Jake Owen has been in good company since he began his career, touring with the likes of Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean, as well as collaborating with fellow country superstars Florida Georgia Line and Chris Stapleton. But most recently, as his new single “Good Company” rises up the country charts, his own good company came in the form of NASCAR driver Kyle Busch.
A longtime NASCAR fan, Owen has had involvement with the sport for the last several years, becoming friends with Busch and other drivers like Kevin Harvick, who starred in Owen’s “Real Life” video in 2015. After recently teaming up with M&Ms, Owen took a ride with Busch — but instead of being in a race car, the two rode around in an Expedition Overland Toyota 4Runner for M&M’s Caramel’s video series, “Riding with Kyle Busch.”
Billboard caught up with Owen to hear more about his involvement with M&M’s, his friendship with Busch, and what “Good Company” means to him – oh, and that time he couldn’t help fanboying over Kenny Chensey.
Check out the video and our chat with Owen below.
First of all, the most important question…are caramel M&Ms the best?
I like all flavors of M&Ms. I’ve dated the peanut ones, I’ve dated peanut butters. But right now I’m dating the caramels, and we’re in a serious relationship! [Laughs.]
You may have invited Kyle into that relationship after your ride together – you two seemed to have a pretty good time.
Kyle’s just an easygoing guy. It’s funny how people get perceptions because of how competitive they are. Kyle has built a perception of himself sometimes as being a hot-headed guy, which is kind of honestly why I enjoyed hanging out with him. Because I know the kind of guy he is, and he’s just like me. He’s so fired up to want to win every time he gets behind the wheel.
And that’s like me — if I put a song out, if I’m on stage, I’m going to give 110 percent every time. And if I don’t win, I’m gonna probably pout about it, because that’s what I set out for. I respect that about Kyle.
So despite your love for NASCAR, you weren’t fangirling over Busch since you two are friends – but has there been a tour you’ve been on that you were secretly fangirling about?
The first tour I went out on was with Kenny Chesney and Dierks Bentley back in about 2006. In 2004, I was in college at a Kenny Chesney concert at a big arena with my girlfriend and my friends in college, and we were having a blast. To think that a year and a half later I was the opening act on the same guy’s tour, trying to pretend like a year and a half ago I wasn’t in the parking lot like every other superfan out there, having fun and trying to get as close to the stage as possible…
There were days when Kenny would walk by and invite me on his bus – I had to pretend that I wasn’t a big fan, like I was supposed to be there [Laughs]. I never really felt like I was supposed to be there.
You gave a little background on “Good Company” at your CMA Fest Artist of the Day talk, but now that it is an official single and you’re seeing people really connect with it, what does the song mean to you?
The song to me really parallels with what the song feels like. I love songs like that where you can almost put yourself in a place and imagine where you are – [“Good Company”] is where you would be with your friends and family, having a good time with good people and making great memories.
The one-year anniversary of American Love is coming up on July 29. Do you have a sort of takeaway about the place the album holds in your heart and in your career?
I’m very proud of it, proud of those songs, proud of where I was in my life when I made that album – I was kind of having a really hard time and music really helped me with that. Music is healing, and that record for me is very special.
Do you feel like you’re the most confident you’ve been as an artist?
I think if you talk to most people they’ll tell you I’ve had no lack of confidence over the years! [Laughs.] I tend to ride that line sometimes. But I definitely feel very comfortable, is the best word with this album — how much it feels like me, and the energy and effort I put in to really make it feel like me.