With Boots and Hearts just around the corner there was a couple artists I was eager to talk with BEFORE they hit the stage. I was in London, Ontario earlier this month to take in one heck of a performance from one Thomas Rhett at the 2nd Annual Gone Country Festival. Just before he rocked that stage I had a chance to sit down and talk about his new album and playing Canada’s Largest Country Music Festival. Here is how it went down. Buckle Up!
Corey: Thomas, welcome back to Canada. You have a big show coming up not to far from London in Boots and Hearts maybe tell us what thats going to be like for you?
Thomas: Ya, I have always wanted to play Boots, I use to see tweets all the time a couple years ago asking when you going to come to do Boots. And I was what is Boots? So now that we are booked on that show I have done so much research and I have seen YouTube videos and talked to other artists that have already played Boots and they rave just how amazing it is. And its sold out again this year. We are pumped man. Especially to be there with the line up we are playing with that night its going to be pretty epic. I love coming to Canada. I remember coming for the first time back in 2013 with Aldean and we started in Vancouver and kinda made our way across the country. We didn’t make it as far as Ontario, but it was just a blast playin’ for the fans up here.
Corey: You have a new album coming out in September Tangled Up. Tell us how this one maybe came together differently than the last album.
Thomas: I think the biggest word would be more knowledgeable on this record. The first one was like me being a little kid wondering what its going to be like to put your first record out. The first record had so many different producers on it and I think a lot of that had to do with me searching for a certain sound that I never really could pin point. As well as the first record did for me I think the second one will completely out weigh the first one. I got to be in the studio with guys like Dan Huff, Jessie Fraser and a couple other guys from LA. They just really helped me figure out my sound. I also think traveling as much as I have since I put the first record out really allowed me to figure out what songs I wanted to cut. It also allowed me to write differently than I ever have. This record I don’t want to say is a complete departure from the first one but its a solid 70% departure from the first record. Just in ways like, I really explored more of my funky R&B kinda Crash & Burn / Make Me Wannaish side and a lot of this album is more to that side. Its going to be very interesting for country music ears to hear.
Corey: So you touched on it but this record sound is going to be a little less Front Porch Junkie, Beer with Jesus and a maybe a bit more like what your doing in your live show with a Cover like Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars?
Thomas: I think on this album the best best phrase I could give you is “No Fear”. I mean when I meet with my producers and I brought them a new song there never was any judgement and there was never any “are you sure you want to cut this kind of sounding song” and it was a very free project. The thing that separates the new record from the first is not that I don’t love my first record, cause I do. I just think I am in such a different spot musically, song writer wise and even entertainer wise I am in such a different spot and head space now than I was then. Now, when I look at these 13 songs that are on this new album, If I put them on a set list and wanted to play them in a show there isn’t one song I would want to skip. I think that was my biggest reason for cutting the songs I did. I tried to put them in an order as if I played these songs from 1-13 down would I ever get bored? and the answer is no. So that makes me very excited.
Corey: So the artwork for your new album (Tangled Up) was chosen by your fans, who’s idea was that and thoughts on the one selected?
Thomas: My label President Scott Borchetta kinda had this idea and he relayed it to me and my management team and we thought it was awesome. The fans have had so much say in what we do since day one. They are the main reason we are where we are today. So when it comes to something as crucial as picking album art and album cover and really mainly an image. I think it kind of summed up what the image is now. Cause that was my vote for album cover, the ones the fans actually picked was my vote to so its nice to know me and my fans are on the same page with each other both musically and imaging and branding and all that kind of stuff. So it was really cool to see them get engaged with that process.
Corey: Lets talk about your fans “The Home Team”. During CMAFest you have a Fan Club gig that benefits a charity but also puts your fans to work for a good cause for a few hours. Can you tell us about that experience?
Thomas: It started when I was asked to join Out Number Hunger through Big Machine. Out Number Hunger is a program that teamed up with General Mills & Second Harvest Food Banks and it worked as in any General Mills product sold with a Big Machine Artist on the back of any of the products and if you type that code into a website it would automatically secure 5 meals to your local food bank where ever you are in the country. When we started doing that you start to realize how big an issue hunger is not only in America but around the world. So when we were talking about our fan club party, most people just rent out a bar or a club and play 5 songs and do a meet and great and we still do that. But we just thought it would be cool to see how fast we could sell out a fan club party where people know they are coming to work. Rather than just to strictly just be entertained and meet me or see me again and catch up on old times and stuff. Its amazing how fast those tickets go. We have done it three years in a row now and 50-60 people show up to sort food at the Second Harvest food bank and its amazing to watch your fans really take part in something you strongly believe in as well.
Corey: Lets switch gears a bit and maybe tell me of the three processes Writing / Recording / Performing which of the 3 do you get the most fulfilment from?
Thomas: Well, they are all addicting in some way. I think performing is the most addicting. Its almost like a drug in a way. It’s that feeling I get when the lights go down and the intro music starts rolling. You hear fans getting this anxious heart wondering when your going to enter the stage. Whats song are you going to open with, and how your set list is going to go. That’s whats been addicting to me since I ever walked on stage. But you know song writing and recording are more the artsy side things. Those are the things I sometimes think people don’t understand how much time actually goes into recording and writing a song. One of the most fulfilling moments is writing a song and realizing you have somethin’ special and even going past that and taking it into the studio. A lot of the time you can miss it. And a lot of the time there is magic done in the demo process that is not there in the actual quote un-quote recording process. So when you actually write a song and you nail it in the studio there is nothing that beats that feeling of getting that master version back. Knowing that it’s going to be on your record and knowing that track is hopefully going to make millions of people feel the same way you did when you are sitting in your bunk with your headphones on.
Corey: You have written a pile of songs for different artists. Is there one song you gave away that you wish you really hadn’t?
Thomas: Ya, probably Round Here that I wrote for Florida Georgia Line. It was always one of my wife favourite songs and it was always one of my favourite songs. But at that point of time it really didn’t fit where I thought I was going. But hindsight is 20/20 and that song helped me buy my first house. So ya, I am super thankful for that song. Sometimes you just have to let one go knowing its in good hands.
Corey: LP Field in your hometown how does it feel to hit that stage during CMAFest?
Thomas: Its different man, its not even the fact that there is 60,000 people there that is scary its the fact that there is 60 family members and friends that are there making fun of you. Sayin’ “ Remember that dude when he was in 7th grade. Dyed his hair black and joined a punk rock band” and now he is here playin’ the big stage. I think playing in Nashville is terrifying anyway. We played Vanderbilt last week with Luke Bryan on the Stadium tour. Playing in Nashville is so strange because its everyone that ever gave you a chance in the first place. And then to be there playin’ for them its pretty cool. You know a lot of people in Nashville and all they see is shows so if you can entertain a Nashville crowd you can pretty much entertain anybody.
Corey: Best Live show you have seen personally?
Thomas: As weird as it sounds I am going to have to say Justin Timberlake at the Staples Centre in LA. I am talking about the most amazing production I have seen, the most amazing dancing, singing and his whole band. I mean everything about it I was just captivated. And thats what you want to do. You want to put on a captivating show.
Corey: Thanks for doing this..
Thomas: No man, Thank you and good to see ya again.
Thomas Rhett will hit the stage Sunday August 9th at Boots and Hearts. And I have to say the Sunday night line up is unreal. We can’t wait. We have more BOOTS & HEARTS Artists coming up… Don’t miss some of our recent ones to.
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