Josh Kelley quickly became one of my favorite people to interview in our phone call a few minutes ago. After apologizing for calling early, we joked around about how it’s normal in the business to be late for interviews.
Josh called us from Las Vegas with the boys staring at him during load out, and right before he was going to head into a tattoo studio. Josh updated us on his career, if his brother has gotten on his nerves yet on the Lady Antebellum tour, why Blake Shelton is a liar, news on his next single and music video, details on his new “soulful” record, and about the tattoo he’s getting tonight for his daughter and wife. Read our exclusive, and entertaining, interview with Josh Kelley below:
You’re out on the second week of the tour with Lady Antebellum, how’s it going and has your brother gotten on your nerves yet?
(laughs) Oh no, we’ve been good. It’s more of a have I gotten on his nerves yet. No, man, no we’re doing good. We’ve done everything together since we were kids. We’re only eighteen months apart, my parents did that on purpose so we’d grow up together. So, yeah, we’ve done everything together and it’s cool to still be doing what we used to be doing. We played golf yesterday, we’ve been jamming and writing songs and just hanging out together and having a cocktail. It’s been good, man. You know, we always pick up right where we left off. Thank God we’re in the same business together because it affords us the opportunity to see each other and create together and stuff like that.
So, why did you make the switch to country music? What is it about it that you love so much?
I’ve always pretty much been country. I tried to get a country record deal when I was about twenty. You know, that didn’t work out but the next thing you know I got a deal – a hot AC deal. Which wasn’t all that different, we just changed the production. I’ve always written stories and that’s what country music is. It’s all about stories, and that’s what I love about country music and I feel so good to finally be in the genre. I’ll be writing country songs for the rest of my life, until I can’t pick up a pen.
You sing backup on Miranda Lambert’s new single “Baggage Claim,” can we expect any other work with Miranda or any other friends next year?
Yeah!! Oh yeah, you can expect a lot. Me and Miranda did a lot of writing together on her tour as well, and we’re going to be doing a lot more of it. We were on tour together for so long that she became like a little sister and I absolutely love her. All the Pistol Annies too. They’ve made me their official male Pistol Annie.
Uh oh, look out Blake.
I know! Me and Blake are the only official male Pistol Annies.
Oh really? He says he’s the only one.
Oh he says he’s the only one? That’s crap! I’m gonna have to correct him on that.
You do! Call him out on Twitter. Blame me if you have to.
I will. I’ll say “Lydia says that you’ve been claiming to be the only male Pistol Annie, and that is not true. The Pistol Annies told me that I’m the official male Annie.”
He says he’s the only Pistol Andy.
Pistol Andy! Yeah, that’s what she says, that’s what Miranda says. She calls him a Pistol Andy, that’s hilarious. She’s hilarious.
So do you have a nickname?
I don’t know, they did. They always called me “Joshy.” I don’t know why. I always felt like a child when they did that. Girls always do that.
Pistol Joshy! (Laughs).
You wrote all the songs on your album, how important is it to you to do that?
I had a really long time to write that record. I write everyday, so I just kind of got lucky that people at the label that liked the songs that I was writing. I write with a lot of great people, and I take my time. I really put every inch of my soul into what I’m writing, and I’m proud of what I write. I feel like I’m more than just a performer or a singer, I’m also a writer. I write for other artists. I don’t know if you know this, but the show Mike & Molly is the number one comedy show in America and that theme song is the song that I wrote. That was a God send right there, man. That’s helped me out this year as far as how I’ve spent so much money on touring and everything, that song helped me out for sure.
This one came in from a fan, they want to know if you can still solve a Rubix Cube just as fast as you did a few years ago.
Yeah! That’s funny, somebody actually gave me a Rubix Cube the other day. It took me a little while but I actually solved it in under three minutes again. When I picked it up for the first time it took me a few minutes to figure it out, but then I started getting back into other things and started to figure it out again. Now I can solve a Rubix Cube again. (laughs)
I just give up on them, I can’t do it.
(laughs) It’s just, you have to look at like a stack of pancakes. It’s like a stack of three. You have to solve it one stack at a time, you can’t do all three at once. Instead of solving sides, you solve stacks. That will help you to figure it out.
If you could have dinner with any three people alive or dead, who would it be?
Oh man, alive or dead? … Okay, dinner with any three people alive or dead.. Okay, okay, okay, hold on a second I’m almost there. I’d definitely say… Stevie Wonder, Patsy Cline, and… hm. I’d say James Taylor. I love James Taylor, I wanna know what’s going on in his brain.
That’s an interesting mix.
Yeah, I like that mix. That’s a great mix. I could probably have about five thousand different mixes, but. I like that one, yeah.
What was the first country album you ever owned?
It was Randy Travis. My Dad was obsessed with Randy Travis, then we in turn all became obsessed with Randy Travis. Vince Gill came next, we were obsessed with Vince Gill. It was always whatever my Dad was listening to. George Jones. God, man. Who knows what he was listening to. What was my first country record? It’s gotta be that Randy Travis record. My Mom actually took us to – that was our first concert together, me and Charles, my Mom took us to the Augusta Civic Center to see Randy Travis! That was great. She lost her cookies, man. She kept saying that she’d follow him to a bar and she’s like “I will flirt with him.” She’s funny. She’s rad, dude. She’s a drummer, she’s really artistic.
Will you ever get a family band together?
I don’t know man, I don’t know. She just likes to watch now.
The proud Mama on the side.
The proud Mama, very proud Mama. She’s got a colorful personality. I’ll see her tomorrow, actually.
What would you consider to be the “coolest” thing that’s happened this year?
The coolest thing that’s happened? So many cool things have happened, honestly, it’s really hard to say. As far as ‘cool”, having a hit with “Georgia Clay” was so cool. You believe in these songs but you never know if people are gonna love them or not. I watched that song it just shot up the charts so fast. It just made me proud to see – they’re like your little babies. I’m just so proud of my baby “Georgia Clay”! So that was super cool. Then I was on tour with Miranda Lambert which was cool. Then I was on tour with Taylor Swift which was cool. Now I’m on tour with Lady Antebellum which is cool. I’m out with Lady A and this year has just been nuts. So, that, you know.
Then the other coolest thing was just my theme song. Another cool thing was remember when Oprah Wimfrey’s last show – her final episode? My song “Beautiful Goodbye” was the theme song for that. That was nuts, that was pretty emotional. So that was cool too! Dude, it’s been a year. I need to start journaling!
Well, if you ever wanted to guest blog on our site..
Dude, maybe. Maybe I should.
So, I heard you’ve got new puppies. How are they doing?
They’re doing great! My puppy was sick. He was pretty brutal. Luckily, Katie and her mom have that foundation for rescued animals and so, we got him taken care of. He’s in good shape now. His name is Tamber and her name is Flora Mae. They’re like crazy cute. Tamber’s going to be gigantic. His paws at three months are already as big as my fist, so he’s really gonna be a big, cute dog. They’re insanely cute.
They’re Shepherds, aren’t they?
Yeah, they’re shepherds. Actually, I have a weird feeling that Tamber is a Shepherd-Chow mix. He’s got a bit of a shorter nose. They’re like – I don’t even know the right words for it, but they’re like delicious. So freakin’ cute right now that they’re insanely delicious.
Do you have any idea if we’ll be getting a new single from you soon?
Yeah, thank God you’re asking me that cause I totally forgot. My wife directed and starred in with my daughter in “Naleigh Moon,” the song about my daughter. My daughter was adopted from South Korea, and she’ll be three next week. So, that video started off where we did it for fun as a way to chronicle her life and then all of our friends pulled together and shot it for free. They’re all really talented at this so it’s all shot in HD. All this footage of her when she was little until now, and the beginning until now. It’s just like, it’s insanely personal but our lives are on display already. It’s like at least we control the content and showed everyone the video and they loved it. It’s coming out next week. So the single will probably come out shortly after that, since it’s based around the videos. We’re excited, man. Dude, it is so freakin’ – it’s just so pretty, it’s really cool.
You’ve been touring with quite a few big artists this year, but who’s been your favorite and who would be your dream tour partner?
(laughs) I can’t pick a favorite, that’s impossible! They’re all so different, you know what I mean? You know, Lady A, Miranda and Taylor Swift are all so completely different and they’re definitely all my favorites at what they do. As for dream tour partner? I don’t know, I really don’t know. I mean, I’d love to do some more stuff with Eric Church. I love Eric. He’s great, he’s a nut, we’re both nuts. That’s why we get along so well. You know, I fell in love with Justin Moore dude, we became really good buds on Miranda’s tour. He’s just the funniest dude I’ve ever seen. I’d love to do a tour with him again, I became best buddies with the whole band. Who knows, it’s weird, dude. You just put yourself out there and you start rocking and hope that people catch on, you know.
I love Justin, he was actually my first phone interview.
Aw, man his humor.. it’s hard to get over the phone. The guy is so brilliant, it like baffles me. He’s on a whole other level in terms of comedy. He’s hilarious.
Do you feel like your background growing up in Georgia has a big influence on your music?
Oh yeah, absolutely. Hence the song “Georgia Clay,” absolutely. We grew up in a very, very Southern part of the world and life is a little slower, a little different, and it allows you to actually have the chance to sit and reflect. I think that’s a very helpful part of the world. There’s not too much, you know, like when you’re driving down the street and there’s like a million lights and you can get turned off by that.
Do you feel there’s been a big change in your sound coming from pop to country?
It’s pretty much still the same. My voice still sounds the same. I’ve always written country songs because I’ve been writing stories. I guess, you know, maybe what changed… I don’t really know, man, I don’t think anything’s changed really. Now that I think about it, it’s hard to say. I think the production actually got better. That’s what changed, in country the production sounds better. Wait until you see the next record, I’m going soulful. It’s going to be really cool. I’m very excited, the caliber is awesome. I’m loving the sound of it already. Yeah, man, not a whole lot has changed I’ve really just gotten better as I’ve gotten older I’ll say.
So how are things going with the new album?
Great! We’ll probably start recording it in March. Right now we’re just demoing the whole thing. You know, I’ll do writing in January or February. I’ll be doing shows here and there at the same time, then I’ll start doing the record. Then tour really hard after that. I’m gonna get some really, very rare family time until February so I’m very excited. I’ll still be touring at the same time but I’ll still be getting just a little bit of time which is good. You need that time. I need that time to write.
So you’re going to be home for the holidays this year?
Oh yeah. Yeah. I’ll be home for Thanksgiving in five days, then I’ll be back out on tour but I come back home on December 18th. Then I’ll be in Utah, so that’ll be great.
Is there any song out there right now on the radio that you wish you wrote?
“Hello World.” I love that song. Tom Douglas wrote that song. I am absoultely a fan of his. Tom Douglas is like anointed.
Okay, anything that your brother doesn’t sing on.
(laughs). Okay. That I wish I wrote? “Homeboy” I love that song. That song is sick.
Do you think we’ll see you up in Canada anytime soon?
Yeah, I was just up in Canada with Taylor Swift, actually. I’ll be coming back up there next Spring for a few dates. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll be doing, because it’s all in the works right now, but the last time I was in Vancouver I caught a 200 pound Sturgeon when I went fishing. It was insane. I think I put it all over Twitter. It was like the craziest. It was like battling a freakin’ aerial. (laughs). Dude, all I do is fish. I love to fish. We’ll be coming up that way, I guarantee it. I love Canada, so I’m real excited about that.
What would your family think is the best and worst part of your career?
The best part of my career is that they get to come to my shows, and they they get to like have fun, and see stuff they haven’t seen – like when I was with Taylor Swift. The worst part of my career is that it takes me really far away from them. They don’t like that.
Do they get the chance to come out and see you?
Oh yeah, they come out all the time now. As they’re getting older and they’re retired they’re everywhere!
How did you first get interested in music?
When my older brother left to college and came home to visit us and I was about ten or eleven years old. He accidentally left his guitar home at the house. A month later when he came to get the guitar, I was playing like Led Zeppelin songs that I taught myself how to play and he gave it to me. So, that’s how it happened. That’s actually how Charles’ and my group started because John gave me his crappy guitar.
You two used to play in a band together, didn’t you?
Yeah! We had a band called “Inside Blue.” We had a record deal from Atlantic Records and my parents thought that we were too young and they were right. Now that I’m looking back on it.
Yeah, well look where you are now, so I guess they were right!
Yeah, man! We’re rocking and rolling now dude! I’m gonna be writing country songs until I’m 97. That’s just an arbitrary number. .. Actually, I’m going to be getting a tattoo right after this.
What are you getting?
I’m getting a Sagittarius symbol with a twenty-four and a twenty-three on each side. Those are my girls, they’re Sagittarius, and their birthdays are the 23rd and 24th. That’s cool, I’m gonna do it.
Are you doing it before or after the show tonight?
Before. I’m gonna try and do it right now.
Good luck tonight then!
Yeah, man. I’m scared of needles.
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