Few people in country music have had a bigger couple of years than Jason Aldean. The 35-year-old native of Macon, Ga., released his fourth album, My Kinda Party, in late 2010 and has watched as the album went double platinum and five singles went to either the top or second spot in the Billboard country charts. My Kinda Party also proved to be Aldean's breakthrough in Canada, becoming his first gold album north of the border.
CBC Music spoke to Aldean during a tour stop in Toronto to discuss his big album, unexpected collaborations and his upcoming performance at the 2012 CCMA Awards in Saskatoon this September.
Q: You've been at the top of the charts in the U.S. for some time but this is the first album that's gone gold in Canada. Do you have any insights into why this one has clicked here?
A: Man, I have no idea! There were some songs on this record that had the crossover appeal. We had the duet with Kelly Clarkson; we kind of went outside the country music box a bit and made some people aware of us that weren't before. And "Dirt Road Anthem" was another crossover – those two songs were a big part of not only the success we had in the States, but also in Canada.
When we were making this record, I thought it was cool. You don't know until it gets out there. You can think you have a great album, but it may go out and people may hate it – you don't know.
Q: Speaking of crossover, you've got a remix of your song "Dirt Road Anthem" that features rapper Ludacris. How did that come together?
A: I think certain songs lend themselves to different collaborations. When we recorded "Dirt Road Anthem," we didn't think, "This would be great to have a hip-hop artist come in and remix it." It was something were were going to do for the CMT Awards show just for fun and had no plans for releasing the song, and it went from there. I think some of the best collaborations are things that aren't created, but just kind of happen. Same for the Kelly song. It wasn't written as a duet – it was me riding around in my truck thinking it would be cool to have a female song on this. The voice I heard ... was a soulful voice. There's not a lot of females, especially in the country world, that have the kind of voice I heard. I threw Kelly's name out there and that's how it happened.
Q: You're going to be performing on the CCMA Awards in September. Did you have any connection to the awards, or did they just come to you?
A: We got invited to do it, and I've never experienced, never been to them. Luke Bryan, a good friend of mine, played it last year. I talked to him about it and he was telling me how much he enjoyed playing it. And like we were talking about, this is the first year that we made our mark here in Canada. For me, it made sense to go. For a second, I thought, "I'm not Canadian, I don't know why they want me to play it, but it's cool, I'd love to." To me, it's more of a thank you for all the support we've gotten up here over the years.
I'm just going to show up and enjoy it. I've never done it. I'm looking forward to being there and experiencing it and meeting some artists I've never met before.
Q: What is your impression of the Canadian country music scene?
A: The focus here is on Canadian artists, which I think is great. When I come here... I get the chance to see a ton of Canadian artists I've really never even heard of. Some of these people I see when I come here, I may have heard their names or seen they were playing a festival we were on, but when I come up here I get to see what they are all about. It's cool.
Q: You've toured all over the place. I wonder if you can share one of your favourite stories from the road.
A: In the early days it was a little different. Now, it's a little harder to go out after you play – a lot of coordinating has to go on. In the early days it was cool, you'd go play a show then close a bar down. Most of the stuff like that was back in the day, our first days on the road. To be on a bus, travelling. I remember coming to Canada on tour with Rascal Flatts in '06-'07. We piled up and went to a bar one night – we closed that night down, this bar where no one expected us. It was pandemonium. Flatts is still hot, but at the time they were the hottest thing going. No one expected us and it was freaking everybody out. At the time I wasn't a big artist here in Canada. I was along for the ride.
Q: We've talked about collaboration. Can you name some Canadian artists – country or otherwise – that you'd like to collaborate with?
A: You've got one of the biggest artists on the planet right now with Justin Bieber. Unfortunately, in the States we don't know about all of them, which is a shame. Shania Twain – she's been out of the game for a while but she was one of the biggest country artists ever. There are a ton of artists I'd love to collaborate with. Nickelback are one of my favourite bands – those guys, definitely.
The 2012 CCMA Awards take place Sept. 9, 2012, and will feature performances by Johnny Reid, Terri Clark, Jason Aldean, Gord Bamford, Miranda Lambert, High Valley, Deric Ruttan, Dean Brody, the Pistol Annies and several more. The awards will be televised live on CBC at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 9, and covered live here on CBC Music.
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on Jul 18, 2012