“Yeah, yeah,” Joe Nichols is back with another big summertime hit.
Even before “Yeah,” the second single from his “Crickets” CD on Red Bow Records, vaulted three spots into the top 5 last week on the country charts, Nichols deemed it the “biggest reaction song” he has seen among his audiences this year.
Speaking by phone last month before a concert with Lady Antebellum in Sioux Falls, S.D., Nichols said about three-quarters of his 100 dates this year are solo, such as his show at 7 p.m. next Thursday at the Alabama Theatre, at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach.
Nichols’ “Sunny and 75” – like Parmalee’s “Carolina” last year, and Josh Turner’s “Time Is Love,” which led all singles in country radio airplay for 2012 – spent months on the charts in a slow, steady ascent, finally reaching its summit in early December, for his fifth No. 1 record.
Recalling its recording with band mates in the studio, Nichols said, “We all felt it was strong enough to go over the top to No. 1. It’s one of those songs, where man, it sticks in your head.”
Stoking listeners’ hearts
Nichols said his previous chart-topper, “Gimmie That Girl,” a Rhett Akins composition about a man’s pure love for his mate – “without a trace of makeup on,” as the lyrics go – reflected “one of those special things that connected with guys as well as girls.”
Without the glitter and all, Nichols observed, men related to the song, stoking sentiments of “this is how I feel.”
From his third album, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” and its comical music video, scored in other, maybe multiple, ways, though.
Fielding an inquiry about how a video can out a new spin on a number’s mood, Nichols said, “It’s a way to reach people in a completely different way and have some fun. ‘Tequila’ is one of those songs.”
Soft spoken and humble in conversation, Nichols praised the director, Stephen Shepherd, for a “fantastic job” filming in that poolside setting, which also came with “a lot of ad libbing.”
Nichols, who took an upbeat, even inspirational, flair in 2002 with his first breakout song, “The Impossible,” said flat out, “I love country music,” especially the traditional part, and that “to have a career in this business, I’m truly grateful and always will be.”
From DJ to musicmaker
A former disc jockey, Nichols said he loved spinning records he would hear on the radio, but that “I wanted to be closer to the making of the music.”
Having opened for titans such as Toby Keith and Alan Jackson a decade ago, and this year for Lady A’s “Take Me Downtown” tour, Nichols said the crowds differ respectively, but they’re “not quite as different as the reaction when we play the familiar songs,” so crowds “are genuinely the same, and they have that excitement.”
Now the father of three daughters, since he and wife Heather Nichols welcomed their second girl, Georgia in May, Nichols laughed aloud when asked where he watched the Iron Ball on Thanksgiving Saturday last year, when the Auburn University Tigers stunned the Alabama Crimson Tide with a run to mark possibly the wildest end to any gridiron match.
“What a game,” said Nichols, an Arkansas native who lives in Tyler, Texas, appreciative of the Southeastern Conference rivalry that has rumbled through decades. “It was fun watching both teams.”
He said he that epic moment happened during a family cabin outing with “my in-laws” in Jefferson, Texas.
“We were out in the swamps, if you will,” he said, “watching the game.”