We were lucky enough to sit down and talk to Craig Campbell recently and learn a lot about this singer/songwriter/fisherman who does NOT do interviews in his pajamas (trust us, we asked!). With Craig’s five-track “Outta My Head” EP coming out today, we thought sharing this interview with our readers on this very special day would be a great way to celebrate this release. Read further to find out about Craig’s trek up the ladder to a coveted music career, odd jobs, family life, and his “idiocy” when he first heard his own song on the radio. Oh, and if you want to know what to get Craig for Christmas this year, you can find out his dream gift too!
KIC: For those readers who may be ‘meeting’ you for the first time in this blog, can you give us a little bit of a back story as to how you became a singer/songwriter?
CC: You know, I’ve always played music as far back as I can remember. I always played piano for my church. So, it’s something that’s always been inside and I needed an outlet. Long story short, I moved to Nashville in 2002. Started playing on Broadway, a little piano for different people. Played piano for Luke Bryan for awhile; played for Tracy Byrd. And, I was writing songs and singing demos and trying to find my way here in Nashville, and finally in 2008, I met Keith Segal and Michael Powers and we made a record, and here we are on album two.
KIC: We know breaking into the music industry can be grueling. Tell us about what you had to do to make your dream come true!
CC: You know, when I first moved here, I worked at an apartment complex doing maintenance. And then I met my wife, or soon-to-be wife back then, and I lost my job at the apartments and she owned a tanning salon, so I just, you know, she put me to work cleaning beds and signing people in, and I did that for awhile and we bought a Sprint PCS cell phone store, did that for awhile, weird stuff. Then I just started singing demos and I was making really really good money singing demos here in Nashville.
KIC: Where were you the first time you heard your own voice singing on the radio? What went through your head in that moment?
CC: Well, I was in between Atlanta and Chattanooga when I first heard Family Man on the radio for the first time, and at first it was, we had the volume turned down so it was background noise and I said wait, I know this song, and then I thought maybe the CD was in, and then I realized no it was not. There were three of us in the car, and when one of us realized it was on the radio, all of us realized it and we turned it up as if we were a bunch of idiots running down the road singing it to the top of our lungs as if we never heard it before. And it was a good day.
KIC: Be honest, do you turn the radio up and sing along when you hear yourself on the radio?!
CC: No no, shoot, anytime my song comes on the radio, I turn it up and make sure everybody hears it!
KIC: When you are writing songs, from where do you draw your inspiration?
CC: Inspiration is all around me. My little girls, my wife, just things – life in general – past, present, things I want to do. It’s country music, I think. It’s at least how I look at it. It’s inspiration all over the place.
We know that Luke Bryan had a hand in you writing music to perform yourself. Have you ever written with Luke?
CC: No, me and Luke have never written together. He’s the type of person, at least from what I’ve gathered, he has his own formula, and you know, it’s the same way with me, since I’ve been writing songs, I have a handful of people I write with and I enjoy it and I know we write good songs together, and uh, and as an artist, it’s hard to really branch out and start writing with new people because of the lack of time. When I’m home, I want to either spend it with my family, or spend it with somebody I know I have a relationship with and we can write songs and not waste our time kinda thing.
KIC: Your wife, Mindy, is also a country singer, correct? Any plans for the two of you to write or record together?
CC: Yes, she sings and writes. We write together every now and then. We’ve written a song that I think is going to make my new album called “Topless,” but as far as recording, we’ll see. That’s always been something we’ve wanted to do. Hopefully the opportunity presents itself pretty soon.
Tell us the truth, does Mindy fish?
CC: Of course she does. What are you talkin’ about?!
KIC: Speaking of Fish, when you were writing and recording that track, did you automatically know it was going to be a hit?
CC: No, we didn’t. We finished it and realized that we did have a good song, but then it wasn’t until I started playing it out live and playing it on my radio tour that we realized it was an actual radio hit.
KIC: Which well-known artists inspire you in your own career?
CC: I was a huge Travis Tritt fan and Alan Jackson, and basically all the early 90’s guys. Clint Black and Tracy Lawrence and what not. It’s just all those guys had a big, big influence on me and my career.
When on tour, what are some of your favorite things to do, other than performing?
CC: We play a lot of golf. We play a lot corn hole. I take my boat out with me. Target practice every now and again.
KIC: What about your most embarrassing moment on stage? We know you have one!
CC: You know, I haven’t ahd any big embarrassing moments YET. I haven’t fell. I now that’s going to happen one day, it’s inevitable, but I haven’t had any crazy things happen yet, but I’m sure it’s around the corner somewhere. I opened up a show for Luke Bryan in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and it was about 7,000 people there and I had all my guys wear Alabama Crimson Tide t-shirts, but they all put them underneath the shirts they had on, so about half way through the show, I had them all walk up to the front and basically rip their shirts off and underneath was the Alabama stuff and the crowd went crazy. And, me, at the end of the show, before my encore, I went backstage and changed into an Alabama shirt and I also wore a Bear Bryant hat, came back out, the place went nuts, and before the show was over, I signed the Bear Bryant hat and threw it out into the audience.
KIC: You have said that your single “Outta My Head” was a hit as soon as you first heard it. What stood out to you the most about that track?
CC: The guitar lick was pretty catchy. And just the story. The line right before the hook “I got you off these walls; I got you out of my bed; but I’m no better off; can’t get you outta my head” and I thought was brilliant and I listened to that song a couple times and I was singing that line over and over and over throughout the rest of the day and I was hooked. For me, that was a perfect storm for a hit song.
KIC: You just released your video for “Outta My Head” … How do you go about creating the stories for your videos?
CC: That was all Mason Dixon. He wrote the treatment and we just approved it and went in and did an amazing job. He definitely had the exact idea of how the song should be portrayed on screen and we executed it and I think it turned out great.
KIC: How did it feel the first time you heard that one of your own singles hit the charts?
Oh it was, shoot, a big deal. I got a call from Luke Bryan one night and he said “Hey, just want to all and tell you congratulations on being Top 40. It was back when Family Man first went to Top 40 and I said “I appreciate it” and he said “There’s a lot of people who would love to have a Top 40 song, just be thankful” and I said “I am.” It was just sorta cool that Luke Bryan would call and congratulate me.
Fishsticks or tuna fish? Tuna fish
Favorite country song? “Anymore” – Travis Tritt
Last song played on your iPod? Rick Trevino “Doctor Time”
What is your guilty pleasure? My Harley
True or false: You are wearing pajamas and a cowboy hat right now. That’s false
And, finally, a few quick holiday questions:
Fake tree or real tree? Fake
What type of cookies do you leave out for Santa? Chocolate chip
What gift are you hoping to find under your (fake/real) tree this year? Hopefully a new hat rack for my…I got a couple new cowboy hats and I don’t have nowhere to put them.
We would like to thank Craig and his promotional team for setting up this interview. We absolutely loved speaking with him and getting to know more about him, his family, and his career. Everyone make sure to pick up the special five-track EP of “Outta My Head,” available today!