By: Alanna Conaway
Josh Thompson hit the country music scene with a bang last year with his breakout hit, “Beer on the Table.” The song went on to become a Top 20 hit for the Wisconsin native, and his current single, “Way Out Here” (also the title track of his debut album), is following hot on its heels. Both songs, along with the other eight tracks off WAY OUT HERE, were written or co-written by the singer who began dabbling in songwriting nearly 10 years ago.
“As a songwriter, I’m really at the mercy of a great idea. I could sit and write songs all day about a telephone or a piece of dry wall, but at the end of the day, you really need a great idea, a great hook and a great story,” Josh says of the struggles of songwriting. “I think those things don’t come along every day. Of course you’re always ready for them to come along, but trying to find a different way of saying something that people have said for hundreds of years can be tough.”
While WAY OUT HERE is his first album on a major label (Columbia Nashville), Josh has been involved with singing in studios for five years in demo situations. “Recording demos and recording an album is pretty much the same process, but there’s a little more stress attached to it,” Josh admits. “It’s also better in a lot of ways because with demos you’re really snapping to get through them, whereas if you’re cutting a record, you have the ability to take your time and make sure you love it.”
Since the album’s release in February, Josh has been hitting the road non-stop, beginning with the Jagermeister Tour with Eric Church. Josh is currently in the midst of Brad Paisley’s H2O World Tour where he performs along with Easton Corbin, Steel Magnolia, Justin Moore, Darius Rucker, and, of course, Brad.
“The talent lineup is great,” Josh notes. “I love everybody out there. It’s exciting. It’s going to be a great summer. The difference from the Jager tour and this tour is ridiculous. This one is just so high scale. There are so many working parts, yet everything manages to come together perfectly.”
One of the perks of performing for the large crowds coming out to see the H2O Tour is testing new songs for fan feedback. “I’m starting to get some songs worked into my set that I’m looking to record for the next album,” Josh says. “That’s something I didn’t have for the first record. I played a lot of shows, and I kind of got a response, but not on the level I am now because simply the crowds are bigger and I’m playing more. Whatever the crowd is really responsive to is probably what I am going to pick. I’m not going to play it first without loving it so if they love it, then that will be great!”
While he continues to win over fans night after night with his honest songs which he sings from the heart, Josh stays humbled by the fact that he has a long road ahead in order to follow in the footsteps of his musical heroes like Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings. “I’m not the kind of person that ever gets comfortable. I’m very grateful for everything that has happened, but I don’t look at something and say, ‘Oh cool, I have nothing left to do now,’” Josh explains. “Some people think that when you play the Opry that you’ve made it or when you get your first No. 1 or when you get on a tour bus … There are a whole host of things to judge that by. I think there are a lot of different steps to making it. I think in some respects I have made it, but I have a long way to go personally and business wise. There’s no need in getting cocky even if you’re good at whatever it is that you do.”
Takes a Pop Quiz!
What are your tips to staying in shape?
The main thing I do is really try to watch what I eat … by not eating a box of Twinkies, but maybe having some salmon or a salad, you can ward off a lot of unpleasantness that way. I don’t really like Twinkies that much anyways, so we’re good! [laughs]
What do you collect?
Old records. It’s all country records at this point.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I guess that would be junk food or alcohol … or both depending on the night!
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
What stresses you out?
TV cameras … I’m trying to get used to them though.
What is your phobia?