Craig Morgan Hunts Big Game, More Hit Songs
Craig Morgan has spent much of the past couple of years crossbow-hunting big game in extreme locales, fishing deep waters, barreling through terrain on motorcycles at breakneck speed and chasing all other sorts of wild and wooly thrills outdoors. He’s also continued performing in packed houses all across the country on his concert tour. It’s all in a day’s fun for the high-energy adrenaline junkie, who invited the Outdoor Channel into his world to capture all the excitement for their new show, ‘Craig Morgan All Access Outdoors.’
The series quickly became one of the network’s highest-rated programs. After filming a second season of the fun-filled show, Craig turned his attention back to his music and entered the studio to begin recording a new album for a brand-new label, Black River Entertainment.
The Boot caught up with Craig — in a rare moment when he was actually sitting still — to find out about the hijinx fans can expect on the new season of ‘All Access.’ He also tells us about his new single, ‘This Ole Boy,’ and why his daredevil ways don’t scare his wife one bit.
Your show had a really successful first season. It must be match made in heaven, getting to do what you love in front of the cameras?
I’m probably the luckiest guy in the world. I have two full-time jobs, and the jobs that I do are most people’s dream jobs. Anybody in the outdoor industry, their dream is to have their own outdoor TV show and get paid to go hunting and fishing and hiking and doing the stuff that we do. For me, it’s not really a show. It’s just a reflection of what we do on a day-to-day
basis, and there happens to be a camera there. The only difference between now and three years ago, is there’s cameras everywhere. Otherwise, it’s just the same crap we were doing back then. [laughs]
Are you much more comfortable in front of the cameras now, with one season out of the way?
During season one, I was real conscious of the cameras and I was a little nervous making sure I did the right things and said the right things. Now it’s like, whatever, I don’t care. If they’re there, they’re there. It is reality, it’s non-scripted. So what you see is what you get. A lot of the stuff in season two especially, there’s a whole lot of real things happening.
Any crazy things that happen on the show this season?
There’s definitely some funny stuff that happened. We did a show in St. Louis, and I sang the national anthem at a basketball game there. There was some really funny stuff there. And with Chuck Wicks, we did a bear hunt in Alaska. Prior to doing the hunt, we did an acoustic thing together. We always do this thing in my show where I let the audience give me three words and I write a song on the spot. We make up the words, the melody, right on the fly. So they gave us three words and Chuck and I did it and … it may be the funniest song that we have ever written. It was all over YouTube talking about salmon and he starts talking about girls and it’s just so funny it’s terrible!
How did you start that tradition?
It started just as a joke one day. Somebody started talking about it in the audience in a theater that we should write a song, and we said, “OK we’ll do it.” It was so cool the way it happened that we integrated it into the show. We don’t do it all the time but in an environment where it works, we do. It’s always fun.
Does your wife ever get worried about the daredevil things you do on your new show?
Not at all. She’s got a huge insurance policy! [laughs] She half looks forward to that day. No, no, I’m kidding! I don’t think she does [worry]. She never has in the past. My wife’s one of those hardcore moto-moms. If you come around and your second lap was slower than your first lap, she’s like, “What are you doing? What’s wrong with you? Did you wreck? Get on in there!”
Do your kids still ride motocross?
Oh yeah, thank God we’ve not had a hospital visit recently, although my 13-year-old did break his arm recently. He was climbing the beams of the school, he fell and broke his arm. That happens often. I had a song that said in the emergency room they know us by our first names. “Hey, welcome back, Craig!”
You just signed with a new label and you’re recording a new album. How does that feel at this point in your career?
I’m gonna say the same thing a lot of people say, but I mean it just as much as they all do. I was more excited about doing this project than anything in the past I’ve done. I guess it’s because of where I’m at. When I made the last record, I felt like everything was where it needed to be, but I’ve never felt more confident about my music, the songs, what we were doing in the studio than I felt on this project. I think it shows in the music, the stuff that we recorded, the songs, the quality of sound. When we finished it, we sat and listened to it and thought, “This is perfect. This is exactly what I do well, and it’s the music that I think
the fans expect from me.” That’s something I’ve learned in the process of doing this, especially on the last record; it’s OK to experiment a little bit but you can’t experiment too far away from what people want to hear. On this record, I got back to the stuff I think everybody likes to hear from Craig Morgan, but I also loved singing it.
You went back to the type of songs that had been hits for you in the past?
‘Redneck Yacht Club,’ ‘Bonfire,’ ‘This Ain’t Nothin,’ ‘Almost Home‘ — these were all huge hits for me and I loved them. I realized after making my last record that I didn’t do exactly what everybody was wanting. I did have fun making that record, it was stuff I wanted to do, but on this one I found stuff I loved and wanted to do and also felt like [it was what] the fans wanted to hear. So it was a happy marriage. That’s not always easy to do, especially as an artist. As a singer, I love to sing stuff that maybe is outside of what you might expect from me. I love to sing Luther Vandross songs. People wouldn’t expect that. But it’s not what I do. What I do is ‘Redneck Yacht Club’ and ‘International Harvester‘ and my new single, ‘This Ole Boy.’ ‘This Ole Boy’ is a song I think the fans are going to love and expect to hear and enjoy from Craig Morgan but it’s something I also love and enjoy singing.
What first drew you to that song?
Everything about it. The stuff in that song is my life to this very day. My wife still scooches over in the seat next to me in my truck, instead of sitting by the door. In my music in particular, I try to sing and write about stuff that people can relate to. I don’t sing about living on a bus because people out there, they don’t ride on a bus every day. I sing about the stuff they might see and do and often overlook because they’re doing it everyday. It’s not until you hear it in a song that you think about it. That’s what country music does better than any other genre of music. My songs talk about those tiny little things that we sometimes take for granted. You don’t have to think about it a lot. It’s very visual for me. I’ve got ADD, so it has to be. [laughs]
What are some of the highlights of the new album fans can expect to hear?
I think people will see on this album that I’m in a wonderful place in my life. There’s a lot of positive music, a lot of fun stuff. There’s a song called ‘Stories’ that is very reflective of what I think this album is gonna be — a lot of good stories. It’s back-to-my-roots kind of stuff. There’s a song called ‘More Trucks Than Cars.’ I live in a place where there’s a whole lot more trucks than cars. On this project, I went back to writing with some people I wrote with early on. Shane Minor and Phil O’Donnell and I spent more time writing for this project. It’s hard as an artist because you’re touring and now I have this TV show. When I’m home, the last thing I want to do is write. I want to spend what little time I do have at home with my family. Everything on this project we wrote on the road. I wrote about half of the songs on it. I would probably write more if I worked less. As an artist, part of my creativity is writing, but part is producing as well. That’s another thing about this project, on my last record I was not there for a lot of the production process. Every aspect of the production of this record I’ve been in the studio. When I’m more involved, it definitely changes the dynamic.