“I’m a fucking huge fan of yours!”
So begins Joe Rogan’s conversation with Chris Stapleton, whose latest album, Songs from a Room: Volume 2, was released last Friday. The newest episode of The Joe Rogan Experience is even newer, hitting the internet Wednesday evening with more than 90 minutes of expletive-filled conversation. Together, Rogan and Stapleton cover the usual musical bases – including the musician’s songwriting process – while also making room for side conversations about fly fishing, Gene Simmons and Garth Brooks’ failed alter-ego, Chris Gaines.
It’s a different sort of interview, focused not on recycled talking points, but on the genuine camaraderie between Rogan and Stapleton. Watch a video of the full podcast above, and check out our quick run-down of highlights.
Stapleton is country music’s best-selling solo artist of 2017. . .but he isn’t done writing songs for other musicians.
“It’s still one of my favorite things to do,” he says of his songwriting career, which had already spawned a half-dozen Number One hits for other artists – including Kenny Chesney and George Strait – long before his own career took off. “I’m just as interested in that as I am in doing my own thing.”
Recently, he’s been able to meet some of his biggest heroes.
“We played Wrigley Field with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers,” Stapleton gushes, remembering the June 2017 show that brought him face-to-face with the late Petty. “It felt just as cool as it sounds like it should.” At another show, Stapleton found himself playing for a different sort of classic rock heavyweight: Gene Simmons. “It was the weirdest thing ever,” he remembers. “Here’s Gene Simmons on the side of the stage, before we go play our gig. Its one of those moments. It’s like, ‘Hi, Gene Simmons.'”
The guy writes a lot of songs. Like, a lot.
“In excess of 1,000, probably,” he specifies. “They’re all catalogued at the publishing company.”
Even bad songs are worth finishing, if only to make room for better material to come along.
“If 10 percent of what you do is work that you deem good enough to put out into the world, I think you’re probably doing pretty good,” Stapleton offers. “That’s a good average of things that are worth something. But I think you have to go through some of the [songs] that aren’t there, just to flush them out.”
He’s not a fan of editing his own work.
“I don’t like to go back and edit and edit,” he says of his fast, direct songwriting process. “It’s not me. There are guys who’ll take a whole year to write one song, and I can’t write with those guys. I respect them, but I don’t have that kind of patience. . .My favorite songs are the ones that fall out of the sky in a bolt of lightning, and you write it in 10 minutes, and you’re like, ‘That’s exactly what it was supposed to be. Great! I’m done. I’m gonna go eat a sandwich.'”
He continues to love Nashville, although he avoids Lower Broadway – the city’s tourist-friendly stretch of honky-tonks and chain restaurants – whenever possible.
“There’s a thing now there you go downtown and it’s more like you’re going to a giant bachelorette party or something,” he says. “Everybody’s just looking to drink their face off and listen to bad covers.”
Although he’s a fan of bourbon, Stapleton keeps his vices in check while working on new music.
“I don’t like that,” he tells Rogan, when asked if he enjoys writing songs while under the influence. “I like the clarity. Some guys can’t do it without it. Some guys, that makes them all of a sudden turn into the Michael Jordan of songwriting. For me, if I’m gonna do something like that, it’s recreational and I’m gonna go eat a bunch of chips and watch a movie or something. Not much worthwhile is gonna come out of that for me!”