The power of positive thinking is paying off for Chris Janson, who’s scored a No. 1 hit this month with “Good Vibes,” an upbeat anthem he wrote with Zach Crowell and Ashley Gorley.
“At the time we wrote ‘Good Vibes,’ we had no plans or preparation for writing a new album or releasing a new album or any kind of date set,” Janson tells CMT Hot 20 Countdown. “That song just happened to spur a bunch of creativity. … So I wrote like 40 other songs, we picked 11, and made a new album.”
That new album, Real Friends, dropped just a few days after the chart-topping success of “Good Vibes.” Here, Janson explains why he spent more time focused on songwriting for this project, why he casts his wife in all his videos, and how that sunny day in the music video is just a bit deceiving.
CMT: I wanted to get some back story on “Good Vibes” when you were writing it. Was it just that you didn’t want any negativity?
Janson: Yeah. We were writing and we didn’t want any negativity. I try to stay away from negativity as much as you can be in life. But that’s human nature. And we were kind of grumbling around. I mean, this is what people do, especially when they get together. They start downin’ this, downin’ that, and complain about this, complain about that. You can get in such a quick web of that, easy. So it was real simple. I said, “Good vibes only,” kind of jokingly. I never intended to write a song called “Good Vibes.”
I mean, historically, I never intended to write a single called “Buy Me a Boat,” “Truck Yeah,” none of that. It just happened, you know. But it all happened because of a catchphrase that happened to roll out of my mouth. So that’s what happened. And it set a funny tone in the room like, “Ha, ha. That would never work.” And now it’s working. … So we’re grateful for that. And it’s a positive message. There’s nothing in the song that you can hate on. That’s the good thing. It’s not controversial whatsoever. It just puts me in a good mood, so I hope it puts others in a good mood.
You mentioned that writing “Good Vibes” helped lead to a new album, but I definitely feel like you could have gotten at least a couple more singles from your previous album.
Thanks, I appreciate that. I just get bored of stuff. I mean, I love the songs on the Everybody record. I love the songs on the Buy Me a Boat record. But I like moving and doing new stuff. I’m a songwriter, so I’m constantly writing new stuff anyway. I got to tell you, I think these songs are better. I think that they’re going to mop the floor with the last two albums. I think it’s really going to set the bar.
I took a lot of time and focused a lot of [songwriting] energy specifically on myself, which in the past I haven’t done. I’ve always focused about 50/50, half on me and half on songs I was writing for other people. And history shows that it’s both productive that way. When I was making the Everybody album, I had “Love This Life Come Out” on Locash. And that was right out of “Buy Me a Boat.” It kept flip flopping back and forth. And the Tim McGraw single, “How I’ll Always Be.” But this time I just hyper-focused on myself and I had a good time doing it.
Your family is also in this video. I think by my count, you’ve made four videos with all of them in there. You can always find a way to get your family into the videos.
It’s an important thing to me. A long time ago, at my first video shoot — my very first one that nobody even really knows about … I just didn’t have the right team around me. Nobody was letting me be myself. Nobody understood who I was and what I was about. And so I didn’t get to do it the way I wanted. I said from that point on, if I ever have another record deal — which, thank God I do — but if I ever had another record deal or I ever get to do music the way I want to do it, the way I moved to Nashville to do it, I’m gonna do it my way or I’m not gonna do it at all.
And so every video from there on out, that’s been my mainstay feature — my family’s gonna be in it. You know, I do music. I don’t care about acting or anything. So I’m not gonna put my arms around some other woman. I’m not gonna even look at another woman. And my wife is smokin’ hot, too. She looks good in a video. Not to mention she’s my hot wife. That’s just the way I do it. That’s the most comfortable and it’s the most real. I think that people identify with me like they identify with so many others, because they’re real people. I just keep it real. I keep my family close to me at all times.
It’s such a fun, summery song, but what was the video shoot like?
I was cold, man! It looks warm because we had the top down on the Jeep and all that kind of thing. And I was doing everything I could to roll my sleeves up. I mean, it was not easy. When I’m in the field singing, looking at the camera and I get that big, beautiful shot behind me, it’s like, “I’m so happy la, la, la….” I was miserable! It was awful. It was 17 degrees with a north wind.
But it’s OK because it’s good. That was the day that we all agreed to do it, and that was one of the only days with sun that week. So you just gotta make things work. People say you gotta make hay when the sun shines. Literally, we had to make a video when the sun shined. And I mean, “Good Vibes.” You can’t really get in a bad mood over that.