Though spelled differently, 28-year-old country newcomer Jon Pardi is much like his name sounds — a party. And if his infectious energy during a recent interview is any indication of what he plans to bring to his stage show this year, fans are in for one hell of a celebration.
“I guess I was handed down the torch of a good time,” he said during the conversation with CMT.com, attributing his jaunty merrymaking to his grandmother.
“She was the life of the party,” he said while sharing some of his fondest childhood memories of how the two would sing karaoke together at her home. Joined by his grandmother’s raspy vocals, the two would belt out various Hank Williams Jr. songs and one of their favorite singalong numbers — Garth Brooks’ 1990 hit, “Not Counting You.”
“She’d be like, ’Go, Jon!’ he shouted, reenacting her vibrancy and words of encouragement. “She was funny. She made every time we got together that much better.”
Growing up in Dixon, Calif., Pardi was just a few months shy of his 23rd birthday when he made the move to Nashville to pursue his music career. Only a year and a-half later, the eager young songwriter earned a publishing deal before signing with major label, Capitol Records Nashville. What’s more, his debut album’s namesake, Write You a Song is named after one of Pardi’s tunes that helped land him his publishing deal.
“I guess I’m lucky,” he said.
But don’t let his humility fool you. Pardi has been pounding the pavement and staying true to his artistry since he began back in California.
“I just kept doing my thing, man,” he said. “I just kept to it. I’m a hard-ass sometimes.”
His first album, which debuted this week at No. 3 on Billboard’s country albums chart, reflects this tough outer shell in songs like “Up All Night,” which has climbed to No. 12 on the trade publication’s country airplay chart.
“It’s kind of a fun, summer song,” he said. “Getting off work, hanging with your girlfriend, staying up all night, just having fun, swimming, jerky and a 12-pack.”
And other party anthems seem to follow suit with rowdy tunes like “Write You a Song,” “Trash a Hotel Room,” and his Top 25 debut single, “Missin’ You Crazy.”
Phrases like “upbeat, fun, country” and “beer-drinkin’-acceptable,” quickly roll off his tongue when asked to speak about his album debut.
“Everything these days is kind of upbeat and partying,” he detailed. “I would say we’re a little more country. We’ve got a little bit more traditional feel to it, but it’s still new school.”
Whether it’s two hours or a year, Pardi says there’s no timetable when it comes to writing a song. In fact, many times, he begins with a melody before finding the lyrics to match.
“What I can feel the most and what I can remember the most are the melodies I want to write to,” he said of his process.
But Pardi isn’t afraid to take on tender subject matter either, often touching on love, loss and undeniable vices in tunes like “What I Can’t Put Down,” also divulging a few foibles of his own, ladies (“They always get you in trouble”) and drinking (“I love drinkin’ some beer/You’ve got to hate being hung-over”).
Yet, even still, his entire album boasts an overall confidence and energy. Traveling gig to gig by van with six or seven other bandmates, Pardi believes endurance is one of his greatest strengths as an artist.
“We’ve got a trailer, though,” he smiled. “We don’t have room to bring anything but a blanket, a pillow. Four years of us on the road — we’re sure a family,” he said. “I have a great band.”
And paired with his unwavering drive and determination, this only adds fuel to his passionate fire.
“All the new artists I know that blew up have busses and everything and we’re still like a bush league farm team,” he joked. “So, I just keep goin’. My music is my No. 1, and I’ve got people who believe in me and keep me going. I’m thankful.”
Pardi’s commitment to his career is obvious when he walks onstage.
“I get a little nervous, but not really,” he said. “Maybe a little shaky. But, no, I’m ready to go! Man, I get so excited, I’m jumping up and down. I remember when we were playing with Eric Church. We were playing for like 15,000 people, and my booking agent said, ’Have you ever played a stadium?’ And I was like, ’No! It’s going to be awesome. Let’s go!’ And we went up there and — boom — we killed it!”
“Take everything you can from what people say,” he said. “Keep going and stick to your instincts. And what your soul tells you to do, use that. Sing your heart out and write the best song you possible can.”