Colt Ford Interview: ‘Declaration of Independence’ Is His Best Record, But May Be His Last
Colt Ford is the first to admit that America loves "the funny, fat white guy." But he wants to be taken more seriously. More specifically, he wants his music to be taken more seriously. Even more specifically, he wants his music to be taken more seriously by radio programmers, because he's reaching a breaking point.
"I've been more of a leader than a follower," Ford tells Taste of Country. Few can argue this point. The Georgia-born former professional golfer has legitimized a subgenre that Cowboy Troy first shined a light on during the height of the Muzik Mafia craze in 2005. Ford's country values lead him to stories country fans have been comfortable with since Hank Williams first picked up a guitar, but his spoken word patter makes many uncomfortable, or at least unwilling to take a chance.
"I know they like it. I know they like what I do. That's why Jason Aldean has sold 3-and-a-half million downloads of 'Dirt Road Anthem,'" Ford says of the song he co-wrote with Brantley Gilbert. "All I've ever wanted is a chance, just give it a chance."
His frustration is what ties the varied influences of 'Declaration of Independence' together. The 15 songs aren't a pity party. They're more the result of the 41-year-old throwing his hands in the air, saying "To hell with it," and doing what he wants. Collaborators range from Kix Brooks and Aldean to Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men. It's a testament to the amount of respect he gets in Nashville that after four albums, Ford still isn't close to the end of his list of potential songmates.
"I'd love to do a song with Taylor Swift. I guarantee me and her would write something cool," he says. "She's always been honest with her writing, which is one of the reasons I'm a fan of hers."
Ford was as open and honest in Taste of Country's interview with him as he is on the new album. However, one is left with a feeling that his train is nearing its last stop. Perhaps he was just having a rough Monday?
There's a thread of nostalgia on many of the songs on 'Declaration of Independence.' What would a 14-year-old Colt Ford be doing on a hot Georgia afternoon like today?
I'd be playing baseball or golf. Probably one of the two [laughs]. Or at the pool.
Where you a troublemaker?
No. Well I don't know. I got in my fair share. I was always pretty good at talking my way out of it I guess. I was kind of the class clown by default really. I didn't necessarily mean to be sometimes. I guess some of the things I say are kinda funny and it's always kinda been like that.
Did 'Dirt Road Anthem' open up more doors for you or for Jason Aldean?
That's an interesting question. Nobody has asked me that. I think it definitely opened up some doors for me. But it hasn't opened up all of them, because there is still people that say 'Well, that was Jason Aldean.' My response to that is, 'I understand. You all played it because it was Jason Aldean … but 3-and-a-half million people didn't download it just because of that. They downloaded it because they love the song.'
Truthfully, it's probably opened up more for him than it has for me, to be honest with you. Which is an interesting way to look at it, but that may be true. He's never had a bigger song, that's for sure. Jason is such a good guy and he's such a humble guy that he's always giving me credit and he's always been very good to me about that song and what it's meant to him and his career. And to me. Certainly, financially that song has been awesome. It's definitely opened some doors for me. Maybe not opened more doors, but made people more aware.
How important is having a radio hit to you?
Very. I'd be lying if I told you it wasn't. I know I've always been on the outside looking in but it's not been my choice. I would love to be on the radio. I wanna be on the radio. I listen to the radio. I gotta an iPod but honestly I listen to the radio. Always have.
I feel like I've earned a right to be a part of it, you know what I mean? Like, if you come to my shows and think that country people don't like what I do, then you're just mistaken. It's diehard country people that like me. I think this song 'Back' (with Jake Owen) deserves a shot to be heard. Every indication shows that people love it. It's not our research. Radio's research shows it's testing inside the Top 10 with females at every age. That's what they always base everything off of.
I'm a good dude. I just want a chance to be heard, you know? I just want the same chance everyone else has. I know I don't sound like everybody else, but I shouldn't, should I?
Did you get caught up in research and what radio wants to hear with prior albums?
Yeah I think the last two records -- I'm really proud of, I stand up for those records… but I tried to do a lot of things to make a lot of other people happy. 'Is this what you want? Will this work? Is this what you want me to do?' The truth of the matter is what people like the most is when I'm just being open and honest and being myself, like on the very first record ('Ride Through the Country').