Jamey Johnson Comments on Label Status
It's been six years since Jamey Johnson's 'In Color' was released, and almost four years since he's released an album of original material ('The Guitar Song'), but it's not because Johnson is ready to retire.
Far from it. In fact, the singer-songwriter says that his lack of new material is because of ongoing business entanglements, but he's not free to discuss the details.
"I'd have to contact three managers, and some lawyers and all kinds of people to come up with a reasonable answer for that," he admits to Nashville's Tennessean. "Contracts are hard to read. Attorneys are hard to get on the phone. But if you're in a situation where you're supposed to be making money and you're not, buddy, it's up to you whether you quit or not."
Johnson tells the Nashville Scene that he is out of his deal with Mercury Records, but still has the same publishing agreement.
"I’ve already reached an agreement with Mercury Records that gave me what I wanted ultimately, which was my freedom. I just wanted the ability to go, and they gave that to me. They also gave me the ability to come back, if I decided I wanted to come back," he says. "My appreciation to Mike Dungan [UMG Nashville Chairman/CEO] and the whole team at Mercury Records for allowing me that ability to come back after I leave. They could’ve slammed the door and locked it and said, 'Man, enough.'”
The singer-songwriter says he's just not comfortable with some of the compromises he had to make.
"There’s aspects of it that I couldn’t deal with, as far as radio promotion and that sort of thing," he admits. "That has nothing to do with the radio stations, by the way. But radio promotion is like an entirely different community of people that ask you to do a whole lot of different things. If you say 'no,' then you’re not being a team player and they ushered you out the door. And if you say 'yes,' then you’re probably gonna be standing on a stage by a car dealership with a monster truck show going on right behind you, trying to deliver your music. I thought more of my music than that, so I quit doing those kinds of things."
Not that Johnson is spending his time at home. The Alabama native is continuing to perform all over the country, staying connected to his fans even without new material.
"We tend to stay in motion, and we intend to stay in motion," he explains to the Tennessean. "You're going to see us coming to town, and if we get within a reasonable drive, just know I drove all that way to get there, too. I came to see y'all, too ... We play our instruments, and we have our time, and when we're done we go visit with people until everybody's too tired to talk anymore, and then we leave," he says, adding, "Then we come back and do it again the next time."
While the 38-year-old doesn't know what the outcome of his business will be, he insists he isn't focusing on the negative.
"I'm going to focus on approaching everything in my life with an attitude of gratitude, and see where that gets me," he maintains. "There's gonna be a lot of traveling, music, friends and family. And then, we'll see."
Johnson will join his friends Jerrod Niemann, Jessi Colter, Shooter Jennings, Chris Stapleton and the Waylon Jennings Band Wednesday night (July 9) for a benefit, Full Moon Life, benefiting the Nikki Mitchell Foundation, which works to prevent, detect and cure pancreatic cancer. The event will be held at Marathon Music Works in Nashville, Tenn. Tickets are still available here.
Johnson's schedule includes shows in Missouri, Ohio and Kentucky later this month. See all of his upcoming concerts here.