20 Questions With Chris Cagle

With a gold album and a No. 1 hit to his credit, Chris Cagle returns to CMT with the video “What a Beautiful Day.” The track is featured on his second album — Chris Cagle — that arrives in stores Tuesday (April 1). Calling in from the road, Cagle answered these 20 questions submitted by CMT.com readers, ranging from candy bars to cologne. The energetic Texan native also appears on MWL Star on Monday (March 31) at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

What was your first car?
It was an old Chevrolet pickup truck. It was canary yellow.

Do you remember the first country song that touched you?
“That’s My Job” by Conway Twitty .

Which singers did you listen to the most when you were growing up?
Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Doobie Brothers, ZZ Top, Conway Twitty, Charlie Rich , James Taylor .

I love your song “I Breathe In, I Breathe Out.” David Kersh performed the song on one of his albums. Did you plan on writing songs prior to becoming a star, or was this another step toward the direction of stardom?
Basically, it was another step. I didn’t want to give the song away to anybody, but David’s a great guy and a great singer. Even though they never put the song on the radio, that song being cut opened a lot of doors for me. It was a very good feeling. I met David’s manager who’s now my manager. Same thing with his booking agent. It was pretty awesome. It definitely changed and helped a lot of things for me.

What do you do right before you go on stage, and do you still get nervous?
Yeah, I always get nervous. But it’s not like nervous-scared, it’s like nervous-fistfight. When they say “30 minutes ‘til show time,” I take all my clothes, lay them out side by side, from socks to boots, all the way around. Turn on some music, light a couple of candles back here in the back of the bus, turn on the music really loud and start putting on my clothes one piece at a time. It’s kind of a ritualistic deal, but it’s my thing. It’s just what I do.

I was backstage at your debut on the Grand Ole Opry. Were you nervous? You seemed very relaxed before you went on.
Actually, I was petrified. And anybody who plays the Opry for the first time and doesn’t get nervous, they don’t deserve to be there. That is one of the most wonderful places to be asked to play. … I was so nervous I was actually shaking. There’s a pill called a Beta-Blocker and I took it an hour and a-half before the show. It basically blocks that adrenaline in your body so you can relax and perform. It’s mainly for people who play stringed instruments in symphonies and things like that. In fact, I got a prescription for it and that’s the only time I ever had to use it. … I’ve never been more nervous than that.

Do you eventually see yourself mentoring other struggling artists who are facing the same challenges you faced?
I don’t know if I’m qualified to be anybody’s mentor. I definitely give suggestions to folks. … If anybody opens a door to me and asks for giving advice or answering questions for ‘em, I’d be more than happy to help. But I don’t know that I’m even qualified to do that. Artists are different. Everybody’s different as an artist, and what works for me will not work for other people, and vice versa. So it’s kind of hard, but you can always give advice and hope that it helps.

Are there any new stars you’ve been watching that you think have what it takes to hit the big time?
Joe Nichols. I haven’t seen his stage show, but if he’s got a show — if he doesn’t just stand there — he has a chance to be freakin’ huge. He’s got one of the best voices to come out in the last four or five years.

Which female solo artist would you most like to do a duet with?
Doesn’t matter. I don’t think I’ll ever do a duet.

Does it bother you that critically lauded artists like Patty Loveless and Dwight Yoakam receive little airplay?
You know, honestly … that’s hard for me to answer. I think everybody deserves airplay but I haven’t listened to the radio a lot. Because I’ve been so focused on getting my album done, and getting out on the road, working and writing and trying not to hear the music that’s being played so I don’t write the same stuff two years down the road. But I definitely think Patty Loveless has a tremendous voice in this business, and I think Dwight’s the same. I think they both deserve to be played.

What do you think about the Dixie Chicks ’ remark about our president?
I’m not even going to waste my breath on that one.

Do you plan on recording any songs about truckers? I am a trucker and trucker songs are in short supply these days.
You know, I record music based on the music itself. If a great song comes along about truckers, then I’d be more than happy to record it. I haven’t found one or written one yet, but that’s a good idea. Maybe I should try to write it.

Do you have any goals of becoming a crossover artist?
None whatsoever. Most of the people who want to become crossover artists want to sell more records to a different genre when we’ve got a great genre ourselves. Instead of changing our music to go be played on someone else’s radio station, they need to just play our music the way it is. If it’s good enough to be played on their radio station, that’s fine, because that in itself is going to expand country music. Putting a drum loop behind a song just so it can go on AC makes me sick. So, no, I have no desire to do that whatsoever.

How is your leg since you hurt it by jumping off the speaker?
It’s doing better. I think I’m about to start running on it.

Do you work out? And if so, how long is your work out?
Before I busted my knee, I got to the gym and did 30 minutes on a bike and 30 minutes on a treadmill. Depending on the day, right after the aerobics, I did a big ab workout. And then 35 sit-ups right leg up, 35 sit-ups left leg up, 35 sit-ups both legs up and 35 sit-ups both legs down. And then I took a 35-pound dumbbell or plate and did trunk rotations 50 times in either direction. And then I’ll do isolated body parts — chest and triceps, shoulders, biceps, back and legs. Go three on, one off, three on, one off, three on, one off.

What kind of candy bar do you like?
I don’t like candy. (laughs)

What is your favorite cologne?
Ah … I don’t know. Cool Water, I think.

Are you a morning person or a night person?
Night person! I can’t stand the morning.

What do you do to unwind or relax?
Catch up on sleep. (laughs)

What are three CDs that you are listening to right now?
Actually, right now as we’re sitting here speaking, I’m listening to a song, “Sent by Angels.” And that’s off a compilation thing that I’ve burned off a bunch of records I actually bought. I’ve got some stuff on there from Pyromania by Def Leppard and Best of Foreigner. And I just got the Merle Haggard box set. … It’s pretty funny. Hit random on that deal and check out what happens. (laughs)