Jake Owen is bringing summer vibes to New York City on Wednesday (Oct. 10) for the first night of CMT on Tour: Jake Owen — The Summer Never Ends . He’ll be joined on the road by Love and Theft (“Angel Eyes” ) and Florida Georgia Line (“Cruise” ) through December.
The New York show at the Best Buy Theatre is sold out, as are upcoming dates in Detroit and St. Louis and a two-night engagement at the House of Blues in Chicago.
In this easygoing interview at the CMT offices, Owen chatted about creating the tour, traveling with his longtime band and listening to the fans.
CMT: Have you been imagining what kind of show you’d like to offer as a headliner?
Owen: Yeah, I’ve thought about that before I ever moved to Nashville. But now it’s just putting it in place. Being on my first headlining tour … we’re playing a bunch of intimate, cool venues. A lot of buildings don’t have the size that the next building would have. So I have to come up with a package that I can put in any size venue to make it seem bigger than life. That’s a challenge.
In those moments before you step out onstage, what is going through your mind?
I listen to the crowd yelling. There’s a cool feeling of hearing the intro music fade out, the lights dim and go down. And when the crowd knows the show’s about to start, they start screaming. I like that feeling because it’s taken me a while to get there. I remember when I first got a record deal and got out on the road, people didn’t know who I was. No one screams for someone they don’t know, so it’s nice to hear people getting ready for it now.
Do you warm up before shows?
I’ve never done vocal warm-ups in my life. Every now and then, I might do a “mi-mi-mi-mi-mi.” … I never really learned to sing. No one ever taught me the right way to do it. Sometimes you’ll catch me — there’ll be friends of mine or whoever on the bus — and the tour manager will come on and say, “Dude, you’ve got a show in five minutes.” So I’ll go put my boots on really quick, put a pair of jeans on and a T-shirt and go do what I do. It’s not a job. I love to do it. I guess some people get ready to work. I just look at it like it’s one more good time to be had.
You’ve had the same touring band for a long time. What’s the reward in that?
It’s a great reward because people feel invested. The guys have gone through years when they’ve had to take a pay cut in order for us to get through the year. Or we rode on one bus together for five years. Now I’m on my own bus with my wife and a couple of other people who ride with me. I don’t see [my band members] as much as I used to until we hit the stage. So it’s nice for them to see the growth and know that our goals that we set out to achieve are starting to come full-swing.
For fans that come to CMT on Tour who haven’t seen you before, what can they expect from your show?
Fans who have followed me from day one have seen me play a bunch of shows, so now it’s a challenge for me to give them something they haven’t seen before and make them say, ‘Wow, he really has hit the next level.’ And for those fans that haven’t seen us before, you can always expect — no matter if it’s a headlining show or any show we play — that we’re going to do our best to entertain them and play a bunch of great songs and to keep people interested. And we want to keep them coming back. That’s the biggest compliment — when people see you once and then they come again.