Chuck Wicks is ‘Stealing’ the Nashville Spotlight
His debut single, 'Stealing Cinderella,' cracked the Top 15 and is still rising, he's signed to one of country music's biggest record labels and he just scored the opening slot on Brad Paisley's tour. But don't call Chuck Wicks an overnight sensation. The Delaware native has been knocking on doors (and parking cars) in Nashville for years. His hard work has finally paid off, resulting in the release Tuesday of his first album, 'Starting Now.' We helped Wicks celebrate his CD release with a fun chat about music, girls, baseball and his somewhat surprising guilty pleasure.
You wrote or co-wrote almost every song on your album. Which is the most autobiographical?
'Stealing Cinderella' actually hits close to home. I'm not engaged or married yet, but the girl I'm seeing actually played Cinderella, and that's where the image came from. The stuff in the chorus, like "big popsicle grin" and "riding her first bike" -- all these images are true, because her mom and dad loved to take pictures of her as a little girl. So the first Christmas I went up there to visit her family in Illinois, they showed me this reel-to-reel film they had of her ... riding her first bike and dancing with her dad. So that's where all these images stemmed from. It's funny -- most of the stuff I write is stuff I've gone through or my friends have gone through. I've definitely been in love; I've definitely fallen out of love; I've definitely messed up in relationships.
It sounds like you're also describing your song, 'When You're Single.'
I've always found myself in some sort of relationship, and the minute I get out of it, I'm like, "Ok, this is cool. I like being single. I can fly away to Vegas or take a trip anytime I want to!" [laughs] There's nobody to answer to when you're single. But once you get there, there's nobody there to hang out with you. When you're single, you'd trade it all to fall in love again. You always want what you don't have. The grass is always greener on the other side -- well, not really. There's always a dry patch.
So before you met your current girlfriend, were you a serial dater or serial monogamist?
I've always been in long relationships -- since I was 15. I was in a two year relationship and only stayed single for about three months before I got into a four-year relationship. So then I swore up and down that I'd stay single, just date around and enjoy college. But whoops! I found myself in another four-year relationship.
How did you meet your girlfriend?
Believe it or not, we met at a bar -- the old-fashioned way. [laughs] And it was funny -- she tracked me down. We have mutual friends, but I was seeing someone else at the time. When I got out of my relationship, we finally met for the first time. And, remember that movie 'Meet the Fockers'? Well, she has a funny personality, and I was walking out the door, and she goes, "Hey Focker!" And there she is smiling and yelling at me. So I walked over and the rest is history.
If we were to ask her to describe you in three words, what do you think she'd say?
Funny, driven and spontaneous.
Other than a sense of humor, what are your biggest turn-ons in a woman and biggest turnoffs?
My biggest turnoff is negativity. My biggest turn-on is just somebody who's real. Someone who can put their hair down and have no boundaries -- just be themselves.
Is there one song you wish you'd written?
You were a songwriter in Nashville for several years before landing a record deal, really paying your dues. Did you ever think about giving up?
Never. But I often wondered if it was going to happen. The first job I got when I moved to town was as a valet parker. So I'd write during the day and feel really good about the song I'd just written ... and then I'd go to work, and the reality would set in. I'd literally park the cars of the guys I had been writing with that day. They're hit songwriters -- they can afford to go out for a steak dinner. That was a humbling experience.
Right at the start of your career, you got a little exposure on the short-lived reality show, 'Nashville.' Did you have fun shooting that?
Sometimes I did; sometimes I didn't. It's funny -- we were halfway done making the record when the show came into place. It almost sidetracked us a little bit. Being a new artist and launching a record is a lot of work. And to throw a TV show on top of that -- filming during your first radio tour -- it's pretty overwhelming. But we looked at it as a great opportunity to expose some of the music. This was considered a docu-drama, whatever that means. But I always considered my part the 'docu' part and everybody else the 'drama.'
You played baseball in college. Who's your favorite team?
Growing up, I had Don Mattingly on my wall. I looked up to this guy so much. And then I had an opportunity to go to a Yankees-Red Sox game. Our head of promotions here at RCA is a big Yankees fan and has a relationship with Mattingly. So he sent him a copy of 'Stealing Cinderella,' and [Mattingly] emailed him back saying he loved it. I got to go to a game, meet Don Mattingly and go into the dugout. I couldn't believe it -- he was a nicer guy than I could even imagine. It was surreal because he had my CD in his hand, and we're talking right outside the Yankees locker room. Alex Rodriguez is walking by ... Derek Jeter walked by. And I'm standing there talking to Don Mattingly about music! I thought if anything I'd be talking to him about my batting average, not my music!
Have you ever been star-struck by anyone in Nashville?
I don't get star-struck by anyone in the music industry because I've been around it for so long. But I did get star-struck by Michael Jordan. I was parking cars, and he came into eat at the restaurant. It was a birthday party for somebody, and some of the Titans were there. And when I saw him, I felt like a little kid again.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I have to admit, I watch 'The Hills.' I don't know why, but I watch all those reality shows on VH-1, too. 'Hogan Knows Best,' 'Rock of Love,' 'I Love New York.' I just love watching trainwrecks. I just sit there and I'm just like, "Oh my gosh, what is wrong with those people?"