When someone comes of age in a town with a name like Rockingham, North Carolina, you’d better hope they can live up to that reputation. Bucky Covington has been Rockingham’s finest Ambassador of Rock since long before his stint on Season 5 of American Idol, and you’d best believe his growing fanbase and rising presence on the country charts transcend any reality show appearance. Bucky took time from his rigorous 2010 tour to talk about his growth as an artist, getting busted by the cops, performing with Queen and why he’s Smarter Than a 5th Grader.
CMP: Where are you now?
Bucky Covington: I’m actually at my home just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. It is great to be home. Just bought a new home, an 80-acre farm.
CMP: Tell us a little bit about your upcoming album, I’m Alright.
BC: I’ve got a new album coming out. It’s due out in September. The first album we put out, it debuted at #1 and had three top-tens. I’m very, very proud of it. A big thank you to all the fans who helped make that come true. The new album, one thing I love about country music is the different variety of sounds. I hear some songs that could have been cut in the ’80s or ’70s, and a lot of music, I heard Snoop Dogg say the other day, hip-hop represents change. But I think country music grows. You still have the same sounds you used to, but you have new twists on it. So on this album, we have a little variety of the different sounds.
CMP: Is “A Father’s Love” autobiographical? Tell us a bit about where that song came from.
BC: A Father’s Love, this is a beautiful song, I think it’s just completely relatable to almost everyone. Sometimes, your dad comes home from work and gives you a warm, fuzzy hug. My dad was a very “man’s man” kind of guy. Hugs and “I love yous” weren’t the first thing of the day. The song’s about him keeping your car up, being the guy who will do anything for you. He is saying “I love you” the only way he knows how. And I think a lot of folks can agree and relate to that.
BC: Vocally, I think I’ve grown a little bit. I’ve learned a lot. I think I’ve grown on this album and got some different sounds. I do still have the variety. We’ve got some fist-pumpin’ songs, some more rock-heavy songs. We’ve got this song called ‘Evel Knievel’ that’s about growing up in the south and growing up with Evel Knievel. We’ve got a slow song, my sexy side if you will, called ‘Hold A Woman.’ We’ve got some ballads. ‘I’m Alright,’ I love that song –– we’ve all been there: you break up with someone, but then you’re hammered on their doorstep and making sure they’re okay. Then we’ve got songs like ‘A Father’s Love.’
CMP: You’ve got a twin brother, Rocky, who plays percussion in your band. Is the creative dynamic different between you and him as opposed to your other band-mates?
BC: We’ve got a relationship. It’s one thing to be a sibling; it’s another thing to be a twin. You have to share everything in life at the exact same time. When you go to McDonald’s and get a combo, you have to share it. There’s ups and downs to it. Rocky is great to have in the band. He’s family. He knows me. When we first put the band together, a lot of times the drummer will run the band, but when we put the band together, the only person who could relay the message, Rocky did that. He knows me. Rocky helped me out big time and I loved having him in the band.
CMP: You’ve got a wide range of venues for gigs this spring and summer, from rib festivals to rec centers, arenas to county fairs. Is there a setting you think you play best in?
BC: You know, I love doing fairs and I love outdoor gigs. When I was young, I was listening to a Jeff Healey album and I saw me standing outside, singing, with a pair of sunglasses on. I love playing outdoors. I love going into theaters, I love the architecture, the stories at each theater. Arenas are great to play at too. Lot of people.
CMP: You have a song called “Carolina Blue” on your first album. In the wake of March Madness, we here at CMP still have basketball on the brain, so can we assume you’re a Tar Heels fan?
BC: I am from the heart of basketball country, North Carolina, but to be honest, I’m not a basketball fan at all. I like football, NFL football, but I never got into college sports. When I was younger, I played baseball and basketball, but I’m more of a racing fan.
CMP: We’re just curious –– does Rockingham, NC (your hometown) live up to its name?
BC: It really does. I grew up from the ages of 3 to 18, I grew up 20 minutes outside of Rockingham. Rockingham, I’ve got to be honest with you, for a small town, it had a huge nightlife. Big music, a lot of bands all over the place, it was a very small town, I think there were 20 different bars and clubs. We definitely know how to put her down.
CMP: What was it like having a show busted by the cops last March?
BC: It was just like old times. You know, I really hated that for all the folks and everything. The way I looked at it, everyone was in good spirits. The law is the law and safety is safety, but I hated it for all the folks who couldn’t stay. But it’s definitely a good thing that that many people showed up. That’s a great feeling. But for the people, there in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, we’re going back April 10th.
CMP: You’ve visited Kosovo, Germany and The Netherlands as part of a USO Tour. Any crazy international experiences you’d like to share?
BC: You know somethin’, I’ve gotta say, that was a very cool thing to do. Kosovo was the most educational, just the neatest place we went. The Netherlands, Amsterdam, that whole area, that was great from what I could remember, and then we went to Germany for three days. My guitar player, he’s a computer fan, he has these four guys he grew up with, and he always had a crush on the sister. When you’re buddies with the four brothers, you can’t ask the sister out. This was every bit of 20 years ago. He’s on MySpace, contacts her, now lives in Germany where she met a fella. She’s recently divorced, newly single living in Germany, they met up and now they’re in Nashville, Tennessee and engaged to be married.
CMP: You’ve performed with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Queen to Rascal Flatts. Of all the collaborations you’ve done, on and off stage, who would you say is your favorite?
BC: I’ve gotta say, when I look back at all of it, the fact that I was on stage with Queen singing ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ and that I sat beside Stevie Wonder playing ‘Superstition,’ the odds of that ever happening again are very, very slim. When you go on American Idol, when it’s time to go sing or something, it’s just you, a mic, no guitars. So it’s kind of like Vegas. You’re up there by yourself. When I got up on stage with Queen, not only was it Queen but it felt so good to be back on stage with the band, and the fact that that band was Queen really kicked ass.
CMP: You appeared on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader and won $25,000 for the Arthritis Foundation of Tennessee. What was the hardest question you faced on that show?
BC: Man, there was a couple on that show. I will tell you there’s a lot of editing that went on for what you saw. I weighed the answer, and I took complete left-field guesses. One of the hardest questions was, the 5th grader kid, I think he answered it for me. I remember the answer was Germany and I had no idea, but I remembered he got it for me.
CMP: On that same note, how’d you get involved with the Arthritis Foundation?
BC: Arthritis is something I grew up with. My mother was diagnosed with it. She aged about two years in six months. She never went on disability. She still works today. She had to go to her doctor and get shots. The whole thing is a mess to go through. So if I could help anything, I’d like to help Mom out.
CMP: You’re up for Country Weekly’s Hottest Bachelor. Make your best pitch to us why you should win –– and who do you think your biggest competition is?
BC: That would be weird answering any of these questions. I feel funny about calling myself sexy.
CMP: In its run, American Idol has spawned a few country acts, including you and Carrie Underwood. How do you think AI has changed the landscape of country music, if at all?
BC: I don’t think it’s really changed country music at all. There’s a lot of folks in country music who come from one sort of contest or another. Sometimes contests are big enough that you’ll meet a record executive in Nashville. I don’t think it’s changed country music at all. I think a lot of country music fans watch American Idol. There was Carrie Underwood, but to let them know that you were country music is still a tough thing. Country has been very great to Idol, there’s been a great relationship. But the show is still kind of pop=driven, so to let it be known that you do country can be quite a tough thing to do.
CMP: What can the folks who come out and see your show expect?
BC: If you come out to my show, we’ve got the first album out, so check out that. And if you want a preview of the second album, we’ll play about half of the songs from the new album. But we’ve got a show. No stopping time. It is a show. I work very hard; I put a lot of pride into it. It’s a very high-energy, never-stop show.
CMP: Anything else you’d want to add?
BC: A big thank you to everybody out there. Thank you for the three top tens, the radio plays, the videos, thank you very much, God bless, and keep up the great work.