Jason Aldean Got ‘Party’ Started One Fan at a Time
Jason Aldean believes that with this year's My Kinda Party tour, he's finally able to give fans the kind of show he himself would like to see. He cites the increased use of video screens, lights and staging as some of the reasons for that pronouncement. Yet if it weren't for the fans, and the singer's hits, including 'Big Green Tractor,' 'She's Country' and his current No. 1 with Kelly Clarkson, 'Don't You Wanna Stay,' he wouldn't be able to add those elements to his show.
"It all comes down to the song," Jason tells The Boot. "We built our career one song and one fan at a time."
Now that he has exploded as a major touring act, Jason says he is afforded the luxury of putting on a show that's visually exciting as well as one that's awesome from the music point of view.
"When you're starting out and only making $5,000 a show, you can't go out and spend $10,000 a night to put on a show," he explains. "The fact that now we can go out and play bigger venues and those shows are doing well, we can give our fans the best show we can give them. It takes money sometime to make it look and sound like you want. We've gotten to that point now."
Jason knows he has a special group of fans, some he recognizes from when he started performing in small clubs around the country.
"One of the first shows of this tour, a girl held up a sign that said 'My 50th Show.' Of course, I stopped the show and made a big deal about that. Country music fans are very loyal. They find an artist they're into and they stick with them through the life span of the artist's career. Mine are pretty rabid, which I love, and it's not just women. It's girls and their boyfriend, wives and their husband with their five year-old kid, 80-year-old women. It's a wide range of people and I love that. We've never targeted one specific demo[graphic] because we wanted as many people at our show as possible, and we've been able to accomplish that."
One of the ways Jason watched his popularity grow was in his audience and the different things he saw fans do. "It's a lot about the songs we have out," he admits. "In the beginning, we would go out and there would be one person with one little cardboard sign that said: 'We love you Jason.' Next they were holding up tractors and all that stuff. Each year it changes. Then I noticed that more people were coming for us, out of everybody that's there on the show. Especially last year; we were on the show with Carrie Underwood and Tim McGraw, and I'd look out and there would be people wearing our shirts and holding up signs for us, and to me that's pretty cool. Especially when you take into consideration how many people are out there. I look forward to new experiences with my fans every year."
One of the coolest things about this year's tour for Jason is that he's returning to venues as a headliner where he once performed as an opening act. "We recently sold out Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky -- 18,000 people. I remember being there with Rascal Flatts, as their opening act, and thinking, 'Man, I've got a long way to go to do this.' To me, it's still unbelievable. Once a week, me and guys will be sitting in the dressing room going, 'Are you believing this right now? I don't.' It's pretty amazing and the coolest thing on the whole tour."
Despite the excitement, doing show after show takes a toll on an entertainer. Jason is combating that by cutting back to 75-80 shows this year, down from 130 last year and the 200-plus dates he did when he first was starting out.
"Each week you go out, but then you get to come home and you feel a little rested when you go back out the next week. That helps to kind of get rejuvenated. We're not out a month at a time like we have been. By the end of the year, we're drained and ready to shutdown for a while. But this way, for each show, we can give 110 percent, which is what people expect from us.
"The biggest thing for me is getting enough sleep. I can tell when I'm not, because my voice sounds tired. Once a week, I'll sleep until 3 or 4 in the afternoon, just to catch up, and then I'm good to go. I also have a personal chef on the road and he makes sure I eat pretty good. I tell him what I want and he makes it happen. Making sure I eat right and get enough sleep is what helps me make it through a tour with enough energy to do the show I want to do."
Eric Church and the JaneDear girls are out with Jason on the spring leg of his My Kinda Party tour, which continues through June 5, ending in Mansfield, Mass. The summer tour, featuring Chris Young and Thompson Square, kicks off on July 8 in Milwaukee, Wis.