Colt Ford is happy to be returning to the Rock the South stage after first performing in Cullman back in 2014. The professional golfer turned country music superstar sat down with The Tribune this week to talk Rock the South and life.
Will you be introducing some new music at Rock the South?
“We the People” is the new song, and I will be playing it Saturday. I think this new music is the best stuff I’ve ever done to be honest with you.
Your style is described as “country-rap.” Have you created your own genre?
No, people like to say that, but I disagree with that. I think if that if you look into the history of country music recitation, talking records or you can call it rap- what do you think “Devil Went Down to Georgia” is? Go back to “Hot Rod Lincoln” and stuff Jerry Reed was doing. I mean, it’s been around forever. I’ve certainly put my own spin on it, but as an artist, that’s what you’re supposed to do. You don’t need the same artists reproduced, but sometimes people get caught up trying to do that instead of just being themselves.
For me, I feel like my success has been because regular folks can understand what I’m talking about. I talk about stuff and I have people all the time say, “Man you’re talking about my life!” I’m writing about my life; it just so happens that country folks kind of live the same way.
You grew up in Athens, Georgia and when you were growing up when they had a huge music scene.
Yeah, it was on the cover of Rolling Stone as the Underground Music Capital of the World. REM, B-52’s, Drive-By Truckers, Drivin N Cryin: all of those started in Athens.
Do you think growing up in Athens inspired you or did Athens offer more opportunities for young musicians?
I get inspiration from real life stuff, but it was certainly different. I dig all of them, but I was never into that music when I was younger but appreciated it a lot more as I got older. I’ve always been kind of a strange kid I guess. I’ve always done what I’ve done. When you are growing up in Athens, you’re a really good athlete, you’ve got scholarships everywhere in the country, but you can also do music and you can rap and things like that. I was a little bit of an odd duck. It never felt odd to me. It’s just what I did. It’s what I liked and what I was good at. I wasn’t trying to hurt nobody or trying to be nothing more than what I was. I just liked music and wasn’t afraid to be myself.
When you stopped playing golf professionally to pursue music, how did people react?
Well, I had already quit playing for a living, but I didn’t know what else to do. All I had ever done my whole life was try to chase music and golf and sports. All of a sudden you come to a crossroad and you say, “What are you going to do?” You don’t know how to do nothing else. I loved and couldn’t make the music go away. I was teaching golf in a lot of places and being a club pro and I could never turn it off in my mind. Quite honestly, you shouldn’t start it at 35, that’s not normal! Everybody was like, “You’re out of your mind, you’re crazy, this won’t work, you’re too old, you’re too fat, too different.” Luckily, as my momma said, I was really hard headed so I wouldn’t listen.
Did you write songs before that?
No, I decided to make a song for the PBR, the Professional Bull Riders, and I knew the guy who was the CEO of the PBR. I made this song and sent it to him. He said, “This is cool! Who did this?” He said that they wanted to use it for their theme song and I said, “I did it!” He said, “That’s not YOU!” I said, “You didn’t know that I did music and it is.” It just happened and that started working and they really loved that song. I sat down to write “Ride Through the Country” and wrote the whole album in about 10 days. It just kind of came out.
I spent a lot of time in the music business trying to chase what was popular I guess. Trying to be something I really wasn’t. When I decided to just be myself and be honest about who I was, that’s when the music started working for me.
How did “Dirt Road Anthem” come to be?
“Dirt Road Anthem” is my song. It was on my very first record. Brantley (Gilbert) and I wrote that together. We didn’t have any idea that we were doing anything that anybody would care anything about. We were just two guys trying to make it in the music business. We really didn’t. We wrote that song in about 30 minutes. We didn’t have no idea, we just truly didn’t. We were just…I was going to say we were kids, but I was not. He was still a kid, but unfortunately, I was not a kid. We were just writing songs and being honest about what we liked and what we did and what we knew and that song evolved out of all that. It just became this underground thing because Brantley and I, neither one, had been played on the radio at all. I was doing a show with Jason (Aldean) and I remember him specifically going, “How in the world have people seemed to learn this song that ain’t ever been played on the radio?” I was like, “I don’t know.” It was just one of those songs and he decided to record it and the rest is history. I love that song.
He asked me if he could record it and I said sure! It caused a lot of controversy at first. Brantley and I both have a lot of loyal fans and they couldn’t understand. They were like, you stole the song, you gave them the song, you sold the song. That’s not how it works. That’s not what happened. I’m glad he recorded it because it became the biggest songs of his career and one of the biggest songs in really the last 30 years of country music.
Actually I think Brantley and I are going to work on a part two coming up soon.
Is that a bit of a teaser?
That’s a little bit of a teaser, yes.
You have a new album coming out?
It’s coming out in September. It’s called “I’m Still Me”
Are you on tour right now or just performing at festivals this summer?
I’m kind of doing both. I play all the time. I don’t ever really stop. I play up through almost to Christmas and start again in January. I love playing. I don’t ever really get tired of playing. I get tired sometimes being on the road. No matter what, when the music starts and the people are there, I just lock into that.
Do you still golf?
Yeah, I played two years at Central Alabama there in Alex City, one of the best college golf teams in the country, and we played at Terri Pines in Cullman. I was just texting Jake Owens yesterday to see if we were going to get together to play golf Saturday morning.
Are you ready for the big party this weekend?
We’ll do “We the People,” the new song, and “Dirt Road Anthem.” You never know what might happen. You might see Jake Owen get up there with me to sing “Back.” You might see me do a little Prince, “Let’s Go Crazy.” I like to have fun. I have fun on stage. I don’t like artists with attitudes and egos. Look, it’s a gift to be able to play music, and we are lucky. That’s the way I approach it. I don’t understand doing it any other way, and I play as hard as I can for as long as they’ll let me. We’re going to have a big time, I can tell you that.
Ford will take the Rock the South stage at 6:15 Saturday evening.
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