Jake Owen Stretches on Endless Summer EP

Singer Draws on Urban, Pop Influences on New Collection

Editor’s note: In addition to releasing his new EP, Jake Owen will headline this CMT on Tour featuring special guests Love and Theft and Florida Georgia Line. Titled Jake Owen: The Summer Never Ends 2012, the tour launches Oct. 10 in New York City.

Judging by Jake Owen‘s new EP, Endless Summer, the calendar has nothing at all to do with a summer frame of mind. It’s only four songs long, yet the collection captures that laid-back feeling of drinking with your buddies, getting out on the water and hanging out with your hottie.

Owen dropped by CMT to chat about the tracks on Endless Summer, as well as the urban and pop influences on the project — and a few songs that sound perfect on his boat.

CMT: The first song on the EP, “Summer Jam,” has an urban influence to it. Are you a fan of rap music or hip-hop?

Owen: Yeah, I love all kinds of music, man. I think people that don’t appreciate all kinds of music are not really doing themselves much of a service when it comes to music. I saw a guy on Twitter the other day that said, “Jake, you’re not country. You did a song with Colt Ford — a rapper. I’m over listening to you.” I didn’t respond, but I thought, “Wow, that’s a pretty ignorant statement because no matter what people listen to, it doesn’t define who you are.” It’s just about a feeling and what feels good.

You can’t rule a whole genre of music like that.

Every day I go to the gym, I put on Spotify, or I’ll put on iTunes and see something that came out on the rap chart, and I’ll listen to it. My dad used to get on me when I was a kid, saying, “I can’t believe you support this stuff.” And I was like, “It’s not about that.” … Just because Johnny Cash sang that he shot a man in Reno doesn’t mean everybody’s going to go out and shoot a man in Reno. It’s just the way the song makes you feel. “Folsom Prison Blues” is a sing-along song. You just want to sing along to it. I think in today’s world, 2012, people can get any kind of music they want, put any kind of song they want in a mix and hit play. And you go from Hank Williams Jr. to Snoop Dogg. That’s how I grew up, listening to all kinds of music, and I think that shows in this EP.

What led you to cover Ben Harper’s “Steal My Kisses” for the EP?

I have a frequent habit. I love going to T.J. Maxx because you never know what kind of deal you’re going to find. Like yesterday, I went to the gym and I needed some headphones. And right next to the gym was T.J. Maxx. So I was in T.J. Maxx, and I was going through the trinket aisle. And all of a sudden, through the [store's] speakers I heard, “I always got to steal my kisses from you.” I went into the studio the next day [and recorded it].

When you’re out on the lake, what kind of music do you like to listen to?

I bring all kinds of stuff. Today I was listening to Deadmau5, the electronic guy because I like to see what people are into. For me personally, there’s a band I’m obsessed with from Florida called MoFro — swampy, Florida jam-bandy music. I love Lionel Richie, so “All Night Long” tends to come on a lot. “Dancin’ on the Ceiling.” You’ve got to have songs that make you feel good. Billy Ocean, “Caribbean Queen.” I mean, anything like that I really enjoy. You never know. If you come out on my boat, you can be DJ on the iPod. Whatever’s on there, you can rock ‘n’ roll with it.

I think the message in the last track, “Surefire Feeling,” has a lot to do with instinct. Do you tend to trust your instincts in your day-to-day life?

Yeah, sometimes to my demise, but if I have a feeling and I believe it in my stomach, then I’m going to go for it. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. But I’ll always lay my head down at night knowing that I did something I wanted to do. And I don’t ever lay my head down at night wishing I did something.

Craig Shelburne has been writing for CMT.com since 2002. He is also a producer for CMT Edge, Concrete Country and Live @ CMT.