I think certainly after every show I headline, I will be available to the fans. When I'm headlining a show, I don't walk off stage. I'll walk to the front of the stage and sign hats and shirts and tickets for 15 to 30 minutes, until everyone has everything signed.
When I'm writing a song, it's just me and the songwriters. Then when the song is done, there are publishers that hear it, then people in my management, then my wife and my boys and my friends, and if they're all lovin' it, it's kind of withstanding all the criticism I need.
If I wake up one day and people tell me I'm not sexy, I'm not going to stop making good music and having fun. That 'sex symbol' thing is typically part of being in the limelight. You better be very talented in your music, but it's good to be nice to look at, I guess.
I try to be a good representative for country music. But as a country artist, it's important to move the needle and make a difference beyond your core audience. But you can't ever strategically try to accomplish that; then things get weird.
My thing is to get up there and have a good time and give the fans all you can and appreciate them spending their money and being in the stands - and just be appreciative of them cheering when you come onstage.
You get weird, funny requests on Twitter. With our fan club, I was seeing a lot of fans were having some issue with the way the fan club tickets were being handled in one of the shows. So I was able to correspond with that fan, and be like, 'Listen, we'll be on it.'
If there are people out by the bus, I'll come off the bus and sign autographs, too. I always want to be accessible. I always tell my fans, 'If I ever get on the bus and don't come off, it's because I'm under the weather or I'm really tired.'
I've been out with lots of other artists opening for them on tour, and you just learn that none of their success came easy - it was all hard work for them, and you have to buckle down and get ready for the hard work yourself, too.
When the show opens, fans can text to a number we flash up on the screen, and then we do a meet-and-greet with 60 to 80 people every night. It's something I love doing, and I would say that's probably more fans than most artists bring backstage after a show.
I just cut songs I love and that represent what I want to say. And if it crosses over, that's very flattering. It's cool to know that with people listening to rock and rap, I'm sitting on their iPods along with that stuff.
My thing is, when you put a bunch of rules on a tour, you have to hire three more people to enforce all the rules. So, with me, I want everyone to feel comfortable. It's a lot of little moving parts out here, and little hiccups will come. At the end of the day, the show's going to go on, and I want everybody to truly enjoy it.
I would say my fraternity was nothing but a bunch of farm boys; we weren't really in the whole fraternity scene, but yeah, that's a safe assessment of who I am. I've lived that life, growing up in agriculture and then going off to college and joining a fraternity, livin' that life.
I refuse to be one of those artists who, 10 years from now, they're bitter about the rise and the fall of their career. I understand that somewhere there's a peak and a crest for me, and I'm going to enjoy all levels. I'm going to enjoy this ride that I'm on, and when it slows down, that's when it will be time for another phase of my life.
When you look into the eyes of your people out there that came to see you, that's when it's like, 'Yep, this is what it's all about.' This is why we don't sleep, and this is why we write songs and try to be the best. This moment right here onstage.
There's always room for your hard-core country songs, and that will always shine through, and I'll always have those on my albums. And then I'll have fun stuff that gets people up and dancing that some people may want to say, 'Well that sounds real pop-y!' but I don't really think it does, I just think it's what's going on.
My best artist friend is definitely Jason Aldean. He and I really get along great and are really great friends. It's fun to tour with a buddy and somebody that I just enjoy hanging out with. If we weren't touring together, we'd be hunting in the off-season still and knocking around doing stuff, certainly.