You’ve said this is an important time to make music. Do you address the economy or current social climate on the record?
I don’t really deal with the darkness of these times, musically. When we chose to put out “Then” as the first single, that was on purpose. At least the one thing that can help you find complete respite from these times is true love. If you fall in love with somebody or if you are reminded of your relationship with somebody and that song speaks to you, then you’re not even worried about your bills. Love can take your mind off of anything. That’s the kind of song that I wanted to hear.
“American Saturday Night” is being touted as your most mature effort, yet there are some party songs on the record.
I wanted to deal with the weekend scene in America, which is what people are living for these days. Those of us that still have jobs are living for Friday and Saturday. They are going to live it up. “You Do The Math” is really an almost Johnny Cash-meets- Merle Haggard, pick-up line song. The chorus says, “It takes two to make love, baby. I’m sure of that. I’m one, you’re one, you do the math.” It’s really fun. It starts out mono. It sounds like 1960 and then all of a sudden it goes stereo and it’s neat to hear.
Your albums usually include an instrumental. Will there be one on “American Saturday Night”?
I don’t want to redo something just because it’s something people expect. We just did 10 instrumentals [on “Play”], so we’re going to take a break. Even though I said I was going to always do an instrumental on an album, I think the instrumental album takes the place of that for now. We’ll do one next time.
Do you enjoy the recording process?
I love the album process because to me it’s the time when you can stop worrying. You’re not worrying about what’s going to sell when you are making it. You’re not worried about your career, because it’s all about the future and looking ahead. That part of the process is the most fun because you are writing the script you’ll have to stick to for a year or two, if it goes well. So I love that process. It’s the most fun you can have.
The tour kicks off June 5 in Charlotte, NC. You always incorporate interesting video into your shows, such as the “Guitar Zero” segment with Little Jimmy Dickens battling Taylor Swift, Bill Anderson and Dierks Bentley. What can fans expect this time out?
The premise of this tour really is that every night is a Saturday night...There are some massive street lamps that go above the set, and a lot of technology like we’ve used before. I’m lucky that the songs I record lend themselves to things like that. When you’ve got the “I’m Gonna Misss Her” and “Ticks,” “Online” and “Mud on the Tires,” it’s not really hard to stretch your imagination and say, “Okay, what can you do behind it?” The songs actually do dictate the show and that’s why we can get away with all that.
What’s your next career goal? Winning Entertainer of the Year?
I would like to win entertainer of the year because that’s in the record book, but more than that is the fact that I’ve watched Kevin Freeman, my production manager who co-designs the set and runs sound, and he’s one of the best in the entire business. He’s been with me since my first gig which was in 1999 and that’s unbelievable. It doesn’t happen. My band has been with me since then, unchanged. The only new player is Randle Currie on steel and he came along in 2000. So we’re talking the same guys, and to win that award is the one time that everybody shares it. That would be great.