As Kenny Chesney gears up to release his latest album, Welcome to the Fishbowl, on June 19, he sat down with Billboard magazine to discuss his new music. The new project challenges both Kenny and his fans as he pushes his creative boundaries, while still providing his fan base with the music they’ve come to expect from him.
“I’m more comfortable as a vocalist and as an interpreter of songs and a songwriter, more than I have been on the previous 12 records,” he said. “We think a lot about how to balance that fine line of being artistic and creative, but also being mainstream. It used to be I tried to be all mainstream, but now, especially with Hemingway’s Whiskey and Fishbowl, I’ve felt this creative freedom. I’m at a point in my career and my life where I can balance both, and that feels really good.”
Welcome To The Fishbowl once again pairs Kenny with longtime produce Buddy Cannon. Their partnership works so well because of their long relationship, Buddy’s ability to bring balance and Kenny’s more varied taste in music. “Buddy has always been my rock in the studio,” Kenny said. “Sometimes I might get a little far out there-just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean you can’t do it. But Buddy is my equalizer. He hears things that I could never hear.”
“I keep my antennae up, because I learn something every time I go in the studio with him,” Buddy told Billboard. “He’s younger than I am. He listens to more different types of music than I do. His iPod is as varied as anybody’s, and when he comes into the studio he mixes all that stuff in with what we’re doing.”
When Kenny is choosing tracks, he makes his decision based on how they would sound live. “Making a song is a wonderful, creative time, but for me it can be a very stressful time,” he said. “If you don’t get it right in the studio, you’re not going to get it right on the radio and out on the road. When I’m in the studio, I imagine myself being in the grass at an amphitheater. ‘What’s going to turn me on? What’s going to make me care?’”
Kenny also sat down for a QA session with Billboard’s Ray Waddell to answer fan questions. He gave fans an idea of what to expect from his and Tim McGraw’s co-headlining Brothers of the Sun Tour, which kicks off June 2 in Tampa and will play more than 20 football stadiums across the country.
“It’s not necessarily going to be the kind of show where you would come and buy something to eat and drink and sit down and enjoy the evening,” he said. “Like always, we try to make it as energetic and as fun couple of hours as possible and this year is not going to change.”
Kenny has been nominated and won some of the biggest awards in country music. Those awards are special to him, but not what drives him to keep making music.
“The most gratifying thing for me is taking a song in its rawest form, going in to the studio and making a record on it that you envision then releasing that record to radio and then see people living their lives with it,” he said. “You go out on stage to see it affect those people and to see how much that piece of music really means to them. That’s the most rewarding thing to me.”
GAC is giving away the ultimate Brothers of the Sun concert experience. We’re sending one lucky winner and a guest to the final Brothers of the Sun tour stop in Foxboro, Massachusetts on August 25. The next day you’ll be whisked away on a private jet bound for a beach-side resort in Key West, Florida. Plus, we’re gonna throw in $5,000 cash!