Kenny Chesney may be an energetic, sun-tanned god of rocking nu-country, but his spirit and his songs speak to the classicism of traditional C&W. His new single, "Noise," is a great example of his neo-traditional manner — an old country message about getting away from life's hustle-n-bustle with a slick, Nashville rock-out feel. After claiming his record-breaking 2015 tour would signal some time for a rest, Chesney is back in action planning a new album, "Some Town Somewhere," due July 8, andanother mega-stadium tour.
Last September, after your last big tour, you promised yourself some R&R. So that means like four months, hardly relaxed. What did you do and where did you go?
If I tell you, then I guarantee you I can’t go there anymore and disappear. It takes time to let your mind go still, let the songs and ideas rise. I unplug with the same intensity I do this. It takes a minute to shift gears. And know this, I’m a songwriter first. So, writing and listening to songs inspires and feeds me.
And takes time. OK. Do you find it hard to stand or sit still or chill?
Depends what’s going on. If I’m making music, I’m moving.
Your lyrics really grew up on your last album, "The Big Revival," and songs such as "Wild Child" which portrayed women as mighty and independent. You don't hear that sentiment in bro country. What have your heard from female fans and women's groups for your good efforts in their name?
I wrote the song because — like everybody —I would turn on the radio, and the songs didn’t reflect all the amazing women I know. Grace Potter is a classic example: fresh, free and untamed, but cool. My friends who are girls from the islands, a lot of the women on my staff, they’re far more complex than what we’re hearing. So, I wanted to write a song that captured all that, that said, “Here’s everything that makes women matter.”
I know you stay away from the bro-country sound and the newish EDM vibe in country. I could guess why you avoid it; it's too slick, not authentic? Do you like any of it though?
I think it’s easy to jump on bandwagons, chase the next new thing. But I came up writing for Acuff-Rose, where songwriters like Whitey Shaffer and Dean Dillon were very much about “be true to who you are." We’ve had some pretty rock guitars on the records, listen to Joe Walsh on “Wild Ride,” or “Rock Bottom” on "The Big Revival." I think the way I grew up, that’s more authentic.
I don't think that I have ever seen you do anything but stadiums. Other than servicing your wealth of fans, what do you like about big settings? How does it serve your music?
This summer I’m playing amphitheaters in certain markets, which is outside and intimate. I do think after all these years, there is a fresh-air factor with my songs. People like to breathe and take in the sunshine [and] then the stars at our shows. I love that being outdoors thing, too.
The reality about the stadium shows though is that there’s an energy to them that’s unlike anything else. For the band and I, we can play harder, run further, have a much bigger front row … literally looking into so many more faces because we have three, four front rows with all the stage edges. To me, it’s the people we make this music for, and the more I can touch, the better.
So do you feel the same humble musician as when you started?
We have people who tell me “It’s officially summer when we get all our friends together and come see you play,"and that stops you in your tracks.Everyone’s got a story. Every story is a piece of their life. People see their lives in these songs. It’s my life where the songs start, but their lives are what the songs become — and that’s what it’s all about. When you think of it in those terms, you bet you’re going tostay humble and work hard, and pay attention to all the little details.
If you go:
June 25 at 5 p.m.
Lincoln Financial Field
1020 Pattison Ave.
August 26 at 5 p.m.
1 Patriot Place, Foxborough
August 20 at 5 p.m.
1 MetLife Stadium Drive
East Rutherford, New Jersey