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Jon Pardi Takes Pride in ‘Keeping It Country’

Jon Pardi
Courtesy of Capitol Records Nashville

With a name like Jon Pardi, you know you’re in for a good time. And the 27-year-old from Northern California lives up to his name with his music and attitude. Pardi has already been winning country music fans over with his debut Top 40 hit, ‘Missin’ You Crazy,’ which he co-wrote with Bart Butler and Monty Holmes. The tune is the first release from the newcomer’s highly-anticipated debut album on Capitol Records Nashville.

It is no coincidence that Pardi is labelmates with guys like Luke Bryan and Eric Church — two superstars who have paid their dues in Music City and have earned themselves solid and successful careers in country music. And Pardi is hoping to follow in their footsteps.

Taste of Country recently caught up with Jon Pardi to talk about his new music on the way, life on the road and what the next few months might bring him,

Taste of Country: When did you first discover your love for country music?
Jon Pardi: I’ve been singing since I was a little boy. My grandma really influenced me in country music because she always loved country music. From like 3 years old on, during the summer or during the work days, my parents would drop me off at my grandma’s. We had this karaoke machine, and we would just sing – Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, George Strait, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Jr. — I was listening to all of that from a very early age. That all just kind of stuck with me, and I learned how to play guitar when I was about nine.

At 14, I was in my own little classic rock country band. Then, after high school, I started another band called Northern Comfort. That was based out of Chico, Calif. We played a bunch of bars for about three years when my drummer quit. That’s when I was like, “I don’t want to stop,” so I moved to Nashville. I got a publishing deal about a year and a half after moving here, and then after about three years in Nashville, I got my record deal.

When did you start dabbling in songwriting?
I started writing songs when I was 12. Even with my band in college, I was writing all the songs then. But really, working with songwriters and co-writing came when I moved to Nashville. I really wanted to learn that. That’s what I really focused on when I first moved to town. Getting a beginner publishing deal really helped me gain the skills. I just kept writing and writing. You just take everything out of life and turn it into an idea or a melody or a song, and find the best writers you can to write with that fit you and know what you want to do. I kind of focused on that, and kept it country … and I’m still keeping it country.

Where are you in the making of your debut album?
The album’s done. I’m ready for the next album [laughs]. I love my album, and I’m really excited about it, but some of the songs are two or three years old. I’ve got so many songs ready to go. I have songs that I play out live that aren’t even on this first album, just because sometimes we’ve got to play an hour, so we throw out some more originals. It’s fun. It was so hard because we had so many songs to pick from for this album. Some of them got stranded. It wasn’t that nobody liked them, it’s just that we can’t come out with a double album! It was fun though.

What can fans expect to hear on your debut record?
There are a good amount of partying songs and heartbreak songs. It’s kind of all around, with songs about relationships and going out and partying. ‘Chasin’ Them Better Days’ is one of my favorites.

In addition to writing all the songs on the album, you also co-produced the project. Tell us about that experience.
[My co-producer] Bart Butler is one of the first guys I met when I moved to town. We’d been doing demos ever since I moved to town. We work really good in the studio together. I’m more about working with the band and getting what I want to hear out of a song. I wrote the melodies and the songs, so I sort of know what the band’s doing in my head already. I enjoyed getting in the studio and working with the guys I really wanted to work with. Bart was overseeing it all. We worked really good together. We were just a good team of opinions. We get frustrated, but we don’t hate each other. He’s good at vocals and working with the engineers and stuff. The guy who engineered the album – Ryan Gore – he’s 28 now, and this is his first big label album. Everybody was just really excited about it. We are all the underdogs, pretty much!

Was the studio environment pretty comfortable for you?
Oh yeah. We had been doing demos for three years and we had been using the same band. It was just kind of like showing up to your studio with dudes who know exactly what you want. It was fun process. We drank some beers and listened to some songs and just kind of talked, because you’ve got to let the players play. We came up with some good stuff. It was fun because it was the first time me and Bart got to work together with so much time. It was really nice. When you’re cutting demos, it’s like we’ve got to cut six songs in three hours. Usually you get five [done]. It was awesome. We had a lot of time to fine-tune them out. It just felt natural and real because it was two guys who really didn’t know what they were doing making an album! It was our first time, so it was kind of magical in a way.

What kind of experience will fans get when they come to a Jon Pardi concert?
It’s going to be rowdy and upbeat. I don’t have one slow song on the album. We usually don’t play slow songs when we play live. I have a great band of great guys. We’re a lot of fun. We’ll probably drink a beer. It’s fun and rowdy and energetic. I try to always put on a good show and have the best time I can because we’re all in it together. We always try to have a good time.

What defining moment will make you feel like you’ve “made it” in country music?
I don’t know… maybe when I own a yacht or something [laughs]! Selling out an arena would be pretty awesome, but we’re a long way away from doing that [laughs]! But I don’t ever want to feel like I’m the king or anything. I always want to just stay humble, and I always want to keep climbing.

See the Top 40 Country Songs for August 2012

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