There will always be those artists in the music world who slip through the cracks, fly under the radar and yet release hit song after hit song. Joe Nichols is one of those musicians.
“Yeah,” “Sunny and 75,” “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” “Brokenheartsville,” and “Gimmie That Girl,” were all number one songs released throughout the past 12 years by none other than Joe Nichols yet many people think that he is too country to be a success if they say anything about him at all. However, he has become the musician you happen to see and say no way! He sings this song?
Maybe he’s lucky to be living just below the radar because that means he gets to live his life a bit more without being under a constant microscope but I think that it’s time the world acknowledged how talented Joe Nichols truly is. He has released hit song after hit song and reminds us all what country music is about.
At FarmBorough, Pop-Break was fortunate enough to chat with Nichols a bit about how his sound is now kick you in the face country and about how important it is to be happy. He let’s us in on how he got lost in the grieving process when his father passed away yet came back out all the better for it. Now we get songs about having naked fun and having a good time and Nichols even divulged a bit about how he dabbles in the rap music world.
You are at a lot festivals and I know you get asked 80 million questions over and over again because you have however many interviews lined up. What’s the most annoying question you get asked? What do you wish they’d stop asking you?
My biggest pet peeve is when people don’t know anything about me and they really kind of don’t want to be here to interview me and they go so you like music? I hate that shit. Oh my God, I hate that shit. It makes me feel like neither one of us want to be here right now so why are we here?
Do people really do that?
I have it happen all the time. I get people who are used to interviewing rock people and they’re not necessarily country fans and they are kind of looking, searching for some kind of question to ask relevant and they go so you like country music? I’m like, “Yeah no. I’m really an aspiring rap artist but this is the only way I could break in.” Dumb ass.
No worries. It has been a little while since you released an album, we are all anxiously waiting for it. When are we getting it?
Probably before Christmas. Hopefully. Ideally before Christmas. I think we’ve got our first single that should be done, should be completed by the end of next week and it should be out to radio directly after that. I mean within the next few days after that. We’re looking at a late July release maybe, early August for the single release and then the album come out probably in late November.
So are we going to get to hear any new music tonight [at Farnborough]? Are you going to play the new song maybe?
Some. It’s still early enough where the label likes to keep everything under wraps until we get everything just right. When we get everything just right the label is like play that stuff and let them here what’s coming. We’ve got a lot of stuff tonight to play that people are familiar with and we’ll throw a couple of my favorite covers in there. Weird covers. Actually people will probably go, ‘What the hell is that?’
You like music, you want to be a rap star!
Well, I play rap in the show.
No you’re not!
It’s not what you think. I’m not rapping. It’s the only way I can rap is to do a country shuffle as a rap or no a rap as a country shuffle.
You’re career spans a decade and a half or so, have things changed throughout that time? The beginning versus now when it comes to music and crowds and what you’re producing and how it works?
You know when my first single came out in 2002 nobody in country wanted anything to do with the traditional male country singer at all. I had been told 31 times in a row by labels and publishers and stuff that you’re just too country for country.
Oh my God!
And then finally a label took a chance on me and I think this will work and I put out “The Impossible” and “Brokenheartsville” and put out a country record. Since then the landscape of country kind of changed from being a very pop driven format to at least the guys being able to get away with country songs so it kind of slowly shifted back to guys having to be more hip hop, pop, a little more rock so it’s kind of shifted back and forth since I’ve been out there in the public anyway.
I mean listening to your music you just seem to put out great song after great song and hit single after hit single. I don’t think people realize how many songs come from you. You have so many different songs, “Sunny and 75” “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.” For you personally, do you think of yourself as somebody who has kind of has all these hits and people just don’t recognize?
I do! I notice that a lot when people go I didn’t even know you sang that song! The hits span so far apart. I mean “Brokenheartsville” and “The Impossible,” that’s 2002 and 2003 and our latest number one is 2014 so you’re talking about 11 or 12 years of radio success and not success between there so some people that grew up listening to country music may not have been as familiar with some of my earlier stuff but now they’re like of course I know these then all of a sudden we’ll play “She Only Smokes When She Drinks” and they’re like I remember that song. I had no idea that’s the same guy.
I get a lot of that.
So if you were to go back to the beginning, back when you’re getting your no’s and you’re just starting to get your feet wet, what advice would you give yourself now looking back?
Yeah. I think be happier. I was so caught up in being what I thought people wanted me to be that it made me unhappy most of the time and personal tragedy can really weigh heavily on your soul and your soul should make music so I would say be happier. Grieve when you’re supposed to grieve, mourn when you’re supposed to mourn but at the same time, be happy because you’re giving a gift that a very small fraction of the world has ever given so I’d say go back and have fun and it would probably show in the music.
I’m one of those people where moments in my life, mostly sad moments but moments in my life, there is always a song tied to it. I always love picking a musicians mind because they’ve affected me so much. It encapsulates a moment so you saying that, I’m like yes, exactly!
The entire album of Revelation, my second album, with “What’s a Guy Gotta Do” and “If Nobody Believed in You,” that whole album was done in the grieving process of losing my father and looking back I wish I would’ve taken the time to separate the two. So I could make an album that didn’t feel like everybody had to carry the burden that I was carrying and instead of that I made an album that felt like I want you to know how miserable I am and here’s a dark, a lot of God, a lot of turmoil, a lot of loss and that’s the album that we put out, a lot of that stuff. And sometimes it didn’t turn people on who didn’t know the entire story. It did alright. I think it’s one of the better albums that I’ve ever done musically but at the same time, I think I would’ve gone back and said hey man, there are people out there that want to have a good time no matter what you’re going through so do that grieving process on your own and make sure you do that but at the same time remember that there is a lot of people out there that don’t need to grieve with you.
Is it hard for you to go back and play those songs because of how emotional it was for you?
We don’t play one of the bigger songs from that record. I don’t know if it’s for that reason but it’s just a time in my life that was really dark and I don’t care to go back to that. I don’t care to go back to that kind of thinking. Like everybody needs to carry what I’m carrying right now so if I can make an album that makes everybody feel good and at the same time satisfy something in my soul that says you’ve done enough, then I’ve made a good album.
So the new album is lighter and happier I’m assuming?
The new album is fun. it’s kind of kick you in the face fun and come on over here and lets get naked fun. And then sometimes it’s kind of serious fun. Sometimes it’s just kind of drop a fishing pole line in the water and just let’s have fun that way so, a lot of country, a lot of, I wouldn’t say contemporary country but I would say a lot of stuff that’s contemporary for me just being a guy that tries to make contemporary country music sound like traditional.
So is it weird for you being told way in the beginning that you’re too country for country to now be playing a country music festival in the heart of New York City?
I’ve grown to love it. I mean when people say you’re too country for country I say bring it on! I guarantee there are a lot more people you don’t know about who would love to hear that.
That’s very cool. I mean looking at the lineup, you are country. There is no denying that. There is some pop country that’s playing the festival and I think that it’s interesting that this is the first time New York is hitting a country music festival.
I love it.
I’ve done other festivals but it’s definitely a different atmosphere in New York from what I’ve seen. Does it seem different to you, watching the crowd in New York?
A little bit. I’ve always thought that New York, at least this area, needs some kind of country presence because every time I get here I always run into country fans who are like I’ve been a country music fan my whole life and I’ve always wanted a country station here and they need more country shows here so finally for them to put a festival together and to say let’s see who comes, I think it’s pretty cool. I like it. It’s a great idea.
What is the weirdest question you’ve ever been asked in an interview? Your career has spanned a while. I’m sure there’s a lot of strange ones out there.
I’ve been asked some hard questions like do you like who you are and who you’re trying to be. I’m like that’s tough. I’d like to think I am but sometimes you never know if you’re doing the exact right thing.
That’s the deeper end.
Deeper end, yeah it is.
Okay so now I have to ask you one that I’ve been told from another artist. What color is your new album if it were a color?
Oh. Gunmetal gray. It’s going to kick you in the face and might shoot you in the ass.
You like the kick you in the face phrase!
Nothing says country like kick you in the face….Nothing says country like kick you in the face. That should be the headline of this interview. I think that’s the perfect headline. It’s perfect.