Editor's note: See CMT Insider's interview with Brad Paisley in the new episode debuting Saturday (July 14) at 11 a.m. ET/PT.
Brad Paisley's wheels are always turning, and not just the ones on his tour bus. In preparation for his Virtual Reality World Tour, he allowed his imagination to run wild. And as a result, he's giving fans something they've never seen.
"I'm always trying to think of things we haven't done. But luckily, it's always about music, too," he told CMT Insider host Katie Cook prior to a tour stop in Camden, N.J. "As long as you continue to have new songs, there's usually some new topic or something to present."
In this backstage interview, Paisley talks about his creative vision for the tour, the unique approach of his upcoming album and his lofty ambitions for his iPad.
CMT: This is the Virtual Reality World Tour. How is this title influenced by your set?
Paisley: We named it because of the set. It was called something else when we first announced it. And when we set all of these toys up and we looked at them, it was like, "This feels more like a virtual reality thing." There are so many moments where you're not sure what's real and what's not -- creating a fake atmosphere, whether it's the beach or the woods or guest appearances by people who may or may not be there.
Are we talking holograms?
Maybe. Or maybe it's real.
If you could do a duet with a hologram of a person who's no longer with us, who would it be?
Wow, that's a good question. You know, it's probably not a hypothetical question. It's probably possible. It would be neat to sing with Roger Miller. I sang with Buck Owens a lot while he was alive, so somebody like that. I never got to meet Roger Miller, and from what I hear, he was the biggest character we've ever had.
I know you love all this high-tech stuff. You're into editing and creating animation. Any gadgets right now that you're obsessed with?
I think the new iPad is something else -- the pictures it takes and the video it takes. I really believe you'll get a music video one of these days that I shot with an iPad because it's that consistent and that good. It's HD. These guys running these cameras right here that we're looking at -- I don't know why you're lugging these big things around because it's pretty amazing what these [iPads] can do. You can edit it on it when you're done.
I bet half the people in the audience are recording everything you do, too.
Yeah, gone are the days when I used to really preview material. I can remember trying "Celebrity" live the week I wrote it -- the day I wrote it really. We were playing at the Las Vegas Hilton that night. ... I could tell what lines were getting reactions and which ones weren't. But if I do that now...
Oh, it will be out there.
Yeah, you'll have it, and people will be trading it back and forth.
You always want to bring a new interesting, fresh approach to a tour, but are you getting to that point where you're like, "Well, what have I not done already?"
A little. You think that way a little bit, but luckily, things keep changing. Technology gets better. The video stuff that we present nightly is better than it's ever been. And that's only because things get better. I can remember the first tour projection screens that weren't very bright -- singing "Whiskey Lullaby" and having Alison Krauss' face come up, and some nights it didn't work. We've come a long way since then.
You're working on the new album. Where are you in that whole process?
At the scary point of starting to play it for some people. I've been really private about it until now. ... I didn't really let anybody hear stuff, and I'm just now starting to play things for some people at my label. I've had the most fun making this record I've ever, ever had.
Fans saw a web video where you talked about trying to get an organic sound in the session. What did you mean by that?
There are no pesticides. ... You look for the label. It just says 100 percent organic, and then you have it. No, what it means is, in a nutshell, a lot of what you hear on the radio and a lot of what you hear in any form of music right now has both the aid and the also the negative part of a computer being involved in a big way. They'll have a great drum track, and then they'll make sure the bass hits right now, then the kick drum, and then they'll make sure that the vocals are tuned. They'll make sure that everything's perfect before it hits your radio station. I like that sound. We've had a lot of that on records just like everybody else, where you make sure everything is right before it gets out. This time the mode has been: "We're not editing." If you hear something on a record, we played it.
Like they used to do all those years ago.
Like they used to do it. And the energy to me feels different. ... As of talking to you right now, we've cut almost 10 things. Seven of them are for sure on the record, and three of them, no one will ever hear. But it's seven musicians. It's the band that you'll see tonight onstage with me. There are no additional musicians yet, which is really, really fun. ... You have this picture of what that might sound like, and it's different than you think. That's what's interesting. To me, it's hard to describe it, but I think it's going to be really, really cool. I'm at least happy with it.