It’s a Saturday night in Oxford and the town is a buzz. There are couples everywhere preparing for their romantic rendezvous for Valentine’s Day. I, however, had my own plans to meet up with a tall drink of water who hails from California. His name you ask? Jon Pardi. I was more than happy to spend my Valentine’s meeting up with this country cutie for an interview right before he hit the stage to a thousand screaming fans at what has become one of my favorite venues to see a show.
It’s 8:45pm and the opener, Skyelor Anderson, a local Mississippi boy that made it big on the X-Factor is warming up the crowd. I head backstage to meet Jon’s Aussie Tour Manager Colin who brings me out to meet Jon on the tour bus. I step on the bus and am greeted by Pardi’s band. It is obvious that they are all best friends from that first moment, all truly enjoying each other’s company. Jon greets me and asks if he can get me anything to drink before the interview starts as he is sipping on his beer. I can tell from the moment I meet him that he has a little wild in his smile and that he is 100% confident in his own skin. I also knew this interview was going to be anything but boring. After discussing his newest clothing purchase from downtown’s Hinton & Hinton and the difference between Southern and Western (refer to the “Bama Bangs” hairstyle) we get down to my questions.
Who would you say has had the biggest influence on your career thus far, whether it be personally or professionally?
Jon: I’d have to say it was myself, just really sticking with it because I’ve been singing for so long. But the person who really got me into music at a really young age, I’m talking 4-7, was my grandmother. She was the one that really gave me the music bug. When my Mom and Dad were at work, she would watch me and we used to sing on her little karaoke machine. We’d sing a lot of 90’s country songs: Hank Williams Jr. Alan Jackson, George Strait, Garth Brooks. Then my Dad, he’s a hard worker and I worked with him a lot. We did land leveling, construction, agriculture, kind of everything. Between the hard work and me playing music, all together it kept me driven and it all circled around to “You know, I’d really like to try the music thing.”
You are quoted saying “If you can take a piece of life and put it in a song it’s going to be a good song”, which song of yours do you think best embodies this?
Jon: Chasing Them Better Days….I sat down to write and I wanted something that just was positivity in a song. You listen to the song and it’s just a payoff that you’ve been working harder, just trying to make it. It’s one of my favorite working man, bumming around, trying to make it songs. I’ve always said if my band had a cell phone and we could choose our ring tone, that would be our ring tone.
It seems like now more than ever there are crossover collaborations happening, Nelly and Florida Georgia Line, Nelly and Tim McGraw, Ludacris and Jason Aldean, if you were to collaborate with another artist in the studio (crossover or not) who would you most like to work with?
Jon: I’d like to use more of the soul guys like Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars or Ed Sheeran. Those guys are killing it and I think it’d be cool to have more of those guys in it (country). JT has always been my number one, he just seems like he would be all into making a song and it would be a lot of fun.
Your most recent single When I’ve Been Drinkin’ brings a level of humor to the album. Do you think these kinds of songs are important to have on each album?
Jon: It all depends on the artist. I like playing uptempo and upbeat songs, even if it’s a sad song it’s still going to have some kind of good feel to it. When I’ve Been Drinkin’ was kind of that phase where you still kind of like your ex-girlfriend or ex-fling and you get drunk. It’s that story, we made it kind of cute and fun, you’re not really mad at the guy cause he called because he’s making her laugh. It was always one of my favorite songs. You know, I say a lot of things when I’ve been drinking.
With such a crazy schedule, touring all the time, what are some things you try to do/experience at each stop to keep in a routine?
Jon: Working out…except for today. Working out is key on the road. Steam rooms and saunas are key. Even if we weren’t drinking a lot they’d still be key. It’s hard. I’m glad I’m doing it while I’m young because I’m definitely going to have to slow down a little when I get older. We’re having so much fun and my band has been together for six years. I really don’t need anything but my guys, my crew and my bus. We all know what we’re doing and we all have a vision. We just have a good time routinely, we’re brothers. Point in case, we hang out in Nashville when we’re not gigging. Traveling as much as we do it’s really nice to have some of your best friends with you all the time. This is just such a tight clique and it’s a lot of fun. Sometimes it’s too much fun!
You can tell that you have been heavily influenced by the classic country greats even while growing up in California, if you were to choose your “musical parents” who would they be?
Jon: I definitely would want my dad to be Elvis. He kind of did it all, R&B, Country, Rock ‘n’ Roll…he’s the king of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Ladies love him, I mean who wouldn’t want their dad to be Elvis right? As for my mom, I’d want her to be Dolly Parton. Dolly wrote crazy big hits and plays like eleven instruments. I’m always amazed by some of the songs that she wrote. She’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, plays the banjo and she’s very musically talented. That’s a pretty musical mom and dad right there.