Chicago Music Magazine President and Editor-in-Chief Shawn Kellner caught up with country music superstar Jake Owen backstage before night one of his two sold out nights of the CMT "Summer Never Ends" Tour 2012 at The House of Blues Chicago.
CMM: Whats going on Jake? How are you?
Jake Owen: Dude, I’m good man, just waiting to play a show tonight. I have lots of love for Chicago.
CMM: You have been here quite a few times before at Joe's on Weed Street, Millennium Park, etc. So you’ve gotten a pretty good taste of what Chicago is all about.
Jake Owen: It's kind of wild, I’ve been coming to Chicago for the last 7 or 8 years of my life, playing everywhere from Rosemont [All State Arena], Chicago Theatre, The Rosemont Theatre [Akoo], Joe's on Weed Street, Millennium Park, and now were playing here at the House of Blues for two sold out nights. It's pretty cool.
CMM: You have had a heck of a last couple weeks man. Congratulations on your daughter being born. On Thanksgiving of all days. How does it feel?
Jake Owen: It's pretty wild man. First off my life the last few years in general has been pretty amazing and very fruitful thanks to hard work and just persistence. Getting married and having a child all at the same time as having my career blossom is just amazing. They say timing is everything and timing has been pretty good for me lately for sure.
CMM: So when you were back at Florida State, all those year ago, playing in bars for free with your band. Was this what was in your head, becoming a country music superstar?
Jake Owen: I don't think I ever wanted to be just a “star.”
CMM: I just mean having a successful career in music.
Jake Owen: I just always wanted to do what I was doing there, playing for people. It was fun. That's what I want to do now is have fun. I think anyone who gets into playing music because they want to be a “star” or to just to “make money” are in it for the wrong reasons. That all comes with a love and appreciation for not only what you do but for the people who support what you do. It's awesome as you grow and you build more and more friends and fans on the road. People tell someone else about what you're doing, and they tell their friends and next thing you know the shows are getting bigger. That's all I wanted to do. I still am the same guy I was then but I’m just playing for a few more people now.
CMM: Well your true sense of humility has shined pretty bright for you, Jake, considering the fact that you're going on your 3rd #1 song from one record.
Jake Owen: Yeah, it's funny. I told someone the other day, "it took me 7 years to get a #1 song and then 18 months to get three #1 songs in a row." That's the way of the music business. I think without that persistent climb I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much as I do now. I wouldn't be able to put that all in perspective with my family and my child I just had. It's pretty cool.
CMM: If you could go back to the early days maybe at Florida State and give yourself some advice knowing all the things that you know now and the tremendous success that you have seen. What advice would you give yourself?
Jake Owen: Crazy enough, whatever advice I gave myself at that time seemed to work out up to this point. I would say, it's not always just plugging your guitar in and singing. There is a lot more that goes along with that. You have a responsibility to your band members and the people that work with you. More importantly, you have a responsibility to the fans, which grows once they start really following you and driving hours to come see you. That's a responsibility that I enjoy. I would give a piece of advice to me or anyone to make sure its something you want to do because, once your in it you have a lot to be responsible for. Personally, I love that responsibility and take it very seriously.
CMM: You’ve spent the whole summer out on an arena tour and now you're out on your first ever headlining tour. How does it feel to see all these shows sell out knowing you've sold out more shows than any other artist on this tour in its 11 year history?
Jake Owen: It's kind of surprising. I wish I had a better word for it. I’m still doing the same things I did 8 or 10 years ago, I’m working hard and just learning more. I’m learning about myself more. I’m learning how to put a better show on every night. Next year it will be better than it was this year. When you do that, people talk. When people see that, they enjoy what you do and go and tell their friends, who tells their friends, etc. To see that these shows have sold out. All of them. Every one that we have done is what you strive for, but it's not something that can ever be assumed. When the dreams that you’ve chased become reality, then you realize you're on the right path, but up until that point you realize that you're just chasing them.
CMM: Wow, Right on. Thank You so much for sitting down and talking to me today. You have the next two nights of a sold out House of Blues Chicago waiting for you. We will be out there watching you along with everyone else, and congrats on your new baby girl.
Jake Owen: Thanks Shawn, please let me know what you think. It's a big thing for us to get out there and make sure that people have a good time. That's why these guys, Florida Georgia Line and Love and Theft are out there too. When you're a headliner you get to choose who you want on your tour. No one told me you have to take anyone out as support. I chose both these bands personally. It's because they understand what were are all about. We want to have a good time. We want people to leave the venue tonight on a Thursday night and say “Man that was awesome.” Maybe with a little bit of a headache at work tomorrow, or some people might miss work, that's OK with me too.
CMM: Well that just shows me, Jake, how connected to the ground you have kept yourself. When we saw you at Millennium Park at Country Music Fest, Love and Theft supported you. Here we are several years later and they are right beside you again.
Jake Owen: Yeah, they were there that night. Very cool.
CMM: Thanks again Jake. Have a great time in Chicago!