The “Sunny and 75” singer signed a deal with new recording company, Quartz Hill Records, last year. Red Bow Records’ Benny Brown, whom Nichols was previously signed with, started the company and provided him with “Home Run,” written by Ashley Gorley, Dallas Davidson and Ross Copperman.
Though the song was written before the COVID-19 pandemic kept us apart from loved ones for a long period of time, it seems to resonate more after the struggle everyone has gone through.
Nichols is working on his 10th studio album and getting ready to go out on tour again, but Celeb Secrets Country was able to sit down with him virtually to hear a bit more about the process of making “Home Run” and what success looks like to him.
You can keep up with Nichols by following him on Instagram at @joenichols.
Celebrity Secrets Country: First, we just want to say we love your new single, “Home Run.” It’s been on our playlist on repeat. When you first received the song, what about it resonated with you?
Joe Nichols: “I was kind of looking to put some songs together and go get a new deal and [Benny Brown] sent ‘Home Run’ to me. He said, ‘I got this pocket full of songs and I think there’s some hits in there.’ And I heard this one and went, ‘Man, this feels great.’ Fast-forward into 2020, Benny Brown called one day. He said, ‘I’m starting a new label and I want you to join me. I want you to bring that song ‘Home Run’ with you.’ I was so thrilled. think I did the happy dance around the backyard for about 30 minutes after that. By the time we made it here to the release date, people are able to see their families again. People are starting to do things and getting back to normal after not having done so for a year and a half. It sure seems like this God timing was pretty amazing. A really good message for right now, even more so than it was a year ago.
CSC: Have you been in your hometown of Rogers, Ark., during quarantine?
Joe Nichols: “Well, I live in East Texas. That’s where my wife wanted to live. I’ve been there most of the past year and a half. Right now, I’m up in Big Sky, Mont., working on another project. We’re looking early June to start hitting the road pretty heavy again and that’ll continue throughout the rest of the year.”
CSC: With not being able to get back to your hometown, did that change the meaning of “Home Run” for you while you were singing it?
Joe Nichols: “For me, a ‘home run’ is getting your mind back to being a person with dreams about what you want to do with your life. What’s my soul like? Those things to me are the going back home as much as any place I can touch, any person I can talk to. That state of mind of belonging, that’s kind of a bigger thing to me.”
CSC: People over the past year and a half have been hitting some curveballs because of everything that’s been happening. With “Home Run” being about the in the mindset that makes you happy, what advice would you give to someone who’s facing big challenges right now?
Joe Nichols: “At the end of the day when everything is gone, you have your soul and spirit. And only you are in control of what you do with that. Nothing outside can change those things unless you let it. So, no matter how bad things can be, you can choose your position of your soul. You can choose your attitude. You can choose your perspective. I can bring that back to me and say that gratitude for me every day no matter what situation I’m in, whether it’s good or bad, gratitude changes my brain. Therefore, any circumstance doesn’t get to me like it used to get to me. If I could say anything in relation to personal experience, it would be that. We’re all in control of our souls. You can either choose to look forward or look backwards.”
CSC: We love that. We also love to know what happens behind the scenes here at Celeb Secrets Country. Are there any secrets behind recording the song that we don’t hear when we listen to it?
Joe Nichols: “In 2018 or so, I went and demoed in the studio. I’m very thankful for that process. It gave a chance to listen to that song and the way that I sang it for a year or two. I listened for where I was confident and where I wasn’t. By the time we cut it in 2020, I was very familiar with the song. I knew what I wanted to do, and it was a huge load of confidence to walk in the studio with.”
CSC: Your last album, Never Gets Old, came out in 2017. Why was now the time to come out with new music?
Joe Nichols: “I’d like to say I kind of just planned it this way, but I didn’t. It’s God’s timing, man. I’m thankful for everything I’ve been able to do. It’s been a fantastic 19 years full of so many memories. I could never be ungrateful for all the things I’ve been able to do and the success I’ve had. Nobody’s really sure about [the future] and it really doesn’t matter because I’m grateful for what I do have. Somebody said a great quote, ‘Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.’ I found myself changing when I realized that. I’m a happy man because I want everything that I have.”
CSC: You’ve talked about moving to Quartz Hill Records with Benny. How has it been working with a newer company that isn’t really established yet?
Joe Nichols: “Well, all of the people who are involved in the label have all established themselves in other companies. Don’t get me wrong, we all still have a lot to prove to ourselves and others. Even though we’ve all done this before, we’re tackling this like it’s out first time. But the other thing is of all the record labels I’ve signed, not one of them was with an established label. I signed my first deal with Universal South, which was started by Tony Brown and Tim DuBois. ‘The Impossible,’ my first single, was the very first single on that label. Being brand new is nothing new to me.”
CSC: Looking at the album you’re working on now, what is exciting you most about it?
Joe Nichols: “I love that there’s an old country song called, ‘1, 2 Step Closer’ that’s very Brooks & Dunn in that ‘90s country vein, like we could be dancing in an old country bar to that song. It feels good when we have singles that feel like they can connect with people like ‘Home Run.’ There’s a song called ‘Brokenhearted’ that’s about a guy looking for some sad music but there’s happy music everywhere he goes. No one is really brokenhearted anymore.”
CSC: We like that!
Joe Nichols: “There’s some joy on here that I rarely had on my other albums. My wife has a great perspective on things. She said, ‘That’s the happiest I’ve ever heard you sound.’ That’s a rare thing that can’t always be said about me.”
CSC: And that must feel good to you too.
Joe Nichols: “It feels great to me.”
CSC: You talked about having some more traditional country songs on that album. More recently artists like Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini have been blurring the lines between pop and traditional country. Do you think you’ll venture down that lane or stay for in the traditional sound?
Joe Nichols: “Well, I know one thing is for sure. I can only sing one way. That’s just something I’ve learned through trial and error over the years. One thing in a perfect world that you’d love is to have the radio station have a playlist of hits and play your song. That’s what you want always.”
CSC: “Home Run” has a strong family feel to it. Your daughters are growing up now, have they influenced the songs you look at or changed the way you sing?
Joe Nichols: “In a lot of ways, they have. In some ways, they’re the first people I play new music for. Their attention spans are like that [gestures a tiny amount]. So, if it hooks them and they’re tapping their toes and singing along to it, I’m like ‘Alright, we got something here.’ These kiddos will say, ‘Can we hear something good? Can you skip to the next one?’ That’s a pretty good authentic voice right there. I love them, they make my world go round. “