Joe Nichols is a busy man. Since his last album, 2013’s Crickets, the father of three has seen the birth of his third daughter, scored two number one singles with “Sunny and 75” and “Yeah,” worked tirelessly on his ninth studio album and toured throughout the country. “I’ve had collectively maybe 20 days off in 3 years,” Joe reveals. “It’s a busy life but I signed up for it.”
Joining forces once again with Crickets producer, Mickey Jack Cones, Joe is bringing forth a hot and sultry summer anthem, “Undone,” the second single from his untitled album due out later this year. Nash Country Daily caught up with the traditional country singer to get the scoop on his “romantic song,” his baby girls and to talk a little baseball.
I’m loving the new single, “Undone.” Sounds like you have a hit on your hands.
Thank you very much. It feels good. When I’m playing it, it feels great and the crowd really responds to it well. It’s unlike a lot of singles that we have, it’s kind of a romantic song. I’m looking forward to it.
What attracted you to “Undone?”
I think it felt right. Sometimes you just have a gut feeling on songs and we definitely had a gut feeling on this one. Like I said, I haven’t had a lot of real sexy kind of one-on-one romantic type songs. And this one is kind of one of those songs that puts you in the mood. It’s not trying to be too much like what is all over the radio and what a lot of people are doing. At the same time it feels like it would belong. It still feels country and it feels like it’s got a little bit of a modern production. It’s what we always strive for, you know, mixing those two things.
You’ve probably been one of the most successful artists at marrying traditional with modern and making that work at radio. Is there a secret to that?
I’m lucky that I’m limited to my voice sounding like it sounds. It just kind of naturally sounds a little bit country. So, if I could sing to a little bit more of a progressive track, you know progressive instrumentation, I think it still lends itself to traditional country. It does give you that freedom a little bit. But I think just making sure I don’t change the way I say things, to make it sound like I lose the authenticity of what I do. I think the number one thing going for us is that it’s distinctive. It is also recognizable in ways and if we lose that and we start trying to sing like other people then I think that would probably be a bad thing for us.
You teamed with Mickey Jack Cones again — producer of your last album Crickets and No. 1 hits “Sunny and 75” and “Yeah” – are you hoping to have lightening strike again with “Undone?”
Always, yeah. I think Mickey does a great job. I’m a very simple production type of guy. I like things very quieted down, muted and subtle. Mickey is a very good producer that likes to maximize his capabilities. What I do is kind of frightening to him and what he does is kind of too much for me to handle. So the way we work together, it works right. He’s a brilliant guy with a lot of great ideas. I’m kind of the little 6-year-old that doesn’t want to go on the theme park ride and I have to be pulled by my hand – you know ‘come on it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be fun (laughs).’ So I think the way the relationship works, it matches.
Have you finished the new album?
Almost. We have 2 songs we have yet to complete and then we’re done. I think we cut 14 or 15 songs for this new album. A couple may not make the record but I think we are pretty close so about 4/5ths of the album done.
Have you been writing? Do you have any songs on the new album?
I wrote for the album but I didn’t have anything on the album (laughs). I gotta write better.
You didn’t make the cut?
I didn’t make it (laughs). I’m not one of those guys that has to cut my own material to make some money. I think the best careers are built on the best songs and the best songs some times are written by other people. I didn’t want to stop my career because I want money now in my pocket from writing. To me, the number one objective is, have great songs and make a great album.
It’s been three years since your last album, Crickets, has been released. What have you been up to?
We’ve had a baby, we’ve been touring like crazy and we’ve been working on this record. It’s been quite the whirlwind. I think I’ve had collectively maybe 20 days off in 3 years. It’s a busy life but I signed up for it. I knew what I was getting.
How is the 2016 “Undone” Joe Nichols different from the 2002 “The Impossible” Joe Nichols both personally and musically?
2016 feels a lot like 2002, ya know. Gearing up, presenting music to the public hoping they love it as much as we like it. Not much different. I think the music is very similar, which is a great thing. I love the fact that we can still be traditional and yet maintain a presence at radio which like I said is a very big benefit for us.
You have three daughters and a wife. You are surrounded by women. What’s the secret to surviving an all-female household?
A LOT of touring! Go to work (laughs). Nah, they’re great, they are wonderful. Every time I come home I feel like I’m surrounded by joy and I think that’s what having a family is all about.
Have they helped you get in touch with your feminine side?
I don’t think I’ve had a choice (laughs). Certainly I’ve gotten in touch with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Bubble Guppies and Oomie Zoomie. Gosh, just mountains of those shows that I’ve gotten in touch with.
Your youngest, Georgia, is turning two on May 20, any big birthday plans?
We had a big birthday party for her this last Saturday, my wife knew that I was going to be home. We had a little bit of a blowout and we had a doughnut cake, first I’ve seen of those. We had a big to do thing installed in the backyard, kind of a gift to both of them. I had a few friends over, it was a nice day.
Do they understand what you do and do they know that you sing for a living?
I think they know that I sing but I don’t think they know that anybody cares (laughs). I think they think daddy goes to sing and they have an idea of how I use my voice but they’re like ‘why are all these people here?’
The big question – do they like your music?
I think they do. My youngest one likes “Yeah” and my four-year-old likes “Sunny and 75.” Believe it or not, my oldest daughter likes “Undone.” So that’s a good mix.
Ok, let’s talk a little baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals (Joe’s favorite baseball team) look like they are in third place right now. How are they looking to you so far?
Streaky – which is a bad thing I think when they get consistent they are a decent ball team. I don’t think they are the best team in the national league but I think they’re probably in the top 3 or 4 group. I think the Cubs are by far the best team I’ve seen play this year. The hitting is there, the pitching is there and the defense doesn’t make any mistakes. The Cardinals have historically been a great defensive team and they’ve made mountains of errors. You would think that would come around and start correcting itself. The hitting has been way above where anybody thought they’d be and you’d think that would start to come down a little bit. And the pitching has been worse than where people thought it would be. At the end of the day I think they’ll finish up a wild card team. I think the Cubs will win the division. I think it will probably be the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates and out of the East, the Mets. That’s what I’m guessing. The Cardinals have a shot at being in that divisional playoff and actually if it’s somebody other than the Cubs, they might win it. Now we’re in May still and I know that injuries determine who wins and doesn’t win. They have not been hit by the injury bug yet. So let’s hope one of their major pitchers doesn’t go down or one of their big lefty bats doesn’t go down or something.