Joe Nichols, a four-time Grammy nominee known for songs such as “Brokenheartsville,” “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” and “Gimme That Girl,” is currently making country music fans happy as he hits the road on Lady Antebellum’s “Take Me Downtown Tour.” These days (and nights) he’s also singing his hit “Sunny And 75,” as well as his brand new single, “Yeah.”
Recently, I had the chance to chat with Joe and find out what he’s up to this summer. So what’s the best thing about doing an interview with Joe Nichols? Well, getting to talk with Joe Nichols, of course. He has such an easy-going, sunny vibe about him that there should be some sort of ‘Vitamin Joe’ bottled and sold so that the world would be a more livable and enjoyable place.
The other best thing about doing an interview with Joe Nichols is getting immersed in his music, in preparation. There’s something so right about Joe Nichols’ delivery of a country song; a fusion of emotion and experience and the utter simplicity of the truth being told. His latest album, Crickets, is full of 16 songs that allow him to connect with audiences in the way that only he can. Crickets was produced by Mickey Jack Cones and Derek George except for songs “Yeah” and “Billy Graham’s Bible,” which were produced by Tony Brown and Mickey Jack Cones. (To preview or purchase the album on iTunes, click here.)
Joe Nichols recently debuted the music video for his latest single off the album — the Top 15 hit, “Yeah”…
“Yeah,” the follow-up to Joe Nichols’ recent No. 1 hit off the Crickets album, “Sunny and 75,” is the perfect summertime country video; it’s catchy, fun to sing along to, and sexy. Directed by Wes Edwards (who also directed Dierks Bentley’s “Drunk On A Plane” video), the “Yeah” video keeps things fun and moving along at a summer’s breeze pace by letting the song unfold as a series of comic book panels. Nichols said that the song “is about being young and experiencing life, maybe even for the first time, with each other.” He also said that audiences are loving it.
(An Interview With Joe Nichols)…
GV (Greg Victor): I bet you’re in a very good place in your life these days. Am I right?
JN (Joe Nichols): I’m in a great place in my life right now. I have a great wife and now I have three beautiful daughters.
GV: Congratulations on the birth of your daughter, Georgia Blue!
JN: Thank you! She’s about a week and a half old now. She’s great.
GV: And now you’re on the road with Lady Antebellum… it must be hard to leave.
JN: I miss my baby terribly. But at the same time, I can get a little sleep when I’m out on the road! But I couldn’t ask for a better tour. This is my first time touring with Lady Antebellum. The vibe, the music and the audience reaction have been great. It’s a great place to have a couple of big songs like “Sunny & 75” and “Yeah.” Getting on a big Lady Antebellum tour and having the summer of our lives — it’s all good, man. The fans are treating me well and I don’t think I could ask for anything more.
GV: Any idea what the next single might be off the Crickets album?
JN: I think it might be “Hard To Be Cool.” I think it’s made for radio and it feels like it rocks when I do it in the show.
GV: Crickets is a good mix of potential single hits and traditional country songs. And there are plenty of songs that take you in new directions. How’d you pick the songs for the album?
JN: It was a collective process. There was a group of us that were looking for material for the record. Benny Brown, who owns the label (Broken Bow Records) had a big hand in finding a lot of the material. I actually cut “Yeah” and “Billy Graham’s Bible” before I had a record deal… with my own money. I brought those to the label and then, at that point, we kinda had a direction of where we wanted the album to go. We wanted to make sure we were current, while at the same time, we wanted to make sure people who bought the album knew that I was still my traditional self. I think we pleased a lot of different monsters with this record.
GV: If you can keep the old fans happy, while making new fans, that’s success…
JN: Exactly right.
GV: That’s saying a lot these days. And the idea is that the new fans will explore the rest of your catalogue and find even more music of yours that they like.
JN: I would think that what we’re doing now would invite fans that I’m just reaching for the first time to dig deeper into what I’ve done previously. If they did “Billy Graham’s Bible,” they’re definitely gonna dig albums past.
GV: What was it like working with producer Mickey Jack Cones on Crickets?
JN: Man, I don’t think the guy ever sleeps! He’s so busy, and so focused, and so energetic in the studio. He plays, he sings, and he has so many creative ideas. Man, this is as much his records as it is anybody’s. He was all over this album. His vision really, really livened up the record. He really took control and dug deep into the details and put his fingerprints everywhere. It was my first time working with him and I was just blown away!
GV: Is there a certain song, or a type of song, that you’ve always been looking for… that if you heard it, you’d say “I’m recording that”?
JN: If I ever found another “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” I would cut it. I know it probably wouldn’t go over on radio today, but I think that a song that’s that impactful and soulful and that just kinda grips you, I think I am always looking for that. And it there’s that one ideal song for me, I think it’s the emotionally inspirational kind of song. “The Impossible” was like that for me. At the same time, I would also want another “Friends In Low Places,” one of the all-time party songs.
GV: We know how you have a history of singing songs about girls taking their clothes off… “Take It Off” and “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” for example… You want it all, don’t you, Joe Nichols?
JN: (laughing) I want it all!
GV: Well, why not? You seem to be everywhere these days. I’m talking, of course, about the two tracks you have on Working Man’s Poet: A Tribute To Merle Haggard. What a fantastic album that is.
JN: I woulda cut the whole record if they’d let me.
GV: When it comes to Joe Nichols recording Merle Haggard songs, how do you possibly choose which ones to do?
JN: You know, I’ve had a personal favorite of his for a long time, which is “Footlights.” I’ve always wanted to cut that song and put it on one of my records. So that was a natural choice for me, and then for the second song, we just called Merle from Benny’s office and I asked, “Hey, what do you want me to do? I was thinking maybe ‘Caroline,’” and Merle said “Well, I didn’t write that one. Tommy Collins did.” And I said, “Well, I’ll sing something you wrote. You just tell me what you want me to sing.” And he said “How about doin’ ‘My Favorite Memory’?”
GV: We all know you grew up obsessed with singing and playing Merle Haggard songs. You probably had no idea at the time that you were someday going to be carrying on that legacy of country music…
JN: I never thought I’d have the first hit, let alone sit here twelve years after my first song was released, still relevant on radio and still making music. I never thought I’d ever get to do this. I’m thrilled to death.
GV: The longer you’re out there making music, does each hit mean more and more?
JN: For me, it’s probably different than a lot of people. I think some of your headliners out there that are having hit after hit, and have been for a few years — it probably gets a little repetitive for them. But for me, it’s not been so much “hit after hit.” It’s been kinda “hit and miss,” really.
GV: Well, the Crickets album has definitely brought you back-to-back hits. With “Sunny And 75,” followed by “Yeah,” and plenty more to come, I’m sure.
JN: It’s exciting. Thankful for it!
GV: And I wanna thank you for taking time to share your thoughts with me. I look forward to seeing you on the road. (For upcoming tour dates, click here).
JN: All right, man. Take care, brother.