BY MELISSA RUGGIERI
Most music fans know Brad Paisley as the guitar-slinging hit machine behind 19 number one hits.
The gregarious Paisley, 42, has also scored more than a few fans thanks to his annual hosting gig with Carrie Underwood on the Country Music Association Awards.
Recently, he honed his comedy chops by doing an almost 10-minute set of standup at the Wild West Comedy Festival in Nashville.
But this weekend, the guy behind such classic-yet-fresh country hits “I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin’ Song),” “Ticks,” “Remind Me” and the recent “Perfect Storm,” will headline the Sunday lineup of the maiden voyage of the Shaky Boots Music Festival (he’ll take the Peachtree Stage from 9-11 p.m.).
The friendly and forthcoming singer-songwriter-guitarist checked in recently from his studio in Nashville to chat about the new tour – which launches Friday in Philadelphia – his new animated video for the single “Crushin’ It” and why he wants to visit Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
Q: Are you all set to start “Crushin’ It” on this new road trip?
A: This tour will be all new. Finding new ways to treat songs is always the most important thing to me - that people get a new experience every time out.
Q: The show you’re doing here is part of the first Shaky Boots festival. Do you in general like playing these fests with 40 other acts or do you prefer running your own show?
A: It will be our stuff out there. Usually when we do festivals, the main thing I have to lose is the B stage back by the lawn. There’s nothing like having a beer poured on you by a guy trying to take a selfie. I like it better when (the crowd is) just a little distracted. I like the challenge of giving them something they keep forever in their minds and keep forever on their phones. You look out there any given night and it’s like looking with bifocals.
Q: Do you care about people filming you the entire show?
A: Some of these rock bands get mad because they’re used to the ‘70s and ‘80s and there was no way to record video and they’d come down hard on bootleggers. There are a few bands like that and I’m thinking, when is the last time you said, ‘Well, just saw a cool U2 video. Guess I don’t have to go to the concert.’ It’s the equivalent of someone recording a song from a concert on the answering machine when they’d call their friend from a show and hold up the phone.
Q: I know the setup of the Shaky Boots show won’t be the same as the rest of your tour, but what are your plans for the show from a music perspective? You’ve got a lot of hits to fit in.
A: It’s mostly a hits-driven show with a few songs off the latest album. I’m really selective about which hits we play on any given tour… We have built a bar into the set and it looks like a video wall for some of the show, but it has a fully working bar counter and beer taps.
Q: What’s in those beer taps?
A: I think we have Guinness, good stuff. (On the tour) once the opening bands finish their set, they can sit out there.
Q: You play Atlanta pretty much every summer. Is this a city you get to spend much time in outside of being on stage?
A: I have this year! My wife (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) has been filming the Chipmunks movie (“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip”). Just recently we went to the Legoland and Georgia Aquarium. The kids loved it. I’ve been wanting to go to the natural history place (Fernbank Museum of Natural History). I’m a freak about dinosaurs and I hear they have a big one. It’s such a great city.
Q: Tell me about this video for “Crushin’ It” (Paisley released the animated clip earlier this week).
A: I don’t think people are expecting this. My friends in the industry are going to die. I drew every frame of it. The fun part about animation is that it’s whatever universe you want to create, and the universe for this is all of us country singers are superheroes and we all have alter egos. I’ve thought long and hard about what everyone’s character would be as a super hero and capturing some part of their persona. It’s very “South Park” in some ways. If I can make people laugh I’ve done my job.
Q: “Moonshine in the Trunk” was your eighth album to hit number one. At any point do you feel pressure that you have to continue to match that success?
A: It depends on any given time in your career how much pressure you decide to feel. You can feel pressure when you’re at the top of your game. It’s really rare that as an artist you’re able to let go of everything. After having done this for well over a decade, I’ve learned to roll with it to some degree. The only good thing that’s happened to the music biz is, albums are such a different thing than they were. Unfortunately and fortunately, things have evolved that the album is one of five or six facets of a career now. There’s a freedom in realizing that really the only person who cares about some of those things is you! With this album we had a really good time because I took the pressure off. I said, let’s make a record that feels like we wrote it in a bar. We built a bar in (my studio in Nashville) and it was the best vibe. Usually you make music in a lab and you try to envision how people will hear it when they’re socializing, so we transformed the studio.
Q: Will we be seeing you and Carrie hosting the CMA Awards later this year?
A: I think you will. I’ll do it as long as they want us. We have the best time, and there’s so much yet to be done as hosts. We have a lot to say, still.
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