You don’t have to be a country music fan to have heard of Luke Bryan — especially those who watch a lot of reality shows. He appeared on this past season of The Celebrity Apprentice when Bret Michaels, Bill Goldberg and a team of dudes gave him and his press kit a makeover of sorts. Maybe it gave him some good luck, too — Bryan took home honors for Top New Artist and Top New Solo Vocalist at the recent ACM Awards, and he’s one of four USA WEEKEND Breakthrough Video of the Year nominees at the CMT Music Awards June 9. I caught up with Bryan last week when he was packing up his truck for a day of fishing. “I’m pretty good,” the Georgia native says of his angling prowess. “I oughta be good. I’ve spent enough money at it.” Read below for our conversation, check out his nominated video for Do I, and if you like it — or any of the other Breakthrough nominees — be sure to vote at cmt.com by June 8.
Photos by Kristin Barlow
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Do you like doing music videos?
I do enjoy it. It’s a critical part of a song and a lot of people get to know what the song’s about by a video. With Do I, we took the song to another place with the video. Me and my video director Shaun Silva, we’ve worked together quite a bit, and we collaborated back and forth and built the video.
Do the words come alive even more for you when somebody else puts their vision on it and you see it.
Yeah, man. It makes a song have a whole new dimension. A video done right can certainly elevate a song to a whole other level and give it a whole other dimension.
Do you have a favorite country music video?
That’s hard to say. I’d say Breathe is one of the best ones ever. They glamorized Faith Hill in it and made her almost a mythical-like creature. [Laughs]
You’re on a roll with the awards, your fall release of Doin’ My Thing and Celebrity Apprentice.
It’s certainly been the best year of my career. Things have really started to come together nicely. A whole lot more people are learning who I am, and that’s what this business is about: branding yourself and who you are. I’ve been real fortunate this year with that.
Was it in the works for a while to lift your brand and get yourself out there more?
Well, certainly. You’ve got to make the songs come together — the songs dictate everything — but you want to have everything in place to sell who you are. It’s all good timing to make it really be worth it.
How much mainstream recognition did you have, post-Apprentice? Your iTunes numbers increased rather impressively afterward.
It was a huge audience. I get recognized a lot more and I have tons of people come up to me and inquire about how I liked Apprentice. It was a real positive thing for me. I kinda went into it really being a little bit hesitant and scared, but I feel like it was really, really great for me to have done. It let a lot of people know who I am.
Are you working on a new album now?
I’m always writing. We’re not in the studio yet, but we’ll get in the studio in the latter part of the year. I’m always writing and preparing for a new album.
I also hear you have a new baby due in August.
Yeah, I’ve got a little baby boy on the way, so I’ve got that going on. I’ll be busy with that, certainly.
Do you feel you’re better prepared this time around than with your first child?
Oh yeah. Your learning curve deal gets handled on the first one. We feel like we’re parents at this point and got it all figured out, but there are always new things that come about. Certainly, the second one we won’t doubt ourselves or question ourselves about anything.
Do you get to go on many fishing trips being a country star?
I fish about once every two weeks. I get to fish quite a bit – probably a little more than my wife would like, but it’s better than a strip joint.
Are you always seeking out good fishing spots while you’re on tour?
I take a kayak in my trailer and I fish quite a bit on the road. I do what I can to enjoy my hobby and that’s the main thing.
So will you be joining the Bassmaster tour when your country career’s over?
I doubt that. That schedule is almost as grueling as being a musician! I don’t think my wife would go for that. I want to keep something real pure that I enjoy, and I don’t want to turn fishing into a job.