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article imageLuke Bryan: Exclusive interview with a country music superstar Special

By Adrian Peel     Feb 6, 2015 in Music
The current CMA Entertainer of the Year found time in his very hectic, globe-trotting schedule to talk to Digital Journal about touring abroad, his upcoming new album and his relationship with Zac Brown.
There's no doubt that as he patiently made his way up the ladder to the very top of the country music tree, the last few years have been something of a whirlwind for the country hero, who it seems can do no wrong and who, at this particular moment in time, is one of America's top male stars.
This year, the heavy workload looks set to continue as not only is Mr. Bryan to embark on a mammoth tour of the US, release a new EP and a new album, but he will also travel to Europe for the first time at the end of February, culminating in a headlining appearance at this year's C2C Festival in London and Dublin.
Sweden, Norway, Scotland, Germany, England and Ireland will not be the only countries outside the US to feel the full force of the Luke Bryan live experience in 2015, as last month the seaside-loving singer, born and raised in Leesburg, Georgia, played a string of shows on the beach down on Mexico's Riviera Maya.
"Yeah, we were down there doing a festival that started this year called Crash My Playa," says Luke, who later confirmed to me that the four-day event is to be an annual occurrence. "It was fun."
"I've done a couple of cruises there," he continues, filling me in on his previous dalliances with the country south of the border. "I enjoy going to Mexico - I love the culture.
"It's a shame that some of those areas get associated with drug cartels and stuff like that, but at the end of the day, I think it's a wonderful place to go to when it's 35 degrees in the States and we certainly enjoyed working with the people there and putting on a show."
At present, the 38-year-old family man is getting ready to hit the road stateside, on the next leg of his all-conquering That's My Kind of Night Tour, for a run of seven dates - the first of which is in Grand Rapids, Michigan on February 10th - before flying to Europe in time for the first show in Stockholm on February 28th.
Mexico, the US, Canada and now Europe, where would the million-selling megastar, an expert at working a large crowd, like to go next?
"I'm sure Australia will be something that we tackle one day and maybe hit New Zealand as we're going by Australia... But I think the canvas is wide open for where we want to go.
"I think it's something that makes sense and we're gonna go and enjoy playing music and being on stage. There's no telling where it can take us."
Anyone thinking that Bryan might consider taking some well-deserved time off following his last European date (in Dublin) on March 8th, might want to think again as just two weeks later, the tireless entertainer will be back in the saddle once again, so to speak, in Houston, Texas.
Before that, however, on the 11th and 12th of March, there is the small matter of the two free shows he performs annually (though 2015 is to be its swansong) on the beach down in Panama City, Florida, an event which last year attracted 230,000 fans.
Also in March - March 10th, to be precise - Luke will release his seventh and final Spring Break EP, entitled Spring Break...Checkin' Out. This will then be followed by a new full-length album later in the year, the first since 2013's Crash My Party, a number one record that sold more than a million copies in only six weeks.
"Yeah, we've recorded four tracks for it," the artist can reveal for the very first time, "and we're constantly in the studio getting it together. The four songs that I've recorded thus far I love and I'm very excited about, and we're just gonna keep our nose to the grind and work on bettering each album...
"We should have a single coming out probably around late spring and the album will be out a few months after that."
On the subject of the topics he intends to address this time around, the skilled songwriter with a keen ear for a hook and a melody, who last year played to 1.7 million fans, states, "It's still a little early in the process, but with all my albums, I try to have a well-rounded album that everybody can pull from and that will be my process with this."
The globe-straddling monster that has been the six-leg, 80-date That's My Kind of Night Tour comes to an end in Winnipeg, Canada on May 7th and then just a day later, a new tour - Luke Bryan's third headlining jaunt - kicks off in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
The Kick the Dust Up Tour will run until the Autumn and will include seven stadium concerts, featuring Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett as special guests. Randy Houser and Dustin Lynch will be the opening acts on all the dates.
The stadiums that will play host to the modern country phenomenon are: the Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver (June 6th), the TFC Bank Stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota (June 20th), Nashville's Vanderbilt Stadium (July 11th), the Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati (July 18th), San Francisco's Levi’s Stadium (August 29th), the FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland (September 5th) and Ford Field in Detroit on October 30th, the last scheduled stop on the tour.
Also in May, Luke Bryan will the subject of an exhibition that runs until November at the Country Music Hall of Fame, something that understandably makes him swell with pride.
"Yes, I'm very amazed and flattered by that... It's fun; we're going back into the history books and pulling a lot of stuff out from my early years and trying to showcase my life as a musician and singer. I'm very excited about building that exhibit...
"I've got my piano from Georgia getting shipped up - the piano that sat in my room for my whole childhood will be in the display and stuff like that. It's gonna be neat to piece that together and then see it."
The song "That's My Kind of Night" was extremely well-received by the record-buying public (it became Luke's seventh number one in August 2013) and was then chosen as the title of the subsequent tour.
Not everyone was enamoured with the track, however, as demonstrated by Zac Brown's infamous outburst in September 2013.
I concluded our interview by asking Luke about how things are these days between the two of them (the pair had been friends before the incident took place), now that the dust has settled on the whole affair.
"Zac and I, when that came down, we called each other a couple of times on the phone and talked it out, as you should do, and we all get really, really busy, so I haven't had a chance to see Zac that much...
"But yeah, we're all good. I want Zac to do good, Zac wants me to do good... Zac had an opinion of something and he said it and that's kind of the deal. That's what he chose to do and me and him talked it out - we're all good."
Spring Break...Checkin' Out will be available from March 10th.
For more information on Luke Bryan, or to see if he's coming to your town, visit his official website.
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