It’s been nearly seven years since Chris Knight released an album, and I really shouldn’t complain. After all, he’s been releasing music as regular as the sun and moon for well over a decade– and 2012’s Little Victories was more than enough to satisfy listeners for an extended duration. Still… When the opportunities began to appear a couple of years ago, I started asking Chris about the possibility of a new record– and I haven’t been the only one. His answer was always the same, “It’ll shine when it shines.” So who am I to continue aggravating the man Mojo Nixon calls the “King o’ the Killin’ Song”? Just one more dedicated fan studyin’ patience and on the hunt for clues. Did I find any? Read on…
AI- I spoke to Dan Baird at the tail end of last year in December. I asked him what kind of projects he had coming up, and he said he was on his way to Nashville, to work on a Chris Knight record. So that’s one mystery, one piece of the puzzle solved. Tell me who else you got working on this new record.
CK- My guitar player, Chris Clark… Ray Kennedy’s engineering and we’re finishing it up. Right now, we’re trying to get all the artwork done and just stuff like that, getting it set up to release sometime in the fall, I’m sure.
Anybody new you’ve worked with or some of your old favorite songwriting partners coming up on the record?
A few co-writers. Me and Dan wrote a few, and me and Gary Nicholson’s got at least one, maybe two on there. And an old friend of mine, we were at the same publisher, David Leone. He’s on one– but I don’t want to let too much go on this record, you know? So I’m gonna keep a lot of that to myself.
Well, thank you for sharing a little bit anyway.
Speaking of Chris Clark, the last time that you were here in Macon, it was just you and him doing the acoustic thing. You really looked like you were actually having a good time performing. Is that something that has come back around for you? Being able to go out and enjoy the show from the stage?
Yeah, I mean, a lot of times it depends on the crowd, you know? But, yeah, I’m enjoyin’ it as much now as I ever have– or more
I’ve been wanting to ask you this for a long time. I’ve always admired the guitars you keep on stage. They’re all three J-45s, I believe? When did you start that collection?
I had the blonde J-45, probably, back in ’94, 95 then I got a sunburst, and I had em’ paint a J-45 black for me.
At Gibson, yeah. So I got a deal with those two guitars in ’96, ’97. I sold the sunburst. But I got another sunburst from Gibson five or six years ago. Still got the black guitar. Playin’ it a lot– and playin’ the blonde too. I play all three of ’em.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen you play electric guitar, do you?
No! No, I don’t even own one.
The last time we spoke, I asked if you were going to do a vinyl release for the next record and you actually, you laughed at me. So I thought I’d risk it again and ask if you had considered that this time around?
Oh, there’s a possibility there might be some in the future. I’m starting to come around to it a little bit.
I think you’ll be greatly surprised! You’ve had the opportunity to be very busy with your kids the last few years. Do any of them show any musical inclination? And if so, do you encourage that?
You know, they’ve got a lot to do. We got a cheerleader, soccer player, and one in nursing school at UK. If it comes around, it’ll come around. They all wanted to learn to play the guitar, but I mean, you really got to be eat up… You know, I spent all my time playing the guitar when I started, and they can’t do that. I still played baseball in high school, but I packed a guitar around with me wherever I went. I played at school every chance I got– I’d play at study hall and things like that. And there’s a lot of kids doing that now– and I hear some of them. My wife’ll play this one or that one from this area that’s sent her… Or she’s found Youtube recordings and stuff like that. But so far, I mean my kids ain’t gotten that eat up with it. And I’m fine with that (laughs)! There’s a lot of music out there, you know, there’s a lot of people out there playin’. I just don’t want ’em knockin’ around for years and years and years and not get nowhere in life, you know? I was pretty sure that this was what I was going to do when I started doing it. I already had a career when I quit that and started playing music and writing songs for a living. I wasn’t the kind who’s gonna sleep on people’s couches and freeload for fifteen years ’til I finally (laughs) hit the big time, you know? But it’s work. It’s a lot o’ work. As long as you have fun, that’s fine. But you know, everybody says you need something to fall back on– and you damn well need something to fall back on!
Most of your albums have a song that’s just you and your guitar and The Trailer Tapes, despite your original misgivings about it being released, is still one of your most popular albums. Have you ever considered doing another record of all new material that’s just you and the guitar?
Yeah, I’ve thought about it. We’ll see what comes later on. I’m thinkin’ right now… I mean, I’ve still got some songs that I could rework a little bit and maybe have ready for another album a few years down the road. But I’m kinda feelin’ like after I get all this out of the way and after the record’s been out a while, I wanna start writin’ pretty seriously and have another one ready as soon as I can. But I don’t know when that’ll be. It might be another seven years, so…
Hopefully not another seven years!
(Laughs) And I’m fine with that! ‘Cause it’ll come whenever it’s ready! I didn’t want to go in the studio ’til I had the songs ready, and I think we did a good job on what we got. So I’m hoping this record’ll do well.
It looks like you’ve been spending more time out on the road this last couple of years. Have you or are the dates just bigger bursts?
Bigger bursts, I guess. I’ve always done, well not always, but once I got everything picked up I was doin’ eighty to a hundred shows a year. I think I probably did between eighty-five and ninety last year, and I remember one year just mostly solo acoustic, I did about 120 shows.
I remember that year. I think you came here twice.
Yeah, I remember playin’ at the Hummingbird.
Yeah. I think I was with you on both those dates.
I think I came right off of like a two-week run, just solo acoustic out west or northwest. Year before last, I had a lot of band shows. I put together a new band and we mighta slowed down a little bit last year, just a little as far as playing shows. We were out most of the month of January– half of that was a full band. Now we’re trying to get cranked back up and get some more band shows– and then once the record’s released all that’s gonna pick up. We’re shootin’ for a hundred shows this year. But, you know, we’ll see how that goes. I can’t be just going out and breakin’ even (laughs)!
When you’re here on May 10th, are you bringing the band or will it just be you and Chris again?
It’ll just be me and Chris Clark and actually, I’ve got five or six band shows coming up here in the next few weeks. Then the band is going to Texas and then after that, it’s going to be some acoustic shows, me and Chris Clark. Maybe late May or start of June, I’ll start back in with the band stuff, and then, you know, they’re always bookin’ stuff. So, this time in Macon, it’ll just be me and Chris Clark. I won’t even have my road manager with me. He usually comes out and takes care of stuff I don’t want to do and sells merch. And he does a great job, but it’ll just be me and Chris out there this time. I’m lookin’ forward to comin’.