20 Questions With Mark Wills

Forget “19 Somethin’.” We’ve got 20 — count ’em, 20! — questions from Mark Wills’ fans. Here, he chats about Star Wars and Spy Kids in 3D, Ronnie Milsap and Martina McBride, ballads and Baghdad. And what’s this about not wearing pants?

By the way, Wills releases his new album, And the Crowd Goes Wild, on Tuesday (Oct. 21).

1. In your video for “And the Crowd Goes Wild,” what made you decide not to wear pants?

What? Oh. … the newscast part of it! I don’t know if you have ever been on a news set or not, but a lot of time when you are on a set, which is where they do newscasts or sportscasts or whatever, they will have a shirt, a tie and a jacket on, with a pair of shorts and tennis shoes. It was just kind of something to play with. If I had never stepped up from behind the desk, everyone would have thought that I was in a full suit.

2. You seem to be a natural when you are making music videos. Have you ever thought about, or been approached about, appearing in a movie or on TV?

Yeah, you know, it’s been kind of difficult to do everything. I am thinking seriously about doing some little small things.

3. What do you remember the most about filming the video for “19 Somethin'”?

Getting to drive the General Lee and just having a great day. It was a lot of fun.

4. Were you a big fan of the show when you were younger?

Absolutely. Absolutely. Who wasn’t a fan of Daisy in those shorts? I grew up a fan of The Dukes of Hazzard, so that car really brought back special memories from my childhood to be able to use it in the video.

5. When you were a kid, did you like Star Wars?

A little bit. I wasn’t a huge Star Wars fan. I kind of grew up watching all that kind of stuff whether it be Star Wars or ET or all that sort of stuff.

6. Do you have any advice for people who want to move to Nashville and start a career in the music business?

Yeah, don’t! (laughs) No, in all seriousness, I think Nashville is a tough town to get started in, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. I never came to Nashville. I mean I have an apartment there now, but I kind of did my stuff on the outside of Nashville. I think that sort of helped me in the grand scheme of things, but at the same time, Nashville is a lot of peoples’ dream, so follow your dreams. If your dreams bring you to Nashville, come. It’s a great town. I’m not saying it’s not.

7. How has being a father influenced the music you write, or has it influenced you at all?

Well, it’s just life, being a dad or a husband or whatever on the road. Everything is an influence, and those little girls are definitely influences. You think of things a little differently when you have kids.

8. I was wondering when you first picked up a guitar and started playing?

Well, I didn’t play guitar up until just a few years ago. I was a drummer my whole life pretty much. I did start learning to play a guitar probably eight or 10 years ago.

9. What CDs are in your CD player right now?

Well, I have Bon Jovi’s Crossroads, I have Ronnie Milsap’s 40 #1 Hits, I have one of Alabama’s Greatest Hits CDs in my CD player and then I have a Christian group called Newsong.

10. I know you have a remake of “Prisoner of the Highway” on this CD. What was it like working with Ronnie Milsap on that?

It was awesome. Ronnie Milsap has been somebody that I have been a huge fan of ever since I was a kid. To get the opportunity to go into the studio and work with somebody who has been such big influence on you and that you have been a huge fan of your whole life, is pretty cool. That doesn’t happen every day. When that opportunity arises, you jump at it, and I have been very fortunate to do stuff like that. … We were together the whole time. We did the tracking together. We did the vocals together. We did everything together. I would have had it no other way. I didn’t want to do it separately. It was all about getting in there and enjoying the day together, and that is what we did.

11. What kind of job would you have if you weren’t a singer?

I don’t ever want to think about that. I love my job. I love doing what I do for a living, and this pretty much is all I ever wanted to do for a living.

12. Who is your favorite female artist?

Probably Martina. I love to hear her sing. We toured with Martina a couple years ago, and every time we are out on the road and we do a show with her, I have to stay and watch the show. I just think she is a great singer.

13. Do you have a ritual or something that you do before every show?

No, not really. I just try to get out there and get ready and when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.

14. Your new song, “And the Crowd Goes Wild,” is cool. What is the wildest thing you have ever done?

Lord, I don’t know. I am not a real wild guy. I don’t know that I could really be perceived as a wild guy.

15. What do you and your crew do for recreation when you are not performing on stage?

We do a lot of stuff. We throw a baseball. We go out and shoot guns a lot. We get outdoors and try to do something other than sit in the bus all day long. … I love to shoot guns. Occasionally we will get out and play paint ball or something like that. I love to go play golf. There is a lot of stuff that we do. I love to get out and sometimes just go for a walk, something that simple.

16. As a singer, do you train and exercise your voice?

Well, not really. I try to take care of it. I don’t smoke or anything like that. I don’t drink very often or anything. I don’t really do any kind of vocal exercises. I probably should, but I don’t.

17. What is the most recent movie you have seen?

It would probably be Basic, the Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta war movie or Bruce Almighty. I am not a very current movie guy. I have to wait until they come out on DVD. I take that back. I did take my daughter to see Spy Kids in 3D. My 5-year-old loved it.

18. I hear that you are going to Baghdad in December. Is that true, and can you tell us more about it?

Yes, I am going over with the United States Army to entertain our troops that are over there. We are going over right before Dec. 12 or 13, and we won’t be returning until Christmas Eve.

19. With all your success as a ballad singer, now with more up-tempo songs, do you think that you will stay with the more up-tempo or stay with the ballads?

I think the up-tempo thing wasn’t as much only to get away from the ballads, as it was to just start having some success with something other than ballads. The music that we have has always lent itself to be more ballad-friendly, but I am trying to show the up-tempo side as well. The very next song we could have out could very well be a ballad, but right now, we’ve just tried to kind of break the mold a little bit, not to say that we are ashamed of it. We just think it’s time to do something other than ballads over and over again.

20. Which do you like to sing better — the fast songs or the ballads?

I am a singer. I love to sing them all.