Smoldering vocals, rebellious lyrics and raucous live performances. Must be Gary Allan.
The California native has had five No. 1 and 14 Top 10 hits at country radio — including “Man to Man,” “Tough Little Boys,” “Watching Airplanes,” “Best I Ever Had,” “Nothing On But The Radio” and, most recently, “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain).”
“Mess With Me” is his current single, a song he has had on the back-burner to release for a few years. It’s been the only song from his upcoming new album he is playing at his live shows.
In addition to being a singer/songwriter, Allan also designs and makes jewelry. While both are creative, Allan says they are very different processes.
The FNP caught up with Allan via email in the days ahead of his show at The Great Frederick Fair on Friday, which kicks off the grandstand entertainment. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $25 grandstand annex, $40 grandstand seating and $45 for track seating or track SRO (half seated, half standing). For more details, visit www.thegreatfrederickfair.com.
It’s been a few years since your last album, so it’s good to hear some new music is out (“Mess Me Up”) and more is on the way. Talk about the upcoming album and the songs on it. Do you have a title, release date yet?
At the moment, we don’t have any release information. I’ve been working on new music for a while, so the songs represent where I have been in life at those moments. I didn’t write them all, but they all fit me and feel like things I could have written.
A number of songs you’ve written and/or recorded (“Every Storm Runs Out of Rain,” “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful,” “Her Man”) have a, “yeah, things are bad, but these bad times won’t last” kind of vibe — uplifting and encouraging. Is that reflection of who you are?
I didn’t write “Her Man” or “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful,” but they both represented who I was or what I was working through in life at the time. When we started writing “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain),” we set out to write a song with a positive meaning. We wanted each line to say something positive and give you that uplifting feeling.
When did you know that music is what you wanted to do? What was your road like from California to Nashville recording artist? Who were/are some of your music “heroes?”
I grew up with my dad playing traditional country music in the house daily. Merle, Willie, Waylon, Buck, Cash and George were my biggest influences. I played in a band with my dad and my brother. We played bars all around Orange County several nights a week. I knew early on that music is what I wanted to do. I worked other jobs — construction, building homes, selling cars, etc. to pay the bills, but music is what I loved and I never gave up on that dream.
I read somewhere that you recently moved to a new-to-you house, one that used to belong to Conway Twitty. Is that right? What’s it like?
Living in one of Conway’s old homes is pretty cool. My manager is friends with Conway’s wife, Dee. Once I moved in, Dee came and walked me through the house and told me what Conway did to it and brought me photos of what it looked like when he lived there. The home has a lot of cool history.
How did you get interested in designing and creating jewelry? Which creative process is easier, writing songs or creating jewelry?
I always liked unique jewelry pieces and started meeting designers when I owned a clothing store. They showed me different techniques and before long, I took some classes and then bought all the tools to start my own line. It is a fun creative outlet for me. Making jewelry and writing songs are two completely different things for me. Both are creative outlets, but it would be hard to compare them.
Tattoos. You have a few. Tell us about a few of them … what they are and their significance to you. Any new one(s)?
I got my first tattoo when I was 14. My Mom told me I looked like a bank robber and she was not happy about it at all. It was a long time before I got another one. I became friends with DJ Tambe who has been on — and won — “Ink Masters.” He and I will discuss different ideas and then come up with a tat from that. I guess my latest one is a tiki guy surfing on my leg.
You will be playing The Great Frederick Fair. What can we expect from Gary Allan at this show?
Come out planning to have a good time. We play the hits, some fan favorite album cuts and a few new songs as well. All in all, we just want to get the crowd on their feet and everyone having a blast.