Craig Campbell will perform in New England at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill in Foxborough, Massachusetts on Wednesday night. When asked if he’s surprised with the amount of country music fans up North he answered, “I wasn’t surprised. I actually have several friends from up in New England and one friend was always telling me how country music is big and that there’s lots of country fans up your way.”
With two albums, and three top twenty singles under his belt everything was looking up for Craig until his record label suddenly closed back in May of this year. He hasn’t let that stop him though. His most recent single, “Keep Them Kisses Comin'” was the biggest hit of his career and he recently partnered up to fight colon cancer. We caught up with Craig before the show to talk about what’s been a very eventful past twelve months.
Going back to before you even got signed by that first label, can you tell us a little bit about what the experience of being signed was like?
“It was a work in progress. I had a residency in Nashville at a place called The Stage on Tuesday nights. The people who were interested in signing me to a record deal came to see me on a regular basis. So when they finally got their stuff together they pulled the trigger and they signed me. I was one of the first people they signed. So it was a long process, but at the same time it was all in good time.”
Was music something you had wanted to do from a young age?
“Oh yeah. It’s the only thing I’ve ever known and the only thing I’ve ever thought I was any good at. I’ve never had a plan B, it was always music or nothing.”
So would you say that that you’re not really working now since you’re doing what you love?
“That’s right. People talk about it all the time. I mean we play music and we do what we love, and we get paid to actually travel. So traveling is the hardest part. That’s the part we don’t really love. But the benefits to all that is getting to play the shows and meet the fans. Let them see what we do and hopefully the keep on coming back.”
Shifting to the music side of things “Family Man” was your first single. When you were writing that did you think that it would be a hit or was it more for you?
“I was just writing it for myself. It was where I was in my life. I had just found out that I was going to be a dad for the first time and it was one of those things I had to write to get off my chest. So I put in on a piece of paper, put some music to it, and started singing it live. The people who signed me to my first record deal that was one of their favorites and after we recorded it they said as an introduction to country music and to country music listeners we need to make sure they know who you are right off the bat. So that was the best autobiography that I had so we decided to make it my first single.”
Since then you’ve had two album, but it’s been about two years since your last album, what can you tell us about new from you.
“Yeah we’re always working on new music and we’ve been working on a new record deal after my previous label closed back in May. So we’re finally close to getting that done, negotiation is over and we’re ready to sign. With the new record label, obviously, comes a new album and a new single on country radio.”
Any idea when we can expect the new music?
“I think conservatively speaking we should be looking at around the first of the year.”
Was your record label closing something that happened suddenly?
“It was. Looking back there were some tell tale signs of that coming down the pipe. But I was surprised, and I was deflated. We picked up the pieces and it turned out to be a really good thing for me. So it’s all good now.”
That all happened around the time “Keep Them Kisses Coming” was hitting it’s peak charts wise right?
“Yeah. It heels of being my highest charting song and even when the label closed it was sitting at number 13. But the relationships and friendships I have with radio I was able to make some calls on my own behalf and say, ‘Hey man keep this song going,’ and we were able to rocket all the way to number seven.”
Outside of music I know you’ve recently signed on to become a spokesperson for colon cancer. How’d you get involved there and what’s it mean to you to be a part of a great cause like that?
“I met up with some folks from Fight Colorectal Cancer and one of the reasons they wanted to talk to me about it is because I do have a direct connection. My dad was 36 years old when he died of colon cancer and over the past couple of years the fundraiser I do during CMA Fest benefits colon cancer awareness and research. They saw what I was doing and asked we could partner up and try to change things and I was more than happy to become their spokesperson. It’s been great so far.”
It’s always really great when people use their fame for the right reasons so thank you for that. Lastly do you have any advice for upcoming artists looking to make a career out of country music?
“I always say that you gotta want it worse than anything else. You can’t dabble, that’s one problem I have with people moving to Nashville is they don’t commit. When I moved to Nashville all I wanted was to be on the radio and be able to sing songs for a living. That was the only thing I could think of – the only goal I had. I was 100% all in, it was all or nothing. So you gotta do it and you’re going to have to sacrifice.”
Country Music North would like to thank Craig Campbell for taking some time out of his day to talk with us. You can follow him on Twitter here, Instagram here, or like him on Facebook here. Also check out his official website. Tickets for his show at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill in Foxborough can be purchased here.