2011 was quite the year for Scotty McCreery. The 18-year-old was named the winner of American Idol season 10 last May, and his album, Clear As Day debuted at Number One on both the Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums charts. Additionally, he was named New Artist of the Year this past December at the American Country Music Awards.
And the success has continued for McCreery in the new year. Clear As Day was recently certified platinum in achievement of one million units sold. He also has been nominated for New Artist of the Year at the upcoming Academy of Country Music Awards.
The young country singer is currently a part of Brad Paisley’s “Virtual Reality Tour 2012,” which also features The Band Perry. Last week, McCreery graciously took the time to speak with me about his success, touring, and who he’s rooting for during the new season of Idol.
First off, congratulations on Clear As Day going platinum.
Oh thank you, thank you.
Where were you when you first found out about your album going platinum?
We were in Nashville, actually, rehearsing for the tour. Normally, I get the news from, like, my manager or something. Apparently my attorney, he found out first and he sent me an email and kind of got the word out to us first. We were all excited and pretty pumped that rehearsal day.
Has it been overwhelming at all to have quite a bit of success in a relatively short amount of time?
Yeah, at times. It really has been. You kind of have to deal with it and go along with it. It’s just kind of my life now. We’re learning the ins and outs of it and learning how to deal with it. But, it’s cool. It’s cool having to deal with this, you know? It’s really wonderful.
From what I’ve seen of you in the last year, you really do seem to take your success in stride. What do you credit your being able to stay humble about everything that has been going on in your career?
My family. I’ve got a great support group back home, and actually [to] get a chance to go home and not necessarily staying on the road. It’s been a real blessing for me. I haven’t forgotten about my roots and where I came from and my hometown. I still have my friends in school; just being around them keeps me level-headed, keeps me sane, keeps me the same old person I was before I left.
That’s good to hear. I know your current single is doing pretty well on the charts right now, but has there been any talk about what your next single might be?
Not yet. We’re still pretty focused on “The Trouble With Girls”; we’ve got to let it run its course. Country radio, it takes awhile for it to really get on up there, so we’re going really support this one and then we’ll see about the next one.
You’re currently on tour with Brad Paisley; how have the shows been going so far?
Oh, they’re going great. It’s really easy when you have somebody like Brad out here, who’s just such a nice guy and makes you feel right at home. And The Band Perry, they’ve been great as well. It’s been a fun tour to be on. It’s a really a great fit for me, I think.
Do you get nervous at all before hitting the stage each night?
Oh, you better believe it. Yeah. It’s a whole new experience every night. It’s a different crowd, and I’m really in front of country music fans now. It’s pretty cool.
I would assume you’re performing close to the same set every night, how do you keep things fresh for the different crowds each night?
You know, you only have 25 minutes to wow ’em, so you gotta go out there and give it your all. It’s just fun. As long as it’s fun, it stays fresh. We can go out there and have a good time with it. Right now, it’s a whole lot of fun.
Has a certain song become your favorite to perform each night?
Oh man. It kind of changes, but “You Make That Look Good” and “Write Your Number On My Hand.” Those two are really fun ones to perform. The crowd really gets into them. It’s cool singing those two.
I hear that Brad is prone to pulling pranks on tour, has he managed to prank you, yet?
Yeah, he got me once. He just kind of photoshopped my head on a big, muscular Speedo body at the beach. That was funny. He put it on the screen during the last song of the night, kind of got a big roar from the crowd. It was all fun and games, so we’ll have to find something that we can retaliate with.
What is your favorite part of touring?
Oh, just being on the road. Meeting the fans and getting to sing songs for them. These are the people that really got me to where I’m at. It’s just cool to see them and say thank you.
Speaking of your fans, any fun stories from this tour?
The fans are incredible. They never cease to amaze me. They’re always at the shows with their signs and stuff. The funniest thing that’s happened to me is a big guy came up to me and said, “Scotty, sign my belly!” and lifted his shirt up. I had to commend the fella, so I signed his belly for him. He walked away and said, “I’m never washing it again.” And I said, “You better wash that.” [laughs] It was funny.
What are some things that are your must-haves on tour?
On the last tour, the Idol tour, I was big into the sweets. But now I’m coming up on baseball season, and I just need to get back in shape, so I’m eating healthier. We’ve got the XBox on the bus. Other than that, I’ve got my iPod. That’s about it. I’m not really too demanding when it comes to a bus rider.
Is there a certain city that you’re looking forward to playing on this tour?
Denver will be pretty cool. And Vegas. I think that’s one of the biggest cities we’re heading up to, so it’ll be cool to get back there. I think we’re playing Mandalay Bay. Maybe after my set I’ll walk down the strip and enjoy the lights.
You’re a senior in high school this year, so how has it been balancing your career with having a normal high school life?
Oh, it’s been all kinds of fun. I enjoy high school, I enjoy being there with my friends and getting to hang out. But, I also enjoy the music and getting out here with the fans and singing a lot. It’s really cool for me to be able to do both. It’s been a fairly nice balance with schoolwork and being on the road. We’ve made it work pretty good, I think.
Since you’ll be graduating this year, what are your plans as far as college goes?
Well, I’ve applied. I’ve gotten into East Carolina. That’s the first place that I’ve heard back from today. I’ve applied to North Carolina State as well. Also, Belmont University and Middle Tennessee State. We’ll see where I end up, but we’re not certain yet.
Did you happen to watch the Idol premiere last night?
What did you think about seeing yourself in the opening credits?
It was pretty cool seeing that. I remember coming off the show people were saying, “You’re going be part of the introduction next year.” It was pretty wild seeing that.
Were there any contestants in particular that stood out to you?
Oh, well I’ve known that David Leathers, Jr. guy before from a previous competition. Schyler Dixon and Colton Dixon. They were with me last year when we were at Hollywood Week, and we became good friends. So, I’m rooting for them this year. They’re good pals.
What kind of advice do you have for the contestants once they hit the live portion of the competition?
Oh man, just don’t let it stress them out. I made that mistake a couple times. You’re just there to sing, have fun, and really entertain the crowd. If you let the stress of the TV part of it, the live show part of it get to you, the singing and the entertaining won’t be fully there. Stay laid back, get your songs right, work hard, and you’ll be set.
Other than winning Idol, what has been a real standout moment for you in the last year?
Oh, goodness gracious. There have been a lot of really cool things I’ve gotten to do. I’ve gotten to sing at the World Series. I got a chance to go on the Grand Ole Opry. A lot of really cool things have really happened this year that I’ll never forget. I’m telling you, its been wild.
For more information on Scotty McCreery, check out his official website.
1/26 – Boise, ID – Idaho Center
1/27 – Salt Lake City, UT – Maverik Center
1/28 – Las Vegas, NV – Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
2/9 – Spokane, WA – Spokane Arena
2/10 – Eugene, OR – Matthew Knight Arena
2/11 – Tacoma, WA – Tacoma Dome
2/16 – Lubbock, TX – United Spirit Arena
2/17 – Las Cruces, NM – Pan AmericaCenter
2/23 – Madison, WI – Alliant Energy Center
2/24 – Moline, IL – iWireless Center
2/25 – Springfield, MO – JQH Arena
3/1 – Baltimore, MD – 1st Mariner Arena
3/2 – Knoxville, TN – Thompson-Boling Arena
3/3 – Lexington, KY – Rupp Arena
Photo credit: ScottyMcCreery-Official.com