Jason Aldean certainly has plenty to be thankful for this holiday season. His fourth album, My Kinda Party, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart earlier this month, marking a new record in his five-year career. He delivered one of the most talked-about performances--a emotive duet with pop queen Kelly Clarkson, whose voice blends beautifully with Aldean's--at the Country Music Association Awards shortly after. And he's up for two awards at the American Music Awards on November 21.
We took the opportunity to chat with him about his recent career highlights, as well as take a look at some of his personal interests--as a musician, hobbyist, and family man (at the time of this interview, Aldean was waiting on his wife and kids to join him for his show in Birmingham, Alabama). Enjoy!
Can you talk about working with Kelly Clarkson? Your duet of the single "Don't You Wanna Stay" at the CMA Awards was one of the most powerful performances of the evening.
JA: Kelly and I had never met--I had a song on my record that I thought would be a really good duet, and she was the first person I threw out. The first time I met her was when she came into the studio to record it! She was just super nice, very personable and friendly, an unbelievable singer. It was just one of those things that just worked.
Was it an easy process recording the song with her?
JA: It was actually pretty quick; surprisingly for me. I recorded my part first, and then she came in and did her thing and knocked it out pretty quick.
It seems that over the past five years your career has had a gradual build rather than any sort of quick success. Given that, is it possible for you to cite any one moment where you think you really "hit it," so to speak?
JA: It's hard to pinpoint, honestly. All of our singles have done well; it's been a slow and steady climb. The Wide Open album was really when things started to turn. "She's Country" and "Big Green Tractor"--that was when things started to explode.
You have a long relationship with your label, Broken Bow. What are the advantages for you being on an independent rather than major label?
JA: I think, the fact that you get a lot more attention than you would being on a label that has 10 or 15 artists. And, you get to know everyone. It just works for me. [On a major label] there's so many people who work there, and it's hard to have a personal relationship with everyone at the label.
What is your personal favorite track off your new album? Does your family have a favorite?
JA: One of my favorites is "See You When I See You " I don't know why--it was just one of those songs I heard once, and fell in love with. I knew I wanted to cut it the first time I heard it. My wife is into that one too. My kids like "My Kinda Party"--just 'cause it's uptempo and a fun song.
Speaking of your family--you have a pretty busy schedule. How do you find time for your wife and kids, while touring and taking care of all the other things that come with a music career?
JA: It's tough. We're doing a lot. [My family] comes out on the road with me occasionally. But the easiest thing is--when I'm at home, I'm at home. I don't really do a lot of business when I'm at home--I take that time and spend it with them and don't do much of anything else. I don't take phone calls or any of that stuff, and management knows all that and they leave me alone.
You are known for having diverse tastes in music--all sorts of genres besides country. If you were to take a non-country artist out on tour with you, which one would you pick?
JA: I like the band 3 Doors Down. I've always been a fan of them, and the singer is a friend of mine--we actually talked about doing some shows with them about a year ago.
You were an athlete back when you were in school. Are you still enjoying sports in your free time these days?
JA: I don't get a chance to play sports much anymore. I have gotten into bow hunting--fishing and hunting, that's my big hobby right now. I got a turkey last weekend. It's gonna be our bird for Thanksgiving!
Happy early Thanksgiving, Jason, and we'll be looking out for you Sunday night at the AMAs!
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