Jason Aldean Invites You to ‘My Kinda Party’
Jason Aldean‘s new album, ‘My Kinda Party,’ is set for release on Tuesday, November 2, but the Georgia native has already started the party by playing some of the songs from the record during his headlining tour. With a career that’s been building steadily since his 2005 debut, Jason says the pressure was off a little bit when he began recording the new disc, but nevertheless he didn’t let up.
“The process for recording this album was the same as it’s always been — finding great songs,” Jason tells The Boot. ‘If you do that, everything else falls into place. We may have tried a few new things but we’re not going too far away from what our fans are used to hearing.”
Something fans haven’t heard from Jason before is a duet, but the new disc delivers one (called ‘Don’t You Wanna Stay’) featuring pop songbird Kelly Clarkson. In all, the new CD includes 15 tunes, which is a higher number than many artists are releasing on an album these days. Jason admits that while labels are trying to figure out how to sell records, it’s important to him to give fans the best deal for their hard-earned money.
“I would have recorded more songs before now had we had the opportunity,” Jason points out, “but a lot of times the record company is in control of how many songs you put on a record. I think right now, with album sales down, we need to figure out ways for people to buy a complete album. If that means putting 15 songs on a record and keeping them from downloading the single songs on iTunes, then that’s the goal.”
The Boot hung out with Jason on his farm outside Nashville to get a sneak peek of the new album, to talk about why now was the right time for a duet, and to discover just who it is Jason depends on to take care of many of his business decisions.
As someone who was raised pretty much in rural America, do you focus on those small-town values when you’re writing or looking for songs?
I grew up in Georgia, just on the outskirts of Macon, surrounded by a lot of farm land. The way I look at it is, it’s not like I was all for the small town in a ‘rah rah rah’ kind of deal. That’s what I know. So for any artist, if you can sing about things you’ve experienced, you can make it believable. When I hear songs and I can relate to what they lyrics say, I know I can relate the message to our fans. That’s how we go about picking our songs for our albums.
Why did you decide to do a duet on this album?
Michael Knox, my producer, and I had been throwing the idea around for a couple years, but it was something that I didn’t want to force. If it made sense and the right song came along, that would be cool. If you go out looking for that perfect song for a duet, you’ll never find it. Jason Sellers pitched that song to us, and I loved it. The more I listened to it, the more I thought if there was ever a song that we could pull off as a duet, this was it. It just so happened that Kelly Clarkson was available, which doesn’t happen all the time.
When you think about a song and recording a duet, you have in mind how it will sound. Kelly came in and we started cutting vocals on her and the first note she sang I was like, “Oh my, this is going to be good.” She’s an amazing singer, and she was really cool to work with. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to get her to do it. We just played her the song and she loved it. Dealing with the record label and getting through that red tape was the worst part of making it happen.
What are you listening to that influences the rock edge you have on all your albums?
I listen to everything. If you pull out my iPod and put it on random play, you’ll hear everyone from Johnny Rodriguez to John Mellencamp to Eminem to Kanye West, maybe some Def Leppard. I love ’80s rock, ’90s rock, country — John Anderson, Alabama, Hank [Williams] Jr. were all the people I grew up on. Now I have kids. They get in the car and if they hear a Black Eyed Peas song, they scream if you turn it off! So, I’m being introduced to new music through them.
We’re here on your unique property outside Nashville. Was this barn built after you moved in or was it already here?
When we first bought this property, this old tobacco barn was the only thing on it. The floor was dirt, there was stuff hanging from rafters, there were nails in the wall that made it look like a tack shed, and there were rats in here so big you could put saddles on them! The first thing we did was come in and put down a concrete floor. Then we sealed everything off, insulated the roof and put air-conditioning it. We had party here on New Year’s, when we were in the middle of remodeling it, when there was no heat or air, and it was colder inside than it was outside! It’s cool now to come down here and have a place to hang out that’s comfortable and that has heat and air.
Sometimes if there’s a lot of stuff going on, this gives me a place to come to and think. The idea was to have a place to hang out, come down and watch football and baseball. Of course, I’m never here on weekends so that hasn’t happened a lot lately. I wanted it to be a place for me to decorate with things that I’m into. So I have lots of sports stuff like the [Atlanta] Braves and the Georgia Bulldogs. Every time I see something cool I get it. I was in a mall and I saw a guy selling a bunch of Hatch Show Print posters, so I went and bought all the ones that I liked. It’s a work in progress. It’s a cool, vibe-y kind of place. I could write songs here when it’s quiet. But most of the time when I’m down here, there’s a party going on and it’s noisy!
You exude a lot of confidence, especially when you’re on stage. Where does that come from?
The way my career has gone, the fact that we had success and had it on our terms, is one thing that gives me lot of confidence. We have done it our way, and it seems to work. When I was signed to Capitol, they wanted me to change everything from the way I looked to the type of songs I was recording. That was a train wreck. I was forced to cut songs I really hated and not look the way I would feel. I give my current record company [Broken Bow] credit for allowing me to be myself in my music and my look.
As far as live shows, I spent many years in clubs. I started when I was 14 and didn’t get out on the road on a concert tour until I was 28. So, for 14 years I came up in the clubs. There’s a lot of live stuff you have to figure out on the fly. One night it might work, the next night it doesn’t work at all. You figure out ways to entertain people. You have to be confident on stage, but not cocky.
You and your band seem to have a special bond. You use them both on your albums and on the road.
The thing with my band is they are amazing players. We all came up in this business together, which is really cool. But there is no way I’d let those guys play on my album if they weren’t capable of pulling it off. Some of them now get calls to play on other people’s albums. I have all the confidence in the world with them. They are perfectionists, too. If I take them a CD and say, “this is what we’re gonna record,” they’ll sit there 48 hours straight listening to the songs and getting them down.
Once we’re in the studio, you can see where working together for ten or eleven years pays off. Everyone goes and does their own thing separately but you get together and magic starts to happen … because we’ve played together in Nashville for eleven years. It’s hard to explain until you get in there and everybody starts playing and it all comes together. The guys are incredible at learning songs but putting their own style into it as well.
In the past, it seems the first releases from your albums have made something of a statement. What was there about ‘My Kinda Party’ that made you want to decide it should be the first single from this album?
I think the song is that exact song; it is the song that we always look for to launch an album. For us, we want to come out and push the envelope with that first single and get everybody’s attention. It’s like, OK, we’re coming out with a new album and here’s the first single. I think it stands up to the others. Brantley [Gilbert, the song's writer] actually pitched the song for the last album and we just got it late in the game. At the end of recording every album, we have a handful of songs that we love, and ‘My Kinda Party’ was one of those. We knew if it was around when we cut again we would record it. It’s loud, it’s obnoxious and will get some attention, and that’s what we try to do on this record and with the other albums.
Speaking of a party, how’d you team up with Uncle Kracker to be your opening act on this tour?
I met Kracker when I was on tour with Rascal Flatts. He came out on a few shows and I had the chance to hang with him then. I just saw him a couple months ago. We did a show with Kenny Chesney, and he was at that show. Then he did a couple of shows with us a couple weeks ago. He’s a cool dude. I checked out his show a couple weeks ago, and it’s really good, really cool. People will be surprised at how cool his show is.
Halloween is coming up. How do you celebrate with your family?
Usually I make sure I’m off, especially if it’s on a Saturday. We try to book the show somewhere close on weekend dates. I have a good friend of mine who lives over here pretty close to us, in a big neighborhood, so for the last five or six years, we take our kids over there with their kids, and all the parents get dressed up, too. Last year I was Elvis, I had a white jump suit and everything. I always loved Halloween as a kid so I make sure I’m home for the girls and for all kind of things like that. We try to make it fun for them.
What kinds of things do you do when you come home?
I’ve got 20 acres of grass to cut! For a while we spent a lot of time down here working on this barn. It was a process that took a year to finish up. I’ve got my deer target up by the house and I practice there. We have a pool in the backyard and me and the girls swim all the time. I don’t have a lot of stuff to do. We don’t have many animals, but we do have a dog. My wife refuses to let me get anything else, because she’ll have to fool with it while I’m out of town.
How does your wife contribute to your career?
She has plenty of input, believe me. She handles all the stuff I don’t want to handle. She deals with financial and business managers. When I don’t want to talk on the phone, she’ll pick up the phone and make the call. When it comes to the music side of things, she’ll give me her opinion if I ask. I’m the guy who wants to play my shows, meet the fans, but as far as the business side, that’s not the fun part for me. She’s all about it … she’ll deal with all that stuff. I want to shoot myself in the face when I have to do that.