INTERVIEW: Joe Nichols "Gimme That Girl"

Show Dog - Universal Music Artist, Joe Nichols and ASCAP writer Ben Hayslip were recognized and presented with #1 plaques at ASCAP on Monday June 14th for "GIMME THAT GIRL". Also on hand were BMI Co-writers Rhett Akins and Dallas Davidson. Published by Mellisa's Money Music, THIS Music and Warner / Chappell Music. Country Radio Broadcasters (CRB) also presented #1 plaques in recognition of the hit song.

Prior to the celebration I sat down with Joe Nichols to visit about his music and personal feelings about the song.

Q: What was it like watching that clock waiting for this record to go to number one? I know you have had number ones before, but it took quite awhile for this one to go from the debut to number one.

A: I do not think there was ever a moment with this record with this song that I thought we were in trouble. You always have those scary moments when you think the song is going to be dead in fifteen or twenty. But with this song I always thought it had life. I need to say that I pray about my life and my career and I prayed about this song. So I think this song is a gift, truly, from God. So I think having that confidence in a big old God that I believe in helped. Not saying that every time out of the gate we will get a number one song because we asked for it; but this time I feel like He blessed us and it was very nice to see that every week that it continued to build. The fans were reacting the way you always want fans to react to a song. And to watch it grow bigger every week, passing other records that I felt were very strong, it was very gratifying. It says a lot about this song, and I felt good from day one.

Q: Which do you prefer; a song that goes number one in thirteen weeks and then a few weeks later it is kind of on its way down or one like this that slowly simmers and gains a little bit more strength each week?

A: Well, in a perfect world you always prefer to have those songs that get to number one in fourteen weeks because that way you can have more of them. This song was about twenty eight weeks on the charts before it went to number one. So you are talking about two songs in a year. So if things go well, you could have two number one hits in the same year. If you cut that in half, you could have four in a year. But in bigger business terms I think a big huge swelling song, the slow burn approach, it takes twenty five or thirty weeks to get to number one, those tend to be the bigger songs. They sell the most records, because in order for a song to take that long to get to number one, you have more than just a great promotion stuff. You have to have the fan connection, plus a lot of other stuff and not what radio thinks of this song. All those things combined usually makes for an enormous song, which this turned out to be for me. They both have their ups. I would take a number one over a number two any day of the week and it does not matter if it is fourteen or fifty weeks.

Q: You said you prayed a lot about this song, when you make a song selection, what criteria do you keep in the back of your mind?

A: My first indicator is my gut. What does my gut tell me about this song? Because my gut is like anybody else’s instinct out there that listens to a song for the first time. What does it do to me the first time? Do I not feel anything at all? Do I feel like there is potential there? Then we can roll with it. Do I feel like this song offends me? Then it probably is going to offend somebody else. Do I feel like I love this song, am I passionate about this song? Then it is a good chance other people will react that way too. The thing I have to do most of the time is not think my way out of or into anything. I can hear a song on any given day and think twelve things about it. And I can hear the same song the following week and think twelve different things about it. So therefore I always try to rely on my gut as much as possible because it is usually right.

Q: Do you have anyone that you can bounce the songs off of to help you make the decision?

A: If I really feel strongly about a song, and I want to make sure I am not being bull headed about something, if I really feel passionate about something, I will ask Heather what she things about it. Am I being ridiculous in thinking that that is a massive song? And she will usually tell me what her gut says. If I cannot trust my guy I will trust hers.

Q: What is it about the song that actually resonated with the fans?

A: Well, I think first the melody catches you. That is the first step. That is the introduction. By all accounts, the melody is what you hear first. You do not really pay attention to the lyrics as far as the casual listener to the radio goes. And then after that I think comes the lyric; a clever, likeable lyric that does not offend anybody. It actually caters to women and it is a cute way of saying “ hey, the things that you do not like about yourself I find incredibly attractive. So you are attractive one hundred percent of the time. Just so you know.” Well what woman does not like to hear that? So, it is a good lyric, a clever lyric that is very endearing to women, with the melody which is the introduction that hooks you. So, all those things usually make it a big hit. It worked for us!

Q: Did you have any friendship with the songwriters before you heard the song “Gimmie That Girl”? Or how did this song come to you?

A: We were already in the process of making this record when I heard “Gimmie That Girl”. It came through the A & R Department at the time . So when Mark Wright sent me the song, I believe he e-mailed it to me, said to check this out. He thought it was good. I heard it and I thought, “Let’s put this in the pile of short list of songs we going in to cut in a week or two. There were probably seven or eight songs and we would probably take four or five. So when we got there that day, I remember sitting down Indian-style on the floor and looked at these songs spread out on the floor. And it’s like, okay, we got this one, this one and this one. Alright, which ones are you kind of iffy about and which ones are you absolutely sure you are going to cut? That was the first one. So let’s put this one over here. So we have like six left, you know? That is how “Gimmie That Girl” started. I thought it was too good to pass on. We had to do it. It just felt right. And I think Mark had already agreed long before that. He said “oh, that is a given.” It was good to get that unanimous kind of feeling about it. You know, sometimes, one guy has to talk another into something. Or two guys have to work on the other third.

Q: Hearing you talk it seems that it is not just about you, Joe Nichols. It is about the team around you. How good do you feel about the record label change in the past few months?

A: Well, I will say this. For me, there were some scary moments as far as the transition goes because when you see a record perform like “Gimmie That Girl” did, over the course of the record , you see it perform week in and week out, you know we have a big hit here! And then something as drastic, something as big as the label is merging with another label , there is going to be some completely new chemistry. The staff is going to be half old, half new, or maybe even mostly new, some old. When all that stuff changes, you think “Wow! This is going to disrupt everything!” I think the true credit lies in the transitional period. With the new team coming in and saying, “I am not going to mess this up. I realize what we have here and I am going to take this and put all of our energy behind it and give it its full potential or try to reach its full potential. We’ll do everything we can to make this happen.” I think there were a lot of people at Universal South that contributed to making this song number one for the first half of the record. They did everything they could to get it to a certain point. Then after that, like I said, true credit belongs to Showdog Universal for picking it up, realizing that we were in a tough situation with the transition, putting all their energy and effort behind it. They realized that it was too good to pass up, that they needed to make this happen. They had an opportunity.

Q: My question is more along the personal line, but when you realize that you have a number one, how do you celebrate it?

A: Nowdays, I think a simple little high five! Personally, with my wife, there is “Explicative---Yes!” That is usually what we do. Then we start planning other things. And moving on. I think internally the celebration is (clasps his hands) “Thank you Lord, for blessing me big time. This is much more than I could ever ask for--much more than I deserve”. So that is probably the celebration initially. And then we have parties like this where they serve you awesome food and people can talk to you and make you feel special.

Q: Did this song make the usual music row rounds where it was sent to different people or did you get hold of it first?

A: You know, I am not sure but I do not think it made its way around. I think we heard it pretty quickly after it was demo-ed. I am not sure how quickly but I do not think it made its way around. I think possibly one artist but I am not sure.

Q: Have you ever thought of doing an album of standards or classics?

A: You know that is funny but I talked about it just the other day, not only talked about the idea of doing a classic country album but as you mentioned, standards. Standard standards, like jazz maybe. Or classical . But we just talked about it as something way on down the road if we were given the opportunity. Of course everything costs money now days and that has to be a factor . But yes, we definitely had those conversations. It is definitely something I want to do.

Q: Social Media; how important is that in the marketing process

A: Well, the management company that I work with, Triple A, have great thinkers, they think outside of the box. They have a keen sense of how to include people in other ways than just radio. Of course there is a heavy involvement with radio, that is our number one priority. But to go along with and to partner with, other things ----to make sure the fans are involved on a much more personal level rather than just hearing a song on the radio and going and buying the record. The more fan involvement we have in the building process in this hit and hopefully others to come, I think that the more the fans, the audience, the listeners , the more personal we make it, the more one on one we make it, the more interaction we have with them , I think the more invested they feel. And we all know that this is an investment by the fans or we would not be here. I think it is important we do a lot of leg work and make sure we reach the masses in as many creative ways that we can. One of those ways is having contests. Certain contests and certain web interactions like those web casts we do to make sure that the fans get to know me and feel like they are a part of the building process. So that they feel like they are investing in what I do.

Q: Talk about the new single that is coming.

A: The next single is called “The Shape I’m In”. It was written by the same three guys who wrote “Gimmie That Girl”. We firmly believe in the motto “If it ain’t broke --”. If it is working, it is working for a reason. The chemistry is right, the writers know what they are doing. The producer knows what he is doing. Our job is to just not think about it too much. And get out of the way.

Q: You mentioned the fans and their interaction etc. Do you enjoy Facebook and Twitter?

A: Yes, sometimes a funny thought will strike me and I think that people enjoy some not-so-standard humor. You know, funny things happen on the road and funny things happen at home. I think it is another part of letting people in to see me in everyday situations. It lets them see some of the funny ways we interact with the fans and letting every one know that they are involved with me and the building process.

Well, thank you, Joe. Good to see you again. And thank you for continuing to bring us great music!

For additional photographs of the #1 Party at ASCAP for “Gimme That Girl” visit

1 comment:

Lauren Denemark said...

Thank you for the great interview with Joe. I've been a fan for a while and am happy that he is doing so well.