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Jake Owen’s Ready to Have a Good Time and ‘Bring Everybody to the Party’ With His Third Album

Jake Owen
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Jake Owen expects his third album to be released in August or September and he’ll be spending his summer entertaining arena-sized crowds with Keith Urban, but right now, he’s taking it easy. “I just had to tell the girl that’s ringing me out right now at Lowe’s, ‘I don’t mean to be rude, but I have to make a phone call right now,’” Owen tells Taste of Country, laughing as our conversation begins. “Getting some home improvement things.”

Owen’s previous record, ‘Easy Does It,’ debuted at No. 2 on the charts during its first week, and his new single — the roll-down-the-windows summertime anthem ‘Barefoot Blue Jean Night’ — is already making its mark. Still, the Florida-born singer isn’t sweating the level of success of his upcoming album. “Like my song ‘Barefoot Blue Jean’ … I’m kind of a laid back guy. I don’t really think about stuff like that. I just want to have good time, and I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself,” he explains.

Owen took the time to give Taste of Country an inside scoop on how his new album is a bit of departure from what he’s put out in the past, why he’s not following any rules this time around and what he’s thinking as he turns 30 on the road this summer.

Your new single, ‘Barefoot Blue Jean Night,’ has already hit No. 22 and No. 23 on the charts.
Yeah, it’s doing unbelievably well. I’m honestly really, really kind of floored by that because I’ve had some pretty successful songs, but none have taken off as fast as this one has. This is a really great way to start the third record off, you know?

It’s really a summer anthem and it’s super catchy, but it’s a song that you actually didn’t write yourself — so what made you choose to release it as the first single from this album?
I’m kind of at the point of my life … this is my third album. Both previous albums and every single that I’ve ever released before has been a song I’ve written, and [with] this album, I realized it’s a big, important opportunity to step up and take my career to the next level. I spent a lot of time just sitting back and listening and listening and listening to all kinds of songs, my own and other ones. My record was pretty much finished, and that song, I heard it about three days before we were gonna finish my album. And I could not get it out of my head. A friend of mine was at the house and just said, “You’re crazy if you don’t record that song.” So I went back into the studio … and it just turned out to be one of those songs that just had to be released, you know? The reaction to it was pretty overwhelming.

You’ve also previewed another new song, ‘Lonely Like Me,’ on your website recently. Between that song and ‘Barefoot Blue Jean Night,’ there’s definitely an element of nostalgia in your new music. Is that a running theme for this record?
I guess the running theme on this new record for me is … I think the previous records, I’d really overthought [it] by me writing all the songs. I overthought a lot of what I should I do, what songs are best for a record and this and that. I kind of realized here that music is interpreted by however anyone wants to interpret it. There’s no rules on how to make it. As I said, it’s my third album and I’m very fortunate to get even say I’m able to make a third record. A lot of artists don’t ever have that opportunity. I just wanted to make sure … I wanted to make a record that I could put in my own truck and ride down the road and listen to it, and be happy with the way that it sounded and be happy with the way that the songs are.

To answer your question about the whole running theme of it: I think the running theme of my record is really the fact that it’s fun! I grew up in Florida on a beach, running around with my shoes off all the time, barefoot. That song ['Barefoot Blue Jean Night'] really represents who I am. Even for a song I didn’t write, the instant I heard it I was like, “This is me. This is what I want people to see me as.” The rest of the record kind of has that feel. It’s just like young and fun and remembering what it feels like, whether you’re young or older — just yeah, kind of the nostalgia of not forgetting what it’s like to live and have a good time.

Watch the Unofficial Jake Owen ‘Barefoot Blue Jean Night’ Video

Can you tell us a bit about a couple other tracks from the new album that you’re really excited about?
Yeah! Well, obviously ‘Barefoot Blue Jean’ is one I’m super fired up about, but the record starts off with a song called ‘Anywhere With You.’ I’m at a point in my life where I’ll be 30 this year, and I’ve had a couple girlfriends I’ve dated on and off — we were in a relationship for quite some time. But I think I’m at the point of my life where I think it’s kind of normal for people, when they hit this age, to start thinking about, “Should I get married? What am I doing with my life?” I tend to run across that a bunch, and the first song on the record is kind of a song that’s just basically saying, “If you’re the kind of girl that wants to settle down, I guess we can do that. If you’re the kinda girl that just wants to ride the breeze and roam around for as long as you want until we decide to do what we do, well, I’ll do that too. Whatever you want to do, I’ll go anywhere with you.” That’s kind of me. I’m kind of a rambler [laughs]. I don’t see myself getting tied down any time soon, but I see myself having a good time and living life.

It kind of brings it back around to the theme of the whole record: not taking things too seriously. I’ve been taking music pretty seriously for a long time, trying to get a record deal and then getting it and trying to write songs for the record, and trying to be so artistic that you’re respected critically and by your friends and things … I just got to a point where I was just like, I grew up listening to music as a fan long before I ever decided I am a musician, you know? This is the first time in my life that I’ve been OK to say that a lot of these songs on the record, they’re not the most intellectual, deep songs. I mean, there’s a couple on there that are, but most of it is just about … I think most people — I know I do — put music in to kind of get you away from what’s really going on sometimes. The record’s just full of songs like that.

Which songs are you referring to that are a little more on the “deep” end?
There’s another song on the other side of the spectrum that I’m excited about called ‘The Journey of Your Life,’ and it’s a song that’s coming from a grandfather’s perspective. My granddad’s the hero and rock to my life. You know, whether it’s simple little notes he’ll send me in the mail, Christmas and Thanksgiving and times I get to see them, [or] those things I cherish and hold dear to my heart and I’ll always remember him saying. ‘The Journey of Your Life’ is just simple things like that that you learn about that you need in life, and most importantly you need a an angel flying by your side on the journey of your life. My granddad has always been that person for me. So, as much as there’s fun songs on there to kind of forget about life [with], there’s also songs on there that bring you back down to reality and the things you need to be appreciative of on a day-to-day basis.

More than anything … I think a lot of times, so many people you talk to really want to get deep and intellectual with the thought process behind the songs, and where these songs came from. I’ll be honest with you: I listened to hundreds and hundreds of songs, whether they were my own or whether they were outside songs that other songwriters wrote, and it all really boiled down to what made me want to play that song over and over again, and what made me feel good. I felt like before, when I wrote my own songs and put ‘em on there, there’s partly times I put songs on there ’cause they were my songs — I wrote ‘em and I was proud of it. I wanted to put ‘em on there whether I thought someone else would like it or not. I want to record a record where every song is a song that you can’t stop playing, and there’s not one that you skip over that’s just an “album cut.” I want to make a record full of singles.

So how many songs did you actually have a hand in writing on this album?
I recorded 11 songs, and I didn’t write 10 of them. But I’m so excited about it. For the first time in my life, I’ve included Nashville as a town of songwriters into my project, and I have so many more people waving my flag now and wishing me the best of luck. Before, nobody had that much of an invested interest in what I did. I’ve kind of come to realize … I’ve become good friends with Kenny Chesney throughout the years because we’re on the same management company, and I’ve been able to watch his shows out on the road and be an opening act for him. I’ve constantly noticed that Kenny doesn’t have a party like that out there without inviting a bunch of people to the party, and it’s hard to have a party when you exclude everybody else. I’m getting ready to bring everybody to the party.

You’re touring with Keith Urban this summer. What would you like to learn from being on the road with him?
I think I’m gonna learn a lot. I think it’s gonna be awesome to watch him do his thing and just learn from such a talented artists all around. There’s not many guys that can walk out there and slay guitar like that and write songs and sing the way that he does. I’ve always been such a huge fan of Keith’s. I’ve gone to his shows — bought tickets and stood out in the crowd. To be able to have a free ticket basically every single night [and] to stand sidestage and learn from a guy like that is priceless. I’m looking forward to really taking advantage of it.

To top it off, like you mentioned earlier, you’re turning 30 this year — and your birthday falls during this tour. Do you have anything special planned to celebrate that big day?
Nah, probably not. That’s a big birthday, I know. 30-years-old. It’s kind of scary for me. But at the same time, too, I’ve done some pretty amazing things in my life before I hit 30, and I’m proud of that.

See Taste of Country’s 2011 Summer Concert Preview

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