Back when Jason Aldean was playing the clubs, he found an eager audience in Columbus, Ohio.
Years later, he’s still packing them in. On Saturday (Aug. 4), he headlined his first-ever stadium show at Columbus Crew Stadium, playing a sold-out show for more than 27,000 people.
“It’s the perfect place to come and try it out and see what happens,” Aldean told CMT Insider producer Terry Bumgarner prior to the concert. “This has always been a great town for us. We came here my first few years on the road, playing the bars in town, some of the little college bars. It’s kind of gone from that to this. It’s pretty amazing.”
CMT: You’ve done a huge amphitheater. You’ve done festivals. Now you’re at a stadium. That doesn’t really change the way you approach your show, does it?
Aldean: I don’t think so. Whether you’re in an arena or playing a stadium or whatever it is, I don’t really think your mind changes on how your show goes. Ultimately, you go out and do your show the way you do it. I think visually, for us it’s a little crazy. You get to look out, and there is a stadium full of people. It’s pretty amazing, but I think as far as handling everyday business like you would, it’s the same thing. You want to give these people the same show you give anyone else that comes to see you. I don’t think the mindset really changes for that.
Does this mean next year you’ll start adding more of these kinds of things?
Well, I hope so. This was really our first attempt at playing a stadium. We just wanted to see how it would go. The fact that it was a sellout is great. Hopefully, that means that next year we’ll venture out into that a little more. Kind of see what happens. There aren’t many guys in the country music world that can really pull that off. Kenny [Chesney] is one, and I think [Brad] Paisley has done some. … You don’t want to get too ahead of yourself and go out thinking you can play stadiums every night, and they end up being about half-full. For us, it’s just about trying it out. I would love to do that. I would love to move into playing stadiums. It’d be great. But we’re going to take it slow and make sure we do everything the right way.
You just released the first single from your new album, and it jumped to the Top 20 immediately. We keep checking off these milestones and that’s a big one.
Yeah it is, “Take a Little Ride” is the first single from the brand new album out this year, and it’s been the highest-debuting single that we’ve ever had. Came in at No. 20, and it’s come a long way from my first single being on the chart for 40-something weeks and finally landing at No. 9, trying everything we could to get a Top 10 record. … It’s been crazy the way it all went down. The fact that people are that excited about what we’re doing and having something new coming out, it’s a good feeling. It makes you proud, and it makes you happy that things are going the way they are.
Has the pairing with Luke Bryan been as good for you as it looks from the outside?
Yeah, the biggest thing that makes this tour work is the fact that Luke and I are truly really good, best friends. We hang out together away from the music business a lot. … We like to see each other succeed. I love the fact that he is out with me, especially this last year. He’s come into his own, and his star is really starting to take off. It’s been cool for me to sit back and watch that happen for him and be a part of it. I know he’s the same way. He was out with me a couple of years ago when things really started to explode for me. We pull for each other and are legitimately friends. There is not a lot of ego, there is not a lot of jealousy or anything like that, and that’s really what makes it work. If I’m going to be out on tour with somebody for a whole year, I want it to be somebody that I enjoy hanging out with — and he’s that guy.
Both of you have many songs that have been downloaded over a million times. Why do you think you get downloaded more than someone who maybe sells a lot of albums instead?
I don’t know. When you look at who is selling more downloads or albums or any of that stuff, I don’t think anyone has been able to figure that out. You have record companies that sign acts that they think are great, and then they never do anything. Acts that they don’t think are really going to do much end up having a career. I don’t think anyone really knows what it is that drives somebody to get on their computer and want to download a song.
We call them impact songs, and people buy impact songs. But you just never know what those songs are going to be. One of those songs that really went through the roof for us was “Big Green Tractor,” which I thought was kind of a fun little ditty song that I never in a million years thought would be as big as it was. But it was. It was really the song that really started the train rolling for us.
And “Take a Little Ride” is already one of the biggest digital downloads you’ve ever had.
Yeah! I don’t know why that is. I think from an artist standpoint, you have to put out music that you feel like represents you and things you feel like your crowd wants to hear. And if that drives them to go and download the album or the single, that’s what we want. You’ve got record companies that can sit there all day and try to figure it out, but they don’t. Nobody does. If that was the case, every artist that came out would have a huge career. And that’s just not the case so … I don’t know. It means we’re doing something right. I’m not sure what that is. Whatever it is, we’re going to try and keep doing it.