I have been blessed to write contributions/reviews/interviews/opinion pieces for several country music and roots-oriented websites and publications over the years including Saving Country Music, Nashville Scene, Country California, Country Weekly, American Noise, The 9513 and Engine 145. As a regular contributor to the last two in that list, I did close to a 100 interviews with different artists- and since both of those great sites have come down, I will reprint some of those interviews here to give them a home in perpetuity. This interview was originally published in April 2010 on The 9513.
It’s easy to think of Bucky Covington only at the crazy-haired blonde guy who finished in 8th place on Season 5 of American Idol. But after Covington signed a recording contract with Lyric Street Records, his self-titled debut became the best-selling debut artist of the country music class of 2007. It opened at number one on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and became one of the best performing debut albums for any male country artist in recent memory. It produced three hit high-performing singles on the charts including "A Different World", "It's Good To Be Us" & "I'll Walk."
Bucky was kind enough to sit down and talk with The 9513 about what fans can expect on his upcoming sophomore album, I'm Alright, his new single, "A Father's Love," his recent USO tour and his thoughts on American Idol.
Ken Morton, Jr.: American Idol- how do you feel about it on your resume now four years later?
Bucky Covington: The year I was on it, it was a huge huge show. It still is. I didn’t realize just how big it was until I was in the middle of it. I’m still very proud of the show, I love what it does. But then I have people come up to me and ask why if someone wins, it isn’t always the best thing for you. I think my best answer for that one is while as a television show, it’s amazing, it’s still just a television show. But after the show, it becomes about selling music and making music and reaching people in a different way through radio and songs. I think there’s a big difference. But the show was amazing. The biggest thing for me was putting a name with a face with a sound within three months. I think any major label would take three, five, ten years to be able to do that.
KMJ: Has there been a stigma attached to you from the show or has it been all positive from your perspective?
BC: I would love to say that it’s been all positives. I think there are fans and certain people in the music industry that love you because you were on American Idol. You went up against all these people and while you didn’t come up on top, you came out doing very well. But I think there are people that really dislike you because you were on that show. Some people think that maybe you took a shortcut, that you maybe got it handed to you. There’s all kinds of ways to take it. But I think it has helped me. Definitely. But it really can make your blood boil when somebody’s already made an opinion of you, you know?
KMJ: What has Mark Miller of Sawyer Brown meant to your career?
BC: To put it in the shortest perspective possible, he’s been like a father-figure to me in the music business. When you’re on a show like American Idol, you learn a lot of things. With an audience that big, you can perform in front of anyone. But performing in front of a TV camera is different than performing in front of thousands of people. Well, maybe hundreds of people at the time. (Laughing) Luckily for me, it’s become thousands. You have to perform a little different on camera. So I learned how to conduct myself differently on stage. I learned how to conduct interviews. As famous as I thought I was, I had never really done an interview. Unless it was my hometown newspaper. Internet interviews. Radio interviews. TV interviews. One is different from another. When you come off of that show, it’s about music now. It’s about playing music and reaching people in that manner. And Mark helped me about immensely in every aspect of that. On American Idol, you don’t have to really deal with any radio. It’s all TV things that just kind of happen. When you come off of that television show, radio is it. That’s it. That’s your job. Mark Miller has definitely helped me in making choices like which label to go to, which management company I should go with, which booking agent I should choose. He has such a good general idea of how to make decisions.
KMJ: You’ve got an upcoming album on Lyric Street called I’m Alright that will be coming out later this year- how would you compare it against your first album?
BC: I’m very very proud of my first album. I think it did great and wonderful. But we were pushed for a little time on that one. When you come off of a show like that, you want to hit the ground running. When you come off of a TV show, you’ll be remembered only as long as until the next season comes out. Then it’s a whole new thing. We had to get to work quick and we were able to get that one out. But one thing I absolutely love about country music is that while in pop music, you couldn’t take a 80’s sounding song and do anything with it, you can take an 80’s sounding country song and today, go number one with it. I love how country music kind of grows that way. It has some pop that’s grown into it, there’s a rock edge in it, but it can still do the straight country and western songs. I love that. And this album has a variety of country music like that on it. There’s some soulful songs on there. We have a song on there called “Hold A Woman” that my 60’s side if you will. We have upbeat songs. There’s one on there called “Evil Knievil.” We’ve got the title track which is “I’m Alright.” It’s one of my favorites and it’s a very traditional country song. I really love it. And we had a lot more time on this album. I thought I was done with it and we were waiting to put it out and last minute, we had this song cross our desk called “A Father’s Love.” It was one of the songs that we went, “Hold on, hold on. Stop the presses!” We cut it and sent it out to radio within two weeks. That’s one nice thing about this particular album is that we took more time to invest in it.
KMJ: Talk to me about that next radio single, “A Father’s Love.” Any correlation to your relationship with your own father?
BC: Without a doubt. I’ll give you an idea about what it’s talking about. A father will do anything and everything. For example, you’ll buy a new house and he’ll come over and whip out his tool-belt and fix everything in the house that’s broken. He’ll fix this and fix that without ever saying, “Hey, nice house,” or, “You know I love you, right?” Most dads won’t say that. They show it. The show it by making sure your house is fixed or making sure your car is maintained. My stepfather, when I was growing up, was very good that when I stepped out of line, he didn’t ask me to get back in line. He knocked me back in line. For me, that was helpful because I didn’t listen so well. But he would do stuff like that and “I love you” wasn’t a big thing to come out of his mouth. If you were a buddy of mine and you came over to our house growing up and were there for three hours, you’d go outside and he would wash and wax both of our cars. He would care for us in different ways. One of my favorite lines in the song is “I knew he’s stiffen up, but I hugged him anyways.” Even today, my real father will say, “I love you” only now. That’s something that’s happened in the last five years. I think the song is very relatable to a lot of folks.
KMJ: Do you have a firm album launch date yet?
BC: We do not have a firm one yet. We’re guessing fall. If I told you anything else, I’d be lying.
KMJ: You did a USO tour recently. How did that go?
BC: It was a very cool thing, man. I have to be honest. I absolutely loved it. We first went to Kosovo and then we went over to Amsterdam and then we spent three days in Germany. I have to say that my favorite was Kosovo. It’s a third world country. It was a good lesson learned I think. Amsterdam was pretty cool too, from what I can remember of it. (Laughter) But Kosovo was amazing. Eleven years ago, Bill Clinton was President. We’d hear on the news about bombings for this reason or that reason. But while I was there, I was talking with the locals and what happened was they were not just run out of their homes, but run out of their country. They had to go into Germany. They were forced into a different culture where nobody knows what you’re saying, you have to find a new job, and that’s only if your wife and kids weren’t raped or murdered on the way out. It was a horrible thing that was going on. Bill Clinton said that’s not cool, dropped a bomb on them, leveled the place and the Kosovo countrymen were able to come back and rebuild their lives in freedom. And we put an American base in there to make sure that everything was cool. And to hear the locals. Wow. When I left Kosovo, I was never more proud of being an American.
KMJ: That firsthand experience has to be pretty amazing. Was there any strange requests or song covers that you did for the troops over there?
BC: Not so much song covers or anything like that but we did have a crazy request. This is my first time ever in another country. The first country we went to is Kosovo. And it’s a third world country. And when you get off the airplane, they’re holding assault rifles. Nobody steps out of line. You get the picture. A couple of the Army guys came up after the show and wanted to know if we wanted to go back to the barracks and drinks some Crown Royal. And this is a completely dry base. These guys are used to hanging out and using AK-47’s. I told them this time, I was going to fly the straight and narrow. (Laughing) I think that was the first time somebody asked me to have a drink and I had to deny them.
KMJ: Thanks a lot for your time today. I have one last question for you. What’s country music to Bucky Covington?
BC: That is a great question. I do have to say, I’ll have to rob Trace Adkins on this one. Before I went into country music I was in bands for about ten years. It was a lot of rock music. At the age I was at, I was self-teaching myself guitar and everybody I met was in rock. At that time, it was the thing. But what the heck, I learned. I played drum in bands. I played base guitar. And I sang. But when I started singing, I loved the energy of a rock show. But when I was singing, I didn’t know what the songs were about. Country music was something I knew about from the first song. I knew what it was talking about. It was talking about things I’ve done, things I think. You know what I’m saying? It speaks to me. Country music speaks to me. I understand it.