Country music is all about the storyline, and the path of least resistance, lyrically speaking, often makes for the best tales-turned-songs. Easton Corbin, the Floridian behind hits like "All Over The Road" and "A Little More Country Than That," is a man familiar with this model, using it to his and his fans' advantages since his debut in 2010.
While he still considers himself a newcomer, he speaks with the concise precision of a weathered professional -- after all, Corbin has moved over 2 million singles in four years. While this year is his first time to Country Thunder, he's a road dog that works best on a large stage setting, putting his aw-shucks charm and melodic sensibilities on display on a grand scale. We spoke to Corbin ahead of his set at Country Thunder this Friday.
There's been a lot of teasing and buildup to your third record, Clockwork, with your surprise album cover release and whatnot, so the anticipation is pretty strong. What can fans expect from the new record?
Honestly, when it comes down to look for songs for these records, you gotta find stuff that means something to you, that you really love. I always use the same process -- that's the process every time I cut these records. I love traditional country music, and from this record you can expect that I've grown even more as an upcoming artist, I've kept growing, but they're songs in that country stable because that's what I love and that's what I do.
Talk me through the moment where you realized that your country career was finally reaching a peak, that you had broken through to the other side.
I feel like as far as the peak goes, one of the brightest moments for me that told me 'Oh, wow, I'm here,' was just playing the Grand Ol' Opry. That's a special thing and a great honor and it was always a dream of mine, so that's the big moment for me, the first time I played the Opry. I just feel really blessed to be here and I've met a lot of great people, made a lot of contacts with a lot of great people, and I think that's the biggest thing: People around me decided to give me a chance. That's really what it takes, that person or those people that believe in you. I was just really blessed and fortunate to have that.
On the other side of that coin, what's proven to be the biggest challenge thus far in your career?
Man, that's a good question -- probably the travel and stuff out there, you know, sometimes it gets tough being away from home. It's a lot of fun, don't get me wrong, you have a lot of fun and I really enjoy traveling, but sometimes you get to missing home a little bit. Especially the family down in Florida -- my grandparents are getting older, stuff like that, and I like to get down to see then when I can but I don't have the chance to do that very often.
With the amount of radio, press and touring you've done over the past few years, how hard is it to juggle a relatively normal home life and a career, especially having been in Nashville as long as you have?
The cool thing about Nashville is that you can still be an artist and be around, still get away from it all. It's a great place, I've been there about six years I think. I guess I could go back to Florida but it's hard to get business done when here you're in town, you're at the center of the music business so it makes it easier for sure.
Your early guitar mentor Pee Wee Melton is regarded in circles as being a highly influential technical guitar player when the rockabilly movement started to happen. Did any of his playing influence the way you write melodies or guitar lines in general?
Oh, definitely. Man, Pee Wee Melton was one of the best, just the knowledge that guy had, he had been doing it forever, since he was 16-years-old and he was 70 when he died. It's funny, man, as far as my songwriting process though, I'm definitely a melody guy. Even when I listen to a song, a lot of times the melody gets me first, but there is something to say about a good hook.
You're young, so I'd assume your range of musical influences yourself is pretty wide, you have a lot to pull from a lot of opportunities to incorporate possibly radical elements into your work -- what's one aspect of country music that you want to explore or attempt to branch out into with your writing, your songs?
I'd love to do a record one day of just my favorite cover songs, things that influenced me as far as artists [go], Merle Haggard and George Jones and Keith Whitley and people like that. Just a lot of old-school favorite songs, I'd like to do a record like that one day. I guess it's kind of like that Alan Jackson record [1999's Under The Influence] and it was a great record, oh my goodness, just really great. That's one of my favorite Alan Jackson records, actually. I'd like to do something like that one day.
What about the music industry, touring or the overall musical process is still enticing or truly entertaining for you?
Probably one of the biggest things that takes my breath away is just getting out in that crown and into your music and knowing that many people love what you do -- that's pretty breathtaking, actually.
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Easton Corbin is scheduled to play Country Thunder on Friday, April 11, at Country Thunder in Florence.