Brad Paisley Takes a Fresh Approach on ‘Hits Alive’
Brad Paisley has long been known for giving fans more than they expect, so when it came time to release a greatest hits package, it should be no surprise that the man who has won the CMA Male Vocalist of the Year trophy for the past three years took a different approach. On 'Hits Alive,' which releases today (November 2), Brad gives fans two CDs for the price of one. The first disc features 13 studio hits, including a new version of 'Online' that blends studio and live recordings. Disc two features live renditions of such hits as 'I'm Gonna Miss Her,' 'Waitin' on a Woman,' 'Alcohol' and 'American Saturday Night,' all of which were recorded this year on his H20 World Tour.
With 17 No. 1 songs already to his credit, a greatest hits package from Brad has long been overdue, but he admits he's always been a little reluctant. "I never creatively could get behind that," he tells The Boot of releasing a hits collection. "About the time I was due for a greatest hits record, it started to become so readily available to find songs on the internet. You could easily get any one of your favorite songs for 99 cents, so what was the point?"
Brad has always preferred releasing new songs, and each time executives at Sony Music Nashville would suggest a greatest hits, he'd deliver new music. "I'd say, 'Well, I've got a couple of songs that I'm excited about, a really good start to an album, let me play them for you,'" Brad says. "[With] 'Ticks,' 'Online' and 'Letter to Me,' I was on my way to completing 'Fifth Gear.' [Next time they said], 'We really want a greatest hits record now,' and I'm like, 'Here's a couple I've cut.' And it was 'American Saturday Night' and 'Then,' and I said, 'I've got this album title 'American Saturday Night' and I really feel like it's going to be very current.'"
So in 2009, the label released Brad's 'American Saturday Night' album. But the third ask was a charm. When the record company asked Brad one more time about releasing a greatest hits package, he suggested a live album. "And they said, 'How about two discs for the price of one? You can do your live disc, and then on the other one just let us cram it full of hits, and you can pick the songs.' I said, 'Deal!'" Brad recalls. "That's what I'm all about. That's different."
Brad says this approach won't delay his delivering new music to fans, and he plans to have his next studio album out in spring 2011. "As of right now, it could happen anytime between March and May and we'll be ready for that," he says. As far as the content and what people can expect of the songs on the next album, he says, "So far I steered away from the father aspect, I've covered that. That's out on the radio right now," referring to his current hit single 'Anything Like Me,' "But the things that have gone on in my life are going to be sung about, and the times feel different than they did two years ago. While I wrote the last record, we were falling on economic hard times, but it was just beginning. We were in the middle of presidential election and all kinds of stuff and it became my album for the times that I was living in. This [new album] is more so about real life and real people. There's a lot of meat on this record so far."
Brad is looking forward to fans hearing his new songs, but in the meantime, he's excited about the live recordings they'll hear on 'Hits Alive.' "We just played our show and then picked some good performances," he says, adding how proud he is of his band, the Drama Kings -- guitarist Gary Hooker, steel guitarist Randle Currie, drummer Ben Sesar, bassist Kenny Lewis, fiddler Justin Williamson, Jody Harris on guitar and mandolin and Kendal Marcy on keyboard, banjo and mandolin.
"I was pleasantly surprised at how very consistent we are," Brad says. "I'm proud of my guys. They really nailed it."
Following the CMA Awards, Brad will pick back up on the H20 Tour, with shows in Uncasville, Conn.; Memphis, Tenn.; Little Rock, Ark. and Rochester, N.Y. before winding down in Tulsa, Okla. on November 20. He'll head back out on the road after the first of the year and has renamed the trek the H20 Frozen Over Tour. The next leg will kick off January 20 in Green Bay, Wis.
Fans can see Paisley this week promoting the new 'Hits Alive' collection on David Letterman's show November 3 and on ABC's 'Good Morning America' November 4. Next week, he'll join Carrie Underwood in hosting the '44th Annual CMA Awards' from Nashville November 10.