Chris Janson on Writing His Debut Album: ‘I Can’t Back Up Anybody Else’s Story’
Chris Janson released his debut album Buy Me a Boat on Friday (Oct. 30) after more than a decade of fighting and clawing his way into the country scene. After two failed label deals, he found himself on Warner Music Nashville earlier this year, thanks to the success of his independently released song "Buy Me a Boat." The song has since gone on to No. 1 on the country charts, giving the singer-songwriter his first major success as an artist.
While Janson has written for top-level artists like Tim McGraw, Justin Moore and Joe Nichols, among others, he tells Taste of Country over the phone on album release day that "it feels pretty dang good" to have his own material out to the masses. During our chat, Janson also revealed some of the more meaningful songs on the album, as well as why it was so important that he write all 11 tracks on the release.
"The goal for me is to put out music that I believe in," he admits. "That's my personal goal. I can't sing things if I didn't write it. When you sit down at dinner with me I'm straight up with you. I'm that kind of human, so when I sing especially, if I'm going to put it out there and wear my songs on my sleeve as I do, I have to write them. I have to be able to back it up. I can't back up anybody else's story."
While first two singles "Buy Me a Boat" and "Power of Positive Drinkin'" are quickly becoming singalong anthems, there are also plenty of poignant moments on the album. Two songs in particular, ballads "Holdin' Her" and "Where You Come In" Janson says are the most honest. On "Where You Come In," Janson sings of how his wife keeps him grounded and in his place when he's ready to give up.
"I wrote 'Where You Come In' sitting on the foot of the bed talking to my wife," the singer shares.
Another album highlight is "Messin' with Jesus," which features Tim McGraw. Janson was hoping McGraw would cut the song for his new album Damn Country Music, but when he didn't, Janson decided to keep it for himself.
"I just simply asked him, 'Would you sing on this track?' And he said, 'Absolutely,'" Janson explains. "I recorded it on my Warner Brothers record and I still felt very strongly that his voice needed to be on it so I asked him and he said yes. It's cool, it turned out really good."
Janson didn't go into the studio with a set theme for Buy Me a Boat — instead, he simply chose the best songs he had written.
"I hate methodically overthinking stuff and that was one thing I didn't want to do with this album, so I didn't. I simply just quickly, honestly went through songs that I thought were good for it, songs that I liked and loved and wanted to sing," Janson says. "I didn't want to record anything that I wouldn't want to play live, because my live show has always been such a staple in my career, and my fans expect that. I just went through the catalog and thought, 'I love this one, I love this one, I love this one.'"
Janson says current single "Power of Positive Drinkin'" is a song that wrote itself. He penned the song with Chris DuBois, whom he calls a wordsmith, and Mark Irwin.
"We just knew we had something," he says of their writing session. "The hook of the song is beer No. 1 and it goes through the duration until you get to number 10, and life's good again. I think that anybody who's had those normal, average struggles in life, just the basics: work sucks, truck died, hot as hell outside and the A/C just broke. It's like, dang the luck."
"I know lots of cats that go to the local pub and down a few light beers and that's what the song is about," Janson adds. "For me, personally I'm sitting here talking to you right now with a 12 pack of Mountain Dew, that's my power of positive drinking and thinking," he confesses. "That's what I do and I have a good time singing it live and I thought, 'Well, here we go.'"
Chris Janson's Buy Me a Boat is available on iTunes now.
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