure a visual, and I’m excited for people to see the booklet, because there are pictures that pretty clearly show what each song is about. The cover image is one I chose because there’s a look on my face that I’m about to say something. I like to show movement, like on the last album with my hair, and this time it’s movement in my dress, like a painting, and that’s a theme on the entire album. It’s a striking purple, I like that color and I’m glad it’s on my album