Joe Nichols Interview


CSC had the great opportunity to sit down with Joe personally for an exclusive interview before his concert this past July in Bridgeview, Illinois, a suburb just outside of Chicago. Weíd like to thank the staff at Triple 8 Management, Joe Nichols and his road crew for their generosity and accommodating demeanor. Joe Nichols is a treasure to Country Music and we know that youíll enjoy this interview as much as we did doing it. God Bless. -Christian Scalise



(CSC) 1. Thanks for the visit! Please tell us about your brand new single ďBelieversĒ and what youíve been up to lately.


(Joe Nichols)

Well lately weíve been up to just finishing up the album. Weíve been working on the album for about eleven months. Itís been I want to say, the middle of May or June of last year since we started working on it. Itís now in completion. So thatís good! Weíre sending out the first single named ďBelievers.Ē  Itís the single we got out there right now but more importantly Iím just focusing on the entire body of work, you know the whole album; what sticks out, what stands out. What came out like we expected. What came out better or worse than we expected. Weíre just getting ready for this year. I mean this album is one of those that the more I listen to it, the more ideas and expectations and more upside I see. With some albums you pretty much just know what youíve got, with this one I donít know. I think there are a lot of hits on this album. I think weíve come out with a really solid piece of work. So now, where do you go from there?!?  Now we just got to get it out to the masses. (Laughs) 



(CSC) 2. What can we expect artistically from your forthcoming album ďOld Things New?Ē (It has been awhile since the last)


(Joe Nichols)

Well I think right now weíre just focusing on what weíve got. I think we got some special moments on there. Thereís a song about my personal struggle with addiction. Itís just a piano and a vocal we did in about twenty minutes. It took about three or four takes of me and a piano and singing a song about giving up booze. Itís not perfect, itís not the best vocal in the world, tuned or anything like that, but itís the kind of thing to me and itís a special moment on this album. Itís a special moment in my career that Iím able to speak freely and artistically about something thatís very, very difficult for me. Itís something that I live every day. So I think thatís one of the better moments on the album. Thereís some vocal stuff on the album thatís right in line with ďMan with a MemoryĒ or ďRevelations,Ē some of the better vocal stuff Iíve done. Thereís some stuff on here that just feels like big radio songs. I think weíve got a mix of heart and commerce. 



(CSC) 3. If each album of yours is a reflection of the personal stages in your life, how would this new album relate to you currently?


(Joe Nichols) 

Oh man, Iíd say thereís two different ways Iím gauging this out. One is its taking me so long to make this album. There are so many twists and turns along the way. So many songs cut out, so many songs that came along, that made it into the process. So personally just having completed the album, just as a work standpoint, itís like ďAh, we made it to the finish line, and alright weíre done!!Ē Personally as far as the message if the album goes, the songs on this album, I think itís more personal than anything Iíve ever done. I think there are moments on here that are revealing of me in a way that Iíve never been before. I never talked about my addictions through songs you know, like this. Like ďGoodbye to an Old FriendĒ is the name of the song Iím speaking about. Iíve never done a song like this thatís that dead on, very visual, very graphic. So yeah, itís something brand new, itís more personal. I think the one thing Iíve heard most from people is people feel like they donít know me. Whether it be country fans donít know me that well or country radio, whoever. They feel like they donít know me. I think this album takes a step towards resolving that. 



(CSC) 4. Next year youíll be performing on Broadway in a production of ďPure Country.Ē What are you most looking forward to about that and how do you plan to balance your music career at the same time?


(Joe Nichols)

(Laughs) Well itís going to require a lot of attention to detail. Making sure that we can cater to what I love most, which is country music. I love what I do out here on the road. I love touring, I love singing every night in front of a new live crowd, and you know the difference in last nightís show and this nightís show. I want to make sure the fans in country music are my priority. I want them to know that they are my priority. At the same time, Iím looking forward to an extremely new challenge. Going to New York, the one thing Iím looking forward to most is living in the center of the universe! (Laughs) Itís a pretty big city and Iíll have plenty to do. Going to New York and doing a show on Broadway is a huge challenge for me personally. I love to be challenged; I love to be in situations where I need to excel. I look forward to it; itís going to be fun! 



(CSC) 5. It feels like traditional country music is a dying art lately, why is it so important to you to live, eat, and breath that style of music when your fellow peers are continuously crossing over to other genres?


(Joe Nichols)

Well to be honest with you, itís not like Iíd want to buck the system or anything like that. I love country music. Iím passionate about it. Iím passionate about the traditional side of country music. I want to pay tribute to guys like Merle Haggard, Gene Watson, and Keith Whitley. I respect those guys and I owe them my career. They taught me how to sing. I listened to their records. Falling in love with their music gave me a path to go down. Its comfort for me singing what I sing, and playing the music that I play. The traditional style feels like home. If I play Rock & Roll music or hot music or try to go one way or another, it becomes somewhat of a fake feeling an empty feeling. So naturally Iím just drawn to what I know and what I care about.



(CSC) 6. What would it mean to you to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and how does the Opry connect with you musically?


(Joe Nichols)

I think there are a lot of people in country music deserving of membership to the Grand Ole Opry. I think itís a huge honor for people that are chosen to be members. At this point in my career, you know itís becoming more and more about what I do and not what Iíve done, if that makes any sense. I can look back and say Iíve won this award, Iíve won that award, been on this show, been on that tour and sold these records and itís almost like talking about an ex-girlfriend or something. It doesnít have anything to do with whatís going on today or what Iím about to do. So I continue to keep my head forward, making the best record I can make. Staying true to myself and just enjoying everything I get to do and thanking God that this is my job. I think that that needs to be my focus. If the Grand Ole Opry comes calling one day, well I think itíd be a huge honor, as it should be for anybody in country music, traditionalist or not. But for me I think Iíve got to keep my head on this path and continue to do what I do.  



(CSC) 7. Youíve taken a great interest in the men and women who are serving our country. Tell me about your many trips to entertain them overseas!


(Joe Nichols)

Well I went to Iraq in June 2009. It was my first time in Iraq. I have tremendous respect, just from the physical side, of being a soldier or being a Marine in Iraq. The extreme weather conditions and going through the routine everyday. People carry 120 pounds of extra weight on their body with the armor, with the clothes and with the weapon. You know carrying that around with you in 130 degree weather is not fun but they do it every day and they donít complain. They do it eighteen hours a day most days. They donít get vacations, holidays and weekends off. Theyíre there to do a job and they do it twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year and I think thatís just commendable! They donít have any other job. They donít have anybody else on the planet that is dedicated to something they believe in, like the military. So thatís why I respect them.



(CSC) 8. Growing up, who were some of the artistís male/female that inspired your interest in Country Music?


(Joe Nichols)

George Strait has been the guy. Iíve loved listening to his records since I was five or six years old. I guess about 1980 or 1981 I had my first George Strait record, a little white cassette tape. Merle Haggard, honestly, I think heís probably the best singer that ever hit country music. Iíve mimicked his records since I knew I wanted to play music. My dad loved Merle Haggard. I donít know if it was because my dad loved him or just because heís that damn awesome! I just have always been a fan and always will be. Gene Watson and Marty Robbins are favorites too. We could go on for days! Keith Whitley, Randy Travis, Hank Williams Jr. I love me some Hank! (Laughs)



(CSC) 9. If you had the opportunity to do a duet with the legendary Jack Greene, what song do you feel would be the best choice, and what do you admire most about Jack?


(Joe Nichols)

Jack Greene? Oh I donít know. Heís got ďStatue of a Fool,Ē thatís obviously his biggest one. Thatís a really good question. I have no idea what Iíd choose to do as a duet with Jack Greene. I know heís a singing son of a gun! Still is.   



(CSC) 10. What was the hardest obstacle you had to face when you first arrived in Nashville?


(Joe Nichols)

The hardest obstacle I faced was keeping my head in the game. I think the one thing that this music business [getting started and being successful] requires is a person being persistent and competent and just knowing that their on the right path, and that a couple of roadblocks are not going to deter them. I guess that was the hardest thing for me. I walked Music Row quite a bit, had a lot of appointments, a lot of people came out to see me play in those little showcase places and they always told me no. It was for one reason or another. Maybe it was something like, ďOne of my labels already has a traditional country singing male. All labels get one and weíve already got our quota of country singing malesĒ or ďYou know hey, we just put out a record on a guy like you.Ē You know it was any number of things, ďYou donít wear a hat is the answer; weíre looking for a hat item, or something like that.Ē


Well I sat down with my guitar player at one point. He used to come to those meetings with me. We sat down and wrote on a napkin how many times we had been told no by whomever and it was thirty-one times! Thirty-one appointments weíve made and they said ďUh, noĒ before somebody finally said, ďI think we could do something with this.Ē So I donít know if it was stubbornness or just getting out of my own way or just a mixture of all things, persistence, I donít know. One of the guys that told me no is the president of the label Iím on now; the new president of the label. Heíd probably kill me if he knew I was talking about this but he turned me down too, early on.


Well Iíll tell you what, nowadays in any business for that matter, they donít leave a whole lot to chance. There are not a whole lot of risks taken. I know that the web is a powerful, powerful, powerful tool. Itís marketing with sales, just everything. I think thatís changed quite a bit over the past seven years since my first record came out. A lot of things have changed with labels now doing more of a managerís role. Theyíre doing more hands on all facets of an artistís live career. I think that shows you a sign of the times. They want to be more involved in all the revenue streams, of course the entire decision making and everything like that. Thatís quite a change from where I started.



(CSC) 11. At this point in your career, what are you proud of most and what would you like to accomplish next?


(Joe Nichols)

You know the number one thing Iíve always strived for and Iíll still maintain that today, I want longevity. I want to be here in thirty years. Thirty years after my first record came out I want to say, you know what, Iím still putting songs out on the radio that people still like. Iím still making music Iím not disgusted by. Iím still doing what I love. Thirty years later, Iím actually able to send my child to a good school or able to afford her first car. You know things like that. Thatís always been my goal, and still is my goal. The things that come along in the interim, you know the awards, or the big hit songs, or the big tours. Those things are awesome and they kind of protect that long term goal but at the same time, itís just about staying power. Again, if you make good music, have a good team around you and do the right thing, then I think youíve got a good shot at it.  



(CSC) 12. Lastly what is ONE thing about yourself that people would never assume to be true?!


(Joe Nichols)

(Laughs) Iím a rabid sports fan. I actually can do myself a lot of damage, blood pressure wise, just watching sports. I really, really get into sports and Iím actually kind of educated on a lot of that stuff. So I donít know if anybody knows that about me. Iím really into any trivial stuff, small stuff, Iím a baseball fan, so small things even matter to me. Like I said, I can get pretty upset. (Laughs) A lot of the guys out here on the road with me and the guys that have been in my band for awhile have seen some major league fits, when my team doesnít do well. Iím not one of those guys that are mean to other people about it. Those people suck! But I will actually go into hiding, go into exile if my team loses. (Laughs) I do take it to heart. I love pro baseball. I love college football probably the most and pro football, as well as basketball. It just depends on what time of the year it is. I follow it all. Not much of a soccer fan, never have been. Ironic since weíre playing in a soccer stadium today, of course I wonít be saying that from the stage tonight! (Laughs) 



Keep in touch with Joe Nichols on his official website here: follow him on Twitter here: