Sunny Sweeney Talks Guns, Beer Bongs and Pouring Her Heart Out on the Radio
Sunny Sweeney is anything but shy. The songs on her new album 'Concrete' bare her most private thoughts and moments, but the Texan almost never flinches as she plays them onstage. That's "almost" never.
Sweeney is everything you'd want from a Texas girl. She's tough and sharp-tongued. She shoots a gun just about as well as she fires comebacks to any clay pigeon quip lobbed her way. The one-time stand up comic didn't get mean or nasty during an interview with Taste of Country, but, much like the songs on her new album, her thoughts come loaded with emotion and empowerment.
Here's what one needs to know about Sweeney. She's learned from her battles with love and trust, but hasn't been turned off to either. She knows how to use a gun -- "My boyfriend is a police officer and we'll go to the shooting range together. Obviously he’s a better shot, I would hope, than I am. But I can hold my own,” she says -- but still gets teary-eyed every time she finishes playing her Top 10 hit 'From a Table Away' to a room full of fans. Sweeney called from her East Texas home the morning her new album hit stores.
Where did you go to buy your copy?
I’m lame and I actually haven’t bought it yet. I bought it on iTunes, I pre-ordered it, 'cause you know I wanted the ... extra free track that came along with it, since I actually haven’t heard it. But I didn’t go to bed until like two o’clock and I woke up and seven o’clock, so when I’m done doing my radio stuff today I’m gonna go to Walmart.
You’re voice has gotten a lot stronger since you recorded your first album.
Yeah, whenever I made that first record, I’d only been singing nine months. So everybody always says that ... I’m not that different, it’s just that I didn’t know what I was doing -- I still don’t know what I’m doing a lot of times -- but I really had no idea what I was doing then.
The songs on ‘Concrete’ come from a very emotional, personal place in your life. Does diving into those emotions bring out the best in your singing?
Maybe, a little bit. But pretty much once I write the song and get it out there and we start playing it, there’s emotions to it but I don’t let it get to me like if I did it for the first time at the Bluebird [cafe in Nashville].
Is it difficult for you to share songs that are so personal?
I should probably say yes, but no [laughs].
But you have songs you’ve written that you would never share, don’t you?
I should say yes, but no [laughs]. I don’t care. I figure that there are always people that have gone through the same stuff and I found the more personal the stuff is that I sing about, the more people that come up afterwards and go, "Oh my God, I cannot believe you have a song about that. It’s awesome! Thank you."
Is there any song on the album that leaves you particularly vulnerable?
Umm [long pause]...
I should say yes, but no?
Yeah, I could say yes, but no. That’s gonna be my answer to everything today [laughs].
It’s going to be a boring read, Sunny.
[Laughs] But no, there’s a bunch of songs that are personal on there. ‘Staying's Worse Than Leaving,’ the current single, is probably the most personal. It’s about me going through a divorce, and you know, that does bring up emotions but it also helps people -- and there's been people that have come up to me at shows that are like, "Thank you so much for having this song. It made me realize that I don’t have to stay." And I’m like, "Oh great, I’m breaking up marriages." Sunny Sweeney’s ‘Breaking Up Marriages 101.’ But it’s a positive way to look at leaving a relationship.
You’re in a better relationship now. Will the next album be flowery, happy love songs?
Clearly, we haven’t met. Because I don’t do flowery [laughs]. Yes, I’m in a happy relationship, but there is still aspects that are brought up on a daily basis of ex relationships where I’m like, "Grrr... I could totally write a song about that." I think more people relate to the grittier stuff as opposed to "Oh my God, my boyfriend’s so great, and oh my God, my marriage is perfect." Liar! I’ve been in those relationships, you know. And know that even in a perfect relationship there are still ups and downs.
Kevin Fowler says you’re a tomboy. Is that accurate?
Uh-hmm. It’s very appropriate.
There was a Twitter picture of you and him doing a beer bong together.
Yeah, do you wanna know what happened that night? It was his birthday ... he said there would be kids there, so I figured. "This is going to be pretty low-key." And the next morning I had a nine o’clock, four-hour magazine interview. So I go over his house at four, and he’s like, "Sweeney, come do a beer bong with me." It was a twelve person beer bong. We only did six people ... they put six beers in there and we did the beer bong.
Then it starts getting tweetered and all that and then the next morning, the guy that was doing the magazine interview, he starts off the interview going, "You look good for somebody that’s been doing beer bongs for the last 12 hours" [laughs]. I don’t have anything to hide. I’m not embarrassed to do a beer bong. My dad might be embarrassed for me, but I’m not embarrassed.
Do you enjoy getting dressed up for award shows?
I have worn a dress probably nine times in my entire life. One was to a wedding, and I was getting married. And there’s been a couple of award shows and then once was probably a dare, once was probably a funeral. I hate dressing up. I just feel weird. I mean I do it, but I hate it.
You wore a gold dress to the CMT Awards last June.
It had feathers on it. I hate it. I would much rather wear jeans.
So why do you do it? Who talked you into that?
Nobody talked me into it. It’s already bad enough when you’re totally dressed up and they rag on you. One [critic] said I had jaundice because I was so pale. I’m like, that is so rude. It’s really funny, but it’s rude. But then if I would have worn jeans they would have been like, "She doesn’t care." So I just would rather cut my loses, wear the dress, get in and get out.
Had you given up on the dream at any point?
No. Once I put my mind to something I pretty much guarantee that I’ll do it.
Did you have a backup plan?
Probably be a waitress. I'm pretty good at that [laughs].
Watch the Sunny Sweeney 'Staying's Worse Than Leaving' Video