Chris Janson Hopes to Collaborate with Rancid, Dropkick Murphys

He's also pumped for his upcoming tour with Sam Hunt.

By Brian Ives

Chris Janson is riding high on the success of his current single, “Holdin’ Her,” but the prolific singer-songwriter is already looking forward to his next album; while many artists keep details under wraps until the press release is out, Chris told Radio.com, “No secrets here!”  Of course, he was also excited about his upcoming tour with Sam Hunt, who he is a fan of, and who he is friends with. 

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First off: you’ve had a lot of success with the song and the album Buy Me a Boat. Have you bought a boat yet?

I have not, I haven’t had time!

And I know you’re going to be busy this summer, you’re touring with Sam Hunt, which is an interesting combination. You guys have really different styles.

I love that, by the way. It’s a really cool thing; we share one common bond, which is music. Not to mention, there’s a kinship between Sam and I. We met randomly, we were on tour together with Luke Bryan two years ago. I was at the grill at the bus cookin’ some steak and chicken and venison and here comes Sam, be-boppin’ by, and he said, ‘Hey, man!’ And he sat down and we started hanging and talking and we just struck up a friendship and it’s been awesome.

Then we were asked to go on this tour, and I really appreciated that. I really like Sam a lot, I have unbelievable amounts of respect for his music and what he does as a writer. He’s had a lot of cuts [on other people’s albums] as a writer, just like me. And I love his music, I just like what he does. It’s very different from what I do: it’s very different from what everybody else does, which is a great thing. If you can’t be an individual, why even do it? I think it’s gonna be a banner tour, it’s gonna be the one to see.

Related: Chris Janson on ‘Buy Me a Boat,’ Tim McGraw and His Guns N Roses Connection

So, are you guys going to perform together?

I would say there’s probably a pretty good chance that we’re going to play together. I don’t know that for sure, that’s not a fact. We’re in early stages, but I would say there’s a 90-95% chance we’ll play together.

I know you’re a very prolific writer; I have to think that you’re thinking about your next album. Is there anything you can tell me about the album?

I can tell you quite a bit about it, actually. No secrets here! I’ve started recording it, and I’m very excited about it. And I don’t just say that to make it sound good in writing. I’m really excited about it. Most people get a bit freaked out about sophomore records; not me, man. I’ve been dying to make my sophomore record. Because with Buy Me a Boat, things happened so fast. This time, I’ve had… not much time, but more time than I had last time to make an album, picking what songs I want and what I don’t want. I’m pretty close to wrapping it. I’ve been working pretty steadfast on it in what free time I do have, and you can expect a lot of things to be different. But a lot will be the same: I know who I am, I will always be making my kind of music. My kind of music, I always say, is 100% Chris Janson music. We keep it country of course, but there’s all kinds of influences on the record.

I will say that the coolest different thing on this record is, I cut with some different producers. I produced a handful of songs, I co-produced with Chris Chris DuBois and the original guys from the Buy Me a Boat album [Brent Anderson and Byron Gallimore], but then Scott Hendricks is a good friend of mine and we’ve been working a lot on this record too. and we have created some absolute magic on this record.

Will there be any collaborations on the album?

We may have some collaborations. I’ve been thinking about that. I have this one song, “Good Guys Win Sometimes,” I’m only gonna record the song and put it on the album if I can get a couple of collaborations on it. I want people from the punk rock and hardcore scene, I know that sounds totally out there and weird.

I know you’re a Social Distortion fan, so I’m guessing Mike Ness might be the guy on your mind.

Yeah, he is, I would like to get the Rancid guys and maybe the Dropkick Murphys guys, I have a collection of people in mind that I would love to get on this, and when they read this [interview], maybe they’ll want to do it. But we haven’t gotten that far, I’m really focused on getting the first singles prepared and ready.

Tim Armstrong of Rancid was releasing a song a day every day for a while as part of his “Tim Timebomb Record Club” a few years back, and he did a few country covers. Have you seen those?

No! But I’m gonna check that out as soon as we get off the phone! I listen to Rancid records all the time, I took a lot of inspiration from Rancid as a kid. In fact, I play a Tim Armstrong Hellcat signature acoustic guitar a lot. I played it at the Opry — you can look it up on YouTube, you’ll see it — people were like, “What is that guitar?” And I’d tell them, and they’d be like, “What?” From our genre, not a lot of people are clued in about that music. But punk rock is a really big part of who I am. So that would be super cool to collaborate with those guys.

So when is the album coming out?

I would say I have no release date — you’ll know when I know — but I would say we’ll have a record out no later than August.

Do you have any new cuts out on anyone else’s albums?

“Now That I Know Your Name,” by Jordan Rager, and a big top 5 with Tim McGraw, “How I’ll Always Be.” I wrote that for me, but it happened to fit Tim’s story too, and he recorded it and it was a great honor. I just got a call asking if I have any songs for Hank for his upcoming record, everybody knows that I’m a huge Hank Jr. fan, and we got a few cuts on the last record, which was a big honor. I’m constantly writing and working for other people.

As I mentioned, you write at a Ryan Adams-like pace. Do you have any plans to release your old stuff that never made it to an album, and particular, the stuff that you wrote with Duff McKagan and Izzy Stradlin’?

Thanks for putting me in the same sentence as Ryan Adams, he is one of my favorite artists, I cover “Come Pick Me Up” all the time. The Duff and Izzy stuff: man, that has been on my backburner forever, and it always will be, until I release it. I will tell you this: at some point, I will absolutely do it and maybe try to get those guys involved with it. “Shoot Off the Locks,” “Tight Jeans,” all that stuff.

Check out all of Chris Janson’s tour dates at Eventful. 

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