Phil Vassar recently took time from his hectic tour schedule to talk about basketball with Kenny Chesney, duets with Dolly Parton and what his wife really thinks about his looks. His success continues to increase with his current album, American Child, whose title track is hovering in the upper reaches of CMT’s Top Twenty Countdown. Vassar recently took time from his hectic tour schedule to talk about his energetic stage shows and some of his favorite music.
1. I don’t know how you run around on stage and jump around like you do. Don’t get me wrong, I like it, but where is the energy coming from?
I’m spastic by nature I guess. I love to run around, and I love athletics and performing. It’s just my way of incorporating all of those things together.
2. Have you ever injured yourself jumping on or off the piano?
I jumped off stage one time and landed on a piece of wood and sprained my ankle. I had a hard time getting back up but limped the rest of the way through the show.
3. How many pianos have you gone through since you’ve been touring?
Just the two that I have now.
4. Do you have any funny stories from when you toured with Kenny Chesney?
It’s always fun with Kenny. We play basketball a lot. Funny stuff happens every day, most of which can’t be repeated to protect the not-so-innocent. But Kenny has such a fun crew, it’s like summer camp every day.
5. I know you wrote songs for Tim McGraw and Jo Dee Messina. What motivated you to sing yourself?
I came to town to perform. The writing songs for other people just happened by accident. Nobody would give me a record deal, so other people started cutting them. Go figure. I love to write and I love to sing, but singing is always what I wanted to do first.
6. I plan on being a country star someday. Any advice you could give me?
Move to Nashville. Work hard and be patient. There is no overnight success.
7. What is your favorite song of all time by anyone?
“What a Wonderful World,” Louis Armstrong.
8. If you could sing a duet with someone famous, who would it be?
9. If you would co-write with anyone, past or present, who would it be?
10. Where do you find the ideas or inspiration when writing a song?
I guess I just draw them from everyday life — people I know, experiences I’ve had.
11. What kind of music do you like to listen to?
I love all kinds of music. I’m a music junkie. The guys in the band are always listening to Weezer or something like that. I say, “What is this?” And they say, “That’s the new Eminem record.” But I just got James Taylor’s Greatest Hits, Volume 2 that I’ve been jamming on. I work with a lot of people outside this genre, too, so it’s interesting to listen to their music.
12. Did you used to play a lot of bars and clubs before you made it to the top?
Oh yes! I was touring with a band in Virginia and surrounding states playing clubs and colleges before I moved to Nashville. After moving to Nashville I played at any club that would have me. Playing clubs is how I earned a living before I had any success as an artist or writer.
13. If you weren’t in music, what would be your second career choice?
Probably a doctor or pro athlete. I know that is a strange combination, but I have always thought both of those would be fun.
14. What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I like to hang out with my family. I haven’t had that much time not working lately though.
15. Everyone has a song they don’t like to admit they like? What is your guilty pleasure?
Any Barry Manilow song. There, I got that off my chest. I love Barry Manilow songs.
16. While you were growing up, did you get into a lot of trouble?
Yes. End of discussion.
17. I know you competed in the decathlon in college. Which of the 10 events did you enjoy the most?
18. What are your favorite foods (especially junk food)?
19. I know you are a Beatles fan. What are some of your favorite songs by the Fab Four?
“Here, There and Everywhere,” “If I Fell,” “A Hard Day’s Night.”
20. How does your wife deal with everyone saying you are hot?
She laughs. She doesn’t think I’m all that.