Pat Green commands a position in the music world uniquely his own. He sells out stadiums like the Houston Astrodome and Dallas’ Smirnoff Center as well as the Nokia Theater in New York City as a headliner, yet he also gets the opportunity to tour with major artists like Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and the Dave Matthews Band.
That dichotomy underscores one point: As hugely popular as Pat Green is, as rabid as his loyal fan base is, there’s still an enormous audience getting their first exposure to his one-of-a-kind music and performances.
With his first album since signing with BNA Records, the three-time Grammy nominee looks to take his music to the masses. Cannonball, his explosive new album, captures Green’s joyous, provocative songwriting style with new sharpness and swagger. Working for the first time with a powerhouse Nashville label, Green and his supporters expect Cannonball to transform him from massive cult star to emerging country superstar.
“I feel like this album is a home run,” Green says with characteristic aw-shucks honesty. “I wanted to take our brand of independent music and give it a fresh shot at making a bigger impact. That’s exactly what I think we’ve accomplished when I hear these songs.”
Indeed, Green has always lived on the border of both worlds. His unique lyrics present a distinct vision of the world that reaches outsiders and fans of off-the-beaten-path music. At the same time, the carefree, slice-of-the-good-life, sing-along-with-me nature of his work has built-in mass appeal.
He’s already proven he can build an enthusiastic, youthful following through the time-tested virtues of hard work, live performance and word-of-mouth buzz. Now it’s time to add fuel to the fire with the kind of exposure radio and a committed, well-oiled record label can provide.
“It’s really the core market of music fans that I still need to tap into,” Green surmises. “I’ve always figured it was just a matter of timing, and now I think our timing is perfect. I think this is the best album I could make, and I think I have the best team behind me.”
Typical of his path, Green has built a career unlike any other in the modern music business. In an era when many artists shoot to stardom and sometimes fall just as quickly, Green has risen through grassroots support, common-man appeal and an engaging live show. “We have definitely gone about things differently from the start,” he explains.
After becoming a Texas hero through self-generated independent albums, Green chose to take his music to a national audience through a side door. “We signed our first major label deal out of New York so we could maintain an independent status,” he says. “We found out that it gave us more artistic leeway, but it also gave us less access to industry insiders.”
By now, his independence is established; no one’s going to try and tell Green to change his distinctive musical vision or songwriting style, not after earning Grammy nominations and earning a Top 3 hit with “Wave on Wave.” “We never fit in with the cookie-cutter stuff, and for a while that was what dominated the airwaves,” he says. “Now it seems that radio is more excited than ever about breaking new acts and bringing new blood into the fold. I think they want material that fits the format but doesn’t sound like everything else. And that’s right where we’re at.”
At the same time, Green’s music will come out through one of Nashville’s most successful and progressive record labels. “Working with BNA and Joe Galante, we’re stepping up to the plate with all the necessary tools to get the job done for the first time,” he says. “I think we’re getting a real chance at having a big impact. I couldn’t feel better about where we’re at right now.”
On welcoming Green to the SONY BMG Nashville family, Chairman Joe Galante comments, “We have all been Pat Green fans since we first heard his music. Pat has put himself in a place that is not only distinctive but has appeal to a youthful audience, many of which are just being introduced to country music. Having the opportunity to work with him is very exciting and taking him to the next level is going to be a blast.”
That’s why Cannonball came along at just the right time. As rambunctious and spirited as ever, the album captures Green at his most accessible and engaging. “I think everybody has their own story to tell,” the affable singer-songwriter says. “For me, the only thing that works is trying to make sense out of the world around me and the life I’m living. Honesty is the only way to go for me.”
With his new songs, he worked hard at concision and directness, while maintaining the personality and quirky flavor that gives his music its originality. “I want my music to be reasonably intelligent, but I also want it to be interesting and fun,” he says. “I just want to tell my tale from the tallest mountain and with the loudest megaphone I can find.”
“Feels Like It Should,” the first single from Cannonball, encapsulates the spirit of the new album. “It’s all about knowing you’re on top of the world and soaking up that feeling,” he says. “I wrote that with my drummer Justin Pollard and Brett James, we really wanted to create the perfect summer song.”
AOL Music agreed. “Feel’s Like It Should” got its premiere on the AOL Music First Listen program, which previously has introduced singles by Kenny Chesney, Usher, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Christina Aguilera and Destiny’s Child.
Green also cites his enthusiasm for such new songs as “Dixie Lullaby,” “Way Back Texas,” “Love Like That” and the rowdy title cut. “I think is the most thoughtful and consistent record we’ve made,” he says. “I don’t like using words like ‘mature’ or ‘grown-up,’ because I’m still a kid at heart. I don’t want to have to act grown-up all the time. I’m a father, and I have to make the right decisions, so I think the balance of wanting to stay youthful yet live right comes through on these songs.”
As his attitude and words prove, Green has no problem believing that Cannonball is a career album for him. “I have to believe in what I’m doing—that’s what has gotten me over every hill,” he says. “I’ve got a big heart, and I’ve got a strong desire to climb to the top cliff and jump off. If you’re going to do that, you have to think you deserve it. We’ve been doing this a while now, and it just keeps getting better. I’m as ready as I can be for what comes next.”