This is part two of CMP’s interview with indy country star Colt Ford. One thing that keeps surfacing is CF’s frustration with getting his music out to his fans through conventional channels, i.e. traditional radio. The interview heats up when we discuss song messages and what music acts or songs get pushed by the industry establishment…
CMP: Do you think the lack of radio support is because you are on an indy label vs. the industry clout of a major label?
CF: I don’t know. I couldn’t give you an answer. Jason Aldean’s on an independent label.
… I know I don’t sound like George Strait…but you know, the great thing is we already have a George Strait. Who is maybe the greatest of all time. So, we don’t need another one. And that’s what the industry needs to quit doing. Stop trying to find another guy that sounds like Luke Bryan or sounds like Jason Aldean, or Tim McGraw…we already have those guys. Find an original guy… I just don’t understand that philosophy…I don’t know…all I can do is make the best songs that I can make and [radio] is gonna play it or not. I can’t control it.
CMP: All the collaborations with featured singers on “Every Chance I Get” are great. I saw on your website that you’ve already shot a video for your Nappy Roots collaboration, track #3 “Waste Some Time.”
CF: Yeah, I was just looking at the rough cut right before I called you. It’s pretty cool.
CMP: So, that’s probably going to be the next single?
CF: No, actually it’s not. People just loved that song immediately. And that video is shot really more for MTV. It’s not for CMT. That’s not really made for country radio which is fine. That’s my issue with a lot of it… when you go back and think about albums that you loved, there are probably lots of songs that you loved on the album that weren’t singles. That may have been your favorite song. That doesn’t mean it’s not a great song, just because it’s not a single.
And Nashville gets caught up with ’if it’s not a single [then] it’s not a good song,’ and that’s just bullsh*t to be honest with you. That’s a decision being made by somebody who don’t know sh*t about music…Excuse my language…That’s just somebody…who’s never wrote a song or never done anything… sitting up there [in an office] trying to tell people what to do. And they don’t go out and live in that world and really know what’s going on at these [live] shows…
Just because it’s not a single doesn’t mean it’s not a great song. You should have songs on your record that are not made to be singles, but they can still be great, great songs. And, so we shot this video really more for MTV. The new single off the record is going to be the ballad I wrote about my daughter called “She Likes to Ride in Trucks.”
CMP: That’s a great song.
CF: Thanks. That’s gonna be the new single. And honestly, not to sound like I’m at the end of my rope, but if they don’t wanna play that song at country radio I’m not sure that I can ever give them anything that they will.
CMP: I don’t think radio is important to your fans. It doesn’t seem to be where your fans learn about you and where they follow you. It would help broaden your fan base but…
CF: No, it’s not. But, at the same time it affects my livelihood not being able to be heard on the radio…it affects me not being able to play at some places without being heard a little bit. And it affects me being able to feed my family. And it hurts me for the guys who I write these songs with.
If you look at the songwriter’s on my record, it’s the biggest and the best in Nashville. These are guys that are all friends of mine that I write with. And they write with me because they love what I do and they love what we write. But, I wanna be able to get them a song on the chart where it helps them out as well. I feel like we’re all in it together…just like anyone else I’d love to be more successful and for more people to hear it. Why wouldn’t you?
CF: You are an artist that also has a hand in the business side of your career. How do you think the industry has changed in the last 5 years and what do you see coming in the next 5 years?
CF: I think what’s happened in the last 5 years is…it’s gotten very much “hey, let’s create something” instead of find something that’s already there, [manufacturing it] and figuring out a way of giving it to the people. They’d fallen into this role of…look at this song we’ve got and its number one on the charts. And you go see [the act] live and there’s only 50 people there to see it and you’re selling 200 singles a week. So, that doesn’t’ make any sense. That singles chart is not real…Those songs that are the top of the charts should also be the top sellers and that’s not always the case. I think it should be more real than that.
I think its coming back to…we just want the best songs. The song always wins. Great songs are great songs. [It] doesn’t matter who records it. Doesn’t matter if you’re a 300 lb. boy like me with a cowboy hat on or a guy that looks like a supermodel like my buddy Luke Bryan. It’s ok. They just get caught up in the stuff that’s not real.
I mean, I love Carrie Underwood. I think she’s one of the best singers I’ve ever heard in my life. But if you start talking about messages in songs, she’s had some of the most incredible messages of hope and faith and God in songs. And then, she’s had one that I’m ashamed to let my daughter hear. That’s just the truth of the matter.
CMP: Which Carrie Underwood song are you ashamed to let your daughter hear?
CF: I’m ashamed for my daughter to think she should go and tear up a guy’s truck if he cheats on her. Do you think that’s a positive message for a young girl to hear? People don’t think about those songs that way, but…every girl’s been cheated on. Do I want my sixteen year old, when her boyfriend cheats on her, to go out there and destroy his truck? Because first of all, that makes her a criminal, and second of all, you do it to the wrong guy and he could really hurt you. That’s not a good message…”Before He Cheats” is not a positive message in a song.
Neither is the Vegas song, “My Last Name.” You’re hammered, you hook up with a guy and then you end up sleeping with a guy and getting married to him and you don’t even know his last name. Is that a positive message for any girl or any single woman?
CMP: No. Well, I have to ask – I understand and hear your passion. I don’t have any children so I…
CF: Well, even a woman in general; it’s just not a good message. You don’t have to have kids to know that’s not a positive message. If your boyfriend cheated on you, you go out there and destroy his truck. The wrong guy could kill you.
CMP: I want the opportunity to ask you then, about one of the tracks off of ‘Every Chance I Get,’ that wasn’t my favorite, “Titty’s Beer.” We’re talking about the message in songs, so let’s talk about that one.
CF: Ok. “Titty’s Beer” is a complete play on words. I’m not talking about a woman. I’m talking about the name of the song…its comedy. That’s not a serious song and I understand that [it’s not your favorite], but that’s probably the most popular song on the record so far…but again, if you really break that song down as to what it is, it’s just a play on words. When I was a kid they used to do that cheer, ‘ra ra ree, kick em in the knee, ra ra rass, kick em in the other knee.’ It’s the same kind of thing as that.
In response to comparing that [song] to the Carrie songs, I don’t even think they’re in the same ballpark. That’s just my opinion, that don’t make it right. I’m not saying that I’m right and someone else is wrong.
Again, I don’t want it misunderstood, I love Carrie Underwood. I’m just saying that’s just what the songs are. I love Sugarland, I think they’re amazing. But, the song ‘Stay’ is about you being the other woman and you’re mad cause he won’t leave his wife. That’s what the song’s about. I didn’t write it, I’m just telling you what it is.
CMP: Do you think of yourself as a sex symbol?
CF: [laughing] No man, I don’t. It’s funny…Jason Aldean, whenever I’d open for him, he always says I’m the sexiest guy in country music, which is funny to me. I’m pretty good looking for a 300 lb. boy. I’ll be honest with you. But, it’s all relative. Sex symbol and all that kinda thing is not just looks to me. It’s a personality thing…There’s a lot more factors in it than ‘hey, you’re extremely good looking.’ I’ve seen a lot of really good looking people that I didn’t think were sexy or attractive at all once they open their mouth.
But, it is funny because radio’s target demographic is 25 – 40 year old women, and they think 25 – 40 year old women don’t like what I do. If they’d ever been to [one of my shows] they would know that they are wrong because there are tons of them there.
CMP: Well, you’ve got a beautiful wife and a great family and I really liked that you put their photos in your CD artwork. Because your family is a big part of what you do and I would think their support is important in being able to pursue your career goals.
CF: Absolutely, I’ve been truly blessed. I do have an amazing family. My wife is my hero. She’s struggled with being sick the last 5 or 6 years with a pretty terrible disease and she still gets up and does it every day when I’m out on the road. And the kind of courage and faith that takes is almost beyond my comprehension to be honest…it’s pretty amazing what she does and what she’s capable of doing. It certainly makes my life pretty special.