Editor's note: View Chuck Wicks' new music video.
Chuck Wicks is a new man. And he has a new single to prove it.
"I think 'Hold That Thought' is a great introduction to the 'new me,' so to speak. I've grown so much in the past two years as a songwriter and as an artist," Wicks said following a visit to CMT's Top 20 Countdown. The video will have its world television premiere on the series Friday (May 14).
"When you tour for two years straight, there's so much of the world you see that you thought you knew, and you learn from that," he says. "Being a songwriter, I've taken all of that energy and put it into the second record. I think fans can expect a new, fresh, different side of me that people didn't really know, and I'm excited to get it out there."
Wicks found success with his debut single, "Stealing Cinderella," which cracked the Top 5 in early 2008. He followed that with "All I Ever Wanted" and a tour with Brad Paisley. After that, a budding relationship with Julianne Hough led him to Dancing With the Stars.
"I could walk through the airport and hear, 'Hey, I loved your dancing!' That was an immediate effect that I wasn't really used to," he says, laughing. "It's a celebrity change, more than anything. More people recognize you and can put a face with the name. Now it's time to put the music to that face and that name. That's where this second album comes into play."
However, Wicks and Hough didn't win the competition -- and the romance later faltered.
"Going through a public breakup can always spark things in your life, too, for change," says Wicks, who turned 30 last summer. "I learned from all that stuff. And just being a creative person, I took that and put it into my songwriting. I think that's going to show throughout my second album. I hope it does."
Asked what fans can expect from his new music, he replies, "It's a fun album. It's not a depressing album. I don't think there's one depressing song on the whole record, actually. It's all fun. It's all grooving, and it's certainly an album that I've waited a long time to put together."
Wicks says that his team made a conscious effort not to release a third single after his stint on Stars.
"I think everything in life is a timing thing, whatever you're doing," he says. "It made sense to take the first record and be happy about the success we had with it and move on to the second record. I had grown so much, so quickly, it was time to get that new side of me out."
So he went on tour and started writing for the new album which is tentatively scheduled for release in late August or early September. He's launching the project this month with a sensual video for "Hold That Thought," co-starring Julia Jones of Twilight fame.
"I remember meeting Julia, my love interest in the video, and trying not to fumble over my words," he says. "I knew she was a beautiful girl and I knew she was going to be in Twilight, so I'm like, 'What is she going to think about this country boy? And what is she going to think about being in this video?' I had no idea what to expect. I knew we had some kissing scenes and, honestly, I had never done that. There was a small kissing scene in 'Stealing Cinderella,' but not like ... this. This was more like a sexual kissing, not like a 'we just got married' kind of deal -- and there is a difference!"
Asked how Jones came into the picture, Wicks replies, "I remember saying, 'Let's try to get somebody who's an up-and-coming actress, who's exotic, who's beautiful and who can bring a different type of flair to the video.' I asked my publicist in L.A. if she knew any actresses that, first of all, love country music and, second of all, maybe would want to be in a video. The first person she had mentioned was Julia Jones. Of course I had to Google her because I had no idea. I looked at her and I was like, 'Man, this girl is just breathtaking'. I said, 'Yeah, if she can do it, I'd love to have her.' The fact that she agreed to do it was awesome because the way she agreed to do it was even better. She heard the song and she loved it -- and then she had to Google me."
Wicks praises Jones for bringing "a nice maturity to the video" as well as "a sense of sexiness but still very sweet."
He says the anticipation of the romantic final scene is crucial to his original concept for the video.
"The one thing I didn't want to do was just go for it," he notes. "You know, I didn't want to be like, 'Hey, there's a bed. Let's start making out.' I wanted to tell a story. The lyric alone tells a story, and you can picture it. That's what I wanted to do, but in a very sensual and classy way. I think we got the point across that we're going to go at it in a bit, but I think we also told a love story at the same time. I think that was the key -- to incorporate what the song means into everyday life."
Near the end of the interview, Wicks is asked about his current frame of mind.
"The best word is 'focused.' I'm more focused on my career and my craft and songwriting and music and touring than I've ever been. And I think that's what it takes," he says. "I don't have any kids yet. I've just got to take care of me right now, which is a good thing, because I'm a handful. It's time to figure myself out and really get my feet on the ground and get a good run in before I start to settle down and start to worry about other things."