From the Vault: Trace Adkins Was Reluctant to Do ‘Celebrity Apprentice’
Over the course of the last few years, Trace Adkins' mainstream profile has increased significantly, due in no small part to his appearances on 'Celebrity Apprentice,' as well as his film work.
In this week's From the Vault, we re-visit an interview Adkins gave The Boot in 2008, upon the release of his tenth album, 'X.' He'd just completed his first stint on 'Celebrity Apprentice,' but he admitted he was reluctant to even consider doing the show when it was first pitched to him.
Adkins also spoke of his desire to do a Christmas record, but added that he had no idea when it would happen
Since then, Adkins not only returned for another season of 'Celebrity Apprentice,' he won it this time around. The singer has also announced that he will release his long-hoped-for Christmas album this winter.
This interview was first published on Nov. 24, 2008, by Deborah Evans-Price.
Having appeared on 'Celebrity Apprentice' this year and knowing there was a larger audience than ever before awaiting this record, did that cause any extra pressure?
No. A little over a half of this record was done even before I did the 'Apprentice.' The reason why we came out with a greatest hits package last year was because the 'Apprentice' thing came up and [producer] Frank [Rogers] and I didn't have time to finish this album. So we kind of punted. The label wanted to put something out, so they put out a greatest hits package and then when the 'Apprentice' was over, Frank and I got back into the studio and finished this thing up.
This is your second album with Frank. What makes you such a good team?
Frank just gives you all the leeway. He's going to give you enough rope to hang yourself with, and he'll let you do that and then rein you back in. Sure, there was some stuff that I tried vocally that thank God it's been erased, but that's the beauty of working with Frank. He lets you do whatever you want and go wherever you want to go without stopping you.
The song 'Happy to Be Here' sounds particularly autobiographical, especially with the close calls you've had in life.
I will admit it's one that I was a little uncomfortable and a little hesitant about putting it on the album, because I don't want to make hay out of that stuff. I don't dwell on it and don't talk about it all the time. The past is the past. Yes, I guess it helped maybe develop my character, but I don't try to benefit from that stuff.
'That's All I Ask For' is a beautiful song that's getting a lot of good buzz from folks who've heard the album.
[Songwriter] Casey Beathard is a good friend of mine, and when I got that song I called him immediately and I said, 'Boy, you've done it again!' This is just one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. I still have very high hopes and expectations for that song.
We just got back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and the overwhelming hit of the tour was 'Marry For Money.' Those kids loved that song. They just howled when we did that song.
The first single, 'Muddy Water,' is a very different kind of song for you. What made you want to record it?
It's very personal and poignant for me. It's kind of a prodigal son kind of thing ... but for me it was reassuring my mother that 'Hey, you raised me right.' I was given the proper instructions, and when I need that peace and serenity, I always have a place in my memory that I can go back to when times were simpler and slower. Black and white was much easier to distinguish; there wasn't so much gray, so that's why I recorded the song.
There are more spiritual overtones on this record, what that something that was conscious or were they choices that reflect where you are in your life right now?
There was a consciousness about it and the consciousness was, 'OK, that's enough.' We hadn't even really thought about it, but it was after we had finished cutting most of the stuff and then we realized that we had maybe three [songs] that have some spiritual overtones to them, and that's enough. I may make a gospel record someday, but this wasn't going to be it. I also need to make a Christmas record. I hadn't gotten around to doing that yet. It's all in good time.
You've sometimes caught flack from people in the industry for the uptempo party songs like 'Honkytonk Badonkadonk' being too frivolous. Does that bother you?
The thing for me that keeps this business and keeps this job fresh and fun is getting on stage in front of a crowd and performing live. If somebody tells you that the sensitive ballads are more fun to perform than the uptempo rockers that get people on their feet and make them throw their panties on stage, they are lying. Those songs are more fun to do live.
I've had a lot of hit ballads, and we do about three in the 75-minute set that I do every night. The rest of it is just blow your doors off wide open, and to me it's just more fun. I'm a ballad singer -- I think I do that stuff better, but there's a time and place for that when you're in an intimate setting. When we do play smaller venues, I'll do more ballads because it's the listening audience, and so it's a different vibe in the room.
With this being the 10th album, how do you feel your music has evolved over those 10 albums?
The other day, I was listening to that first album and I thought, 'My God, how green I was!' I think I'm a better singer now than I was then; matter of fact I know I am, because I'm very critical of myself. I know I'm not the best vocalist in the world, but I do know that I've gotten better vocally. There's some kind of seasoning that's happened. I sing some different notes now, fit some different things into melodies that I wouldn't have done 12 years ago. I've grown.
You recently returned from performing for the troops again. What makes going over there so special to you?
They are heroes, and they are very deserving of anything we can do to brighten their day. Those conditions over there are indescribable, and you can't really understand what it's like unless you go. It's just one of the most miserable places I've been in my life. I've been in deserts that we have here, and they are miserable places too. I'm not a fan of the desert, don't like it.
I think anybody who lives there has a touch of insanity somewhere in them, because God never intended for human beings to live where you can't find sustenance, where there's no water or anything grows, there's no food -- you aren't supposed to live there. Iraq is even a level above that. The heat is indescribable, and then there's this fine, chalk-like dust in the air, and it's persistent. It's all the time. The wind is always blowing and there's this fine, fine dust in the air. It's just miserable.
Why did you decide to do the film 'An American Carol?'
I read the script and thought it was hilarious, and I felt that the angel of death was something I might could pull off. It was an opportunity to get on the set of a real movie with real production dollars behind it and see what that world was like.
What made you decide to go into acting?
I've always wanted to do it. Just haven't had the right opportunities or time. This has been always something that I've been wanting to do, but my music career comes first on my career list of priorities.
Are you glad you did 'Celebrity Apprentice'?
Knowing what I know now, would I do it again? Yes, I probably would, but that would probably be one of the only kind of reality things I'd get involved with. I'm not a fan of reality TV. I think most of it is incredibly silly, but this, benefiting a charity the way it did, I think gave it a touch of nobility, and gave it some credibility. So that's the reason why I agreed to do it.
Did you have any hesitations about going on the show?
My managers and everybody had to convince me. I said, 'The last thing in the world that I want people to think is that I'm just this hack and my career is in the crapper, so the last option I have is reality TV.' I was terrified that people would really think that, because that simply was not the case. My music career has been going fine for the last five or six years. We've had upward mobility and our momentum has been fine and we're right up there competing with the big boys. That was the main obstacle in getting them to get me to say yes to do this thing, was I was afraid that that might be the perception.
Any plans for another book?
Plans? No! Are they trying to get me to write another one? Yes. When do you guys think I'm going to have time to do this? With all this other stuff going on, let's be real here for a minute. I just don't have time to do everything you guys want me to do.
What do you do when you do have a day off?
Just hanging out at the farm and doing outdoor stuff with the kids, very simple. I don't do anything very extravagant.
Are you going to start working on the Christmas album?
I don't know. It would be nice to try to do a Christmas album actually during Christmas time. That would be cool and have that ready for next year, but I haven't thought anything about it, so I doubt seriously it will happen this year.
How do you feel about where your career is at this point? You have accomplished quite a bit in a lot of different arenas.
I also have five children, so I've got to keep working. I don't have the luxury of being able to even contemplate early retirement. That's not going to happen.