Archive of ‘Interviews’ category

Valentine's Day with Jon Pardi

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.

We wrap up the interview and Jon asks me to help him with an important task of picking out that night’s ensemble for his show.  I give my best fashionista advice and get ready to head out.  It is now 9:15pm and Jon’s manager tells him he has 10 minutes to get ready for his Meet and Greet session.  In 45 minutes he will be on stage singing for all the fans already waiting for him inside.
10:00pm, Jon hits the stage and puts on an AMAZING show.  It’s hard to believe the funny, laid back, mischievous man I just met is now putting his heart and soul into this performance and giving off an insane amount of energy and enthusiasm.  You can tell that he absolutely loves what he does and lives to be on stage.  His talent captures the audience from the first note that he sings and from then on he has them in the palm of his hand.  Five years from now it’s hard to see Jon doing anything other than headlining stadium tours and being compared to the likes of Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean.  With the talent and work ethic he has, the sky really is the limit.

Coffee with Greg Bates

I am SO excited to share my interview with this next artist.  He’s a sweetie pie from Nashville, Tennessee who some of you may know from his debut single Did it for the Girl or his current single Sand which is an absolute smash!!  Greg Bates is quickly becoming a household name in the country music world and in the midst of his single climbing the charts and heading out on a writing retreat he took some time to meet with me and answer a few questions for you readers!  We met at Edgehill Cafe in Nashville, if you haven’t been here before you must give it a try (their Kale Salad….in Love).


It is so rare to come across an artist that is from Nashville.  Having some of the greatest music of all time come out of your hometown, what would you say was the greatest benefit to growing up there?
Greg:  I kind of grew up around a lot of songwriters, you’d see artists at the grocery store and that wasn’t weird.  One benefit I feel, as far as my success (I don’t know if it’s really helped me or hurt me I think it’s about the same once you get in the business) was that I kind of got to see behind the scenes really early and see that you could make a living as a songwriter. I mean I knew when I was 8 years old. My fiancé’s from Kentucky and she moved here to go to college and didn’t even know you could do that until she moved here. I was able to see that in this business there’s a lot of different facets and a lot of people working behind the scenes that aren’t always on the stage or at the stadium show. I think that was fun for me to get to see that there are so many other people involved in this business, that maybe don’t get the recognition but that make an artist, that make a songwriter, that it’s not just one guy working. I think that was the main thing for me, learning that it’s a people business. You have to find great songs and for that you have to have great songwriters, and you have to have great managers and publishers and all these people that make an artist. At the end of the day the artist is the product and we go out and sell it as best we can. It was a lot of fun growing up seeing all of that.
When listening to your music you can hear that your roots and style lie in the classic country crooners.  If you were to pick your “musical parents” who would they be?
Greg:  I’ve honestly never gotten this question before so this took some time. It’s hard to pick two. I grew up on George Strait, Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, and Garth Brooks and they’re all different in their own way. Honestly I would say musically right now, I lean more towards the Garth Brooks style of writing and writing for a live show. Then on the female side, take your pick from Patty Loveless, to LeAnn Womack to Linda Ronstadt. I grew up listening to everything. At the same time I was growing up on George Strait I was also listening to the Goo Goo Dolls and Matchbox Twenty so you know there’s a lot of that influence in my music too. It takes a village!
Every artist has a moment in which they feel they their hard work and dedication is paying off, whether it be the first time they hear their song on the radio or that moment in which a fan is singing the lyrics to their song at a show.  What has been the most exciting moment in your career thus far?
Greg:  I truly believe in this business, I feel that way every day. Even when I have a bad day in this business, even when something bad happens it leads to the next thing. Everyday I feel like we’re making the right steps. There’s been so many points in my career, the first time I heard my song on the radio, the first live show I did where I just felt like I connected with the audience, those are kind of points along the way. Today I’m going on a writers’ retreat and I’m so excited to go and I know that’s going to lead to the next thing. I would say every single day, every point in my career is kind of that moment where it’s like, “Alright I’m doing the right thing.”
Do you still get excited hearing your song on the radio?
Greg:  Oh totally, I heard it this morning. Every time I hear it I feel like okay, I need to enjoy this because it might be the last time I hear it. I hope not, but it might be. It’s really kind of an out of body experience.  I think any artist will tell you, once you hear your song enough you learn to look at it objectively.  You learn to look at it as something that’s not just your baby anymore.  You put it out into the world and there’s people that love it, people that hate it and people that don’t care about it at all. As much as you want to protect it, once it’s out there it’s out there. We’ve gotten so much great feedback about the new single and still every time I hear it I crank it up.  I have no shame about that because I may not hear it again for a week.
Your new single Sand was just released at the beginning of the new year and debuted on The Highway.  Its sound is a little different than your previous work (Did It for the Girl, Fill In the Blank, Go Time) but without losing your traditional style, what was the inspiration behind this single?
Greg:  I started working with a new producer Frank Rogers who’s done Brad Paisley, Josh Turner, and Darius Rucker. Frank is also very rooted in the traditional sound and that’s always been his thing. He’s been a hero of mine since I was a kid. He’s been cutting records that I grew up with. When we started writing together we were setting out to prove that we could do something a little different. I listen to Bruno Mars at the same time I listen to George Jones, I draw influence from a lot of great music and he does the same. We kind of wanted to say “Hey we have this traditional background and its always going to have the vibe to it just because that’s where we come from but lets go out and try something. Lets experiment a little, lets fall on our face if we need to.”   To me that’s the beauty of music.  You can try something, put it out, and if the fans don’t want it they will send it right back and you get to try again. That’s what this was about. Lets try something and just see what happens.
We wrote this song with Lynn Hutton who also co-wrote Did It For the Girl with me.  Lynn had the idea and I sat down with them and we just started throwing out very simple nostalgic things about trips to the beach we had all taken when we were growing up.  We went to the beach every October with my parents and for me it always took me back there. For Lynn it was something different. For Frank it was something different. Sound wise it was really a lot of fun to go in and try some new stuff.  Try out a new band, try out a new studio, a new producer, and just have fun with it. That was kind of the inspiration behind changing it up a little bit.
In 2015 with the access of digital downloads and technology, there is less and less focus on albums in their entirety and more focus on singles.  If you had to pick your favorite album of all time, that one that is perfection from the first note on the top track to the last note on the final song, what would it be?
Greg:  I would say in the country genre it will always be Mud on the Tires, front to back.  Even when I was in high school and didn’t know any better I was listening to it going “Every one of these could be a single, I want to hear every song on the radio.”  They really put the time into that record. It’s kind of come full circle for me, yesterday I played the guitar that played on Mud on the Tires and we were writing on that. I would say that’s the country record I always come back to. Outside the genre pretty much anything Tom Petty does I’m all about and anything John Mayer does I’m all about. Continuum by John Mayer to me is just him in his purest form. Take your pick either one of those guys can do no wrong.
Finally, I asked Greg to put together a playlist of what he’s currently listening to for you all to enjoy (I of course added Sand on there because I can’t get enough of it myself!)

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