Joe Nichols

The singer talks frankly about rehabilitation, Real Things and returning to the road

In the Feb. 25 issue of Country Weekly you'll find our story on Joe Nichols' return to active duty following a rehab–center stint last fall to deal with longstanding substance–abuse issues. In these exclusive Internet–only excerpts from our interview, Joe talks more about his recovery, his current tour, his recent Real Things album and his latest hit, "It Ain't No Crime."

ON THE NEW YEAR
"I survived 2007. That's a good word to choose. 'Survived' is a great word to describe 2007. I closed the year with a great outlook. I'm ready for 2008, and 2008 has started out amazing for us. The new single is our highest [singles chart] debut ever, and the touring season looks really great. We've got a new show, new set, new lights, couple of new band guys, and I'm ready to go out and knock 'em out on the road with a clear head."

ON "IT AIN'T NO CRIME"
"I first heard this song [written by Tom Shapiro, Tony Martin and Mark Nesler] back in December or November of '06, and I had to cut it. The melody wasn't what struck me as much as the lyric. I love the lyric. It's my version of 'Mind Your Own Business,' the Hank Williams song. I love that. It's not necessarily verbatim what the song says, it's the feel of it. It's the general attitude, that's what I like about it. It says, 'Hey, I'm gonna live the way I live, you live the way you live, and let's all respect each other for that.' It's suiting, considering the way 2007 went, that this would be our next single. It's a young–feeling song, and that's how I feel righ, now: young."

ON PLANNING HIS TOUR
"I'm very much involved. I delegate a lot of stuff, but I like to have my hands in all parts of it. I want the show to be dead–on, I want it to be impressive and I want it to sound great."

ON RETURNING TO THE ROAD AFTER A BREAK
"It's like when you haven't worked out in a long time, and when you start again you're real sore. I feel much better than I did yesterday, and I'm going to feel twice as good tomorrow. I enjoy every minute of what I do. This is awesome. It feels good to be out here and pull off some music after we've been off for a few months."

ON REAL THINGS’ PLACEMENT IN CRITICS’ "TOP 10 OF 2007" LISTS
"It's wonderful. It means the people who would catch it first, caught it. You have people inside the industry that hear records all the time, every day, several records every day. They become armored toward music, so it has to really stand out for them to be emotionally attached to it. It's a huge compliment when people like critics do put it in their best–of lists. It means we broke through that armor, that jaded, 'just another damn record' aspect of it."

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