Interview: Jerrod Niemann Says Staying Creative, Daring Is the Key to Good Music
Jerrod Niemann's next album is finally ready to go. The singer-songwriter's previous record, High Noon, was released in 2014, and Niemann's spent the time between now and then signing with Curb Records and releasing a single, "A Little More Love," with his good friend (and labelmate) Lee Brice -- but now, he's eager for fans to hear his next disc.
"I cannot wait for you to hear it," Niemann tells The Boot. "No one’s ever said, ‘This is the worst album of my career;' that wouldn’t make sense. It is kind of cliche to say it’s the best album, but it is ...
"You take life and you take art, you take good things and bad things in between, and you merge them together. Sometimes it comes out different than you can imagine, but with this album, the songs that I either wrote or was lucky enough to come across … to me, it feels like the best snapshot of who I am," Niemann continues. "Every layer to the onion is covered in this."
Niemann has already proven his abilities as a songwriter: He penned several of his own hits, including "Lover, Lover," "Only God Could Love You More" and "One More Drinkin' Song." However, the tunesmith didn't write many of the songs on his upcoming album -- including his current single, "God Made a Woman" -- in part because he didn't need to.
"What’s funny is, I cut 16 or 17 songs, and the songs that I didn’t put on the album are the songs I wrote," Niemann shares. "I have a couple on there, two or three, but really, since I was lucky enough to co-produce the record, I found these songs I wish I had written, and I was able to dress them up and translate them into how I’d like them to sound. There’s so many amazing songwriters moving to Nashville all the time."
In 2016, Niemann told The Boot, "Each album you make, I think you find yourself a little more." At the time, the Kansas native had just signed with Curb and was beginning work on what is now a finished product, a complete album. Those words, he says, ring truer than ever having wrapped up the recording process.
"Any day you wake up, you’re hopefully a little smarter. But the [important] thing is not losing the will to take chances," Niemann explains. "It’s just, you’re inspired differently; it’s not the fact that the approach is any different. There are different approaches in the instrumentation, always, but finding what inspires you and challenges you [changes].
"If someone zigs, you’ve got to zag," Niemann adds. "It’s just how I like to make music. Everyone’s always in a debate about what’s country music, what’s not ... It’s half the instrumentation, and challenging yourself to make the notes that are there just as important as the notes that aren’t there ... You have to find the elements that every song deserves, and the elements that the song doesn’t deserve."
Any day you wake up, you’re hopefully a little smarter. But the [important] thing is not losing the will to take chances.[/pullquotes]
Does Niemann fell any pressure to be releasing his first album with Curb Records? "Ignorantly," the 37-year-old admits, "I do not."
"And I should," he quickly adds. "But the reason I don’t is, for the first time, I’m lucky enough -- I’m not trying to point fingers or say I like or don’t like something, but a big giant label is like Walmart, and the No. 1 flavor sold at Walmart is vanilla. Somewhere like Curb is more like a boutique, where you have more flavors, and they want you to be unique, and they want you to be a little different, and they want you to completely stand out on your own as an artist.
"It feels great to have people behind me that are pushing you to be who you are, where you aren’t over-thinking or under-thinking, you’re just doing your thing," Niemann continues. "It’s a great place to have healthy conversations about music, and to make music that you love."
The Niemann that takes the stage today is a far cry from the man who independently released his first album, Long Hard Road, in 1999. Little did he know how prophetic the title of his debut project would be, but after facing several setbacks and disappointments over the last two decades, the singer says that he is truly grateful for every single experience he's had.
"When I was at rock bottom in my life and every door was slammed in my face a lot, the person I had to turn to was the person in the mirror," Niemann concedes. "At the rock bottom, when I had nowhere to turn, is where everything actually went right for me ...
"You’ve got to follow your gut; it’s easy to lose track of that," he adds. "I feel like, now, I’m probably actually the person that actually started out giving advice to me now; it’s kind of reversed."
Niemann is full of optimism as he prepares to share his latest album with his fans, hopefully by late summer or early fall. Meanwhile, he is continuing to work hard, play hard and share his music with whoever will listen.
"It’s crazy to think country music will take you somewhere like, last year, from Turks and Caicos to Afghanistan. You never know where you’re going to end up," Niemann muses. "[It's important to realize] that we’re all connected because of music, and not [forget] that, at the end of the day, in country music especially, the song matters more than anything, because that’s the message. It’s our job to touch people or get something or remember something or realize something."
Niemann's newest single, "God Made a Woman," is available for download on iTunes.
More of 2017's New Releases