Chris Young is back with a brand new single, Raised on Country, which is creeping its way up the charts. The Country singer-songwriter who launched his career by winning the US TV program Nashville Star has had 2 of his 6 studio albums top the charts whilst 9 of his singles have either topped the Hot Country Songs chart, the Country Airplay chart or both and 9 are certified Platinum. Yes, Chris Young is a talented man and I first fell in love with his music when I first saw him perform live at Country 2 Country back in 2014. Now he is returning to the UK with new music up his sleeve in May, haven't got your tickets yet? Quick! There might still be a few remaining!
So first of all can you tell me about the first moment when you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Oh man, the first time I did anything on stage was probably at school and just seeing people respond when I started singing I thought this is awesome. Something in me knew then but there’s definitely been other moments along the way, the first time I ever wrote a song and played it for people and the first time I actually got up and played the guitar and sang at the same time by myself so there’s been more things along the way that have cemented it further into who I am but I think I knew pretty early on that I wanted to sing for a living.
And when you were growing up what did your parents make you listen to and what are you choosing to listen to now?
I heard everything and I know just about everybody says that but the top 40 at the time on the radio, everybody loved Country music, and the song I first learnt all the words to as a kid was a Randy Travis song. When I got into high school I trained classically and studied Jazz, I listen to everything but Country was the go to in my family and it was my number 1 when I got to listen to what I wanted to listen to.
When it comes to your own songwriting where do you draw inspiration from lyrically, is it mainly personal experience?
It kind of depends, it’s normally personal experience but every now and again I’ve written something that was an idea in a writers room or something somebody said that really struck me and you think yeah that would make a really great song so I’m not afraid to branch out and attempt to write something I don’t personally know about but normally it’s personal experience I’m drawing from.
Can you tell me about your latest single Raised on Country and what it was like working with Corey Crowder and Cary Barlowe?
Yeah, I’ve written with both those guys before, in fact Corey and I co-produced the last few albums including the one I’m working on right now, the one I’m getting ready to wrap up that has Raised on Country on it. I’ve been lucky enough to know both of those guys for a long time, they’re both really talented writers. I took them out on the road with me for a little bit and that’s actually when we wrote Raised on Country on a tour date last February so this song has been in my back pocket for a long time but I fell in love with it the day we wrote it, I knew it was fun and a Country anthem and that’s not something I’ve really cut or put out there for people to listen to. It was pretty special, it was one of those things we were sitting there they’d seen the show, we had a couple more shows that weekend and we thought lets write something that’s great for people to listen to on the radio but that would also be great for the tour, sometimes it doesn’t come together but that one did.
You’ve had a number of number 1 singles and albums some of which have been certified multi-platinum and you’ve won a few awards in your career too but what has been the highlight for you so far?
There’s a lot of things I would point to, playing big arenas, the tour we did last year, being able to sell out arenas that I’d gone to see other people play in much less played in when I was opening for someone else for fifteen minutes so being in those buildings. Being a member of the Grand Ole Opry is a huge one for me because I love the history of Country music and I loved being asked to be a member so there’s a few things I’d put out there.
A few silly questions now, what’s the strangest thing you’ve written a song about?
Strangest thing hmm, I don’t think anyone should find that song but then again I don’t think they should be looking cos it wasn’t all that good, I wrote a song called the food group song when I was a teenager and somehow made it apply to alcohol obviously as a teenager I was not drinking so I don’t know why I thought that would work as a Country song but I tried to make that happen somehow!
When you’re on stage are you completely focused or do you let your mind wander, we call it your mid-gig thoughts?
Sometimes my mind wanders, I have to be careful, it doesn’t really get me into trouble anymore but you know if somebody’s holding up a sign and you’re trying to read a sign whilst you’re singing, that’s got me a little confused before and I’ve forgotten the words.
Oh dear haha! I must apologise it was C2C last weekend and I sung my heart out to Lady Antebellum and I’ve lost my voice a little bit! We saw you at C2C a few years ago and you’re returning to the UK in May, so what can UK fans expect from you and do you notice any differences between the audiences here compared to those in the US?
First of all I think that’s totally understandable that you would sing your heart out and lose your voice at C2C! Second of all it’s been several years and there’s not just been the Losing Sleep album but the music I’m working on now and the beginning of Raised on Country so I’ve got a lot of new music in the show so it’s going to be a very different show from what people have seen before. In terms of audiences I’m not sure if there’s one thing that stands out other than maybe you guys going through the album and digging deep to find your favourite songs, it’s surprising. Brad Paisley told me “Whatever you do be careful if you look at a crowd and say hey what do you guys want to hear because they know every song off every album that you’ve done” and that level of love for an album is really special.
What advice do you have for aspiring singer-songwriters?
Honestly just write as much as you can as often as you can because it’s one of those things that’s not going to hurt you and you never know when inspiration is going to hit you and you’re going to write one of the biggest songs of your life and that’s a piece of advice someone gave me when I was starting out and it’s never served me wrong.
Final question what’s next for you?
We continue to work on this next album and… haha touring! When I hang up my next thing today is to fix vocals for the record and then I leave tonight for Oklahoma. It’s more of the same but it’s always different.