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Darius Rucker Interview: Opry’s Newest Member Dishes on New Music, Hootie Reunion and Taking Off His Twitter Training Wheels

Darius Rucker
Jim Wright

With each passing year, Darius Rucker‘s life as a country music star just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter. As he prepares to close out yet another successful year of hit singles and a hectic touring schedule, the singer looks ahead to not only one major milestone, but now two.

In January, Rucker will release his third country solo album, which has already spawned his current rising hit, ‘True Believers.’ Rucker was more than content with that to look forward to, but was taken off guard earlier this month when his good friend, Brad Paisley, interrupted his Grand Ole Opry appearance on Oct. 2 to ask him to become the newest member of the Opry family.

Rucker’s formal induction into the elite group of country artists is set to take place on Oct. 16.

Taste of Country sat down with Rucker the morning of his Opry performance — before he knew what honors were ahead of him — to discuss his new music on the way, his family life and his new addiction… Twitter.

ToC: ‘True Believers’ has been receiving such positive feedback from country fans and your industry peers. Is this song a good representation of what else we can expect on the new album?

Rucker: There’s going to be a lot of different stuff on the record. There’s some really, really country stuff. I think every record I make I like to do something different with each song. You don’t want 13 anthems on the record or anything like that. We tried to sing the best we’ve ever sung, and we tried to sound different than we’ve ever sounded on a record. I think we accomplished that, but I guess that’s for other people to decide. At this point, I don’t think there’s another song on the record like ‘True Believers.’

Do you feel like it’s getting easier with each album to come up with material now that you’ve been testing the waters in country music for a few years?

God, no. It’s getting harder because I don’t want this success to stop. I don’t want my career to falter. It’s getting harder [laughs]! I think that’s one of the things that took so long with this record is that we just wanted to make sure that we got it right.

Now that this record is done, do you kind of shut things off writing-wise, or are you always chipping away at the next project?

Just for a minute. You focus on getting this one out and the promotion stuff, but I’m sure we’ll start writing for the next record in a month or so.

How do you get anything else done with working that much? How do you get all your golfing in?

Well… early mornings [laughs]! Nobody wants to do anything in the early mornings in the music business [laughs]! The only time I ever had a nine o’clock [in the morning] writing session is when I wanted to have a 9:00 writing session.

What kind of surprises can we expect to hear on the new record?

We did a fun cover of ‘Wagon Wheel’ with Lady Antebellum. Then there’s a song called ‘Love Without You’ that I did with Sheryl Crow. That is an outside song that is just awesome.

How did you manage to get Sheryl Crow on the project?

[My producer] Frank Rogers and I are real close. We’re good friends. We finished ‘Love Without You,’ and I loved it. We really wanted a girl on it, but we didn’t know what was going to happen or what we were going to do. We thought about it, and I’ve always wanted Sheryl Crow to be on one of my records from back in the day. We played a show together all the way back in 1994. I thought she was just amazing, and I always knew I wanted her to sing on one of my records. Here we are, 18 years later or whatever it is, and Frank said, ‘What about Sheryl?’ I said, ‘You’re kidding me?!’ He had just done some work with her and said he would ask her, and she did it. It was one of those things that still amazes me. I listen to that song all the time. Her part gives me chills.

Did the Lady A duet come about after you got to know them from being their opening act on their Own the Night Tour?

I had heard ‘Wagon Wheel’ years ago, but I don’t listen to a lot of music on the radio. I hadn’t listened to it in a long, long time. I was at my oldest daughter’s high school play, and people were singing with a band and everything. The faculty got up, and they had a band, and they played ‘Wagon Wheel.’ I was sitting there listening to the song, going, ‘I love this song … I love this song!’ As they were playing the song, I texted Frank Rogers and said, ‘Hey man … you remember that ‘Wagon Wheel’ song?’ He said, ‘Yeah, but I think a lot of people have cut it.’ I said, ‘I don’t care — we’re cutting it!’ [laughs] So we ended up cutting it! It was great and I loved it.

It was one of the last songs we did for the record. We were talking, and he said, ‘Think we could get Lady A to sing on it?’’ I said, ‘We can ask them!’ I asked them, and bless their hearts, we were on tour, and we didn’t get to come home a lot. They came home one break and the three of them went into the studio and did it. They were all so cool. When I heard their part, it just took it to a whole new level for me. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a single.

That’s also a good way to secure another opening act slot with them… putting them on your album!

I’d do another tour with them in a heartbeat! They are awesome, and we have a blast on the road together.

As far as your own touring goes, are you starting to wind things down for the year yet?

We don’t ever really wind things down [laughs]. I’ll have some time off here. We have a few more dates, and then in November and December, we will take a little bit of time off. The album’s coming out in January, so I’ve got to go back to work in January.

Darius Rucker Interview Pt. II: Life as a Country Star

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