Jerrod Niemann Not Done Taking Chances
Jerrod Niemann knows he can be hardheaded. He knows he's taken chances in the past, and he knows he'll do it again with songs from future albums. "Blue Bandana" is his new single, and the mid-tempo, nostalgic ode to fans is more centered than a few from the High Noon album, but it carries the same thread forward.
“I just find songs that make me feel something,” the soon-to-be 36-year-old tells Taste of Country. He didn't write this song, and so far none of the songs he's cut for the accompanying album came from his pen. Niemann says when he first heard the new track he thought of his fans — especially those who have followed him for years, showing up at show after show. For years he resisted doing a fan tribute, saying they're usually corny. "Blue Bandana" isn't.
Niemann debuted the song at the Taste of Country Music Festival last month, and used fan reaction to solidify his decision to make it the lead single from his fourth studio album on Arista Nashville. Jimmie Lee Sloas will produce the project, which the singer describes as more organic with grittier guitar tones than previous releases. Expect a few love songs that reflect where he is in life. Just married, Niemann is feeling more complete.
“They’re not ‘I wanna roll around in a wheat field, under the stars with you in your Daisy Dukes,’" he says of songs like "God Made a Woman," which he also talked about before the ToC Music Festival. "It’s more of … when you’re a young guy that moves to Nashville you’re out and about hitting the party scene kind of aimlessly, and it is weird how living life ... and people that come into your life, things change. And you usually find yourself being a part of something bigger than yourself.”
There will also be songs that fill the honky-tonk dance floors, but one senses they'll be lighter than "Donkey" or "Drink to That All Night."
Both of those singles speak to his risk-taking nature. One worked at radio, one didn't. His career is marked with big hits and misses, but the laid-back Kansas native doesn't seem to worry about either. "Success" has many definitions.
“There’s just so many different moving parts to what causes something to be successful,” he says, leaned back on a leather couch on the third floor of the ASCAP building on Music Row. “There’s songs that people do gravitate towards but there are other elements that don’t allow it to be successful.”
“At the end of the day I think you can overthink yourself to death on that stuff, so I just clearly don’t think at all,” he says laughing.
Fans embrace the quirks, while those not as invested (or perhaps more invested) may scratch their heads. The skits between songs on Judge Jerrod & the Hung Jury were innovative, but difficult for a traditionalist to embrace. The same can be said of "Drink to That All Night," a song that fish-smacked you across the face, but ultimately left fans asking for more. That album is still his most popular, while the song went platinum.
“(I’m) hardheaded when it comes to being drug into the ‘insert artist,’” Niemann says, using a magazine cover to explain how sometimes you could take a dozen faces in Nashville, and insert then into the same article. Homogeny doesn't appeal.
"Blue Bandana" is not an "insert artist" kind of song, but one may think of other hits the first time he or she hears it (anyone else hear "Daisy" by Halfway to Hazard?). Ben Goldsmith, C.J. Solar and Andrew Scott Wills wrote the song. All three are about to enjoy their first hit, and that's not lost on Niemann. There's something special about introducing three, relatively unkmown talents to the world. It happened to him when Garth Brooks cut "Good Ride Cowboy" and released it as a single in 2005.
“When someone opens the door for you," Niemann says, pausing as if traveling back 10 years to tap into that emotion once again, "I remember just the excitement of just being able to be involved in anything. And so just to experience that with these guys is awesome!”
"Blue Bandana" is available at iTunes now.
Jerrod Niemann Talks About His Next Album