Jason Aldean has an every-day job. And please note the hypen. It’s important. His is not an everyday job, as in relatable or normal. It is an Every. Day. Job.
“I think a lot more goes into it than people realize,” said Aldean who, at 40, is one of country music’s biggest stars. He’s released seven albums and two-dozen singles in 12 years. His concerts pack amphitheaters, which is likely to be the case June 3 when his “They Don’t Know Tour” rides into Darien Lake Performing Arts Center. (The 7:30 p.m. show will be opened by Chris Young and Kane Brown.)
And yes, Aldean’s days are jammed with far more than the rest of us know. Unless, that is, you ask him. Aldean, a native of Georgia, called me on a recent morning from his tour bus en route from Nashville to Rhode Island for a show.
Question: Do you ever look at the last 12 years and think about everything that’s happened?
Answer: It’s a little mind-blowing for me, man. All this started because I started playing guitar in my bedroom. I literally learned guitar just so I could play with my dad and my uncle. That turned into getting onstage and singing in talent contests and getting a house gig at a bar in my hometown on the weekends, and all that led to the career I’ve had, which is crazy. It’s exceeded anything I ever thought was possible at the time. I started out doing this for fun.
Q: In an interview last November with Rolling Stone, you said, “The common man is highly underestimated.” You see more of this country than most of us do. Is that changing?
A: I think so. I think you saw that in a big way during the election. I think a lot of times, the common man -- the farmer from middle America -- is a little bit forgotten about. You see a sense of pride that people like that realize they do have a voice. As long as they stand up and speak, people will listen.
I don’t think the election was a turning point, but it kind of made people go, "Wow, if we do stand up and say something and speak our minds, we are being heard." It was a cool thing to see that. That’s where I came from. I came from Georgia. [Note: Aldean grew up in Macon, Ga., which has a population of just under 100,000.] I didn’t come from a big city or a lot of money. That ain’t where I came from either. I can relate to that, and I think there’s a pride factor. People are proud of what they do, and of hard work.
Q: Let’s talk about hard work. With you, we all see the result onstage, and that looks like a lot of fun. But I know there’s a lot of gritty hard work behind it. If we were following you around, what would we see?
A: More than anything, man, you don’t have a lot of days off. You’re on the road, you play three shows a week – Thursday, Friday, Saturday – and you get home Sunday. Well, Monday you may be writing songs or in the studio or going to downtown Nashville to film something for CMT. There’s always some kind of thing going on. You never really have a day off.
You’re doing what I’m doing right now — phoners. Calling radio stations, doing print stuff.
For touring, you’re in (rehearsals for) a month. Before that, you’re designing the stage, the production, trying to figure out who your opening acts are going to be. It’s a daily deal. It’s not just getting onstage and singing for a couple hours a night, and getting on a luxury tour bus and riding to the next town and doing the same thing. It’s an every-day job.
Q: I’ve heard you acknowledge that what you’re doing now will not last indefinitely. Are you trying to get everything out of it that you can while you’re at the top?
A: I’ve been very fortunate, very blessed, to be in the situation I’m in. At the same time, I also realize it could be taken away tomorrow. There are a million things that could happen where it would be gone tomorrow. For me, it’s “live everyday to the fullest.”
Do I think I’ll always be able to play music and play my shows? Yeah, of course, hopefully as long as I want to do that, I can. Do I kid myself and say it will always be on this level? No, not at all. I know at some point it won’t be on this level, but while it is, I want to enjoy it, have fun with it, take advantage of it, and not sitting there at the end of it and going, “Man, I wish I would have….”