There’s no doubt, when you hear a Tracy Lawrence song, you know it’s him. No one can imitate his unique sound. But, Tracy’s new album, “The Rock,” may surprise you. “It has some pretty challenging vocals on it,” Tracy says. “It’s still me, you’re gonna know it’s me.” But, it’s a different side of Tracy. The album is a compilation of inspirational country songs. Country Music Pride chatted with Tracy about love, childhood memories and his future. Juliette Vara
CMP: You’re from Foreman, Arkansas what’s one childhood memory that sticks out the most?
TL: Probably driving around on gravel roads as a teenager. We spent a lot of time cruisin’ around.
CMP: You were a good ole’ boy. What got you into trouble?
TL: Just drinkin’ beer that was pretty much all. We would all find places to gather out in the country and build bonfires. We’d all meet at the Gator Inn. We were the Foreman alligators. There was a little cafe called the Gator Inn so we would meet up there on the weekends and decide where we were gonna meet and hide from the police. There was a basic fist fight here and there. We got the first day of deer season out cause no one came to school anyway. We got deer day out, that’s how rural this place was. (laughs)
CMP: You had a country upbringing and now you have a city life. Is it important to expose your daughters [Skylar and Keagan] to both ways of life?
TL: We focus hard on that. I loved growing up in a small town, but when you grow up there you don’t know any different. I wasn’t exposed to the symphony or theatre or higher level of entertainment. When I went to college there were subjects I struggled with. We take our kids to plays, and I want them to be exposed to arts, music and history. They travel with us a lot. My 7 year old has been to almost every state in the United States already. I think as they go into life it gives you a lot of self confidence that you don’t have to prove anything to anybody.
CMP: After several public failed relationships, you’ve found your match with wife, Becca.
You have two little girls, you’re no where near boy talk. But, if you had one piece of dating advice for them what would it be?
TL: Don’t do it! Don’t do it! (laughs)
CMP: Some women tend to over analyze men but are men really that difficult to understand?
TL: No, they’re not. All you have to do is be more sensitive and think about them more than you do yourself. (laughs)
CMP: Typical answer!
TL: As long as you put them first everything is fine.
CMP: Go figure! (laughs) What’s something in life that you took a long time to learn about yourself and now you’re thankful you know?
TL: I’m just now coming to grips with a lot of things that drove and motivated me to be successful. One thing was a feeling of having to prove myself to some people in my family that didn’t think I would make it in anything in life. I’m older now, and I can lay some of those things to rest.
CMP: Why did you feel you had to prove yourself to your family?
TL: In a town of 1100 people in no where Arkansas, no one gets out of there. There I was a skinny little kid saying I’m going to go to Nashville and be star. I had been telling people that for years. When I came back home and had my car packed, my step-dad’s words were, ‘Well, I’m glad. You go out there and get this out of your system so you can get on with your life.’ That was pretty much the attitude. ‘You’re wasting your time, but if you gotta do it, go and do it. So you can come back and get a job at the plant.’ That was his attitude.
CMP: Well, look at you now. You’re touring with Tracy Byrd and Richie McDonald from Lonestar. How’s it going?
TL: We laugh a lot and tell a lot stories. It’s very intimate, a great family show. It’s just three guys sitting around talking about the trouble we got each other into and jokes we used to play. We talk about songs of the period. It’s really laid back. It’s a cool show.
CMP: What do you do before a concert to get pumped up?
TL: When I’m on the bus, I’ll sing for about 30 minutes with my i-pod and get warmed up. I listen to everything from Maroon 5, Three Doors Down to old country. It just depends on where my mood is that night.
CMP: And what do you do to wind down after a show?
TL: Just go back on the bus and have a few beers and turn sports center on.
CMP: What’s something you never thought you’d accomplish in your career but you have?
TL: I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do. One thing I haven’t done is break another artist, and that’s what I’m working on with my label. It’s something I really want to do in my lifetime.
CMP: You’re 41 years old, and you’ve said before it’s tough to compete with the younger stars stepping into country music.
TL: Yeah, but I’m okay with it. I understand where I’m at in my life and my career. When I was breaking and I was 23 there was a lot of bitterness by old guys cause they thought they were getting squeezed out of radio. I try to find a way to reinvent myself periodically. I don’t starve for the spotlight. I enjoy it, and I love being on stage. I wouldn’t go crazy without it, and a lot of people do.
CMP: What’s the future hold for Tracy?
TL: The pace is a little bit slower. I’d like to cut the tour back about 25 dates a year and spend more time in the studio and more time writing. I’m trying to get to a place where I can shift to another phase in my life and be involved in the the creative process more.