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Q&A: Gary Allan

A modern day musical outlaw, Gary Allan continues to churn out metallic hits through his smoky-voiced songs and jewelry.

Donna Leahey
July 29, 2017

Gary Allan is the sexiest man in country music, at least according to Country Weekly. He has a traditional country sound with an outlaw edge. With a voice that is rough, hungry, raw, and smooth all at once, his music has the power to reach right into your heart and make you feel what he wants you to feel. His latest single, “Mess Me Up,” is climbing the charts ahead of his upcoming album. 

This modern day musical outlaw released his first album in 1996. Since then he’s earned five gold albums, three back-to-back platinum recordings, five No. 1 hits, and 14 top-10 hits.

His talents extend past music into jewelry design as well. The Gary Allan Jewelry line includes rings and pendants cast in silver and set with gemstones from diamonds and emeralds to garnets and amethysts.

Q: What can fans expect from this tour?

A: High energy. This year we have tailored the set list to where it’s mostly hits. We kind of switched it up. Sometimes we make it current, sometimes we make it this, sometimes we make it that. And this time we’re going to try to get a couple of hits off all the albums. 

Q: How is the new album coming along?

A: This is an album I’ve been working on for a couple of years. I ended up switching record labels so it cost me a little bit of time there. We got the first song out off it, “Mess Me Up.” And, you know, I don’t know the order of songs on the album yet just because I have to relook at it, but I’ve cut like 22 or 23 songs, so it’s going to be a great album.

Q: "Mess Me Up" is a powerful song with a lot of feeling.

A: Thanks. You know, it’s a song I’ve had for a couple of years. I’ve been a fan of this song for a while, trying to get the label to see it as a single. So, I’m really excited that this is happening. To me, it reminds me of my old stuff, but it’s got a real modern feel to it, so I think it’s going to do really well for us.

Q: Folks in Oklahoma might find it surprising that California has a country music scene.

A: It’s funny, I hear that a lot. Well, California is where Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Lefty Frizzell and Dwight Yoakam are from. And the ACMs [Academy of Country Music Awards] used to be the West Coast awards show and then the CMAs [Country Music Association Awards] were kind of the national one. So, there was always a West Coast thing happening. And my dad used to watch Town Hall Party a lot, which was basically a Hee Haw kind of show that was done out there on the West Coast. And I believe Hee Haw was done on the West Coast, because that’s where Buck Owens is from. So, there’s lots of history out there. We’re kind of wondering why y’all are playing country music in Oklahoma!

Q: What or who were your musical influences?

A: I grew up in Southern California in a little beach town [La Mirada] and played bars since I was 12, so I was always way into Merle Haggard, George Jones, Buck Owens and all the people who were happening in the California country scene. But I also played in punk rock bands when I was in like eighth, ninth and 10th grades. So, I think that’s what gives me that odd kind of California combo.

Q: You once said, "Country music is what happens during the week. Rock 'n' roll is about what happens at the weekend." What does that mean?

A: Well, I don’t know if that’s true anymore. But, yeah, to me country music, well, they were always the songs that were about life. Songs about working, songs about struggling. And it seems like, yeah, rock ‘n’ roll was always just the big party songs, so that’s what made me say that. Rock ‘n’ roll is about the weekend, country music — that’s what happens Monday through Friday.

Q: That jewelry line, Gary Allan Jewelry, is beautiful. What made you get into jewelry?

A: Yeah, yeah, we’re killing it. I had a men’s store in Nashville for a few years called The Label, and my children decided they didn’t want to do that, so I said, “That’s fine. Let’s get out of this, then.” There was a silversmith in my store, and he taught me how to cast silver, and I started doing that. Then I went to a diamond setting school and now my children have gone to a master jewelers school. So now we’re producing jewelry out of my home. Setting stones and, yeah, it’s crazy, it’s been a lot of fun. Good family business.

Gary Allan
The Joint | Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa
777 W. Cherokee St. | Catoosa
Aug. 24: 8 p.m.
Must be 21 or older to attend

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