Jerrod Niemann has been one of the artists I’ve been excited to watch over the last few years. I first met Jerrod when he was opening for Brad Paisley a year ago, and I was impressed with not only his sense of humor and friendliness with his fans, but most importantly, his stage presence and performance. I had the chance to catch up with Jerrod before his Green Bay concert this week to find out about how his brand new single “Shinin’ On Me” was inspired by Texans, what fans can expect from his new sound on his upcoming sophomore album, and what kind of prank he pulled with Chris Young on Miranda Lambert during her “On Fire” tour stop in New Jersey earlier this year.
In our exclusive interview below, he also reveals the release date for the music video for “Shinin’ On Me,” how his first album came together just by luck, and what Chris Young’s secret talent is. Find out all that and more below in Keepin’ it Country’s exclusive interview with Jerrod Niemann:
You said you wanted to challenge yourself on your new album. What do you think is different this time around?
The first album was just luck. I didn’t have a record deal, and I just sort of ran in there and followed my beer gut to make the album I wanted. This time I wanted to challenge myself more musically. We basically semi-invented instruments in the studio; we added in a B-Bender mechanism from an electric guitar on to an acoustic. I’m not familiar with anybody ever recording that way, but it was something that we were passionate about doing. It’s a new sound that you’ll hear along with horns throughout the whole album. That was a huge challenge, but it was fun because country music had horns back in the 20′s, so it’s fun to go back and visit Dixieland stuff, and Chicago-style stuff. We also recorded Analog this time. Old school. Just a lot of fun spirit.
Is there a story behind your new single “Shinin’ On Me”?
Yes! Lee Brice is co-writer on it, and we all know how talented he is. We were in Austin, Texas at Lake Travis playing AquaPalooza with Mr. Brad Paisley, and after a few hours of hanging out, we turned to each other and said, “man, we just played to 60,000 boats and an estimated 100,000 drunk Texans.” It couldn’t get any better than that (laughs). It was one of those things where you come out on a lake and sort of, no matter what is going on in your life, you can take a break from your troubles and enjoy the moment and the people that you’re around. That’s what inspired the song, that’s how the song came around.
You’re out on Miranda Lambert’s “On Fire” tour right now. There must be some kind of funny story about hanging out with her or Chris Young…
Oh yeah, there’s tons of funny stories. Chris has some funny talents that no one really knows about. He’s really good at it, like legit good… he break dances. Chris doesn’t do it seriously, but he can throw it down. I was just hanging out one night drinking beer, and someone challenges Chris saying “you can’t dance,” and Chris goes, “oh yeah?”. He turns around literally does everything but backflips. Like, he can stand on his head, and all this crazy, unbelievable footwork. There’s always things like that that pop out of nowhere.
Then there was Miranda who just pulled up out of nowhere last week with this old vintage Airstream trailer that she likes to take out once it warms up. So, all of a sudden I see this old school trailer. That’s what we hang out on now. It’s just these little random things that pop up out of nowhere, and you never know what’s going to happen next.
Hang on a second… Chris Young actually break dances?
I’m not saying that it’s what he wants to do, but for some reason he’s just got this natural talent. He just does it for fun to be funny, but he’s so good I’m just like “what the heck?” (laughs). It’s pretty amazing. Listen, I’m no expert on break dancing, but I gotta say in this case… I’ve never seen anybody break dance better than Chris. He’s legit. He’s good, he’s worth watching.
Some fans are asking if you still trust tour buses after the “tour bus massacre”, and how you survived your tour bus going on fire.
Lee Brice was actually on the bus, we were in Chattanooga doing a charity show with a radio station. I had my Dad and my Uncle with me, and we were on the bus every couple of minutes – actually, it wasn’t even my normal bus, it was just a bus we were trying out, so that helps answer part of the question about trusting buses. I didn’t yet have any belongings on it yet or anything, but I didn’t know where the fire extinguisher was, so when Lee and I figured out the bus was on fire we didn’t know where to look so we just called 9-1-1. Luckily, we didn’t go looking for it because the fire extinguisher was under the bus. We got out a couple minutes early, but the pressure had built up so much inside the bus, the fire was in the back, that the windshield blew out in the front. That’s when we were like “woah!”
It freaks you out because you’re thinking how you could have been asleep on the bus, or how your family would have died, or friends, and it could have been horrible. My bus I have now is sturdy and built well and so I have confidence in it, but it still scares you to think that Justin Moore, Lee Brice, Randy Houser, and now myself have each had a bus fire and no one knows why. It’s a little scary.
What would you consider to be the coolest moment of your career so far?
I have to tell you, although I do fall under the umbrella of entertainer and music and all that, I love writing songs. I love producing, I love to produce my records and my friends’. I love being an artist, and they all have their own moments. As a songwriter, being part of Garth Brooks‘ number one hit “Good Ride Cowboy”, and getting to write with Garth Brooks on a song that’s about another one of my musical heroes in Chris LeDoux, that was something that I don’t know as a songwriter I can top. There’s just too much there that I care about. As a performer getting to play the Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, and then the Ryman and the Grand Ole Opry were dreams of mine since I was a kid. These tours I’ve been on too… every night I get to be on stage in front of people that love country music just as much as me, because I am a huge country music fan.
It all kind of falls into this one umbrella of mine of this life-long dream. As a producer, just getting to stand there and know that I’ve produced and been part of a number one song that I actually got to sing myself, that was just a moment for me that I felt the creativity that I had invested into my life for country music had finally come to fruition. Just all those moments are really special to me, I don’t think I can pick one over the other.
Do you find that you’re a little more selfish with the songs you write now that you’re an artist too?
Yeah, you know, in a way it’s such a weird fulfillment. Take someone like Lee [Brice], who just finished recording one of our songs. That feels so good to know that somebody else that you respect is kind enough to let you be a part of their lives, of their music. So, it’s so special to me that there’s times where I like writing the songs with the artist, because I like hearing what they have to say. Sometimes I don’t know if other artists will like the stuff I’ve written, but then I have friends like Blake Shelton and people that I respect who have recorded the things I’ve written. It’s not about the financial thing for me, it’s more about the exposure and that some people out there might hear something that will hit their heart.
When you performed in New Jersey, during Miranda’s encore, she looked pretty grossed out by whatever it was you and Chris were drinking, so what do you drink at your shows?
Well, we’ll kind of tease her a little bit because we know that she’s going to take a sip (laughs). The night that you’re referring to I came out on stage with nothing but Jack Daniels in my cup, there wasn’t even ice in it, it was just pure Jack Daniels just to mess with her. It was alcohol, so it ended up getting taken care of later, so it was fine. Sometimes, me and Chris will make our drinks a little tart just to try and stop her from doing that. She shouldn’t be upset because I learned how to mix her drinks when I was out with Blake!
If you could put together your dream tour, who would you tour with?
I wish I could do a tour with Lee Brice, Randy Houser, and Jamey Johnson all together. I’d like to do some of it with a full band, and some of it with just the four of us sitting on stage with acoustic guitars. We’ve all been friends for so long, we’ve shared some crazy memories. I miss those guys a lot, I don’t get to see my buddies too often because the world has recognized their talent and they all deserve to be heard. I’m just so proud of all the accomplishments they’ve been accomplishing. You miss your buddies that you only see once or twice a year when you used to see them once or twice a week.
Do you have any plans to come to Canada this year?
Actually, yeah. I know we’ve had a few shows close to the border that you were at, but I know a few other artists that are heading up there this year.. but they haven’t (laughs) officially offered a spot to me. So, I really don’t know, but I’d love to. I love Canada! I’ve been up there fishing in Fort McMurray in Alberta, and it’s such a giant place, but I hope I get to see Montreal, Hamilton, Ontario.. I went there with Brad, as you know, but it’s a great place and I’d love to see more of it. I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody from Canada that I didn’t like, no one has ever been rude or anything to me. There’s a lot of good spirited and good hearted people.
You said on Twitter that Green Bay has “perfected the art of partying.” What is a perfect party to you?
You know, I consider our shows pretty much a party because before the show all of us get together to have a few drinks – Miranda, Chris and myself, and anybody else who wants to join us from our bands. So, that being said, hanging out with your friends and getting to play music for a living and to get things off of people’s minds so they can have a blast celebrating country music. The thing about Green Bay for instance, is that they’re just such big fans and huge Packer fans, they’re just wild and crazy. They don’t hold back during a concert or a game. They get wild and you’re like “wow! they must think I’m really good!”. They’re wild and a party crowd and they just don’t let down from the first note.
That’s not saying that there isn’t other places in the country that don’t get down like that too. It’s just that Green Bay, that they’re already out here drinking in the parking lot, then it’s going to be a great party for me. A drunk crowd! (laughs).
What can fans expect from your fan club party this year?
Well I’m very excited about the party this year! Last year, I asked fan club members to think about what they wanted for a party. They’re pretty much the founding members of my fan club, and they’re the ones that travel all over the country to see me. I realized that some of these people literally have all our notes memorized, and I’d love to get to know these people. Lee and I thought it would be fun to invite all these people that love our music because we’re friends, and we want them to be friends, so we just thought we’d make it a cool hang and fit in a couple acoustic songs that maybe they wouldn’t ever hear at our shows. Then just hang out with everybody.
Is there anything else you want the fans to know?
We just shot the video for “Shinin’ On Me” and it will be out in the middle of May! There’s a little scoop for you.
Jerrod’s new single “Shinin’ On Me” is out on country music radio now in both Canada and the United States. Check it out below and let us know what you think of Jerrod’s new song:
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