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Jerrod Niemann One on One With UnratedMagazine

Jerrod Niemann One on One With UnratedMagazine 
By Dan Locke

What instruments did you learn while growing up? 
To sing, learn how to play piano and guitar.  Piano was before guitar, it was more of a high school instrument.

Your first guitar was an autographed Tracy Lawrence guitar.  Do you still have it?
I absolutely do.  My mom had it on the wall in Texas for many years. And a couple of years ago, she asked me if I wanted to bring it to Nashville. I have it propped up right here next to me.

What is the non-profit organization Kansas Kids and did it help you to develop your talent?
It is a division of American Kids and it’s a really really cool organization basically at your local level compete and in the first level, even if you just show up, you still get to go on to the next level and was cool for kids that may be their first time or a little shy, but if you keep completing and succeeding there live in Oklahoma city that’s where American Kids was founded by Dr. Dale Smith and his wife Carolyn Snow and you could complete there and we also get the Nationals in Branson the one year.  It was an organization that definitely helped me learned a lot about being on stage and also just being around other kids that were interested in music.

What was the first band you played with? 
I played with a group of guys in high school.  And I don’t think we even had a name.  But we were hired to play at a Christmas party and we only really know six songs, so we just played it a bunch, but then as time went on one guy and me both went to college so we learned a lot more songs with a lot of more experienced musicians.

Why did you decide to get an Associate of Arts degree?
I lived in West Texas and Levelland, there’s a school called South Plains College which was a 2 year school, but it offers commercial music- kind of like Belmont University in Nashville, but on a scale that’s very affordable and very Hands-On.  You definitely a kind of bigger fish in a smaller sea.  And it is a great place to go.  They have classes like song writing, steel guitar, and fiddle.  You are in bands where you go play shows.  And it looks like you are in a band but really you are in a class.  And you get to network and meet a lot of cool people, which I still stay in touch with.  Today I am lucky enough to be an Advisor on the Advisory Board there in South Plains College, so it’s fun to have gone full circle.

After college you had a development deal with Mercury Records.  For people who don’t know what a development deal is, can you explain? 
And how did it help you grow as a musician?
A developmental deal just basically is a way a record label doesn’t think you’re ready just yet and they kind of want to see you develop into an artist as a whole and sometimes it also could be they want to hear what you sound like if they give you some money and put you into the studio and record professionally with the big dogs in town.  So you know I was very grateful for that opportunity at Mercury, It could have snowballed into something bigger, but at least gave me a small pat on my back, letting me know that I was heading in the right direction.

How were you discovered?
Well that’s pretty crazy a friend of mine from college Richie Brown and Garth Brooks and we both moved to Nashville and he kind of told him that him and I have been writing music together years and would love to sit down to write a song with him.  We both known it was pretty far-fetched, but Garth listened to our songs and call us.  And was kind gracious enough to invited us to his house to begin writing and so after that, I feel like that really kicked up a lot of doors open for us.  And I will always love Garth for given me my first shot.

What is the Genre of your music? Because I hear country with a bit of pop and your videos have a heavy metal edge (look)?
That what I love about going to college for country music learn a lot. I guess a lot more than some other people may know, just because you know there’s a lot more information to dig through being a Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Bob Willis and his Texas Playboys around the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame so the lines have been crossed for so many years, you know that there’s so many sub genres of music, that I just love music and all types of music.  And I would love to be the gateway drug if possible to country music for people that say “Hey I’ve never really give country music a chance, but I like your album”. I like that role, I think it’s great to be able to try to expand your music into a place where other people can be drawn to it and what I love about it is everybody’s opinion is right, we’re all entitled to it and that’s a great thing about intangible art and things like music correct at the same time.

How was it working with Pitbull?
Pitbull is a class act.  In Miami were we film the video, he was so kind to everyone.  And everybody was treated like family and old friends. And that meant a lot to me.  I guess there is a lot of rumors in the hip hop world which deals with street cred when you going to be tough and cool. And you don’t always get a good rap, but Pitbull at least the times I have been around him is just really a great guy and I see if anybody is a fan of him out there you’re definite cheering for the right artist.

During your career you have work with the likes of Brad Paisley, Lee Brice, Blake Shelton and Garth Brooks.   Can you tell us the challenge of working with other musicians?  And can you tell us a feel good story with your co-writers? 
 It is always a huge treat to work with any other musician is because you have that connection to music and especially when you get around people like Blake Shelton or Brad Paisley or Garth you know they had so much experience and they’ve succeeded at the highest levels, so you can’t help but to pick up hopefully some good habits, so I’ve always been so excited and honored to be on any of their tours or to have any of those artist collaborate with me or record my music. It is the best.

When it comes to Lee Brice he is not just a best friends, he’s definitely one of the talented people, I’ve ever had in my life,  so many times we have gotten together.  We know each other so well, that there’s not that awkwardness when you writing with somebody for the first time you can be honest, if you don’t like something or if you love it you’re saying it.
Where does you music come from? 
Music whether it’s an inspiration of a melody of beat, song, subject, the story it’s all part of the puzzle really cool thing to be part of, but the best songs I feel like come out of nowhere that happen fast, you know your holding the pen and when you get done you can’t believe that you were a part of that music and so that’s what’s really cool is.  I don’t know if anybody really knows were music comes from, you can definitely learn the fundamentals how to write a song, sit down and create one and structure it correctly in the eyes of Music Row, but where it comes from is really is a gift of love from God and I think its really cool to be a conduit a vessel to try to bring music to life.

What can you tell me about your new record?  What is the story behind it? 
Every time I record an album, I definitely took myself out my comfort zone and drift off into places, that I never had before. You know from the first album and interstitials between the songs. The second one used horns on every song.  The third album I just cranked up every level to 10 and it roll like an freight train.  And on the latest I am taking all of these records and putting them in a blender and puree it, would probably be his record encompasses a little bit of everything and so I’m very excited to finally feel like we have four winds blowing at the same time.

Did you have anyone special helping you get the record finished? 
Jimmy Lee Suicide I produced the records with him.  And he is truly a musical genius can play just about any instrument.  The most important he is so talented encompasses knowing what’s right and what’s wrong and I feel like Jimmy has a natural instinct to know is right and it’s just always a treat and a pleasure to get to make music with it so fun to learn from him and also he’s just it comes to recording you got to have a good vibe in the studio and if you don’t have a good vibe, then I think you won’t get the results that you want it, so he brings on top of everything else he brings an amazing vibe, to the studio where everybody just has had having a blast and its always a very pleasurable experience.

Can you tell us about your charity Free the Music USA?
Yes, it’s one that my wife Morgan and I started.  We  get a chance to go all over our country, we play the biggest cities to the smallest towns, and one thing I’ve noticed is school don’t have the budget to keep all the programs going so the first thing is the music program to go.  This is a heartbreaking to me, because I know how much music affected my childhood, it just doesn’t keep you out of trouble, it also allows you to have a sense of community for maybe introverted children, it also allows you to broaden your horizons to be able to go to college and save your parents some money even if you have not planning on doing it the rest of your life, it’s paths a way to help you get that education that you need to have a career whatever you’re pursuing, so we felt it was very important to try to assist in any school we could to keep the music program alive.  And it’s been really fun. It’s been a huge learning process and I’m very excited every time we get to go in there and be a part of someone’s life really special to me and her.

Who would you like to open up for you? Being alive or dead?
The person I would want to be opening for me I have to say I would rather be opening for is Lefty Frizzell  is my favorite country artist. 1950s when he came out, I can’t imagine him opening for me, but I would definitely be honor to play music with him  The list would go on and on, we had a guy that just celebrated his first number one hit- Chris Lane.  He opened for us all last fall when we played the House of Blues tour and it was so excited to be celebrating their first number one hit.

What is your favorite guitar? Make, model and year.
And 1957 J 85 Gibson.  And it was a gift to me from the guy who wrote Lover Lover which was my very first number one hit.  He wrote the song on the guitar and I told him that there’s no way I can really permanently accepted i.  I mean I still have the guitar, but if he would ever ask for it back, I would give it back to him.  It is a very special instrument and I really enjoyed playing it over the years.

Do you used the same musicians on tour as the ones you recorded with in the studio?
The first two albums my band played the whole recording. On the third one we used some studio musicians, but for the most part, I like using my band for the recording because if you if use your guys in the studio, you have no excuse for not to be able to pull it off live.  In the studio I do a lot of harmonies on the records and live it hard to pull off because, you can only have so many people on stage.

When you write a song how do you create it?
There many ways, you sometime write a song late at night on my phone, you record a little piece of it and finish it later, someone may email some ideas in which they had started, by email,  you get a idea sometimes that someone started.  And Now I like to get on my computer and built some tracks and I have a studio at home, so I just kind of make a jam at 3 in the morning and see what happens, ant then go back the next day and see if it is worth anything.  I love, is every song has it own beginning and if it sounded and it sounds story so it but I really do enjoy creating the track as I write the song.

What is you’re feeling about Vinyl? 
What is you’re feeling about vinyl, doesn’t get any better than vinyl, it’s just so cool to most pure form of recorded music not compressed, special as the pops, vintage and it really is the best way to listen to music.  I love hearing a good old vinyl record and I always try to get at least one printing of our albums in vinyl.  This question really put a smile on my face now thinking about it’s just so cool, so I’m definitely Pro for it, and one of the biggest fans of vinyl.

What is the biggest crowd you have play for?
It called The Hoedown in Detroit.  They usually bring in about 350,000 people at once and you’re really special thing for 350,000 people and they weren’t there for me.  They did not buy tickets to see me.  But it was definitely the biggest crowd I ever played for.  But being on tour and playing with Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton and Keith Urban with tens of thousands of people at one time.

Are you BMI or ASCAP?
I have been ASCAP then BMI and now I am back to ASCAP.  I am asked by a lot of people which is better we should throw also SESAC in they are really stepping up over the years and working hard to be a real player against BMI and ASCAP.  My best thing I can tell anyone is go with one which believes in you the most and whoever gets what you do and will open those doors for you, that’s how you need to go with because they’re al very capable of making that happen.

How is the tour coming along?   Do you get a chance to see any local sites, while touring?
We usually play Thursday, Friday, Saturday and sometime Sunday, but yeah anytime we just played Salisbury, Mass and got out and check out the beach, we went to Minnesota and we got out to Lake Superior and went to Salmon to do some fishing for lake trout, so I try to get out. We don’t want to get into the habit of staying on your bus and watching TV, this is really foolish, because of the beautiful world out there and we loved it and love to get off the bus and soak it in.

What direction do you see your music heading in the next 2 years and your long term goals of your music? 
I think the music speaks for itself as the time comes along, because as life goes on when you write a record it’s kind of a snapshot of your life at that moment and so to really know what the future holds, is impossible for me, but I just hope whatever as a songwriter and as a man hopefully my best music is ahead of me instead of behind.

What fest would you like to play? 
 I would like to play Bonnaroo.  I’ve always just been fascinated by it and so maybe someday they will let me play it.

What artist would you like to play in the studio and live with and why? Living or dead? 
I know I am probably repeating myself, but Garth Brooks has such an big influence on so many things in my life, it would be a huge honor.  I have song with him on his albums in the studio a little bit, but we never did anything live.  I would love to be there and create some more music with him

What music is on your phone right now? 
I love listening to Sublime, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Marley, Jimmy Buffett anything that kind of comes up on their Pandora, Spotify or Iheart stations.  I just love to turn on the music that takes you on vacation.

IPhone vs. Android? 
You know I never had an Android, but I see my friends have them, they’re really cool phones.  I just happen to struck with the Iphone, so for me I am the last person to ever get the cool phone.  I’m always running behind, so I’m pretty impressed. Don’t take much to impress me when it comes to phones.

If you could pick any cartoon character who would it be and why?
I like the Squidbillites, if you’ve ever heard of Squidbillies you should check them out.  They are redneck squids.  I don’t know if I’d want to be that character, but they’re pretty funny and very demented.

What music does you listens to relax?
I really love island music. My mom has always loved any type of feature reggae music it’s just the even Beach Boys, just the stuff is so easy on the ears and you don’t even have to hear the words and it is still give you the feel good feeling.

Anything you like to close with? 
Thank you fo letting me drive around for as long as I have.  Appreciated the opportunity to answer some questions for you.

 - Read the full story at UnRatedMagazine.com

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