Billy Currington Takes Time to ‘Enjoy’ Himself on New CD
After weathering many personal storms, Billy Currington is finally in a good place in his life. It's a place filled with happiness and joy -- which he's now sharing with fans through his music. The Georgia native's elation rings throughout his new album, the aptly titled 'Enjoy Yourself,' which is set for release on September 21.
Billy is currently enjoying his sixth trip to the top of the country charts with 'Pretty Good at Drinkin' Beer,' which also marks his fourth consecutive No. 1 single. The previous chart-toppers include 'Must Be Doin' Something Right,' 'Good Directions,' 'Don't,' 'People Are Crazy' and 'That's How Country Boys Roll.'
The Boot joined Billy in a Nashville-area studio to chat about the new album, his hit single 'Pretty Good at Drinkin' Beer,' and opening for Carrie Underwood on the fall leg of her Play On tour. He also reveals the best decision he ever made, as well as what kinds of songs he doesn't ever want to put on his records again.
You have a little bit of everything on this new CD -- a little country, a little beach vibe ...
You're saying I sound confused, mixed up? [laughs] When I was putting this together, I've got this little thing on my iTunes, a folder where I store all these songs for my next album, and so I had lived with a lot of these prior to recording it. I had 30 happy songs. It seemed like everything was going towards the happier side, and I had four or five that were kind of sad. Once I got them down to about 12 songs, two of the songs were the sad ones, and they just didn't fit. It just didn't work for this album. Overall, I wanted to continue the way I feel, just a happy project, relaxed. I didn't really set out to mix it up, or whatever, it was just my favorite songs at the time.
There are a lot of wonderful writers on this album, but you also co-wrote one of the songs, 'Bad Day of Fishin'.'
I really wanted to record an album full of my favorite songwriters in town and bypass anything that I've written this time. But it came to that one slot where I was trying to find that really laid-back song, and the only thing that came to mind was one that I had written about seven years ago with Scotty Emerick and John Scott Sherrill, which is the 'Bad Day of Fishin'' song. So, I just grabbed it and recorded it and put it on there, and that's the only reason I made it on there as a songwriter.
Do you go fishing a lot?
I love to fish. It's one of my favorite things to do, definitely, during some downtime. Like the song says, the hook of it is "a bad day of fishin' beats a good day of anything else." That's me, no doubt. It doesn't matter. Just being out there on the water is good for me.
Why do you think your recent No. 1 hit, 'Pretty Good at Drinkin' Beer,' connects so well with fans?
I actually heard it on the same [demo] CD as 'People Are Crazy.' It was written by the same guy. He connects well with the people who love to drink beer and party. I had played that song, 'Pretty Good at Drinkin' Beer', a hundred times, and then I started playing it for other people, and I had seen the reaction that it got. So, that was the reason I recorded it. I just really believed in it by the time we had to record an album. So, I'm still in love with it when I play it live.
Since you have had a pair of tunes mentioning beer -- 'People Are Crazy' and 'Pretty Good at Drinkin' Beer' -- what is your favorite hops-and-barley beverage?
My favorite beer would be, I don't know. [laughs] I don't really drink a lot of beer, to be honest. When I do, I like weird beers. I like to mix it up. I go from a Blue Moon to that dark beer, Guinness, to a Budweiser back to a Pabst Blue Ribbon, whatever. I don't care. [laughs] I don't drink enough to care.
The title track of the new album, 'Enjoy Yourself,' there's an island feel to it where you can imagine sitting on the beach with a fruity, frozen cocktail in hand. How did that become the title track?
The way it became the title is that I had no other title. [laughs] I couldn't think of anything else, and like I said, I had this rush job all of a sudden. 'Pretty Good at Drinkin' Beer' went really fast. I expected 40 weeks and in eight weeks, I'm having to turn out an album ... I don't really like picking from song titles, but 'Enjoy Yourself' is kind of the whole theme of what I want you to feel when you hear the album. I want you to be happy and have fun. Hopefully, this music makes you dance and laugh and sing along. So, it wasn't something that I ever felt like would be a single, but I definitely like the title for the album.
One song on the new album is pretty funny. Why did you choose to put 'Love Me Like My Dog' on there?
I had heard that song so long ago, and I brought it to the table on the last album. But I had so many people fighting against me on [it]. It was my first time as a producer, and I wanted to work well with other people. I'm a team player, so in the end, I was like, "I know y'all hate this song, but I'm going to record this song one day because I have one to replace it for now." So, we moved on to this album and I'll never forget the day I brought it up to the people who hated that song. They went, "Oh my God. I cannot believe you want to record this song." [laughs] So, all the way to the end, I just had to keep fighting about this 'Dog' song, and ended up recording it. It seems like it's becoming a lot of people's favorite. [laughs] I just hope it becomes a single. Scotty Emerick was the one who wrote this song ... and I had seen this guy perform this song acoustically in front of people across the United States at songwriters' nights for five years, and I'd never not seen it explode, as a reaction.
We love the howl at the end.
I didn't plan on keeping that on there, but I did it just being funny. We listened back to it. I didn't know they recorded the howl, [laughs] and when it played, we just laughed in the studio because it was funny. So, we decided to keep it on there.
It's like the pop at the end of 'Pretty Good at Drinkin' Beer.'
That was a root beer. That was the only thing we had in the fridge [laughs], but it worked.
You're getting ready to head out on the road for Carrie Underwood's Play On tour. What will it be like for you to get to headline your own shows at the big arenas and stadiums one day? Is that something you dream about doing?
I definitely dream of doing stadiums. It's always been a dream of playing the biggest places that exist. I just don't know those places yet, because I haven't been to them. But I definitely dream of playing a football stadium in Texas and close to my hometown in Georgia, and places like that ... I think running around with people like Carrie Underwood we'll get to play and we'll get to learn how to do those shows when it's our turn. So, that's one thing I'm grateful for is to open up for people as big as her, because we'll get there one day.
During the Carrie tour, you'll have a chance to play Nashville, which not many artists like to do, because it's the home turf. What are your feelings about playing your adopted hometown?
Playing Nashville, I know a lot of people hate it and they say it's tough to play in front of the industry, and I've felt that in the past. Now, it doesn't feel so bad. I love playing here, because it's very rare that we get to, and it's a place where we get to play in front of the label folks that haven't got to see the show -- and some friends. And playing in front of [Carrie], that's pretty special. She's so talented and so big and it's going to bring so many people. I can already tell it's going to be an exciting crowd waiting to see her. So, just to warm them up ... Nashville, Texas or wherever, it's going to be a lot of fun.
Football season has just started, so what does this time of the year mean to you?
Living here in Nashville, the Titans have become part of my life. I love them. I love the team, so I try to make it to the games on Sunday, which is usually when we're home. But this tour, I think we're gone every Sunday, so I might not see much football this year, but I still love it. I'm a big fan.
You've performed on a lot of high-profile television shows, including the 'Late Show With David Letterman.' Do you have a favorite television show that you've performed on in your career?
Before David Letterman, I'd say Martha Stewart and cooking fried chicken with her. That was pretty cool. She's got a lot of people that watch her show. For us at that point, it was a really good experience. We finally made it to the David Letterman show, and if he wouldn't have said all the things that he said about ['People Are Crazy'], it would've been just another show. But he made it special for me, special enough that I don't know what could change that being my favorite thing to do from here on out.
You've become a consistent hit maker. How does it feel to be on such a winning streak?
You learn so much when you go through the years of putting songs out on the radio and then looking back and see what worked or what didn't work or what worked the best. I remember I first came out with a song that I really promise I was never going to put on an album or come out with first. It was called 'Walk a Little Straighter.' It was personal about my dad. It was sad, not sad, but it was happy sad. I learned that I really don't want to be a part of those types of songs on the radio. Looking back at the songs like 'I've Got a Feeling' or 'Must Be Doin' Something Right' or anything that was happy and fun seemed like they worked the best. So, you may have noticed that 'Must' and 'Pretty Good at Drinkin' Beer' and 'People Are Crazy,' they're all happy and fun, so that's what I got it in my head that works, so I keep recording those types of songs. If I record 10 happy songs, they don't have any chance of putting out a sad one. [laughs[ I just feel like 90 percent of the time, people want to be happy. I can't say I'll never record a sad song again, but for now, I just want to be in a happy vein, and I feel like it's going to work for us.