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EF Country

Interview: Joe Nichols teases his first-ever UK tour and his upcoming new music

We chat to the Country legend ahead of his upcoming UK tour.

Joe Nichols
Credit: Joe Nichols

Joe Nichols is one of the Country artists that UK fans have been keen to see touring here for quite a while.

He’ll be making his first trip to the UK in September for a headline tour, which will take in stops in Bristol, Manchester, London and Nottingham. Nichols released his latest album Never Gets Old in 2017 and he’s enjoyed a long and successful career in the music industry dating back to 1996.

I caught up with Joe recently to talk about his first time touring in the UK, find out where he’s at with new music and to reflect on his 2014 collaboration with Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale.

You are finally making the trip over to the UK for your first ever tour here. How are you feeling about it?

I’m excited. I’ve actually been looking forward to it for years. I’ve always wanted to come over in some capacity whether it be for work or for pleasure. I love history and I love all things Europe so I’ve always wanted to see the old castles, I’ve always wanted to see the Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace, I have quite a list (laughs)… Big Ben and things like that. Also the people, I can’t wait to mingle with the UK man. I’ve heard it’s a great place.

Your fans have wanted you to come over to the UK for years. What kind of things have you heard about UK Country music fans?

I heard that they like a lot of traditional Country music, which is good for a guy like me. I’m more of a traditional kind of guy. I’ve heard it’s going to be good! I’m looking forward to it but I’m kinda nervous as it’s my first time. I hope I don’t disappoint.

I don’t think you need to be nervous! People were so excited when it was announced you’ll be coming over. You’re going to go down great…

Thanks! I appreciate that man.

Joe Nichols

Credit: Joseph Llanes

You recently opened for Garth Brooks in Denver in front of 85,000 people. What was that experience like for you?

Wow! It was very… I don’t know how to describe it… thrilling, exhilirating. I’ve never played in front of people at one time. I’ve certainly never had that many people actually focused on just (me). I’ve done festivals where there have been tens of thousands of people but never that large and never 85,000 enclosed in a very focused kinda of crowd. It was very cool to hear 85,000 people singing the words to my songs. It was unreal.

When you’re performing to that many people does it make it easier or harder for you to connect with them?

Strangely I think it’s a little easier to because I think I can look at the room as a whole and not just a few thousand people at this point. What was so shocking is that I had to find my balance a couple of times during the shows, just stopping for a couple of second and just looking and listening, and realising where I am in the moment, which was really cool to be able to do. As far as focussing on the show, boy I didn’t want to screw up that’s for sure but at the same time that kind of thing doesn’t happen often, maybe once in a lifetime, so focus was definitely my goal. Whether it’s one person or 85,000 I think it’s always important to make sure I remember why I’m there and make sure they have a good time.

You released your last album Never Gets Old in 2017 and we got an EP at the end of last year. What’s the status on your next record?

I’m actually writing for the first time in a while. I have been working on new music actually and I just started in the studio maybe a month or two ago. I just got some of the first rough things. I’m very excited. It’s very country and I don’t think I’ve sung this good in a while. I’m excited about that. I’m excited to do new music after a little while. The songs I cut are really incredible. I think the quality of songs is pretty high up there. I’m looking forward to that. It’s always scary when you’re making new music to put it in front of people because you always want to do great because it takes so much time and energy. I know we’ll be playing some new stuff while we’re over (in the UK).

This next record is going to be your tenth studio album. Having the experience you have under your belt, does that make it easier or harder when it comes to putting a new record together?

I think it’s getting harder and harder. The reasons I say that is because earlier on there were less factors in my mind going into recording. I had a carefree attitude, picked some good songs, went to cut them, tried to sing well and delivered a song. I think now my mind is full of experience, the failures and successes, and I probably try to overthink a lot of things compared to when I first started. I think wanting it to be good in so many different ways makes the pressure a little bit more and a little bit different.

When you have new music to share, do you share it with close friends and family for feedback or are you quite protective and keep it in the studio with your co-writers and producers?

Man, that’s a tough one. I do like to have people around me that I trust, as far as their ears go. It’s hard not to just want to wrap yourself up in it and not let anybody hear it because I want it to be great and I really don’t want to be jaded by a critique or anything like that before it’s done. It’s tough but I think it’s important to have people whose ears you trust and trust that they’re going to tell you, not just what you want to hear, but what’s going to work for people and what they think as a fan.

Joe Nichols

Credit: Joe Nichols

Would you say that you’re your own worst critic?

Yeah I think I’m pretty bad as far as critiquing everything because I want it to be really great. My wife certainly is a real tough credit. She’s kind of hard to please and I think that’s a good thing (laughs). I think most of the time. more than anybody else, I really want to be able to say I gave it a hundred percent and I did everything I could do. Sometimes I know if I don’t and not many other people do so in that regard, I think I’m my own worst critic.

Back in 2014 you recorded the song Red Dress with Lucy Hale for her debut Country record Road Between. At the time it seemed like such an unlikely collaboration for you but the song works really well. How did that come about?

Man! Well that song I heard from her producer Mark Bright. I heard it and it didn’t sound like something I would normally do, it was pretty pop and pretty progressive. I wanted to impress her and Mark and I wanted to go in with a fresh attitude and say, “whatever I can do with a song vocally, that’s what I’ll try to do”. It was certainly beyond what my comfort zone was. When I started singing and not thinking in the studio enough, I think it came out like the effort was there. It was a very cool sounding song. I was very pleased with the way it came out and I thought she did a great job. I was hoping that it would go to radio and move beyond that but it’s something I’m very, very proud of.

Aside from being here in September and working on new music, is there anything else you’re hoping to achieve this year?

Yeah I’m hoping to have at least either a full E.P. or a full album done sometime this year. I’m not sure as far as the amount of songs we’re ready to put into a package together but I’m hoping for a bigger project. I think we’ll see where it goes. We’ve cut five things and out of the five things I think I’ve got vocals on three or four that are pretty close. It’s a hell of a start. I’m very, very excited about new music. Probably more excited than I’ve been in a long time.

Joe Nichols will be touring in the UK in September. The full dates are:

23rd September – Thekla, Bristol
24th September – Night & Day Cafe, Manchester
26th September – St Pancras New Church, London
27th September – The Bodega, Nottingham

Tickets are on sale now from https://ticketmaster-uk.tm7559.net/4MPN1.

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