Thomas Rhett slows down and rediscovers his country self on the new album 'Country Again (Side A)'. Read our interview
“There was something I was chasing,” he says of his earlier Bruno Mars-inspired sounds. Now, he’s evoking Eric Church
and programmed grooves throughout. This really does feel raw by comparison, even if it’s not exactly raw. What were you trying to accomplish?If I look back into the artist that I wanted to be when I first signed my record deal, I think I was 20 years old. I remember going on the road that year and we didn’t have ear monitors. We had four people in the band, I was the rhythm guitar player, which was a disaster [laughs]. But there was something so simple about being able to go play a club with a band without running a bunch of tracks. There’s something I missed about the simplicity of the way I used to write songs. That was like dorm-room writing, like two dudes hanging out in a dorm room writing a song. Those are some of the most fun moments in my life. It was neat to get the co-writers on this page with me of going, “This is the direction I’m headed in and I think I’m gonna be here for a long time.”
How did it evolve into a double album?You can blame that on 2020. You have so much time on your hands. Everybody wanted to write all the time. You could book three or four different sessions a day and two hours apiece and be able to knock out three or four songs in a day. By the time we were trying to get ready for this album I just had so much content, I had so many songs I was not ready to part ways with. I always thought double albums were too much for people. My little brother’s 15 years old and I asked him, “If I put out a record with 24 songs on it, do you think you would be bored?” He was like, “Absolutely.” [laughs]. So I was like, maybe I should take this and split it into two parts and really allow fans to sink into the first record for a few months before the second side comes out. And when they finally come out together, it’ll be one cohesive project.
It’s amazing how many others have done something similar this year, from Morgan Wallen toEric Church.You’re exactly right. It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. For a long time, it was like, well, maybe we should do 10 songs and call it a day. Because on the other end of the spectrum, Bruno Mars’ headtopics.com
24k MagicI think had nine songs on it and it’s one of my favorite records of all time. Today there’s so much room for music, especially if you’re a fan of somebody. For me being a die-hard Eric Church fan, I would dream of a triple Eric Church album. If you have that much music you think is quality, why not put it out?
Shifting gears for a second, I wanted to ask about the title track ofCountry Again. You alluded to chasing a vibe earlier, and the song also hints at this. Do you feel like you strayed far from who you were or wanted to be?My favorite line in country again is “I don’t regret anywhere I’ve been.” I don’t regret anything I’ve done or anywhere I’ve been, because I look at some of my favorite artists of all time — the Rolling Stones are probably my favorite band ever. If you actually dive in to what they were doing, they were chasing stuff too. “Miss You” is one of my favorite tracks from the Rolling Stones, and they were trying to be the Bee Gees. That was their go at a disco song. Every artist, if they’re not allowed to explore, if they’re not allowed to expand and try things, it halts the creative process.
You’ve talked a bit about the influence of Eric Church on Read more: Rolling Stone »
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