New Music, Charity Work, and Potato Farming: An Interview with Chuck Wicks
Growing up in Delaware, a future career as a country musician barely crossed Chuck Wicks’ mind. A passion for baseball led to collegiate play in Florida and a family passion for potato farming was the fall-back job if he didn’t make it to the big-leagues. But while in college, Wicks wrote his first song and it changed everything. During his senior year, his musical dreams eclipsed his athletic aspirations and a trip to Nashville sealed the deal. Two classes short of graduation, he left school and followed his heart to Tennessee. An early developmental deal fell through, but after several years of writing songs, playing small shows, and parking cars at Fleming’s Steak House, a record deal with RCA Records came to fruition. His 2008 album, Starting Now, had the hits “Stealing Cinderella,” “All I Ever Wanted,” and “Man of the House.” In between, he had a stint on Dancing with the Stars with then-girlfriend Julianne Hough. Since then, he and RCA have parted ways and Wicks will release a brand new project with a new label later this year.
Wicks has also been busy with charity work. In a few short weeks, he will make his fourth appearance the Engine 145-sponsored Golf and Guitars Children’s Charity Concert, held May 21-22 in Sacramento.
Ken Morton, Jr.: First of all, thank you donating your time to raise some much-needed funds for a couple of worthy children’s charities at Golf & Guitars. This is your fourth year being so generous.
Chuck Wicks: Well, that’s really easy, man. I actually love it. These kinds of shows are one of the coolest things we get to do.
KMJ: Do you do a lot of these kinds of charity shows around the country?
CW: I try to. There’s several around the country that are really good events. Those are the ones that really get some valuable stuff done. Golf and Guitars has always been one of those that I always hope to come back to year after year. We all have a great time and the [donation to] kids makes it totally worthwhile. I think that’s half the battle. That’s why I keep coming back, because it’s great.
KMJ: You grew up in Delaware, not exactly the country music hotbed of America. But then again, your family is a bunch of potato farmers. What drew you to following your Nashville dream?
CW: I grew up as a normal kid. I grew up in a really small town. We were farmers. And all I ever knew and listened to was country music. I went to college to Florida Southern College and that’s when I started writing songs and the whole passion came. I got in a cover band and that’s whenNashville started to have a spotlight on it for me. Before that, I barely even knew whereNashville was. I was just from a little small town. Until then, all I knew was that I wanted to be a professional baseball player or be the next in line to be a potato farmer in my family. I had never been toNashville until after college started for me.
KMJ: Is it lucky for you that you write and sing better than you hit a fastball?
CW: (laughter) I suppose that’s lucky.
KMJ: Last year, you and RCA parted ways. You’ve now got some freedom as an independent artist. What’s next for you?
CW: We’re going to put out a single at the end of the summer. Everything’s still the same; I’m just not with the label I started with. RCA and I did some great things together and I’ll never forget it. But there’s always a time for someone to move on and it was time for me to move on. I think that happened for a reason. I think now, I’m writing better than I’ve ever written. And I have a team around me that is new and fresh and exciting. We’re ready to get going and work on an album and get a new single out by the end of the summer. We’ll have a new record out shortly after that. Nothing’s changed, really. I’m still the same guy. I’m writing better songs. I’m still touring the same. I still love country music like I always have, probably even more. And I’m probably more motivated than I have ever been. It’s all good.
KMJ: Have you picked out what that single is going to be yet?
CW: There’s a couple different options. I’m leaning towards one called “The Whole Damn Thing.” There’s a couple other ones, too. One is called “Lucky Ones” and there’s another one called “Bar Love.” There’s a few. I’ve got a really good group of songs just sitting there waiting.
KMJ: Is the record finished yet or is that still in progress?
CW: I think I have a little more than half the record done depending on which songs are going to be on the album. But I’m going to continue to write until we officially release it. If something comes along that we absolutely love, we’ll add that and release it, too.
KMJ: For those songs selected thus far, how would you describe it either musically or lyrically? Are there any themes coming through this early in the project?
CW: Song-wise, [they’re] just the best songs that I’ve ever written. I think what it does is showcase who I am a little better. It shows how I grew up and shows off my personality a little more. There’s a progression as a songwriter that you continue to grow as you go along and gain more experience. I think this new album will really show that progression.
KMJ: Who are you working on the project with as a producer and are there any specific songwriters that are helping you on the new album?
CW: As for songwriters, there are a number of them across the board. But right now, one of my favorites is Liz Rose. We’ve just been tearing it up out there. Mike Mobley is a great buddy of mine and we’ve written a killer tune called “It’s Love.” There’s always your buddies that you always write with. And with this new management and new label in place, it’s going to be exciting to get it out for people to hear. If you can’t tell, I’m really excited about the new music.
KMJ: I’m happy to hear there’s a label in place there already for distribution. You’ve also been recently involved with some television projects with a couple of hunting shows for the Outdoor Channel and on Tom’s Wild Life for GAC TV. How has that experience been?
CW: I love it. A lot of people don’t know that I’m an outdoors guy. I think they’re starting to figure it out now, but I grew up hunting. Good lord, we were farmers and living that lifestyle, so I was in it to begin with. It’s exciting and fun. That’s what everybody wants to do in life is make enough money to go follow their hobbies and passions. That might be golf or travel. But mine is getting out into the woods all day. Some people might find it boring, but I just love it. Being on the Outdoor Channel and NBC Sports is a no-brainer for me because it’s just so much fun. It’s an absolute blast. I’ve already got a bunch of hunts set up for this year.
KMJ: What kind of reaction do you get from fans when they see you hunting on television?
CW: I think it’s all good. I think it’s all positive. I think a lot of the fans share those same passions that I do and it helps develop that connection. It’s something a lot of us can relate to. If they don’t hunt, their dad does. If they don’t hunt, their husband does. It might be one of their best friends that does. Everyone seems to know a hunter and so most everyone can relate to it.
KMJ: That’s on the other side of the spectrum from your stint on Dancing with the Stars. I know a couple guys at Golf and Guitars–specifically our host, Jack Ingram–give you a hard time over that.
CW: (laughter) Yep, he does.
KMJ: Would you do it all over again?
CW: I think so. I don’t regret doing that show at all. It’s a great show. A lot of people watch that show and it’s fun. It’s pretty entertaining. It’s especially entertaining to try and watch me dance. That’s just funny in itself. I’ve always been a person to not take myself too seriously, so a show like that doesn’t really bother me too much at all. It was a challenge for sure. But it was a blast. I met a lot of cool people from doing that show. I would do it over again.
KMJ: What is country music to Chuck Wicks?
CW: Country music to me is how I grew up. It’s the lifestyle I know. Everything we sing about and write about is just everything I’ve done and believe in. It’s a lifestyle. Country music is a lifestyle that I live. And I love it.
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