Grace Potter Sets the Country Record Straight
The Brothers of the Sun Tour continues this Saturday in Detroit, before wrapping up next weekend (Aug 24-25) with two shows in Foxboro, Mass. Tourmates Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Jake Owen and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals have bragging rights to the highest-grossing tour of any genre this year, with more than a million tickets sold.
For the only "sister" on the Brothers trek, Grace Potter, this gig has been a career game-changer. The singer-songwriter -- whose latest album with the Nocturnals, the fantastically eclectic The Lion The Beast The Beat, was released in June -- is not only playing for some of her biggest audiences yet but is also gaining a whole new fan base. For that, she thanks her "You and Tequila" duet partner, Kenny Chesney.
"We love performing together, and he is one of my dearest friends. He's a wonderful man. That's the question nobody thinks to ask: is he as good of a guy as he seems to be? He really is," Grace gushes to The Boot. "He really took a risk inviting us on this tour, if you think about what we do musically. 'You and Tequila' makes sense -- me being on stage singing with him. But if you listen to The Lion The Beast The Beat, it doesn't seem like the kind of act that should be on a country tour. We're out of place.
"I was talking to Kenny the other night about it and he brazenly said, 'My fans are smart, Tim's fans are smart -- they know good music when they hear it.' The thought had to cross his mind though, 'Are (the fans) going to be horrified by this music?' Because we're hippies from Vermont! It seemed like an out-of-place decision, but it was a great decision because it's so much fun to tour with your friends. We're all very close."
But Grace has had to dispel the rumors of just how close, time and time again. Just before The Boot's chat with her, we asked our Twitter followers if they had any questions for the blond beauty. Dozens of responses were inquiries about her love life, and whether or not she's dating Kenny. The 28-year-old tackles the gossip with a great sense of humor.
"I'm definitely not dating Kenny Chesney. I can confirm that!" she says with a laugh. "That rumor has been spreading around. Kenny and I were joking about it the other day, because some paparazzi took a picture of me and I looked like I had a little belly in the photo. Kenny was like, 'Why don't you tell everybody we have triplets on the way?' So yes, I'm pregnant with Kenny's twins, and they're going to be named Pancho and Lefty. [laughs]"
If you've seen the slender Grace on the Brothers of the Sun tour, you know she is definitely not carrying a baby. The "Never Go Back" singer has been having a blast strutting on the stage's catwalk in short shorts, exuding sexuality that she insists is a natural partner to her music. The sultry star says there was never any inclination to tone down her act to fit the more conservative country audience, as she gives fans props for being able to see right through her if she did.
"I have to be comfortable on stage, but I hate wearing pants," Grace laments. "So when I started wearing mini-skirts and shorts, it was so comfortable! So the legs and the whole thing ... People are going to be offended no matter what, so for me to change what I do just to try and curb the horror of 50 people in the audience every night is not worth it. Besides the fact that I can't afford the dry cleaning bills for all those pants!"
After Grace dazzles the Brothers of the Sun audience with her voice (and legs) during the Nocturnals' set, she comes back on stage toward the end of the evening for "You and Tequila" with Kenny. The success of that duet was no doubt a factor in the country superstar's decision to invite the pop-rockers on the road. But it didn't prove to be much of an influence on the musical direction of The Lion The Beast The Beat.
"A lot of people were expecting me to make a country album," Grace admits. "Everywhere I went, it was like, 'When are you going to make a country album?' It's a great idea and something that I probably will do someday, but this is not the time for that. After doing the duet with Kenny and spending this summer seeing an unbelievable amount of the world through the eyes of a country fan, I've really embraced that world and enjoy being a part of it. But it was kind of low-hanging fruit when I started writing the record; it felt like the obvious thing to do and that's the last thing I want to do! Obvious is not my forté. I take a left turn right when everybody thinks I'm going to go straight."
When the Brothers of the Sun tour wraps, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals will start getting ready for their second annual Grand Point North Festival, followed by their own headlining tour. In the meantime, it's inevitable that next weekend's Foxboro shows will be a bittersweet goodbye for the band and the fast friends -- and fans -- they've made in country music.
"Kenny and Tim's fans are amazing -- much more broad thinking than I was expecting," says Grace. "The fact that we haven't had a single beer bottle thrown at us, that's a testament to the fact that the human race is growing up."
Read Part 2 of our exclusive interview with Grace here.