If you're wondering what Jerrod Niemann's drinking during the first scene of his latest music video, "Drink to That All Night," he wants to be clear, it's not what you think.
"It's not milk," he said, revealing the liqueur to actually be that of a creamy beverage called RumChata.
But judging by the video's black-and-white imagery -- featuring anything from women with hula-hoops, black Ford trucks, football players, pool balls to even bugs -- the video pans out like a trippy and expensive alcohol-induced dream.
"The thing is, hearing the song or hearing the album, someone may say, 'Oh, is he an alcoholic?' or 'Does he not have anything else to talk about?'" he admits.
But to him, music can offer a welcomed diversion from reality -- and not one that requires a boozy beverage to do so.
"You don't have to necessarily even ever had to have a drink to listen to this album, in my opinion," he said of the project featuring several of his co-written songs. "Because we wrote [the album] from the aspect of escaping and getting people to get something off their minds for a little bit. I think that it's just the thought of being happy and spending time with the people that you love."
With the single hitting No. 1 Monday (April 14) on Billboard's country airplay chart, fans must agree. Written by Derek George, Lance Miller and Brad and Brett Warren, "Drink to That All Night" is the first single released from Niemann's latest album, High Noon.
Leaning heavily toward party anthems, the project's buoyant new batch of tunes will surely be warmly received during his live shows this summer as he joins Keith Urban for his Raise 'Em Up tour.
"Keith is somebody any musician looks up to or even aspiring singers," Niemann said. "But if you know anything about him, clearly here's a great guy, a great musician -- a great everything."
With songs like "Buzz Back Girl," "We Know How to Rock," "Come On, Come On," "Day Drinkin'" to even the tongue-in-cheek and humorous tune, "Donkey," Niemann's new project also features a first-time duet with the fast-talking singer Colt Ford in "She's Fine."
"I like writing a bunch of minor chords," he explained of the song's transformation. "It's kind of when you think of the fantasy of a Daisy Duke walking through a smoke-filled room, you just picture True Blood -- the sound, not the imagery," he laughed, comparing the song to HBO's popular vampire series.
"Colt's voice just adds to the heaviness of the song," Niemann said. "It's got this real cool mysterious vibe to it."
To offset the boisterous celebratory tunes, Neimann also highlights a deeper side to his artistry, most notably shown in tender tunes like "I Can't Give Anymore," reminiscent of his 2010 Top 5 single "What Do You Want," to even a delicate piano ballad, "The Right Thing."
"It's one of those that probably could be my favorite on the record," he said of the gentle song.
Working on this particular piece of music for three years, he brought in fellow songwriters the Warren Brothers, along with Miller, to help him work through a few of the lines.
"I thought it sounded like Phantom of the Opera-esque or something," he explained. "I just did not want to ruin it. I wanted to make sure it was taken care of right. I thought it was really special."
And despite the obvious drinking connotations with a song titled "Refill," the carefully crafted piece actually relays the desires of returning home to heal and replenish one's soul.
In a nod to his own home, the singer-songwriter's strategically titled project's namesake High Noon pays tribute to his native state of Kansas. Having lived in the famous gun-slinging town of Dodge City for a couple of years, he wanted to express reverence for his roots.
"That's part of my heritage, part of the country I grew up in," he said proudly.
Collaborating with a new co-producer, Jimmy Lee Sloas, Niemann explained how the two incorporated their favorite portions of his previous work with current aspirations. Having worked with artists like Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood and Reba McEntire to name a few, Sloas brought his studio experience to the project while also helping Niemann reign in some of his far-reaching musical desires.
"At the end, it's 100 percent of the music of who I want to be, and he knew how to bring that out of me," he said.
What's more, Niemann's new album proves he's unafraid of forging new ground and taking chances with his music. Though he admits it doesn't always work out or sell as much as he'd like, the passion for his art is always at the center.
"I wouldn't trade a moment of music ever made. I loved every minute of it," he smiled. "I'm in it for the people who care to listen."
"I'm a very big risk taker in music," he professed. "We could debate with anybody about what's country and what's not. The thing is, I've spent my whole life obsessed with country music, and I always thought that I would have nothing but that very, very old-school traditional sound."
However, he credits a line in Willie Nelson's "Write Your Own Song," to an epiphany he had while listening to the in-your-face lyrics, "And if you can't see that Mr. Purified Country/Why don't you just write your own songs?"
"Basically, if you don't like these songs, write your own songs," Niemann recounted of the song's poignant message, going on to note his admiration for Nelson and the other members of the Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson) and their influences on country music.
"I'm not saying my music can change music. I'm not saying that all of us combined would or could," he clarified. "What I'm saying is, I would much rather attempt to have a unique voice and sound than not -- just for the fact that when it's all said and done, you've got to be identifiable. And, I just feel like that's where my heart's at."