Bucky Covington has traveled a long road to his sophomore album. The 'American Idol' alumnus scored the biggest debut of any country artist of 2007 with his self-titled first album, but found himself unable to follow up on its success after Lyric Street Records closed it doors, leaving him in contractual limbo for several years.

Covington bounced back with 'Good Guys,' which he released on Sept. 11 via Nashville's eOne Entertainment. The highly-anticipated album has a little something for everyone, from sensitive ballads and message songs, to hard-drinking party anthems like 'Drinking Side of Country,' a duet with Shooter Jennings. The video for that track has logged an astounding two million views (and some change) since it debuted on YouTube in early September, featuring a guest turn from fellow 'Idol' graduate Kellie Pickler as Daisy Duke. "I had to get Kellie to [wear] Daisy Dukes because I was tired of Googling it and nothing coming up!" Covington tells us, laughing.

When Taste of Country caught up with the singer recently to discuss his new album, he proved to be a good guy himself, living up to his reputation as affable and down-to-earth. But he also displayed a newfound knowledge of the music business, insight into the creative process and a certain homespun wisdom that can only be learned through experience.

Covington told us about his five-year education in the hard knocks of the music business, his new album and video, upcoming tour plans, his desire to act and possibly write and direct, whether he will produce other artists and much more in a wide-ranging conversation.

ToC: First of all, congratulations; your album is getting really, really good reviews.

Bucky Covington: It really is, man, and that's always a great thing [Laughs]. Of course, if you've got five years to put an album together, it better be good!

You have been away for a long time. Not everyone understands all of the underlying reasons for that. Why did it take so long?

I was with a record label, and the label shut down, but the big company over that label was still there. So what happened was, I was still up under a record contract with no company to work it. It was just a very weird catch 22. I thought nothing like that could happen, but it turns out I was wrong. One of the biggest things I've learned over the past five years is, "show business" is two words, and the bigger part of that is business.

The company I was with, they didn't mean for it to happen like that, but when you start dealing with contracts and things like that, and music at the same time, it's something that you can find yourself in, and I found myself in it. But you know, the good thing is that I did have a lot of great fans out there that just kept plucking away on the social networks, we kept going all over the country doing shows and just stayed out there.

Meanwhile, back in Nashville, I was in town learning about the business, learning about labels... we had to take time to learn all of it. We re-vamped the entire team, from label and management and everything, so I'm a little happier about where we're sitting at today.

Did you have any idea how the music business worked when you were out doing your first record?

Absolutely not. The only thing I understood was a body shop. My grandfather started the body shop, my dad now owns the body shop, and I was supposed to take it over. So I knew a body shop (laughs), and I knew how to perform music and make music. But as far as the business end of it, absolutely not. I didn't know anything about how it worked, and really didn't have much time to learn it, coming off a show like that.

Also, as soon as I came into the music business, it was going through a big change. When I was on 'American Idol,' MySpace was kind of up-and-coming, if that tells you anything about how much things have changed in the last six years. So I definitely had a lot to learn, and I'm finally starting to learn it.

You're in a good situation with eOne; they not only have a lot going on in music, they have a lot going on in film and television. You've talked a little bit about wanting to do more of that, is it still something you're pursuing?

Without a doubt. I enjoy doing it, and I really enjoy seeing myself on TV [Laughs]. We've actually got a couple of things; there's a couple of TV show ideas people are throwing around, so we're gonna take a strike at a couple of those. And we've got a commercial coming out on GAC for True Value. I really like doing TV. And I'm really starting to come to a point where I really enjoy the directing and script writing of videos and stuff. With 'Drinking Side of Country' I was very hands-on with the director of that one, a guy named Blake Judd.

That video has had an incredible number of views in a short time.

It really has! You know, we put it out, and in the first 24 hours it got a million hits on it. We were just ecstatic. I woke up that morning, and it was September, but I thought there was snow on the ground like Christmas [Laughs]. It was a good day to wake up. I just kinda reached out to some buddies -- Shooter Jennings came in and did the song with me, I produced it in the studio, Kellie Pickler showed up to do Daisy Duke -- and frankly, I had to get Kellie to [wear] Daisy Dukes because I was tired of Googling it and nothing coming up [Laughs]!

You produced that one track. Is producing more of your own work, or even other artists, something you would want to do down the road?

Without a doubt. Honestly, I would love to. The things I've been through, I really think I could benefit another artist. I very much love that part of it. I would love to produce another act, because I love sitting down with another artist and finding out about that person. What makes you tick? What makes you you?

Let's talk about 'Good Guys.' That was a last-minute title change. What brought that about?

Obviously, 'I'm Alright' was a very unlucky name [laughs]. We ended up changing it to 'Good Guys' for a couple of reasons. First of all, anybody that's ever met me, I like to consider myself a good guy. I like to do good things for good people. So that definitely had something to do with it, but also, I've teamed up with an organization called Help the Good Guys, and you can go to Helpthegoodguys.com to find out all the information you'd like to find out about it.

What we do is raise awareness and immediate financial relief for firefighters and their families who have been injured on duty. A lot of these firefighters work two jobs, and these guys walk into a building while everyone else is walking out, to save someone or something, and then when they get burned up, and the bank calls them up and wants to know where their money's at, they can't work because they're burned up, and the bank does not care. They can give a crap what's wrong with you! 'Where's my money?'

And when you're at home and trying to heal up, the worst thing you can do is to have a bunch of financial phone calls that you don't have the answers for. So we come in and try to lighten the load on these guys. Proceeds from the first week of sales went to Help the Good Guys, and you can order the album on Help the Good Guys.com and it will benefit Help the Good Guys.

This is a really diverse record musically. Did you go into it saying, "I want to throw in a little bit of everything that I do?"

It is, and you know, I'm American. I like getting drunk on Friday, feeling sick on Saturday, and praying for it on Sunday [laughs]. There's a lot of parts to me. I definitely think your values of home need to be up there, and you need to always do the right thing for the right people. And there are songs on there about that, songs like 'Only Got So Much Time,' which I think is a very motivating song. You know, if a friend needs help, give it, don't loan it.

There's songs like that, and then there's songs like 'Drinking Side of Country,' which is just about getting hammered all over the country [laughs]. And of course we've got love songs on there like 'I Wanna Be That Feeling,' and songs like 'A Father's Love' and 'I Want My Life Back.'

What I especially love about country music is, country music goes through so much change over the years as it grows. You listen to country radio today, there is definitely a new edge to it. There's a pop edge, there's a rock edge, a hip-hop edge, even. But you can still cut songs like 'A Different World.' That could have been cut in 1975, and it would have still did good. I like timeless songs like that, so on this album I tried to get a little bit of all of it.

It obviously worked, because the reviews have been outstanding. Even the New York Times liked it.

I know! Right? [laughs] If I may say.

Is there anything else you want to say about the new record?

I will say thank you very much. We have gotten great reviews. I thought my first album was an awesome album, but I'm positive we have topped that album. I am very happy with the way this album came out. Please everyone, get a great album for a great cause. And a big thank you to all of the fans who stuck by when we were trying to figure this business out.

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