Just one month ago,Capitol Records Nashville recording artist, Darius Rucker, released his fifth country album, When Was The Last Time. Rucker recently made a trip to Chicago to perform at CBS Radio’s Stars and Strings, a star-studded performance for Veteran’s Day. I caught up with Darius before his show and picked his brain about his music, success, and the authenticity of the country music industry.
Before you released your first country music album, you were the founding member of one of the most successful and well-known bands of all time – Hootie and The Blowfish.
What is something you learned in your Hootie days that you’ve taken with you into your country music career?
“Oh, to pay attention and remember everything that’s going on around me. In the Hootie days, we were college kids who went out and worked our butts off over the years playing clubs, etc. but we were too young to realize we needed to stop and smell the roses. I learned to stop and really take it all in and enjoy how awesome this life I get to live is.”
That’s some resonating advice that definitely applies to everyone, at every season of life. You’ve climbed to the top of music charts, won a fair share of awards, played to sold-out crowds, etc. but the measure of success varies from person to person.
What does success specifically mean to you?
“Success to me means…getting to do what you want to do for as long as you want to do it.“
I feel like you’re kind of doing that!
“Yeah! (chuckles humbly) I’m doing ok, it’s been a long time now that I’ve been getting to do this and I’m thankful for that.”
Speaking of success, you just released your latest album, When Was The Last Time, and that brings me to one of my favorite questions, which also happens to be the title track of your album.
When is the last time you did something for the first time?
“I played the Apollo Theater a couple weeks ago and that was the first time I did that. It was pretty awesome.” Any fun memories? “Oh man, the whole thing! I remember walking on stage and looking out, and at one point I thought of all the bands that have played there and it was an unbelievable experience.”
Tonight you’re playing at Stars and Strings, which is a highly regarded country music event honoring our US military veterans and benefitting Folds of Honor.
What motivation or inspiration do you gain from having the opportunity to perform shows of this caliber?
“The reason our country is so great, especially if you look back from the Civil War until today, is because of our military. Those people who are willing to sacrifice everything for our freedoms is motivation enough to do shows like this, to thank them. I’m so proud to be in their presence. There’s nothing like it.”
The country music genre has its own unique heartbeat, and everyone has a different takeaway when listening to its beat.
What is your favorite thing about country music?
“My favorite thing about country music is the way all of the artists are so ‘cool’ with each other. The comradery, I love it. I love going to the CMA’s, ACM’s, CMT’s and watching everyone during the commercial breaks. They’re all getting up and hugging, hanging out, being friends with each other, and it’s not fakeness. It’s real comradery.”