Chris: Hi this is Chris…..how are you? (chuckling)
Caroline: (trying not to fangirl but failing as I let a few giggles out) Chris, I got to say that I can’t believe that you are ringing me – this is a great phone call to take so thank you (giggling again).
Chris: (Laughing a LOT)….absolutely!
Caroline: (best knowledgeable, cutting-edge music journalist manner, of course!) I’m really excited by your new single ‘Raised on Country’ – I think it’s a fantastic song. Am I right in thinking that you wrote that on your last tour?
Chris: I did. In fact, this is the first time I’ve written anything on the road that’s turned out to be a single. I’ve cut some songs before that we’ve wrote on the bus and while we’ve been out there touring, having a good time, but this is the first time I’ve singled one while on a headline tour.
Caroline: I love the video that accompanies it – the song’s blowing up a storm in the studio and bar and it looks like it was a lot of fun to do. I’ve got visions of you with bits of paper blowing into your mouth while you’re trying to sing!
Chris: (laughing) That absolutely happened! They were like, we’re not going to tell you but we’re going to do a couple of takes and then we’re going to turn the fan on, so we’re not going to give you a head’s up and you’re going to get hit the face with lots of torn up bits of paper! The effect was really cool, but I actually said when we did a little out-takes video, this is about what it looks like in my house when my dog gets a hold of something!!
Caroline: I know that feeling well! I think I remember you shared on your socials, didn’t he eat your chair or something?
Chris: Yeah, that was my bed on the bus – he got loose! He’s actually really good, he travels with me unless its flight based, obviously he won’t be in the UK with me, but anytime I’m out on the road he’s on the bus and its pretty fun having him out there.
Caroline: I can’t believe this next album is your 8thstudio album and you’ve been recording for 13 years…
Chris: That’s correct and its wild to think about that! It’s been awesome and I’ve been on RCA for 13 years. Obviously, that’s a historic label and definitely my home. It’s awesome to be able to say that and it not be like me making something up! (laughs)
Caroline: Absolutely! You see artists changing labels sometimes – you obviously have a fantastic relationship with RCA.
Chris: I do. I’ve been incredibly lucky to really feel like I have a family there at that label and some of the people that are on the label I’ve known for 13 years. It’s a large chunk of your life, especially when you’re an artist, when you think about the average length of your career – it’s not that long – so knowing that I’ve been around this long and getting ready to start, arguably the biggest tour I’ve ever done, and having new music out there – it’s a great feeling.
Caroline: Do you have a name for the new album yet or a release date?
Chris: I don’t. I’m actually recording the last couple of vocals I need for the record this Friday (April 19th), so I’m hoping to have everything completed – all of my mix notes, studio time and the last couple of touch ups before we send it out for mastering before I get on a plane to head out to the UK. It’ll be sooner rather than later for sure.
Caroline: Fantastic, your fans can’t wait to hear it. I think you’ve set the bar high for the standard of the album judging from the first single ‘Raised On Country’. Can we expect more of a honky tonk or classic country sound on this album?
Chris: Yes and no. I think that this album, as opposed to my last one, definitely is a little more organic instrumentation wise. This song is very much me and who I am, but it does lean on the more traditional. I think you’ll find that as a theme for the record, but also more trying to find things topically that I haven’t written about or haven’t said, as well as the stuff that people come to expect from me. You know, I haven’t really had an anthemic type tempo like ‘Raised On Country’ yet, there’s a better song that I’ve teased a little bit on socials called ‘Drowning’, about losing somebody and that’s something that I haven’t written a lot about either. So, topically, I’m trying to stretch myself a little bit – even though it is my 8thalbum! (laughing).
Caroline: Absolutely, you’d think after 13 years you’d have covered all subjects, so it’s fantastic that you’ve still got plenty to write about. Hopefully I’ll be sitting here in another 13 years talking to you about your 16thstudio album!
Chris: Oh man…….
Caroline: So, tell us about the live music. We’re excited for the UK leg before you embark on a mammoth US headline tour.
Chris: I consider this the kick off for my tour…
Caroline: We’re not the warm up?
Chris: No, no! I consider you guys as THE kick-off for my tour and it’s really important to me to put on a great show when I’m over there because it’s been a couple of years. I get asked ‘how much new stuff are you going to play?’ I don’t know, cause pretty much the last couple of albums are still new for a lot of people that have not seen me. So, I want to be able to fold that stuff in and be able to play a lot of the stuff that has been released over the last several records. I’ll probably still tease a couple of new things as well…
Caroline: Does the UK tour dynamic vary much to the USA tour? Do you change things up or do we get a similar experience?
Chris: I’m always going to play the stuff that is really widely recognised, single wise, but you know, I think that everything should always depend on the crowd a little bit. I definitely watch social media a lot, and I’ll see what people are saying while I’m in the UK and if there’s a song that stands out or I haven’t played in a while, we’ll be like yes, add that to the show tonight.
Caroline: You know that the UK fans know every single word to every song that you do, that’ll probably make it quite hard to choose!
Chris: Oh, yes!
Caroline: I know it’s said all the time that UK fans are different to the American fans in that instance.
Chris: It’s cool, Brad Paisley told me that a long time ago. He said “the first time you go over there whatever you do, don’t ask the crowd what do you want to hear, ‘cause it might be the 8thtrack off the 2ndalbum and you’ll be like ‘arghh, I don’t remember the words to that!’
Caroline: I’m just warning you, you need to practise hard! (both laughing). We’re really looking forward to seeing Lindsay Ell open for you over here too.
Chris: Lindsay is incredibly talented and I’m so excited that she’s going to be part of that trip through the UK with me and with my band.
Caroline: There’s a lot of buzz around women of country and them not getting enough play on Country Radio in the US so it’s great that Lindsay is on the tour. Who would be your go to female artist to listen to?
Chris: Oh man, you know what? There’s so many that I could name that I’m a fan of. You know the 54thACM Awards just went by and having Reba back hosting that, you won’t find anyone more iconic in country music. You could just say one name of someone and everyone knows who you’re talking about and Reba McEntire is just one of those artists – Hall of Fame, greatest artists of all kind, like up there! There’s a lot of artists like that you know? Trisha Yearwood is another of my favourite artists that I grew up listening to. I’ve got to work with incredibly, incredibly talented people over the years – obviously Cassaddee Pope, with us getting to duet on ‘Think Of You’ was really, really special for both of our careers.
Caroline: That is actually one of my favourite songs of yours, I love it.
Chris: Thank you, thank you very much. (Yes, Chris did actually sound like Elvis there!) I love that tune.
Caroline: I need to ask you a question of grave concern to your UK fans, Chris. Who is looking after Porter (his beautiful German shepherd) while you are tour?
Chris (chuckling): My mum and dad have a dog, my sister has two dogs, so its ok! It’s always really funny cause my friends are always like ‘hey, do you need anyone to watch him?’ I’d say yeah, but no! I have people in my family and I think I would get yelled at by my niece if I didn’t let her.
Caroline: Good girl! Chris, going back to C2C – I remember the first time I saw you in 2014 and you blew me away with how good you were and then seeing you play in 2017 to rapturous 20,000 strong crowd was incredible. What did that feel like?
Chris: Yes, incredible is a great way to describe it. It’s just a massive crowd with obviously the love for country music that there is in the UK – a lot of people don’t understand what I’m talking about. I’m like ‘Oh, you’re going over there? You’re going to love it.’ Everybody is so passionate about music and there’s really not a whole lot like it in the world, which is saying something. It’s an incredible feeling and one of the reasons I’m sad that it’s taken me this long to get back over to play shows and also one of the reasons I’m really, really looking forward to this trip.
Caroline: It’s been a few years since your last C2C, any plans to come back next year?
Chris: There have been some discussions and talks about things….let’s say it’s nothing definite but that it might be a possibility…
Caroline: I’m going to end with a silly question for you Chris. If you were a superhero, who would you be?
Chris: Oh man, that’s a hard one. Not really a superhero but one of my favourite UK TV shows – I’d be Doctor Who.
Caroline: Love it! Thanks so much for talking to us today and we’ll see you in the UK in May. Cannot wait!!
Chris’ tour kicks off in May with stops in London, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham. See you all down the front!