Chris Janson has tons of energy. Those who have seen him in concert know he moves around the stage like there are no boundaries. His energy is electric when he’s talking about music and his family, and there can be no doubt that his love for both is what keeps him motivated.
On the day Sounds Like Nashville spoke with Janson about his new single, “Waitin’ On 5,” his follow up to the multi-week chart topper “Done,” he was lounging in his “Deer Room” at his home in Nashville. Make no mistake, there was still energy, as he talked about his hope for the song and picked up his banjo and fiddle to show off his skills on these new instruments he is learning to play.
“It’s one of the oldest songs on the album and one of the first I turned in for the ‘Real Friends’ album,” Janson tells Sounds Like Nashville. “We actually started writing it right here in this room. It started out with an idea that Craig (Wiseman) and Tommy (Cecil) had and then Shy (Carter) and I came in on it. It had no melody when we got together so we built it from the ground up. Then our second session on writing it was in Craig’s office and I don’t remember where the third location was.
“I wrote this for people who are in the majority of the world, those who work 9-5. I’ve been there a time or two, so it’s 100 percent for them. When we wrote it, it wasn’t for a specific person other than people I know in general who do that. I have buddies who are working class, blue-collar heroes. I try to make music about things I know, so 9-5 was an easy thing to write.”
Janson says the song is also a great one to play live. “I’ve consistently played it (in concert) before the album came out. It is a great party song and is one of the reasons I wanted to release it. If you know people are down, give them that needed pick-me-up. I told my team I wanted to release it, but it is always a team effort on what single comes out. We have a pretty good track record, so I just give my input and pray about it and wait for an answer.”
Janson says he felt no pressure about releasing “Waitin’ On 5” after having two number ones in a row. “I can’t tell the future and no one else can. I’ve been so grateful for the success I’ve had. I’ll never put pressure on myself. Music is supposed to be fun. There have been times I’ve lost the fun and that is miserable. I’m not in that place anymore. If you have a grateful heart and pray over your career that is what counts. It starts at home with Kelly, we are a strong force to be reckoned with. I have pressure in other areas like praying my kids don’t get sick. I just have fun with music – having hits with it is awesome.”
The platinum-selling recording artist says he recorded Real Friends in the room from which he is doing the interview. “I sang ‘Done’ in this chair, Kelly made me sit here and sing it,” he relays. “This is what I call my Hemingway room because I had it painted like an Ernest Hemingway office. There is taxidermy and plaques, plus a drum set, bass, 20 guitars, just stuff I’ve accumulated. I have a banjo in here, steel guitar, fiddle. I have cigars in here. I collect old school leather club chairs. I found these at Goodwill Habitat for Humanity. It’s just a hanging out space where I get creative.”
Speaking of creative, Janson says he has been very busy during the pandemic. “I’ve written close to 40 songs,” he explains. “There are five or ten not worth anything, the rest could be on album. I love Zoom writing because there is not a lot of small talk, people don’t want to stop and go to lunch. We actually get work done. I’ve been more creative lately than I’ve been in a long time. I’m working on a new album; that’s where I am right now.”
The singer’s process for putting an album together is basically the same each time. “I just write when I feel like writing and when I have a bunch of songs I play them for two people — Kelly first, then Cris Lacy at the record label. Then we sit down and go yes, no, kinda, and we pick. When it comes down to it, because I write all my own music, if something gets kicked out, I don’t take it personally. I don’t let my feelings get hurt because it’s an overall team effort and then the album is perfect. Sometimes there are songs that don’t make albums or don’t become a single that I still play on road.”
While he has been focusing on music during the pandemic, Janson says it has also been wonderful to be able to spend time with his family. “I got real obsessed with my wife, which I’ve always been, but it’s been a lot of fun to be home with her and the kids. When you are in love with someone and you love them for what they are, it’s hard to keep magic out of the room.
“When you are spending that much time around your children, they are going crazy and haywire, but it is a good crazy. It’s normal life and we take pride in having a normal life. It’s been good. We fish every day and hunting season is just around the corner. I get just as much enjoyment out of seeing Jesse, who is six, catch a fish than I ever did. I’ve had a ball getting out on the tractor.”
As for a bucket list, Janson’s list is short. “I just want to get my kids grown and have them be successful. I want my marriage to be as great tomorrow as it is today.”
Janson has always been open about his faith and says he applauds anyone who comes to terms with seeking out anything to do with faith. “I’ve always been a faith-based person because I have a relationship with Jesus. I’m a Christian, I love the Lord and He loves me and I have an amazing relationship with that. It’s interesting, when everything shut down, and ravaged our touring and lifestyle, at first it freaked me out. Then I had this weird sense of peace come over me.
“I don’t know if it is because I have a wife who prays but whatever the reason I’ve had peace, happiness and joy come over me. I’m thankful for that and my health and we are all okay. I believe this will be like a lot of things in life, we’ll look back and go ‘okay that was a season but there will be fun again’. In faith you find hope, so I applaud anyone who finds that and is willingly open and accessible and shares it. That’s what you are supposed to do, not just talk it but live it. You have to shine it on people. You don’t have to tell them; they will notice.”