10 Questions with ... Rodney Atkins
January 11, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Rodney Atkins was born in Knoxville, TN and raised in Greeneville, TN by his adoptive parents. Atkins began playing guitar in high school, and after attending Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, TN, he relocated to Nashville in the mid-1990s to begin his professional music career. He signed with Curb Records in 1996 and has since topped the charts with hits like "If You're Going Through Hell (Before The Devil Even Knows)," "Watching You," "These Are My People," "Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)," "It's America," and "Take A Back Road." Atkins released his current single, "Eat, Sleep, Love You, Repeat" to radio in October 2014 and is currently working on multiple projects for 2015.
1. Rodney, thank you for taking time to speak with All Access! You're a Tennessean, born and raised, having lived in East and Middle Tennessee during your life. If you had to pick one of your songs to describe your life in each location, which song would be sum up your youth in East Tennessee, and why? And which song would be sum up your time thus far in Middle Tennessee, and why?
Growing up in East Tennessee would really be a combination of a lot of songs. "These Are My People," "In The Middle," and "About The South" really do a pretty good job of summing up growing up in the mountains of East TN. As I got older and had my son, "Watching You" and "He's Mine" sort of became the soundtrack. Now, if I am stuck in Nashville's traffic it is "Take A Back Road."
2. Rodney, you have always been fairly open about the fact that you were raised by adoptive parents. Has that shaped your music in any way, and if so, how?
It has not just shaped my music, but I think shaped my whole life. For most of my life I had no idea who or where I came from. As I have gotten older and learned of all the sacrifices people made for me (my birth mother giving me up and my adoptive parents raising me), I have come to really see that it is what is in front of us that really matters.
3. When you're writing, or when you're listening to demos to decide what to cut, what is your process? How do you select songs to cut, and how do you select singles?
I always think of the line in "These Are My People": "It ain't always pretty, but it's real" when I am looking at songs. I want to find songs that are real, that people can relate to and connect with.
4. We know that a lot of your music reflects your life - and the real life situations of people around you - and you once said that "Watching You" was really inspired by your son Elijah. What is the inspiration behind your single "Eat, Sleep, Love You, Repeat"?
As you go through life, you learn things. I have been so fortunate in so many areas. With the new single, it really is a pretty great way to go through life as a spouse. Sometimes we try and make things so complicated, but if we break it down to its simplest form, it all makes sense. "Eat, Sleep, Love You, Repeat" is that to me. I try to really follow the directions in the song with my wife Rose.
5. You've passed the one year mark, so technically I suppose you're no longer a newlywed, but what about your life and music has changed since becoming a "newlywed" in November 2013?
I am in a much happier place then I have been in a long time. To have someone who loves you unconditionally I think makes you listen to songs differently. When we are at home, we are constantly playing music for each other. She is such a great singer and songwriter on her own; I love hearing her influences in music and learning from her.
6. Speaking of relationships, you have evolved artistically since you originally signed with Curb in 1996. What is it about the partnership with Mike Curb and the team there that has allowed you to grow so much without changing labels?
Mike is an entrepreneur and one of the brightest humans you will ever meet. Because he doesn't answer to a board of directors, he gets to do things differently. Creatively, it gives you a lot of latitude to try things, and he doesn't give up. When he believes with you, there is no better supporter you can have.
7. You have a great collection of hits under your belt already, so can you tell us a bit about the new music you're working on and what we can expect in the near future?
I am really excited about the new music. We have spent a lot of time trying a lot of different things to get to where we are. After "If You're Going Through Hell," every album we made we seemed to have to make with a timeline. When we started this new project a few years ago, we took the timelines off and decided to make music for as long as it took to get it right.
8. We are always seeing your name attached to great causes and events with charity shows. You are often known to donate signed items to charity auctions, play for charity shows, and host benefits. What causes are most important to you, and why?
The military and kids are the two causes I try and do the most for. I love working with the USO and trying to give back to the people who do so much for us. And for kids, I try and spend a lot of time with kids in foster care. Being able to give back is the best feeling in the world.
9. Touring is an important part of your career, and we know you love connecting with your fans when you're out on the road. How has social media opened up the ways you connect with your fan base?
Social media has really given us a way to talk to our fans in real time. Instead of talking at them, we get to have a conversation. It is the back-and-forth I like.
10. We look forward to the coming years of your new music and touring, as I'm sure you do, as well. Do you have a five year plan, and can you share it with us?
We have a lot of music coming up. Over the next 12 months alone, we will have three different projects coming out. I am not sure I can say much more about it without getting in trouble, but hopefully everyone will get tired of hearing about me so much soon!
1. One of your monster hits was "Cleaning This Gun (Come On Boy)." Do you personally collect guns, and if so, what kind?
I don't really collect guns, but I do have quite a few of them.
2. Your song is entitled "Eat, Sleep, Love You, Repeat." If you could only do three things on repeat for the remainder of your life - besides eating, sleeping, and breathing - what would you pick?
Playing music, hanging out with the people I love, and a little fishing.