Adkins talks about his hits, and his misses
Ten years and seven studio albums have passed since Trace Adkins first began making his living by singing into a microphone and strumming his guitar.
But the 6-foot-6-inch country star admits he still hasn't grown tired of singing the same songs at every concert -- no, not even "Honky Tonk Badonkedonk," which Adkins says is "hands down the biggest hit I've ever had."
"I think back to when I was a kid and would go to some concert for a big rock act -- where you know all the hits they had by heart -- then all of a sudden they start playing tunes off their new album, and you say, 'I want to hear the hits!'" he said in a Monday morning telephone interview. "People expect that of you.
"I've got a couple of songs I do in my show every night that were from my first album. I don't get tired of doing those songs, because I look out into the audience and people are singing along with every word. Seeing them react just like they did when the song first came out ... that keeps it fresh."
Adkins is looking forward to returning to the WE Fest stage this Saturday, Aug. 4, as part of a trio of male headliners that includes Gary Allan and Toby Keith.
"I haven't seen Toby for I while -- I'm looking forward to hanging out with him and catching up a little," Adkins said. "That's the cool thing about doing these festivals -- we get to see some other artists that we haven't seen in a while, catch up with them and visit for a little bit. That makes it a lot of fun for us."
Though Adkins admits he hasn't hit the road quite as hard this year as in 2006, when he did 130 shows, he's still doing "about 80 this year."
That might seem like a heavy workload for some artists, but Adkins says, "I feel like I'm cheating -- taking the year off."
Part of the reason for the slightly slower pace is that it's been nearly a year since the release of his latest album, Dangerous Man. It's been a very successful 12 months for Adkins, as Dangerous Man debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country album chart and two of its songs, "Swing" and "Ladies Love Country Boys," became radio hits.
But that success came on the heels of Adkins' double-platinum CD, Songs About Me, which spawned the aforementioned "Honky Tonk Badonkedonk," which became an international phenomenon.
"I never had a song that sold that many ringtones," he said, sounding somewhat bemused. "I never crossed over into that (pop music) world to this extent."
But not every song with his name on it can live up to that level of success. His latest single, "I Wanna Feel Something," hasn't had the success he'd hoped for when it was released this spring.
"It's done all right in certain markets," he said, but added that the business of deciding which songs to release as singles is "a crapshoot -- and sometimes it comes up snake eyes."
That honesty, which permeates his music, has made Adkins a fan favorite. In 2006, he was a nominee for "favorite male singer, beating out perennial nominees John Mayer and Justin Timberlake to earn a slot on the ballot alongside Toby Keith and the eventual winner, Kenny Chesney.
And though his burgeoning success has left little time for songwriting -- "I like to joke that career Trace killed off songwriter Trace," he says -- Adkins feels that "there are enough songwriters who are friends of mine, who know me and what I'm about, and want to write songs that they think fits what I do and who I am."
"They're usually right on the money," he continued. "So I'm able to stand on stage and sing a song with the same amount of conviction as if I did write it, because it expresses exactly how I feel."
Adkins will perform Saturday at 8:15 p.m. He joins an all-star list of performers including Keith Urban, Alan Jackson, Carrie Underwood and Sheryl Crow that will take to the WE Fest stage this weekend to help the country music festival celebrate its 25th anniversary.
The schedule looks something like this:
Thursday, Aug. 2: Carolina Rain, 2:45 p.m.; John Anderson, 4:15 p.m.; Josh Turner, 6:15 p.m.; Carrie Underwood, 8:30 p.m.; Alan Jackson, 10:45 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 3: Hilljack, 2 p.m.; The Wreckers, 3:30 p.m.; Sawyer Brown, 5:45 p.m.; Sheryl Crow, 8:15 p.m.; Keith Urban, 10:45 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 4: 32 Below, 2 p.m.; Heartland, 3:30 p.m.; Gary Allan, 5:45 p.m.; Trace Adkins, 8:15 p.m.; Toby Keith, 10:45 p.m.
General admission tickets for WE Fest are $150; a three-day camping ticket is $60. For more information, call 218-847-1681 or visit the festival Web site, www.wefest.com.
For information about Adkins, visit his Web site, www.TraceAdkins.com.?