With some artists, either you get it or you don't. Country artist Colt Ford is one of those guys. He has helped launch some big country music careers while working on his own; he has recorded duets with a varitable who's who of country music, and he operates a successful music label and management company. He also finds time to tour the country (nonstop it seems) bringing his own take on country music to the masses and even slips in a little time to call in for interviews...
Toddstar: Colt, thank you so much for giving me a call today. I really appreciate it. I know you're a busy man.
Colt: Thank you for your time, I appreciate that as well.
Toddstar: Well listen, let's talk about something that's really exciting to me is your coming over to play the Lexington Village Theater over in Lexington, Michigan.
Colt: I'm excited, man. I've never had really anywhere in Michigan that hasn't been just a whole lot of fun for me. The people up there, I mean it's just my kind of folks, do you know what I mean? It's hard working, it's blue collar. My music really translates to that, because it's who I am.
Toddstar: That's awesome. What's it about a smaller place that you enjoy? I know you just got off a huge tour and we'll talk about that in a second. I've seen you at a smaller venue - the world famous Machine Shop. Now to see you in a small theater. What's it about a small venue that draws you in and makes you enjoy playing?
Colt: It's neat to do the big tours, and it's neat to play big festivals and all that stuff, but I really enjoy the crowd being right there. Do you know what I mean? I can almost see everybody in the crowd. There is something special and magical about that to me that I don't even want to lose. You talk about the Machine Shop, one of my favorite places, and I've gotten to be such good friends with Kevin Zink, the owner, that I'm going to always play the Machine Shop. There won't be a year that I don't play the Machine Shop. It won't happen. I love it. Some of those places like that were kind enough to give me a shot when nobody knew who Colt Ford was. I just think that it's important that you never forget that. Some of the places that gave you a shot and you go well, maybe I can't play on a Saturday night, but I can play on this day. That place is just one of those special places, and I'm looking forward. I heard cool things about the theater in Lexington. I can't wait. I love that vibe. The thing is, you've seen me play at a variety of different kinds of scenarios. It makes zero difference to me. You know, we were sold out there in Detroit not long ago on the tour. That's incredible. But if there is 200, 1,000, 20,000 it doesn't matter. I play the same. I enjoy it no matter what. I just feel like given the chance to play music period is just such a gift that it just doesn't matter to me. I'll play the same no matter who's there or what's there. All of those theaters like that, the history and you start looking at the things and people that have played there. They're important and it's important that us as artists don't lose sight of that. It's still important for us to come back and play those kinds of venues.
Toddstar: Yeah. You mentioned and I've seen you several times, the thing that I notice about you Colt is underneath that hat and behind those sunglasses there is always a big smile. What's it about hitting that stage that just makes you smile like that?
Colt: I say this a lot and I get that people they're like, man, they think that dude's a big redneck; they think the whole big tough guy thing. I'm like, I am all those things, but I'm also a father. I'm just a regular person that happens to play music for a living. I realize how lucky every single time I walk on that stage I am to get to do that. I'm not a neurosurgeon. I don't like artists that take themselves too serious. I'm lucky to be able to do what I do for a living. How in the world are you not happy? Why would you never not be smiling? I don't understand it. It's like, wait I get to go play music and somebody is going to let me make living at this, and it's something that I love to do and people singing along and having a good time with something that I wrote or I'm doing. How do you not have the biggest smile? I can't wipe it off. I can't hide it.
Toddstar: And you keep doing music. You even got new stuff coming out. You got the brand new single. How is it that you keep growing? Southern hip hop is kind of a different sound, different groove, yet you somehow seem to put a different twist on it every time out. How is it you can take something that seems to narrow and make it so easy to grow?
Colt: People misunderstand me a little bit in some ways. I'm not a Southern hip hop artist at all. I'm a country artist. I have never claimed to be anything but that. That's really the case. I'm not stuck in to I do this, and I can only do that. I'm a country artist. I move all over the place musically. At the end of the day, if you were putting something on my tombstone, I'm a country artist. It's who I am, it's what I do, and it’s what I talk about. Do I do it differently than George Strait, yup. Okay. So what? Hank Williams Senior and Hank Williams Junior don't sound alike either. That's okay. It's quite okay. Keith Whitley and Keith Urban don't sound alike. Carry Underwood don't sound like Dolly Parton to me. I think that's what makes music great. This new record, I have pushed myself further. I don't like when artists get complacent, and go, "oh, I got the success," and it's easy to get lazy and go, "I don't have to. It doesn't matter what I do, they're going to play it. It'll still be a hit no matter what." I don't buy in to that. Every record I'm trying to get better. I'm never trying to forget who I am or how I got here, but at the same time I'm trying to get better every single time. I feel like this new record is the best one I've made yet. Somebody told me the other day, "oh, Colt you say that every record." I go, well yeah, what do you want me to say? This is the third best record I've ever made. What kind of dumb shit is that? That doesn't make any sense to me. You're supposed to try to get better. It ain't no different than what you do. You've written some great stuff, and you go back and look at the history of stuff you've written, you go that was good, and that was good, but every time you write something, what are you trying to do? Write the best freaking thing you can do. That's the way I approach life. I think this new record is the best thing I've ever done. I really do. 100%. Sonically, musically. The songs. I think it's the best thing I've done. And there is some stuff you've never heard me do, at the same time, even the stuff you've never heard me do when you hear it, you're not going, "wow, wow, wow, what is he doing?" You're going, "Colt's doing some different stuff." But it's still me; do you know what I mean?
Colt: You know it's funny, years and years ago, Rhett Akins, who was a great country artist, and his son Thomas Rhett is blowing up huge. I remember, somebody interviewed Rhett and I saw the interview they asked, "You’ve written some songs with Colt Ford, and you're out there. What is the deal?" And he said, "It’s simple. Go see it. Once you go see it, you'll understand." And he goes, "if you don't understand, then you're just never going to get it." He said, just go see it, and that's a good example. Minty just came out with us out to Red Rocks and everything. It's just awesome to me to create those kinds of friendships and relationships. You've always been good to me and our label as far as writing and talking about stuff we're doing. At the same time you don't just do it because of that. You do it because you dig it, and you've seen it, and you know what's going on, and it's cool.
Toddstar: That it is man. That it is. You do something so fun. What's fun for me, and you talk about all these venues that gave you a shot on your way up, but there's guys out there rocking it now, they've gotta tip their hat to Colt Ford. You've got guys like Brantley Gilbert, who you just went out on tour with. You've got guys like Tyler Farr. You're launching careers as well. What's it like for you to know that, I mean you're still on your way up. You're working on your sixth record. You don't have that 40 year legacy. You're still on your way up, but you're giving guys a leg up on your way up, and you've got your own package deal. You've got the Average Joe's. Everything else. What's it like for you to be able to control your own destiny, yet help others with theirs at the same time?
Colt: It's incredible and it's kind of what you're supposed to do. It would be easy to sit around and go, man I helped do that. Tyler used to play guitar for me, why in the hell has he got three number one singles, and I've never had a song on the Top 40? I'm stating that because I know it, obviously I know what's going on. I don't mean it like that. I'm not mad about that. I'm happy as shit for Tyler. If you're doing it to try to keep score, then you're doing it for the wrong reasons anyway. You can sit there all day and go through other magazines and go, "well that's bullshit why does Joe Blow write for Rolling Stone, when I write way better than he does." It don't matter. You just take what you got and get all you can get out of it. That's what I'm going to keep doing.
Toddstar: That's awesome. Colt, you've written for, played with, recorded with, shared the stage with, shared a tour bus with, a veritable of who's who in music. Not even just country, but music. Who's out there that you still want to nab, that you want to do a duet with, or you'd like to write with, or write for?
Colt: You know what, and I've said this before, it's kind of become my standard answer, because I do so much of that, I get a lot of, and I've got more on this record of me by myself than any other record. I get a lot of that. It's about the song first. The songs kind of lead me to the artist. There is so many of them that I think are fantastic, and it really doesn't matter to me. I want to work with anybody that kind of wants to work with me and go, let's do something cool. I want to do that. That really is what it is for me. There is so many of them that I think are great, I really do. There is so many artists that I've done stuff that I'd like to work with again, and there's some that I've never worked with and I think we would do something killer. I couldn't even begin to start naming names, because it would be a little unfair. It really is like if you dig it and you dig what I'm doing and I dig what you're doing, then let's see what we can come up with together, and let's let it be about the song.
Toddstar: Perfect. I know you're busy so I got one more for you before we let you go. When it comes to a live show, which again I'm so pumped to see at Lexington Theater tomorrow. But when it comes to a live show, when you're singing your songs and you're looking down at the set list, what song or two of yours when you know it's coming, just gives you a jolt of energy? You're just so pumped to play, you can't wait to get to it.
Colt: So many of my songs have a lot of tempo. I don't do as many slower things. Early in the set you're going to hear "Answer to No One." It's the second song in the set right now. That song is kind of me. That's kind of who I am. You do whatever you want to do. I'm going to do my thing, my way, and those that want to be here and do it with me, freaking come on and we'll rock it. That second song right out the gate that really sets the tone pretty hard.
Colt: Man, thank you so much Todd, I appreciate it. I'm looking forward to seeing you again. We'll get up there and have some fun tomorrow. I hope it'll be a fun crowd; I'll do every damn thing I can.
Toddstar: Sounds good, I wouldn't expect any less, Colt. We'll talk to you tomorrow.
Colt: Thanks. Have a good day.
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