Jon Pardi Opens Up About His Chart Success, Spending Time with His Heroes, and Selling Out Headlining Shows

With three consecutive chart-topping singles, three CMA nominations, and a successful headlining tour under his belt, it's a good time to be Jon Pardi. 

Written by Chuck Dauphin
Jon Pardi Opens Up About His Chart Success, Spending Time with His Heroes, and Selling Out Headlining Shows
Jon Pardi; Photo courtesy Capitol Records Nashville

2016 was a successful year for Jon Pardi, as he notched his first number one single with “Head Over Boots.” The Capitol Nashville recording artist probably didn’t think that 2017 could be any better – but it has. He added the chart-topping “Dirt On My Boots” and “Heartache On The Dance Floor” to his hit résumé, and is in the running for three CMA Awards on November 8, as well as an American Music Award later in the month. Throw in his own headlining tour and a Gold album for California Sunrise, and Pardi feels like his cup has runneth over.

“It’s been an amazing year, one that has been a lot of fun,” he tells Sounds Like Nashville. “I thought that last year was busy, but this year has probably been one of the busiest years of my life. But, it’s all been a lot of fun, and it’s paid off. And, it’s almost over. I can’t believe I’m sitting here with Christmas being right around the corner.”

The three CMA nominations surprised him – especially for Single and Song of the Year. “I still feel like one of the rookie artists that is just showing up with hits. I’m in the Song and Single of the Year categories with artists that have been notorious on the radio. I think the best thing about the awards is to be acknowledged for making music, and doing my thing. As an artist, we work to be known for what we do,” he says, adding that in his case, he is happy to simply be in the running. “Winning would be awesome, but it’s the little celebrations that just kind of build things up. Win or lose, you have a lot of fun in being nominated. It’s a cool feeling.”

The Gold album certification is something that is meaningful to the singer, as well. With the change in the music business model, he knows they aren’t easy to come by. “That has been one of the biggest achievements of my career – I love making my albums, and I’m a co-producer on them, and I wrote most of the songs on it. So, I put a lot of time and effort into it. I think the Gold record is like the fans giving me a trophy. It’s an awesome feeling. It gives me fuel to write for the next record.”

After opening for Dierks Bentley on his “What The Hell” tour, Pardi is headlining on his own now on the CMT On Tour “Lucky Tonight” run, which kicked off earlier this month in Birmingham. “It’s been really nice, because we’ve had a small set list on our tours opening up this year, and now we’re going out and doing seventy-five to ninety minutes a night. We get to play songs that we haven’t gotten to play all year, and the fans are ready for them. We’re packing them in from twenty-two hundred to six thousand, so it’s been a lot of fun. We’ve got Midland and Runaway June out with us, and they are performing great, so I think the fans are definitely having a good time.” Just like Bentley, Pardi has learned that he’s only as good as those around him. “It’s a solid lineup, and all of us having a good time playing music translates into the crowd.”

Of all his accomplishments thus far, he says the headlining tour is the cherry and whipped cream on top of the sundae. “I’d have to say it would be the highlight so far would be the headlining tour – just the way it’s been selling out, and the fans are staying to the end. We’re playing places that I’ve played five or six times for two hundred people, and now it’s been sold out for months. That’s what you work for. We sold out Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth, and I had always dreamed of headlining it. It was a really cool moment.”

Pardi has also gotten to spend several moments with a few of his heroes, something that he enjoys each and every minute of. “Tim McGraw and I worked out together, which was fun. I got to have a beer with Alan Jackson, and talked to George Strait a couple of times. Those are some of my heroes. I’ve gotten to do a lot of cool stuff with people I’ve been listening to since I was a kid which is definitely a cool feeling.”

Strait’s influence can be heard in Pardi’s new single, “She Ain’t In It.” Written by Clint Daniels and Wynn Varble, it does sound like something the singer might have actually recorded himself- and according to Pardi, he did! “I talked to Mike Dungan, and he told me George cut it, but it didn’t make the album. I thought ‘I’ll take it. I love that song.’ That was back in early 2015. I was so excited to cut it. It’s pure country. It’s what I have always wanted to have and sing. It’s got the emotion and the lyrics. We really went in and gave it a country sound. I think this song has its’ own form of patience. It’s a six-year-old song, but it’s finally hitting the radio.”

So….could 2018 be better than 2017? Pardi says he doesn’t know what’s next in his career, but says “I’m ready for it. I’m already in third album mode. We cut half of it in the spring, and we’ll start working on the second half next year. That kind of keeps me going, carving out the path for the next record, and we’ve got some great tours lined up for next year. We’re out there with Miranda Lambert from January through March. That’s going to be a lot of fun, so there’s a lot of cool things planned for 2018 already.”