20 Questions With Blaine Larsen

He Talks About Guitars, Gretchen Wilson and Growing Up in a Small Town

At only 20 years old, Blaine Larsen has been singing for half his life. He first made a name for himself with last year’s “How Do You Get That Lonely,” and now he’s back on the charts with “I Don’t Know What She Said.” Here, the Washington State native answers questions about Barbara Mandrell, wedding advice and what he would consider the biggest thrill in the world.

1. How did living in a small town like Buckley, Wash., affect your music?

I think it made me relate to your everyday common people. I come from a family that never had money. My parents were just hard-working, middle-class people, and that’s how my whole family is. Growing up in a small town, all my friends’ families were all really similar. I think growing up in that kind of environment really gave me an appreciation for money, an appreciation for working hard. My dad is the hardest-working person I have ever met. I mean, I do this for a living. I talk and sing, and it doesn’t feel like work compared to what he does. I definitely have a big respect for that.

2. How old were you when you decided to sing?

I really got into music when I was about 10 years old. That’s when I started, and I never ever thought it would take me this far. Yeah, it was about 10 years ago.

3. What do you like to do when you are not performing?

When I’m not performing, I really enjoy spending time with my wife. I just got married about six months ago. That’s been nice. I don’t get much downtime. I just like to relax a little bit and not do anything, just sit around and watch TV. But also, I fly. I am a pilot. So I like to do that. I like to go out and see the scenery.

4. Where did the song “How Do You Get That Lonely” come from?

That song was written by a couple friends of mine, and it was a true story. They were writing one morning here in Nashville and the one guy got a call. It was his daughter’s high school receptionist, asking if his daughter could go home today [because] a friend of hers committed suicide the night before. She wanted to go home and be with her friend’s family. They happened to know this young man who done this, and so they wrote the song — right in that moment when they found out what happened.

5. Did you write “The Best Man”? How does it affect you when you perform it?

I did write that song. It makes me think about my parents when I perform it. I don’t like doing it in front of them. It’s emotional, for sure, but they’re really special to me, especially my dad because just the way he really stepped in and he didn’t even have to.

6. When are you going to shoot a new video?

I’m going to shoot a new video very soon. Probably in the next couple of months. So hopefully, you’ll be seeing that. We won’t be doing a video for the song that’s out right now, “I Don’t Know What She Said.” The next single is going to be called “Rockin’ You Tonight.” It won’t be out for a while as a single. And there will be a video for that. We’ll have it done here real soon.

7. I read that you are covering a song on the Barbara Mandrell tribute CD. Which song did you choose to record and why? Have you ever met Barbara?

I was really excited to get the call for this because I’m a fan of hers. I think she’s very, very talented. The song I did was “I Wish That I Could Fall in Love Today.” It was written by Harlan Howard, who was a very legendary songwriter. … But I chose that song because it was real country. It’s a shuffle, kind of old school, and I just loved that. Of course, she’s a female, so for a male to sing a female song, there wasn’t a very big choice of songs that would fit. That was one of them that just fit me well. I loved that song. And I have met her, and she’s really funny. She’s got a lot of energy.

8. I saw you on tour with Gretchen Wilson and Van Zant. Is Gretchen Wilson as down to earth as she seems?

She’s very down to earth. In my opinion, she is exactly what I thought she would be like from listening to her music and watching her videos. I think the thing people don’t see about her, though, is that she’s really she’s got a good heart. She’s really sweet. She’s a good mom, you know. She’s like that to everybody. (laugh) She’s very protective, but she’s a really good person.

9. How did you convince Gretchen Wilson to sing with you on “Lips of a Bottle”?

I didn’t really have to do too much convincing. I don’t know if you know this, but she’ll do jamming after her show, and we’ll get back there and use acoustic instruments and sing songs. And this song, “Lips of a Bottle,” was one that I had written, and I played it one night after the show. And she loved it. I never thought of it as a duet. I didn’t write it as one. But I needed one for my record, and a light went off in my head because she really flipped out. She just absolutely loved it. And so a couple of days later, I was like, “You know what? If I could pick somebody to do a duet with, it would be her.” I just never thought in million years that it would happen. I was like, “I’m just gonna ask her. All she can do is say no.” And she said yes.

10. How has George Strait influenced your career?

He was the person that really made me fall in love with music, basically. When I first started listening to his music, that’s when it really hit me that I wanted to pursue this more. I can pretty much safely say that without him, without his music, I probably wouldn’t be doing this. After I really got into his music, it just branched off from there. That’s where it all started for me.

11. Have you ever taken singing lessons?

No. I haven’t ever taken any singing lessons. I’ve been to a vocal doctor and a vocal coach here recently to make sure that I’m not messing up my throat singing wrong. And they gave me a clean bill of heath and said I was doing everything correctly. I just fell into it. I practiced a lot, though, but never with a teacher.

12. I want to be a country singer when I get out of high school. What advice would you give someone who wanted to be a singer?

The advice that I always say to people that want to do this is to practice as much as you can. Even before you have the gigs to practice for. Eventually, if you’ve got talent and you’re really good, people will notice. You’ll get a gig, and you’ll be ready for it. And take any gig. Play anywhere and everywhere. That’s really all I did.

13. My brother is about to tie the knot and is getting nervous about it. Is there any advice you could give him about marriage?

Oh, yeah. “Don’t ask me!” That’s my best advice. Don’t listen to anything I have to say about marriage. Gosh, man, I don’t know. I’m still so young at being married, but I’m learning to just let the little things go. I think that’s probably the most important thing.

14. Everyone on your forum is wondering when you and your wife are going to have kids. Any plans for that?

We’re probably not going to have kids for a while. If we have a kid in the next five years, it’s probably not on purpose. (laughs) Probably six or seven years for now, at least. Not any time soon.

15. Why don’t you have a fan club? I’d be the first one in line for a membership.

Wow. Well, we’re working on getting one going. … People probably don’t know this, but it has to make enough money to support itself, because I don’t make enough money, really, at this point. I don’t really make very much money. I couldn’t support the overhead on my income, so we have to have enough members. It’s a business thing to be able to pay for it. Pretty soon here, we’ll probably be at that point where we will know that we can have enough people sign up to do it. And then at that point, it’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be fun.

16. When you came out for an autograph session during your show in Evansville, Ind., you got mobbed by the fans. They went crazy whenever you walked out there. Are you comfortable with all that attention from the fans?

It’s a little weird. It’s really cool, though. I enjoy knowing that people like my music. That’s what I take from that. I’m not really comfortable with it yet. It’s a little weird.

17. Which do you take more pride in — your work in the studio or your performance on stage?

They’re both separate entities. When I’m doing either one, it’s full-on. I don’t waste anything. I don’t know, I just can’t say. I think I put equal effort into both. Really, they’re both important.

18. Which is your favorite guitar for recording? Is it the same one you tour with?

My favorite guitars for recording, yeah, they’re probably the same ones that I play on stage. They’re my guitars I’ve used for years. … That’s why I bring them on the road, because they’re like Old Faithful, you know? Right now, the two most important guitars are … a Taylor 810 Dreadnought and a Taylor 514-CE, which is a cutaway. Both are acoustics. And then my other electric guitar that I really love is a Stratocaster, Mexican-made, a Robert Cray edition. That’s for all of you guitar gearheads out there.

19. What have you found to be the most important lesson you have learned since you started your career in country music?

The most important lesson I’ve learned is to be myself. Just to do my thing. Not to say I would say let people tell me what to do, because that’s never really happened to me. I find the more that I dig within myself and find out more about me and what moves me musically … when I put that out there, people seem to really like it more. People seem to like the stuff that I really worked hard and dug for.

20. Will you make it a point to help other people make it as singers or songwriters? I hope you will help others along the way a little here and there as you can.

To me, that would be biggest thrill in the world. Right now in my life, there’s a whole list of people that have really helped me out. This is not a one-man show. I’m so lucky to get to do this, and I’m lucky that people believe in me. Gretchen Wilson right now has really taken me under her wing and helped me out a lot. I think it would be a thrill to ever get to a point where I could be in a place to help someone else out. I would love to.