One year after the release of his debut hit album, “Anything Goes,” singer/songwriter Randy Houser lands himself with two nominations for the 43rd annual Country Music Association awards, including New Artist of the Year. Houser’s second single off the album, “Boots On,” peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top Country Hits chart, and reached top 5 on Hot Country Songs in 2009; it’s nominated for Music Video of the Year against artists such as Taylor Swift, Billy Currington, George Straight, as well as Brad Paisley and Keith Urban. A Mississippi native, Houser also wrote “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” for Trace Adkins and “Back That Thing Up” for Justin Moore. Country Music Pride caught up with Houser and discussed his recent nominations, career and living the good life.
CMP: When you were chosen to announce the nominations for the CMA awards on Insider’s CMT edition, did you have any inkling you would be nominated for an award yourself?
RH: I really didn’t. I figured for the most part they wouldn’t have someone announce the awards that was winning one themselves. I figured with Darius [Rucker] it would be the case because he was on Good Morning America, but I really didn’t expect to be nominated myself.
CMP: What does it feel like to be up against fellow artists like Jake Owen, Darius Rucker, Zac Brown Band and Jamey Johnson for New Artist of the Year?
RH: Starting in the middle of October I’ll be on [“CMT on Tour 2009”] with Jamey, and we’ve been friends for a long time. It’s good to be in a peer group with your buddies. I don’t feel like we’re up against each other, it just means we’re all in it. We’re all nominated; we’re all in the big game. It’s a bigger picture, really. For me, I think it’s just cool that we’ve all kind of known each other for a long time, and being in the same category together is just a cool thing for us.
CMP: Can you give some background on “Boots On” and how that got to be chosen as one of your singles?
RH: That song I wrote with a friend named Brandon Kinney. We wrote it about five years ago, and I’ve been playing it a lot for a long time. It always went over well live; everyone would sing along. I always felt like it was a hit song — just from playing it live. That’s the best barometer for a good song, really. To be honest, I didn’t expect to get a top 5 song being a new artist. It probably did a lot better than I expected.
CMP: What made you decide to incorporate 4-year-old Drake Dixon (son of songwriter Dillon Dixon) into the “Boots On” video?
RH: My record label chose it. My thing was I was afraid that it makes me look like a dad. I don’t have any kids; I don’t want to send out the wrong impression to people. It worked, though. It did help to have the exposure thing a lot, but I didn’t want people to think I’m a parent. I just thought he was a cute kid, and he’s the star. It’s cute, but it has nothing to do with the song. As a songwriter, I would have rather done a video that has to do with the song I wrote.
CMP: Who were some of your biggest influences growing up?
RH: Musically? Definitely Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings; Hank Williams Jr.; Lynyrd Skynyrd; Allman Brothers; Texas stuff, like Bobby Ray, Lyle Lovett.
CMP: Tell me about your father as an artist and having music instilled into your daily life as a kid.
RH: I never knew any different. The first time I saw him play up on a stage I kinda knew what I wanted to do; I thought that was it. It definitely had a big influence on me.
CMP: At what age did you attend your first show?
RH: Real young, probably 6 or 7.
CMP: What is your favorite place to play now?
RH: We’re all over the country, but I guess I love playing in Nashville ’cause all our friends that we don’t get to see all the time are here.
CMP: Do you have a particular approach when you sit down and write a song?
RH: Songs just show up. An idea will come along and you’ll just write it. It’s kinda like you don’t write a song unless you have an idea. I don’t really have time to write for other people anymore, and I’m usually writing because it’s something I want to say.
CMP: Have you had any embarrassing moments on stage?
RH: One time, when I was in junior college, we were doing this thing at this high school, and we were playing on this gymnasium floor. We did this thing where we’d run out on stage when the band started, and as soon as the band started, I rolled out there, tripped over some cables and did about three flips over the gym floor. You just get up and do what you gotta do, and laugh. It was pretty awesome.
CMP: It seems like you really love what you do. Would you say you’re living the dream?
RH: Yeah, I definitely am. I have the best job in the world; I’m a happy man. It’s one of those things I’ve wanted to do this since I was so small, and I’ve been doing it all my life. I’ve been playing in clubs and hacking it out for so long, but to be as far along as I am right now … it’s like having a big goal in life and finally getting to it. I’m not “there.” I don’t know at what point I’ll ever think I “am” … I don’t know if I ever will. But I’m able to do what I want to do for a living. I’m not getting rich, but I’m getting to do what I like. Who wouldn’t like that?
CMP: Win or lose, what’s next? Can we expect another album after the CMT tour?
RH: We just started a new album last week. We started recording a brand new single, “Whistlin’ Dixie.” We’re working on [the album] right now. We still have a lot of recording left to do, but it’ll probably release somewhere between next March/April.