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Josh Turner, New Album ‘Punching Bag’ Proves He’s a Lover and a Fighter

UMG Nashville

No one delivers a love song quite like Josh Turner. Whether that’s because of his rich, deep voice or the admirable family-man values that transcend his lyrics, it’s hard to decide. The southern gentleman is currently climbing the charts with “Time Is Love,” the lead single from his first album in two years, Punching Bag, due out this summer. The Boot sat down with the blue-eyed crooner to chat about the new tune, why he never had a chance at a basketball career and what’s up with the new album’s not-so-loving title.

“Time Is Love” is one of the few songs on the new album that you didn’t write. What drew you to it?

I first heard it in a pitch meeting at my label, and I want to say it was the first or second song I heard, and, obviously, I knew that it was [songwriter] Mark Nesler singing it, and that’s always a good sign. He and Tony Martin have a way of creating magic, because they have such a groove. They write once a week together and have it down to an art and a science. They brought Tom Shapiro in on this one, and Tony had had this idea laying around for quite a while. Then they finally came together on this one particular day and finished it out.

From the very first listen, I knew that it had all the ingredients of a hit song. It had a message that I have been wanting to say for a long time. I hear people talking about ‘quality time’ all the time, and this is more about quantity time. It’s more about spending the right amount of time with the ones you love or the ones you’re trying to strengthen a relationship with. That’s the key to true love — spending enough time with a person to really know who they are and what they’re about.

It’s also a clever play on ‘time is money,’ which is something you can surely relate to?

Honestly, I felt like an idiot when I realized it was a spin-off on the saying ‘time is money.’ That didn’t even cross my mind. Maybe that’s just the way my brain works. But once I realized it, it makes sense. I still don’t think that was the key to the song. It’s really about arranging your priorities in the right order, having the most important things first; love being above money. That was the central idea in my mind.

You have a few friends who joined you in the filming of the music video. Who were they?

A couple of the guys that I was playing basketball with in the video. One guy actually goes to church with me and one is in my band. They’re both basketball players. One of them actually played in college, so it was fun to have them play a small part.

I play basketball all the time. Me and my band play every week on the road. That’s something that I’ve never really given up since high school. I wish I would’ve had a better shake at it. During high school I had the worst coach in history, so I guess I’m trying to make up for lost time. [laughs]

Watch Josh Turner’s ‘Time Is Love’ Video
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A great part of the video is the dad showing off pictures of his daughter. As a father of three, do you find yourself doing that a lot, too?

Yes, especially now that I have an iPhone; it’s so easy. I’m always showing pictures off. I have to be careful who I show them to because of who I am, obviously, but I’m a proud father.

‘Time Is Love’ is on the upcoming album, ‘Punching Bag,’ which is also the title of a song you wrote for the album. What inspired that song?

That title idea came from one of those days that we all have, where everything just blows up in your face, nothing goes right. I had just had one of those days, and I came home and was standing in the closet with my wife and I unloaded on her about my day. I told her, “Sometimes I feel like a punching bag, like life is beating me up.” When I said that, it struck me in a funny way, and I said, “That could be a huge song title.” So I punched it into my phone and saved it. I held on to it until the right opportunity.

When my buddy Pat McLaughlin came to write with me, I shared it with him. He loved the idea and we started out with this groove. We knew it had to have attitude, and I definitely wanted to get some boxing reference in there, because of the title. Overall, I wanted to make sure that the song itself was saying what I felt that particular day when I got the idea, because I felt like it something that everyone could relate to. We all have those days when you feel like you’re against the world, every little thing goes wrong and your blood pressure is up. And you feel like punching somebody! [laughs] I wanted to convey that emotion within the song, and I think we definitely got the point across.

When did you decide that was going to be the album title as well?

Once we had all of the songs picked out and tracked. I don’t ever land on an album title until I know exactly what’s going on the record, because you never know until it’s all said and done. It was definitely the frontrunner and the most obvious choice and the most poignant choice, too. It seems to be getting people’s attention without even having heard the song.

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