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In House With Craig Campbell

Damon Dahlen, AOL

Craig Campbell, the soft-spoken country singer who clearly hasn’t let fame affect him, walks into AOL Music’s headquarters in downtown Manhattan with a twinge of nervousness. The sounds of the city are getting to his peaceful core.

“This is my first time in New York City. And I’m already kind of aggravated with all the horns and the jackhammers going on,” he says as a drill, perched atop an adjacent building, hammers away at a seemingly endless task. Despite the noise, the Georgia-born musician looks ready to make some real noise throughout country music — but first he’ll have to tackle the Big Apple. With his Cayman boots shined up and Stetson tilted toward God, Craig shows us right away how cool he can be.

Amid recommendations for authentic Italian food and the busy bustle of the world outside, we spoke to the singer about his self-titled debut record, why he’s always been a true ‘family man’ and the unique way he gets his daughter’s attention.

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Given that you’re already thinking of songs for your next album, are you afraid of the sophomore slump?

I don’t think so. I have some really good songs. And although ‘Family Man’ and ‘Fish’ and hopefully ‘When I Get It’ all have done well, there haven’t been any mega huge songs off this record yet. Not that we haven’t tried. But in order to have the sophomore blues, there’s gotta be something to compare it to. If there’s anywhere to go, I think we’re going up.

You used to play The Stage in Nashville a lot. What do you miss about that?

The no expectations. People walk in, listen to a few songs and walk out. When you see people leave a show nowadays, it’s like, “wow, they really don’t like what I’m doing.” Back then, they leave to go to another bar. I miss not having a set list, playing the songs that I want to play. Those are the good things about playing on Broadway in Nashville.

Your friend Jason Aldean has proven that even the countriest of country singers can cross over into mainstream pop and rap. Is that something you’d like to do or are you a purist?

There is nothing at all pop about me or my music. I feel like that’s one of the reasons why I’ve done fairly with country radio. I’m what country radio is known for.

So how about your old buddy, Luke Bryan? Does he inspire you to incorporate a little dancing in your show?

Everybody has their own thing, man. And Luke’s been like that as far as I can remember. He does well with his dance moves. I, on the other hand, am not that guy. My show, I want people to come and watch and let the songs do all the work. Not saying that Luke’s is not, it’s just I’m not much of a dancer.

Watch Craig Campbell In House

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You wrote the track ‘Family Man’ before you became a father. Now that you have two little girls, how do you now follow the lessons the song teaches?

There’s a line in the song that says, “I drive a buy here, pay here truck,” and I still drive it. It’s a 2000 model Chevy Tahoe. It has 200,000 miles on it, and it gets me from A to B and that’s really all you need. That song is really autobiographical to me. A lot of the material is from personal experience. That is me being a father.

What kind of music are your kids into?

My little girl, she’s 3 years old. She’s into the princess movies so she’s constantly singing Little Mermaid, ‘Tangled,’ -– she sings all the big theme songs off those cartoon movies. But something pretty neat is, she’s a 3-year-old so she has ADD a lil bit, so if you call her by name she doesn’t hear you. But if you sing her name, she pops up and answers you in a song. I ask, [singing] “Where did you put your rainboots?” and she sings, “I put ‘em in the closet!”

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