Chris Janson Battled Writer’s Block, Embraced His Producer Side for Next Album
Every year at CMA Fest, Chris Janson holds a fan club party in order to meet and get to know his listeners. At his 2019 party, the singer says, hearing fans' reactions to his most recent songs meant more to him than ever before.
"I had some really awesome testimonies this morning in there," he told The Boot and other outlets following the event. "They were just off the cuff from people, and they were pouring their hearts out. Not only [about] "Good Vibes," but about "Drunk Girl." [Those songs] that I have recorded and released and, thankfully, had success with have really touched their lives and changed their lives."
Janson's music has even saved some listeners' lives: At Country Jam 2019 in Grand Junction, Colo., just days after his CMA Fest fan party, Janson heard from another listener -- this time, one who credits his music with lifting her out of one of her darkest moments. She'd been at one of his shows with plans to go home and end her life; however, something he said onstage changed her mind.
"That's the first time I'd heard that, so I'm still pretty blown away by it, as you can imagine, and humbled by it," Janson explained to The Boot later that day. "I know what it's like to go through hard times. I know what it's like to fake it, and to be that person in that moment ... Sometimes we just feel helpless in life, and we don't feel like we can turn to the people closest to us, and we don't even feel like we can follow our faith and go to God with this. I get that."
Being able to reach a person going through such a painful moment means more to Janson than any radio hit, any award, any industry milestone. "That's the reason I'm here. I'm not here for any other reason than just to connect with people and to hopefully change somebody's day, and quite possibly their life," he reflects.
Wait, Chris Janson! We've Got One "Last Question"
Janson says that "Drunk Girl," a meditation on the importance of respect, has probably affected both him and his listeners more than any other song he's released. "It has changed my life, because you're subliminally talking to yourself every day," he relates. "Even on days when I don't feel like being the "Good Vibes" guy -- maybe I'm just being kind of grumpy -- it reminds me that I have a precedent to uphold. It's a good reminder to self to really try to be better, be nicer, smile as often as you can.
"You can really change somebody's life like that," he adds. "I've seen it happen."
Connecting with fans is such an important part of his job that, following the success of "Drunk Girl," Janson took some time to prioritize those interactions and experiences. That meant putting songwriting on the back burner -- at least, for a little while.
"I had kind of gotten out of the vibe of writing, to be honest with you, because we were relishing in the enjoyment of "Drunk Girl,"" Janson admits, adding that when a song achieves that level of success, it becomes difficult to find time to work on new material.
"Somebody told me a long time ago, 'You better write now, because once you get some hits under your belt, you won't have time to do it anymore.' He got that right," the singer relates. "It's like I do music for fun and travel for a living. It's a reverse role sometimes. But it's great all the way around."
When it came time to work on his next album, Janson specifically carved out time to get back in the writer's room. He surrounded himself with co-writers that inspire him. "I booked some co-writes, which I enjoy doing. I enjoy [having] a schedule time slot to write," he recalls. ""Good Vibes" was the first thing we wrote for this album ... and it energized me so much that I started to write two or three. I was writing every day when we were home off the road."
That writing process jump-started Janson out of a period of road-induced writer's block. "I know what it was: It was just traveling a lot, and I didn't really have the time to be creative. But man, when I took the time to do it, it really changed everything. I wrote a whole album," he says.
That album, Janson goes on to say, will be a 13-track project set to come out in the fall. Not only did he write and co-write about 40 songs to choose from, but he also co-produced the record with Tommy Cecil. "It was my first time co-producing for real, like, taking the time to really make the songs in my house," Janson explains. "It's just been a really fun process."
While the singer may have struggled to write at the beginning of the album-making process, he couldn't be prouder of the finished product. "It's a really positively themed album, for some reason," he says. "It just feels good, and happy. Everything seemed to be going my way while I was writing it, and still does ...
"I'm excited for the album," Janson adds. "I think it's my best one yet."
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