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MEET THE GRAMMY CLASS: CHRIS STAPLETON


Congrats! What’s the significance, for you, of a Grammy nomination?

When you walk in somebody’s house and see that sitting on the mantle, everybody knows what it is, whether they’re in music or not. It’s something every musician dreams of, if not aspires to, and never expects to get to. Even a nomination. Every musician wants that one.

The fact that it gets voted on in an all-genre way makes it different from other awards. When you get the other genres and opinions in the mix, to win or even be nominated means you’re getting recognition outside of home base. It’s a really powerful thing.

After writing/producing for others, what changed when it came time to create music knowing your name would be front and center?
Nothing changed for me at all. I don’t approach music differently, whether I’m writing for someone else or for me. Certainly if you’re writing on a project with a specific purpose, you’ll have those parameters to work within. But the process itself is not any different—you’re still trying to write the best song you can on any given day. Who it’s for gets sorted out later.

What’s changed the most for you in recent weeks?
Well, we’ve gotten a few more phone calls to field. Next year’s looking fairly busy in terms of shows—good shows that we’re really looking forward to playing. It’s all good things. There’s a lot to figure out in terms of touring, a lot of unknowns, but they’re not problems at all. Just the logistics of playing in front of more people.

Do you find the subjects you choose to write about have changed over time?
No, not necessarily. I tend to like darker things—I’ve written songs about drinkin’ and cheatin’ and prison and murder and all those major food groups. Heartbreak.

Beverages fermented from corn?
Yeah, beverages fermented from corn. I’m kind of an old dog that doesn’t learn new tricks at this point. I have things that are my wheelhouse and I work on those. But if I have a chance to hop in somebody else’s wheelhouse, that’s fun too, and I’ll do that on occasion.

You’ve done some cool cover songs at your shows and really made them your own, such as Tom Petty’s “ You Don’t Know How It Feels.”
I always feel like if you’re gonna cover something, you can’t do it straight. You have to add something, make it your own in some way. For me that usually means completely flipping it on its head, changing the time signature or finding some other way that it works. That’s the cool thing about covering great songs—you can play them any way you want to and they’re still great songs. We don’t map those out too much; they just kind of happen when they happen.

Your album includes material from your entire career as a writer. Do you think you’ll approach the next album differently?
We’re trying to figure out the time to do it. I don’t know that we’ll approach it any differently than the last record. I’ve got lots and lots of songs; we had to thin the herd out quite a bit to make the last one.

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