Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, May 6, 2002

Winstock preview: Trace Adkins interview

By Ryan Gueningsman

Trace Adkins knows the value of hard work ­ and how it pays off in the long run.

He now has a wife and several kids, a large hobby farm ­ and a career as one of country music's top entertainers and vocalists to show for it.

"All the jobs I've had have been labor intensive ­ until I got to this one," Adkins said during an early April phone interview.

Adkins was raised in Louisiana ­ where at the time he was growing up, there were generally two industries to choose from to make a living. One was the timber industry, and one was the oil business.

"My old man was in the timber industry," Adkins said. "So, I went into the oil business and started working oil field construction ­ building tank batteries, setting up pumping units, and laying pipeline ­ stuff like that."

He took an immediate interest to music when he watched his grandfather sing at church and around the house.

"One of my earliest memories of hearing somebody sing was standing beside my granddaddy in church and listening to him sing bass. I wanted to be a bass singer like him. That's really how it started for me," Adkins said.

"My daddy bought me a guitar when I was 10, and he paid a guy to give me lessons, and that kind of thing. So it grew from there ­ kind of a typical story," he said.

He really started thinking about the music business seriously when he began to play some shows in Texas.

"Well, I played beer joints for a long time out in Texas, and I moved up here (Nashville) in '92, and actually just played pretty much just one little place ­ one little club east of town," Adkins said.

"It was a little-bitty place and I played there for about three years, worked construction, you know ­ made the rounds."

Adkins eventually met the president of Capitol Records at the baggage claim of the airport when he was picking up his wife from a business trip.

"It was kinda weird. I mean, my wife worked for Arista Records, and she was coming in on a flight. She'd been out in Dallas doing some kind of charity golf tournament and he'd been out in Dallas playing, too," he said.

"So, she knew him, and they came in on the same flight. I was at the baggage claim getting her luggage ­ playing my role of boyfriend/pack mule, you know," he said laughing. "And, she introduced me to him at the baggage claim, told him I was a singer, where I was playing, and to come on out."

A little later on, Capitol's president did just that. After Adkins' first set, he walked up on stage and said he wanted to give him a record deal.

Adkins and Capitol Records worked to get an album out in June 1996. Titled "Dreamin' Out Loud," Adkins was able to pull several chart toppers ­ including "There's a Girl in Texas," "Every Light in the House," "I Left Something Turned On At Home," as well as his first number one hit, "(This Ain't) No Thinkin' Thing."

"It was . . . well, you know, it is hard to describe how it felt to have that number one. I know where I was ­ I was in a casino in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan when we got the news that it had gone number one."

"It was just cool . . . we were happy," he said.

Following "Dreamin' Out Loud," Adkins released "Big Time" in October of 1997, containing the hits "The Rest of Mine" and "Lonely Won't Leave Me Alone." He also went on to win the Country Music Association's Horizon Award.

It appeared Adkins was on his way. However, there was some label restructuring, but even with that, Adkins maintained his record deal.

He put out his third album ­ titled "More" in September 1999. It produced a hit or two with songs like "I'm Gonna Love You Anyway," but didn't take off as much as his first album did.

Two years later, Adkins hit the charts again with the song "I'm Tryin'," the first single off of his 2001 release ­ "Chrome."

"Well, it was the first time I worked with (producer) Dann Huff, and he came to me with some songs ­ and "I'm Tryin'" was in there. He had these cool songs, and "I'm Tryin'" really felt autobiographical," Adkins said.

"That song really felt like one I could sing with conviction, something I know what I'm talking about," he said.

His current single is another song Adkins takes to heart ­ "Help Me Understand."

"I think it's at 28 right now ­ it's doing well. It's got that slow steady climb that you like to see ­ maybe we could move a little faster ­ but hey, it's moving every week, jumping two or three places. It's strong and healthy," Adkins said.

"The label really insisted on this song being the next single because they think that it's, like, the best vocal performance that I've ever done. So, you know, whatever ­ they can think that if they want," he said laughing. "I mean, I'm not going to concur, but that's fine if that's what they think."

As far as the next single, Adkins said there has been some talk, but nothing definite.

"There's been just a little talk. I think it depends on how long this one stays on the charts. It'll depend on where in the year where we are, if it's still in the summer, we might come with an up-tempo thing, if it's fall, it might be a little slower song ­ it all just depends on where we are in the year, man," Adkins said.

For the summer, Adkins plans to play about 100 shows, and "just go out there and do our thing."

"I like being up there ­ in the summertime," Adkins said about Minnesota, laughing.

"Doing the outdoor thing up there in January ­ I don't know about that. Yeah, I do enjoy being up north in the summer, and, it's just that's where we want to be. In the winter, we concentrate on Florida, Texas, and places like that," he said.

"It's a great place to be ­ we can play golf, and I really enjoy that. It's hard to get fishing in when I'm on the road, though."

"For the summer, we just like to be up north, man," Adkins said.

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