London, England – March 18, 2015 – A little over a week ago London welcomed thousands of country music fans for the annual Country 2 Country festival. Artists, like Jason Aldean, flew over for this incredible event where they were greeted by fans that traveled from all over Europe to see them. Before his show at the O2 arena Jason sat down to answer a few questions. Have a look below to read all about his new album, his favourite music studio and songwriting.
Thank you for coming out and taking the time to talk to us. These last two weeks you’ve been playing quite a few shows in Europe.
Jason: We started in Oslo, then we went to Stokholm, Dublin and now London. We just landed here today.
When listening to your new album, “Old Boots, New Dirt”, at first people might think it’s kind of bro-country but the more they listen to it, the more it becomes obvious that lyrically it’s quite a personal album.
Jason: I think the whole bro-country thing is a little over played. If you wanna use that term there are a lot of artists that have songs that fit that sound. Songs that talk about a truck. You can take any artist in town that have songs like that but I think that anybody that actually bothers to listen to the whole album you will see that there’s more to it then just that. People will hear songs that get played on the radio, ones that are big hits like “She’s Country”, which was a big hit for us and all of the sudden we’re bro-country. But we’ve had a ton of other songs that had nothing to do with that, so I’d like to think that on all my albums there are songs like that. Songs that are fun but also songs that are a lot deeper. That are a little more serious and have a solid message. So yeah, I do feel this album also has that.
A song that gets played a lot out here is “Miss That Girl”.
Jason: I love that song! I think certain songs like that are songs that anybody that’s ever been in a relationship, or been in a relationship gone wrong, can relate to. One of my favourite songwriters in Nashville, David Lee Murphy, was one of the writers. He also wrote “Big Green Tractor” for us. We’ve had some hits because of him and I’m anxious to see how it does in Europe.
All your albums are now available in the UK and “Old Boots, New Dirt” comes as the limited tour edition that includes the live DVD “Night Train To Georgia”. Can you tell us a bit more about that DVD?
Jason: I’m from Georgia and one of the biggest things out where I’m from is collage football. And so they have a stadium there and we talked about doing a live performance DVD and wanting to do something really special. Something that nobody had ever done before. So we went to the football stadium at the University of Georgia, which is about two hours from where I grew up, and did a show for about 65.000 people and got a chance to do a show in my backyard, where I grew up. That was a pretty special night for us. Luke Bryan, who’s also from Georgia and a big Bulldog fan, was one of the openers that night. It was a big night not only for me but for him as well.
There are quite a few Georgia boys here at C2C this year. You and Luke but also the two guys from Lady A, Tyler from Florida Georgia Line, Kip Moore….
Jason: Something in the water I guess, haha! I think we’ve had a lot of history of music that has come out of Georgia. A lot of the southern rock stuff like the Almond Brothers, Otis Redding, Little Richard, James Brown all the way to Trisha Yearwood, Travis Tritt, Alan Jackson. So yes, there have been a ton of amazing artists coming from Georgia that have influenced the younger artists coming out.
All your albums have been recorded at Treasure Isle studios. What makes you come back to that specific studio?
Jason: Michael Knox, my long time producer, is the guy that discovered me in a club in Atlanta, Georgia. The reason because I moved to Nashville is because of him. We’ve recorded there ever since I moved to town. Believe me, this is not the most up to date studio there is. It probably has some of the oldest equipment. Some times you would have to wiggle knobs to get them to work. But for whatever reason, that’s where the magic is. We tracked all my albums there. For the last couple of albums we started doing some of the vocal stuff in a different studio but we track everything at Treasure Isle. I don’t know what it is exactly but it works. For us it has become a part of the way we do it. It’s sounds the way we want it to and it has always worked great for us so no reason to change it.
When it comes to some of the deeper songs do you feel it’s painful to sing them live over and over again?
Jason: For me looking at my album it will give you a glimpse at what I was going through at that specific time. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s hard to go and sing them every night. I think some times the way you feel about something when recording the album is part of what makes the magic happen in the studio. One day I might be in a good mood and I’d wanna go sing a high tempo song and other days you’re going through something and you wanna sing one of the other songs. That’s what makes it believable for me. Some songs might stir up some old emotions but for the most part I try not to let that happen, especially on stage.
Is “If My Truck Could Talk” a personal one ? 😉
Jason: A personal one?! It depends. The truck I’ve had for the longest time was a ’94 Ford Ranger. I finally sold it when it had about 150.000 miles on it. If that one could talk it would probably get me in trouble!
We see the return of some familiar writers on the new album. Why didn’t you write yourself?
Jason: When I moved to Nashville in ’98, I moved there as a songwriter. I didn’t have a record deal. I had a publishing deal so I was writing songs. I like writing songs but it wasn’t a big passion for me. Performing live is more where I’m comfortable. Making records and performing is more what I want to do, more so then write. For me writing songs these days…If I have a cool idea or feel like doing it then I will but otherwise I focus more on our show and finding great songs. Whether I wrote them or I didn’t. A couple of big songs that we’ve had, “My Kind Of Party” and “Dirt Road Anthem”, which were huge songs for us were actually written by Brantley Gilbert. He was one of the co-writers on both. I think great songs can come from anywhere and you constantly have to be able to look out for those. I think a lot of the times people will try too hard to write everything themselves and therefor miss out on great songs that way. And then you just have the artists that actually write those kinda songs. For me, I like finding outside songs. I’m way better at that then at writing. I did it for seven year after I moved to town and by the time I got my record deal I was just ready to go out and play my shows.
How do you balance being on the road and working on a new album?
Jason: This is the tenth year for us being out on the road. You kind of figure out how to make it work. I know I need to take some time to go in and start recording new songs at some point this year. I will tour from February straight through to the end of October and then I have the other months off. A lot of the times we will start working on a new record during those three months that I’m off. But sometimes when I have a day off I would also try to go in and track a few songs. My year will be one big puzzle and I sort of start taking pieces and put them in place and at the end of the year you hope you completed it. I try to fit in as much as I can. Obviously the touring is what drives everything. That’s what helps to promote the albums. So I basically try to work everything else around it.
Coming over to Europe for the first time and now having your albums on sale here. Are you surprised at how popular your music is outside of the US?
Jason: I am. Before coming over here I really didn’t know what to expect. I was excited and a little nervous to begin with. But it seems like each show is a little better. Oslo was okay, then Sweden was a little better. Then Dublin, they were crazy so I like that! Charles Kelley from Lady Antebellum said: “You’re gonna love London! All the others are just getting you ready for this one show”. It’s been cool for me to come over and experience it for the first time. The fact that you look out and the people are singing the songs to me that’s really cool. So I’m excited. When people are singing your songs you feel at home so it’s been a good trip.
You’ve won Male Vocalist at the ACM awards twice now. Are you going for a hattrick?
Jason: Hey, if they’ll give it to me I’ll take it! Honestly I was surprised the first year we won it. Obviously for any male singer that award is a big one. We got nominated for it and I really wasn’t expecting to win it and when we did it was pretty unbelievable. I really wasn’t expecting to win it a second year. At this point I’m happy with the two I’ve got. But if they wanna give me another one I’ll take it for sure! Winning those back to back years was definitely one of the highlights of my career.
Thank you for coming out to play some relatively small shows in Europe. There might be several thousand people here in London but it’s still a lot smaller then the stadiums you’re used to.
Jason: I hope we get to play some stadiums here one day. Thank you.
Marloes Lucy Duizer is a writer and photographer with a passion for country music. She has worked as a freelance writer in Holland before she became part of TheCountrySite.com team. Living in Holland gives her a different point of view. She loves to travel and tries to go to concerts all over the world.