Blake Shelton Freezing His Six-Pak?
Blake Shelton says he may be on his last Six Pak. Although he’s been lauded for the mini-albums — introduced in March with the release of ‘Hillbilly Bone‘ — he has come to the conclusion that the concept just doesn’t work for him or for his fans. He explained his position before a live studio audience in a Nashville webcast this past weekend.
“I don’t like [them],” he says of the six-song collections. “I have made that decision finally and here’s why … I’m really happy with how these things have gone. I just think there’s still a lot of tweaking we can do, which is probably the only way we can learn these things is by doing [them]. Right now, it’s frustrating to me because we moved onto the next Six Pak and this is a collection of songs I’m really, really excited about and I’m still thinking about the last one, too. We didn’t release ‘Kiss My Country Ass.’ I still think we could have done something with that. Or ‘Almost Alright … or ‘You’ll Always Be Beautiful.’ Those seemed like hit songs to me, too. But the idea behind the Six Pak is you’re constantly putting new music out there … It’s one thing to be constantly releasing new music and it’s another thing when you realize that 90 percent of that was never heard on the radio because we went immediately to the new project.”
Blake continued by saying, “What we decided to do on this Six Pak is to release another single besides ‘All About Tonight.’ I think that will make fans happier, too. Because if there’s one thing I heard about fans the last time, it is, ‘Man, there was only one single off of it.'”
That next single is going to be ‘Who Are You When I’m Not Looking,’ a poignant ballad first recorded by Joe Nichols. Joe never released it to radio, so he gave Blake his blessing to cut a new version of the song.
Those who think they know Blake through his frequent Twitter updates may be surprised by the thoughtful — and, of course, often humorous — comments he made about his future recording plans, his wedding plans with Miranda Lambert, the loneliness of life as a touring musician and which surprising Shania Twain song he would love to have recorded. Here are the highlights of the hour-long web-chat and mini-concert:
On why he spends so much time on Twitter: “The thing that got me started on Twitter was just basically pressure from management and the record company saying, Hey, this is what all the other artists are doing. You need to be doing it also.’ I didn’t really have a clue what is was. And now I think they regret ever having pressured me into doing it! You’ve got to understand, I’m out on the road constantly, especially this time of the year, and there’s really not much to do when you’re on a bus or sitting in a parking lot somewhere … so, what do you do? You get on the freakin’ iPhone and start picking a fight with PETA or something like that. Sometimes I actually do get burnt out on it. I quit doing it for a while, like two or three months. Then there was something coming up that the record company wanted me to promote and the next thing you know, here I am talking about how my liver fell out of my body last night or I woke up in a pool of my own vomit. [I tweeted about] things that really aren’t career-building at all. It’s fun to talk with people. You almost feel like you’re hanging out with people when you’re on the road. I guess I need to quit again for a while.”
A hobby he has that most people wouldn’t know about: “Because of Twitter, I think people know most every single thing about me. I don’t know if there’s anything that would surprise people about me. My hobbies are deer hunting and fishing. What people probably don’t take me seriously [about is] when I talk about gardening. I actually do have a garden that I grow that has sweet corn in it, scallop squash, zucchini squash, watermelon, cantaloupes, okra, cucumbers. In fact, Miranda gets so fed up. As soon as I get home off the road, I’ll spend hours out there … weeding and stuff.”
The most fun he ever had making a video: “The ‘Ol’ Red’ video was a two-day shoot here in Nashville and Elliott [Sadler] played the part of my inbred cousin, which he nailed. It was so realistic. It was almost like we were making a movie. We did it here at the old Tennessee State Prison and actually had this guy that played the part of the warden who honestly did scare me when he was yelling at me, pointing and spitting, hitting me in the face and cussing me out.”
His wedding planning involvement: “Here’s what I figured out about that stuff. You don’t want to be the guy who is like, ‘Whatever you want to do is fine with me.’ I know it’s more important to her that I be involved. I also know she wants her way at the same time. I hope she’s not [reading] this. When she has an idea and says, ‘I was thinking it’d be cool if we have pink and white and turquoise flowers on the tables,’ my answer is almost always, ‘You’re kidding? OMG! I was thinking the same thing! I didn’t have the idea of turquoise but, baby, that is awesome.’ That usually works out pretty great for me … As far as the details, the important stuff to me is where and when. That is still a little bit up in the air right now. It’ll be next year sometime. I do know that.”
His dream recording partners: “Sadly a lot of the guys and girls I wanted to record with have passed on. If I could ever have gotten in there with Conway Twitty, that would have been unbelievable. I have been lucky enough to record with George Jones, the Bellamy Brothers, John Anderson — a few of my heroes. To be honest, Trace Adkins was always on that list. He and I were friends who always talked about doing it one day. I guess if there’s anyone out there that’s a current artist I still would love to get in there with — Joe Nichols. Joe and I have been friends since back when his hair was even worse than mine. Did you ever see Joe Nichols old hair? Bob Marley looking, I mean it was bad. We have known each other a long time and have been through many ups and downs together. And it’s a shame to me that we haven’t gotten in there and recorded together.”
Why collaborations among musicians don’t happen more often: “That just doesn’t happen these days in country music because one record company doesn’t want to give the other record company rights. It just turns into this thing and it’s almost a nightmare that artists don’t want to get into with each other. The last thing you want to do is start out in a good place wanting to record a song with your friend and then you end up mad at each other over something stupid that happened.”
The favorite song he has recorded: “That changes from one week to the next. Seems like the one that stays universal, even for me, is ‘Ol’ Red.’ It’s so strange to me that was the very first song I ever found accidentally when I moved to Nashville. I held onto it for many, many years and had to fight to get it on my album. Once I got it on my album, I had to fight to get it released as a single. Then it was another battle to get them to put it out as a video. Even though they liked the song, nobody ever thought that it would be something accepted in country radio and by country music fans in general. I think they thought that type of song was dead and gone. To be honest, I wasn’t sure, either. I just loved it that much and, thank God, on the first album I was lucky enough to have two of the biggest hits of my career. (‘Austin’ is also from that album). That’s awesome.”
His advice on attending college as a way to break into music: “Going to college and studying music is not a bad idea at all. I don’t know if you can go to college and be taught heart. I think you can be taught to [play an instrument] and how to sing on pitch, but at some point you have to separate yourself from what you know is correct and right and just do what seems right … Sometimes that’s not the same thing. That’s what I found with me. That’s what I found watching Miranda’s career. There’s nothing about Miranda Lamberts’ s career that has been textbook. She has done everything completely backward and it baffles people and I love that — it cracks me up. So you have got to learn as much as you can and then kind of sift through all that and decide what of that really matters to you. I would be sure that before you do this, ever, that you’re sure that you’re the kind of person that’s prepared to be gone, always. I still don’t think that I’m very good at that. I still have a tough time when it gets to be this time of year and I’m out on the road all summer. You miss out on really the good things in life. When you get to be my age you start to figure out what those things are and it’s not always just being out there chugging beers on stage in front of people. It sounds fun but after a while you go, ‘Man, I wish I was home hanging out with my dad or something right now.’ So be prepared for that part of it, too, because as fun as it is in those early years, it can still wear you down when you get to be old like me.”
How he selects songs for his albums: “I record an album just like I listen to the radio. If I’m in my truck driving around back roads and flipping around stations and stop on a certain song, something about it catches my ear. [That happens] even though I can’t even really relate to the song, like a song like [Shania’s] ‘Any Man of Mine.’ That’s a bad-ass song, but I can’t relate to that [song’s message]. I think it’s cool as hell. If I could get away with singing a girl’s song, I would have recorded that. So that’s how I approach a record. I listen to songs and write songs and then end up with this pile you are really excited about.”
Touring with Miranda: “We talked about that last night for a minute. She had the night off so she came and watched my show, and we went out and sang ‘Home‘ together. She actually came out and did the Trace Adkins’ parts on ‘Hillbilly Bone,’ which was a shock to me. I think [the tour] would work. We did it once before, about two years ago. We were a little bit early. She only had four or five singles and I only had four or five hits, and I think we were a little bit early. The energy was there, but if we wait a year and a half or a couple more years, I think it will be the perfect thing to do. And I don’t mind riding her coattails!”
His best advice for bagging a deer: “The best tip is to leave your truck windows rolled up while you’re sitting in the truck and then turn the truck off and wait until the deer is walking out there in the open. Then slowly, slowly roll the window down and then put the gun out and [shoot]. Don’t be in a hurry. If you have automatic windows they’ll hear that. So just be slow as you can rolling down the truck window and maybe turning down the radio and the heat just long enough to get that perfect shot off. Definitely. That’s what I would do.”
His favorite television show: “My favorite television show has changed throughout the years. I used to think ‘Married … With Children‘ was really funny. But now that I’ve gotten older, it’s ‘The Golden Girls,’ believe it or not. That shows kills me.
Blake second (and final?) Six Pak album, ‘All About Tonight,’ will be available at retail and digital outlets on August 10.