Colt Ford takes pride in his album, his values,and why “staying true to who you are”means so much in this business
Mayhem Music Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with country artist Colt Ford. He proved the spirit of country music is alive and well in an ever changing business. With today’s country genre expanding with a taste of rock, rap, and top 40, Colt talks why its so important to stay true to who you are.
Mayhem Music Magazine: I’ve been a fan since the first time I heard your original version of ‘Dirt Road Anthem’ before it was covered by Jason Aldean. How did that song come about in the first place?
Colt Ford: That is my song, I wrote it. Brantley (Gilbert) and I wrote it together. It was on ‘Ride Through the Country.’ it was written specifically for my record and it turned into something that people were really digging. It was an underground thing, and then of course, Jason took it to the biggest song of his career.
Mayhem Music Magazine: Congratulations for your recognition at the BMI Country Awards for co-writing two number one songs ‘Dirt Road Anthem’ & ‘Country Must Be Country Wide’. What does that mean to an artist like you?
Colt Ford: Having a Number One song, as a songwriter, that is your Superbowl or World Series, that is everything. There are so many guys that I know that are, without a doubt, better songwriters than I am, that have never had one; never had a Number One and they may never have one. Being there to accept two awards for 2 Number One songs was the most humbled I have ever been in the music business, because I know how incredibly hard that is to have that, and there are so many talented guys and there are so few people that get to have them. It was very humbling and pretty amazing.
Mayhem Music Magazine: You have a very specific cadence on the way you deliver lyrics. How did you even get started with this, and who influenced you to be the way you are?
Colt Ford: When I grew up; my dad did not have indoor plumbing until he was 18 years old. He picked cotton. He was poor. I came raised from country, with country values and morals, and that was all I knew. I was raised listening to Meryl, Waylon, Willie, Johnny Cash, Mel Tillis, Jerry Reed and things that I liked. Also, as I got older, I liked Run DMC too, like a lot of people did. When I got ready to try to make this one last chance at the music business, my wife just said, ‘Go in there and be as honest as you can be, and just be yourself. Write what you know about and just make it you, and see what that sounds like.’ I spent a lot of time in the music business trying to be what I thought somebody wanted it to be or what it needed to be to work, for that time. I was trying to be a chameleon, so to speak, but I was never really being myself. When I decided to be myself is when it worked.
Mayhem Music Magazine: Staying true to who you are is all you have at the end of the day.
Colt Ford: I tell every new young artist when they ask me, ‘You got any advice?’ I say, ‘Just be honest with yourself. If it is a song that you do not want to do, I would not do it, because, at the end of the day, it is your voice on that record. The record label cannot make you cut a song, unless they are sitting there with a gun to your head, they cannot make you do it. If it is something that you really do not dig or do not want to have people 10 years from now say, ‘You remember you sang that piece of shit?’ I would suggest that you do not do it if it is not who you are.’ That means whatever it means, but you got to have some conviction somewhere. I am spending a lot of time right now, like having JJ (Lawhorn) out here. He is phenomenally talented, I am hoping he can look and see, ‘Colt does this,’ so that will help him avoid some of the pitfalls along the way. I am hoping that he learns a lot from that.
Mayhem Music Magazine: Like how to keep your integrity.
Colt Ford: Yes.
Mayhem Music Magazine: When recording your new album ‘Declaration of Independence’, did you ever think it would go to number one straight out of the gate? What was that like for you?
Colt Ford: Again, that was just completely humbled, very satisfied, and thankful to the fans; they are the reason that it goes number one. I made this record for them. I tried to be open and honest with them and give them a record with 15 songs with not one song that sounds like the next one. I did not put any filler songs on there, so for that to be number one was a big deal. I may never have another one, but for one time, I could look at Billboard and say, ‘Colt Ford had the number one record in the country,’ and that is pretty neat.
Mayhem Music Magazine: You play the drums on a song during your set. How did this come about?
Colt Ford: One day, goofing around at a show, I remember exactly where it was, we were in Augusta, Georgia, and we just started playing ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ with the guitar players. It was during sound check, and I just sat back there and started playing it, and Rick said, ‘I know the words to that song.’ I said, ‘All right. Tonight, I will play the drums for that song and you sing it,’ and that just has become part of our show, something that we do all the time now. Right now, we are doing Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer,’ which is, obviously, such a big song, people love it and it is fun to sing. For the last 3 years we did ‘Life in the Fast Lane,’ then we did KISS’ ‘Rock and Roll All Night,’ then we are doing Bon Jovi. We have not decided what it is going to be next year.
Mayhem Music Magazine: Your song ‘Back,’ with Jake Owen is getting plenty of airplay. With this album, you have other great artists: Kix Brooks, Darius Rucker, Montgomery Gentry and Jason Aldean. How did these collaborations even begin?
Colt Ford: I do not write the songs for specific artists to be on there, but when I get done with a song, I think, ‘This would be cool for Montgomery Gentry. I think this would be cool for Darius.’ Every song, for the most part, on that record, really, truly, every song on there I said, ‘I think this is perfect for Darius,’ and I send him that song and said, ‘Yes, I agree.’ That has really been how it works. I am getting more airplay than I have ever gotten, which is awesome, and I am tickled about that, but I still have not had a song on the charts, yet and I would love to do that.
Mayhem Music Magazine: You have work with other artists from Luke Bryan to Tim McGraw. What artists have you not worked with, that you would still like to?
Colt Ford: There are a lot of people that I am fans of, but it really boils down to I am interested in working with somebody who is interested in doing something real and honest. As long as it is something that was real and it was organic, and it was not setup by this label called my label and they said, ‘Let us do something,’ and I do not know that person. I cannot do it like that, it has to be real to me, and they have to want to do it. I am a huge Keith Urban fan. I think that would be really cool. I would love to do something with George Strait. Zac Brown is my buddy; I would love to do something with Zac. I would love to do something with Miranda, and I think me and Taylor Swift could do something fun together. It would be fun because she is not afraid to be herself, so I think if me and her got in a room together, I guarantee you it would be a cool song. I do not know if that will ever happen, but I bet it would be a cool song. I would give her some backwoods credit and she might give me some pop world credit. Maybe I could be in Glamour magazine or something, doing that with her. I would certainly give her a little credit out in the backwoods, where a lot of my fans are.
Mayhem Music Magazine: What do you think your odds are for the Sexiest Man in Country? I saw you pushing two candles. (Go to www.coltford.com to view the video we are speaking of)
Colt Ford: That is just something that was fun to do. Last year, they picked 49 people and then there is one write-in ballot, so my fans got together and they made me the write-in ballot, which is cool. Then the real voting started, and I finished 9th, which I could not freaking believe, but it was still cool though. There is a lot of truth to that, though; sexy is not just about looking like a supermodel. You ask any woman, if they are honest with you, not a little girl, but you ask any woman what sexy is and they will say, ‘It has way more to do with, yeah, looks, but it is personality, the way you handle yourself, it is charisma,’ there is a lot of things to it. I do not know, I might not finish in the Top-10 again, but I am trying, I got two candles and a bubble bath this time.
Mayhem Music Magazine: I love your sense of humor. When it comes to even videos, you are a good ole boy having fun.
Colt Ford: If the song calls for serious, then I will be serious. If it is something that I can do that is fun, like the Twilight play on ‘Chicken & Biscuits,’ nobody is going to tell me that that is not freaking awesome. That video was awesome. That video should have won Video of the Year. I like to have fun, I am not afraid. The people that are the funniest, to me, and the most charming are the people that are not afraid to make fun of themselves or not afraid to be silly.
Mayhem Music Magazine: You have your own record label now. Why did you end up starting that? Was that for yourself, just to put your stuff out on a bigger span, or to help other artists?
Colt Ford: Both. Nobody was going to give me a record deal because they were scared to death of it, so we had to do it ourselves. The record label came before the record did, so we started the label first, before anything else. At the same time, It is about music for us. We did not care where you came from; you did not have to look like a supermodel or anything like that. If you had cool songs that people dug, Average Joe’s might be a good place for you. We do 50/50 record deals. Nobody else really does that.
Mayhem Music Magazine: Many times the persona of an artist is different from how they actually are. In your eyes, who is Colt Ford?
Colt Ford: Colt Ford is exactly who you hear on these records and who you hear on stage. I am a normal person. I do not cure cancer and I am not a neurosurgeon, so I do not take myself that seriously. You play music for a living. That is a blessing and just be thankful that you got the opportunity to do it, and thank the people. The other night at the BMI awards; across the street there are 300 fans standing out, it is 37 degrees. They got on parkas and they are screaming and yelling for everybody that came out there. I went over there and signed autographs and took pictures for 20 minutes. If it is not for them, I ain’t even standing there. Just be grateful, humble, and lucky that you get to play music. That is the way it should be, that is the way I look at it. I was not a kid when I started, so I already knew who I was as a person, so maybe that had something to do with it. At the end of the day, you still got to be a good person. I want to be that. I want to be more like Charlie Daniels. He still shows up, and there are all these people there to see him, thousands of people come to see him. He still says thank you. He still does what he does and says thanks to everybody. That is the career I want to have.
Mayhem Music Magazine: It looks like you have a great start.
Colt Ford: I am off to a good start. You just got to maintain.
Mayhem Music Magazine: Thank you for taking the time.
Colt Ford: It was my pleasure.
We hope you enjoyed this interview with Colt Ford. Be sure to check back for more music interviews.
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