Jake Owen Says He’s Ready to Build His Career and Settle Down With Someone Special
Jake Owen wants people to know he's not looking for the next hit song, he's looking for a career. The 29-year-old country singer releases his third album, 'Barefoot Blue Jean Night,' on August 30. Typically, that's the album the hones an already sharp and focused sound. Most artists have built a brand by then. Owen realizes this.
"The guys that made careers for themselves and had the biggest careers to date, when you talk about guys like Waylon [Jennings], Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney … all these people have an identity," he tells Taste of Country. "There's something about their music that identifies them to people." So far, Owen admits he's had hits but still lives in the shadows. His goal is to no longer hear, "Oh, he sings that song" again.
As the more mature Owen wraps up his tour with Keith Urban, he also closes his sixth year on the road. Unlike most country artists, he didn't labor in Nashville dive bars and at empty open-mic nights before signing a record deal. RCA Nashville picked him up soon after he moved from Vero Beach, Fla. -- almost too quickly. There wasn't time for him to immerse himself in the songwriting community, so he wrote or co-wrote almost all of the songs on his first two albums. Looking back, he regrets that decision, and while he's grateful for the opportunities he's had, he can see how laying down roots for a year or two might have been beneficial.
"Maybe the first couple of years I was in it for myself just trying to make a name for myself," Owen says during a phone call from the back of his tour bus. "At this point, it's like look, if it never happens I can at least say I've done it."
Congratulations on earning a gold single for 'Barefoot Blue Jean Night.' That has to feel good.
It feels good because I've never had one, which is kind of crazy because I'm going on my seventh year touring around the country since I got my record deal. And all my friends have, so it's nice to feel like things have finally come together.
I heard that song and I just knew that it was my feeling of growing up, my life. I said, "I'm 29-years-old. I still feel like a young kid. If I relate to this, and I didn't write it so I don't have a biased opinion about it and I love it, that must mean my gut instinct is telling me I need to record it."
Did you approach this record differently than your previous two?
This time around, when it was time to make this record I sat back and put aside my songs and really included the Nashville songwriting community. There's only one song on this record that I wrote, as opposed to the first two records when I wrote everything. I just had to come to the realization that, number one, I was not including one of the most special parts of our town: There's so many great songwriters. And part of that was because I thought that was the only way to validate myself as an artist was for people to say, "Wow, he wrote everything. What a brilliant artist!" But people don't look at it that way as I came to realize [laughs]. They look at it like, "This guy's kind of an idiot because he's recording all of his own songs and there's so many great songs out there." Not only that, when you can include people in town like I did this record, it's been a night and day difference to see the support I have now from Nashville people that have an invested interest in my record.
That's probably a pretty common Nashville newcomer philosophy.
That's it, man … I'm finally having the success and notoriety that I've been working hard for, and I think it's because I put my pride aside and just found great songs. There's a difference between good songs and great songs.
It definitely sounds like this is an album that you've always wanted to make. Would you have said that about your first two albums?
The first one, yes. The second one, not so much. The second one was a record made in between a crazy touring schedule and trying to keep up with the success.
Are you dating anyone right now?
Yeah, I actually am. The girl that's in my 'Barefoot Blue Jean Night' video. She was also in my 'Eight Second Ride' video.
Are you looking settle down soon?
Who doesn't want someone in their life that makes them a better person or they want to settle down with? I think the purpose of life is to find someone, especially after you get away from your own family and get out on your own. Nobody wants to be alone. Especially for me, I have a lot to share with people and what's the purpose of having a whole lot in your life if you don't have anyone to share it with, right?
Sure, but there are a lot of people your age that still enjoy the partying and the life on the road and the luxuries that come with it.
Yeah, I've done about five or six years of that, man. That will wear you out pretty quick. But if you look around, my buddies, whether it's Luke [Bryan] and Eric [Church] and Justin Moore … all these guys are married with kids. I thought about that the other day, like Kenny [Chesney]. I kind of relate to him in a way, man, because he's still living the single life. Billy Currington still has that single life going for him a little bit, too. Trust me, man, I love that part but it's nice to find someone who makes you a better person and at the end of the day, when you walk offstage and you leave an arena or a venue packed full of people that just went crazy for the songs you played. When you come back to the bus it's nice to feel like, "Just make a phone call, and get back to the real life."
Watch the Jake Owen 'Barefoot Blue Jean Night' Video