If you’ve never heard of him, you’ve GOT to check him out. Up and coming artist Colt Ford is putting a new kind of country on the map and it is full throttle! Far from mainstream pop-country, he mixes down-home, country lyrics with a hip-hop vocal style that’s definitely worth a listen. His current album Ride Through the Country is a high-octane rollercoaster of tunes perfect for hitting the back roads, and features collaborations with John Michael Montgomery, Jamey Johnson and Bonecrusher, just to name a few. He has also put a spin on Montgomery Gentry’s remix of “Roll With Me.” I recently had the opportunity to sit down with CF prior to his show at the Wildhorse Saloon to pick his brain about his unique musical style.
Country Music Pride: I hear that tonight is your first performance in Nashville, is this true?
Colt Ford: I’ve actually played a few things here before but this is my first whole show doing everything that I do when I’m out on the road. So yeah, in essence it is my first.
CMP: And it’s here at the Wildhorse, it can’t get better than that…
CF: I’m so excited to be here. This place is awesome.
CMP: On your album, Ride Through the Country, what should listeners who aren’t acquainted with Colt Ford music expect to hear on this album?
CF: Just a mix of everything. It’s got all kinds of stuff mixed together like gumbo, but it’s really country. I call it just talking country music, I don’t really like the term country rap. Some people say that, but I think it gives kind of a bad connotation to what I’m doing. I just feel like I’m a country artist and just because I ain’t singing don’t mean I ain’t country. It’s fun though, I talk about real life and there are ups and downs. I feel like the album takes you somewhere emotional and that’s what I tried to do.
CMP: It’s pretty amazing who you’ve gotten to collaborate with on this album from Jamey Johnson to John Michael Montgomery to Bonecrusher. What was it like working with all of these different people?
CF: It was awesome. Because if you keep your mind open a little bit, there’s something you can get from anybody, it doesn’t really matter who they are. You don’t have to necessarily love what they do to appreciate how good something is. Jamey is the most honest to god true country music artist out there today in my opinion and I was honored to be able to have him on my record. We wrote something together, but then he sang something I wrote on the record which was really cool. I’ve got John Michael Montgomery on it who is a country legend and then having somebody like Bonecrusher who’s a hip hop legend has just been really, really cool. They all love it and come from different places and it’s cool that they wanted to do something with me
CMP: That’s awesome! I know in the past you first collaborated with Jermaine Dupri, now how did that come about?
CF: Being a white kid from Athens, Georgia I don’t’ really know how that came about! I was just always able to write stuff really easy but I never got a chance until this record to do what was really me and the way I was raised, the way I was brought up. I just thought the time was right to do something, so I started working on this record and people started liking it so it just worked out.
CMP: Earlier you mentioned that you don’t like the term “country rap.” However, I’ve noticed you use that term in a few of your songs….
CF: I do, I kinda mess myself up with that.
CMP: How would you define this term to people who aren’t familiar with country rap or hick-hop?
CF: If you listen to Toby Keith’s “I Wanna Talk About Me” that’s pretty much what I do and nobody calls him a country rapper. In my opinion rap is a vocal style, hip hop is a genre. So when people say country rap, I think they are thinking of it as a genre and I don’t really think of it like that. I just think that’s the way I deliver it but I’m country, I live country, my kids are country, everything I am is country. I don’t wear $500 blue jeans and $1000 boots. I wear Wranglers and Justin’s and shop at Wal-Mart.
CMP: How did you develop this style? It’s uncommon and kind of a fresh idea…
CF: I don’t know really. I mean I didn’t set out to try to do anything, I just started writing and it came out.
CMP: Your first single “No Trash in My Trailer” received a lot of airplay on CMT. Are you happy with the feedback and promotion you received?
CF: Yeah, the feedback was 100% amazing. I’ve heard from some people that I was too country and I’ve heard from some people that I wasn’t country at all. I really haven’t figured out how you can be both of those yet! If people come to a show you can see that these are country folks here to see me. I was thrilled that CMT played the video and I hope that they’ll play more in the future.
CMP: Can we expect a video for your second single “Ride Through the Country?”
CF: We’re working on that right now, just trying to figure out the correct concept because you can do so many things with the song. It doesn’t really set you “at okay, it has to be this or it has to be that.” I think we are actually working on something where we are going to get the military involved because I have so many fans that I get messages from that are in the military that say my music reminds them of home. That means more to me than anything so I’ve reached out and tried to get footage from them overseas singing the song and stuff like that. I’m excited about it.
CMP: When does that single drop?
CF: It hasn’t officially dropped yet. There have been some people playing it, but my battle is radio because I’m different and they’re afraid. Although I’m really good looking for 300 lbs (laughs) I don’t look like Jake Owen and a couple of my good buddies and I’m not singing a love song.
CMP: Your song “Waffle House” is a bit different. Although violent is a bad term, it seems to give the impression that some meanness is about go down. Have you received any negative reactions from the more traditional, conservative country fans?
CF: Not once. If you really listen to the song there is nothing violent in the song. I say I’m thinking about it and anybody that has been married, and I’ve been married for 15 years, that says they haven’t thought about something is telling you a story. I say I’m thinking about it and then I say ah never mind I’m just gonna move on. That’s kind of turned into the song that gets people bent out of shape if I don’t play it, it’s like the cult favorite song that’s probably by far the most favorite song played in my shows. They really love it. I’ve had that question asked before. That’s just part of life and part of relationships and just part of the real world. But I would never do that. I didn’t mean for it to be that way but sometimes people take it that way.
CMP: Is there a fun fact about Colt Ford that your fans might not know? I know you’re a golfer, right?
CF: Yeah, and I hunt and fish and spend a lot of time with my wife and kids. I think that’s why people kind of relate to me. I’m really just a regular ‘ol guy and it has been interesting, that even for a fat boy like me, if you’re playing music girls get excited and everybody knows how that goes, but guys get just as excited to see me as the girls. And that’s what’s kind of cool because I’m just a regular ‘ol guy to them and suites me just fine. That’s all I ever wanted to be. I’m not interested in riding around in fancy cars and that kind of stuff. I just make music for regular old country folks just like me.
CMP: Just to close up, what song do you predict everybody to rock out to tonight?
CF: It’s hard to say, everywhere you go people like different songs. When you’re an artist you might expect you’re fans to know your single and then maybe a few of your songs. But they don’t want to hear covers, they know every word to every song I do. There’s no real reason as to why it’s one or another. Sometimes “Waffle House,” sometimes “Saddle up,” sometimes it’s “Ride Through the Country.” I play them all as hard as I can until I get done and hope they like it.