Chris Young: Being 'The Man I Want to Be'

August 06, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

It sounds goofy, country music artist Chris Young explained, but the plan was to land a record deal by the time he could legally drink.

Signed to one of the big ones - RCA Records Nashville - a month before his 21st birthday, the now 24-year-old Young is already on album No. 2 for RCA and has again earned the title of "Country's Hottest Bachelor" from Country Weekly Magazine readers.

But Young is handling the success in context. He's hitting the road.

Young has embarked on a nationwide tour, with hopes of rousing excitement for his upcoming album, "The Man I Want to Be," to be released in September.

As part of the tour, Young has a scheduled stop in Hagerstown on Saturday at Cancun Cantina West.

For "The Man I Want to Be," Young teamed up with long-time country music producer James Stroud, a collaboration that led to an album that was creatively more articulate than his self-titled debut in 2006, Young said.


Young was willing to chat with The Herald-Mail about his upcoming album, and what it was like working on album No. 2.

Q&A with Chris Young

WEG: With this being your second album, you're already out there. People know you more. Country Weekly Magazine named you country's hottest bachelor. Is that a bit of a distraction to you? How do you handle this type of attention?

Young: It's cool. It's one of those things that's kind of a byproduct of my music. I think it's great. It's a lot better than being country music's worst dressed, but, at the same time, I don't think that distracts or takes away from anything else I'm doing musically.

WEG: Do you fear people won't take you seriously as an artist, but just think you're cute?

Young: No. (laughs) No, I always thought that was actually a really good thing just because I was surprised by it. It was just one of those things that kind of happened. So, no. I've never had anyone ask me that question. (Laughing).

WEG: How is the flavor of the second album different from the first one?

Young: I think probably the biggest thing is just the amount of time we were able to put into it. I did my first record in kind of a unique way. We finished picking a producer, finding the songs - all that stuff in a month.

WEG: In a month?

Young: Yeah. We did the whole album start to finish in a month. I'm still very proud of that first record, but I think with that second record, we had a lot more time for me to write, for me to really find all the songs that I wanted. We just really focused on getting my sound across as an artist. James Stroud produced this record. When you're a musician you just search for that one person that you just click with completely in the studio. People laugh at me, but I'll never cut another record with anyone other than James Stroud ever again - if I have my say.

WEG: Really, him or nothing?

Young: I'm saying, if I have any control of it at all, it would be him. ... I look at him almost as another dad. At the same time, I have more respect for him as a musician just knowing what he's done, what he can do in the studio. It's kind of a weird dynamic. There's complete trust and a lot of respect, especially when every record is a statement of who I am as a person, as an artist - all those things. When you have a producer, you're just sort of laying it in their hands and saying, "Hey, make this me."

WEG: A lot of artists say the second album is always harder than the first, because, with that first album, you've had your entire life to write it. Is your second album more like what the first would be for most?

Young: You know, I don't think anybody has another first album. For a lot of people, the sophomore album is the make-or-break record. I guess the reason that I'm not nervous is because we had success with my first record, but it's not like I sold eight million copies. I had a lot of room to be creative, a lot of room to define what my sound is to people for the second record.

WEG: So, what is the sound of Chris Young?

Young: We used to joke that I used to say I'm contemporary traditional. ... I listen to a lot of Alan Jackson, Keith Whitley, Tracy Lawrence. I even go back to Marty Robbins - those are the guys that influenced me. But if you put my stuff on the radio against any of that, it would sound a little bit more contemporary.

About Chris Young

Genre: Country

Hometown: Nashville, Tenn.

Influences: Alan Jackson, Keith Whitley, Tracy Lawrence, Marty Robbins

Upcoming show: Saturday, Aug. 8, Cancun Cantina West. Doors open at 5 p.m. Call 301-797-4422 for ticket information.

Web: www.chrisyoung

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