Artist Of The Week: Jason Aldean

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Jason Aldean packs a pretty good punch when it comes to music. The Georgia native has already charted 11 singles on the Billboard country singles charts including No. 1 singles ‘Why,’ ‘She’s Country,’ ‘Big Green Tractor,’ and ‘The Truth.’ His latest, ‘My Kinda Party,’ is in the Top 10 and climbing.

Jason recently performed his duet ‘Don’t You Wanna Stay,’ with Kelly Clarkson ‘on November 10 at the CMA Awards, receiving a standing ovation. He’s getting ready to hit the road on his second headlining My Kinda Party Tour which will kick off January 21 in Little Rock, Ark. with special guests Eric Church and the JaneDear Girls.

“This is the tour I’ve dreamed about putting together my whole life. My band has never been tighter, and I finally have enough material and the kind of production to really take the songs to that next level for the fans,” says Jason. “This one is for my Mom, who used to drive me to clubs when I wasn’t even 16 yet, wait on me to play the same Alabama, John Anderson and George Strait covers every night, then drive me home and make me do my homework before bed. We’ve come a long way!”

Jason sat down to answer a few questions during the holiday break.

NASH: What question do you just hate being asked by reporters?
JASON: Probably when people go: “What’s it feel like now that you’re a star?” It feels good. I don’t know how to answer it.

NASH: You’ve released your fourth studio album, ‘My Kinda Party.’ How has your music changed, if at all, since your first album? Do you feel the single has a little bit of a rock edge?
JASON:I think pretty much everything we’ve done up to a point has a little bit of that about it. We get in the studio, and even things that we cut that are ballads I think sometimes have a little bit of that edge to it. I don’t think it’s something done intentionally, I think it’s just something that when we get in the studio and start recording songs, that’s just kind of the way it comes out just because of all of our backgrounds and the kind of music that we grew up listening to … me and the guys in my band. So I don’t know that it’s ever something done intentionally, I think it just kind of happens.

NASH: Do you have a lot of creative control on the songs you select for your albums as opposed to when you first signed a record deal with your first album?
JASON: I think as far as that goes, I’ve always had creative control over songs that are on the record and single, even from the first record on. That’s one of those things that … I mean I have to go out and sing those songs every night so I’m going to have an opinion about what those songs are going to be. I give my label credit. They’ve always been cool about that and kind of left me alone and let me make those decisions. It’s never really been an issue.

NASH: You and Kelly Clarkson performed your new duet single ‘Don’t You Wanna Stay,’ at the CMA Awards. It got a standing ovation from the crowd. Were you in heaven performing that song with Kelly on stage with all of your peers watching?
JASON: It was cool. It’s the first time we’ve ever done anything like that and got a standing ovation from an industry crowd like that. It was a very cool moment for me. Kelly is probably my favorite female singer there is. It was just a really cool moment … a different kind of performance for us than we would normally do on a show like that. It was something that we hoped would go over well, and so to get the standing ovation after that was a pretty cool moment.

NASH: How did you happen to pick Kelly to do that duet with you?
JASON:I just kind of threw her name out. We had this song that we wanted to be a duet and started throwing names out, and she was the first name that I threw out. We just got her on board. Our managers started contacting each other and she got a copy of the song and loved the song. It just kind of snowballed from there. We had never even met before that.

NASH: I saw Kelly and Reba in concert, and it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. Would you ever consider doing a co-headlining tour with Kelly?
JASON: I don’t know. There’s a lot of factors that you have to take into consideration on things like that. I think it’s one of those things, never say never. It’s like one of those things that would be an interesting idea. It would be one of those things where you would sit down and kind of talk about how it was going to work. That would really be the kicker for me. It’s really hard to say but it would be something that would be interesting for sure.

NASH: You’re being singled out as one of five CMT Artists of the Year along with Lady A., Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Zac Brown Band. How did you get the word that you were picked and were you blown away by that phone call?
JASON: Yeah, I was a little surprised. I ended up getting a call from my publicist actually. She was kind of telling me what had happened. It was a little surprising because it’s the first year they’ve ever done this thing. I really didn’t know what it was, honestly. It was like, well that’s cool but I really don’t know what that means. (laughs) But the more that it’s come out, and the more you kind of see what it is. It’s especially cool because it’s the first year they’ve done it. I think all of us are looking forward to it, kind of seeing what it’s all about because it’s going to be the first time so nobody really knows what to expect. It’s very cool to be in that group with all those other guys.

NASH: Kevin Costner is going to host the show. Will you hit him up for a role in one of his future movies? Would you like to act someday like Tim McGraw?
JASON: I would love to. Acting is something I’ve never done but it’s something I might be interested in. I would love to be in a movie with Kevin Costner. I don’t know, once he saw my acting skills, that might be the end of my acting career. (laughs)

NASH: You’re going to headline the My Kinda Party Tour in 2011. Do you feel more pressure as an artist headlining your own tour as opposed to being the opening act?
JASON:I try not to think about it. I mean, this is kind of the point that I wanted to get to. There’s a lot more pressure on you if you’re a headliner but you try not to think about that stuff and just go out and do your thing and just have a good time with it.

NASH: Name some of the headliners you’ve opened for and what did you learn from them on a professional level?
JASON:I think you learn stuff from everybody. I mean, just how to conduct yourself, how to treat your employees … not so much the things on stage but the things off stage, back stage. I’ve learned a lot from everybody that I’ve ever been out with. I’ve opened for Flatts, McGraw, Urban, Toby Keith, Trace.

NASH: What did you learn from these guys?
JASON: I don’t know that you can put your finger on one thing. It’s just a combination of a lot of things. Everybody handles their business different. You’ve got a ton of people working for you, everybody from your tour manager who you’re with all the time to the caterers. Everybody is a part of the tour and everybody’s job is important and it’s kind of what makes the whole tour kind of happen. It’s just having respect for everybody and being personable with everybody. It’s just one of those things. It’s about treating everybody good because everybody is out here working for you.

NASH: Did you get to hang out with the headliners you opened for?
JASON: Oh, yeah. With McGraw, we played basketball with him every day for a couple of hours. Flatts, I hung out with all the time. Urban, I hung out with a little bit. And Trace, I used to go play golf with everyday. Yeah, when you’re on tour with these guys, you get to spend a lot of time with them just hanging out.

NASH: You were discovered at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville. Did you feel at the time that you were just one of hundreds of young artists looking for a break and were you ever discouraged by the number of singers who wanted to get a record deal just like you did?
JASON: I don’t know. I never was discouraged. It was one of those things … it actually just kind of made me work that much harder. It’s like when there’s that many people, you know that you’ve got to do something to make yourself stand out. It’s kind of what I started thinking about, trying to do something that kind of set myself apart from the other hundred people that were trying to do the same thing.

NASH: As you go along, how do you measure your own success? By the No. 1 songs, album sales, awards, fan feedback or all of the above?
JASON: I measure success just by being able to make a living playing music. That was my goal all along. I never really got into the business to win awards or to get No. 1 songs or whatever. I like playing music and I wanted to be able to make a living doing that. I’ve been able to do that so to me my career is a success whether or not I do anything else from here on out. All the awards and things like that is just icing on the cake. But the fact that I can provide for my family, and we have a nice house and things like that, to me that’s success. It’s the fact that I’m able to come out and do a job that I love to do and make a living doing that … that to me is what it’s all about.
—Pat Gallagher

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