Country star Jason Aldean on bourbon, branding & the big return of concerts
Jason Aldean is one of the top country artists in the world. Of the 35 singles he has released, 22 have gone to No 1 on the country charts, with My Kinda Party going quadruple platinum. Now he’s taking his chart-topping ways to the spirits category with Wolf Moon straight bourbon whiskey. The Drum caught up with Jason to talk about his new bourbon, what it takes for a celebrity brand to succeed and the return of live music.
Jason Aldean: The spirits category is pretty competitive. You’ve got brands that have been around forever and then you constantly have new brands coming out... I’m a bourbon drinker so that was a big part of it. I felt like if it was something I wanted to put my name on I needed to feel good about it and be excited for people to try it.
Jason Aldean brings his kinda party to the bourbon category
Wolf Moon’s got a little bit of a smoky flavor to it. I like that barrel taste, but not to the point where it’s super strong and you taste it for the next five minutes. It’s easy and it’s smooth. That was my main concern. Once we dialed it in, I was excited about it. It’s something that I can sit around at my house, turn on the TV, watch the ballgame, pour a glass of it and sip on it. That’s why I put my name on it.
The Drum: How did you build your personal brand and what do you avoid?
Jason Aldean: My honest opinion of me and my brand is that I try to be as authentic as possible. I’m a blue collar guy. I grew up in Macon, Georgia in some of the rural areas of town. That’s translated into the music. It’s in a lot of the things I still sing about. With me what you see is what you get. I’ve never tried to be anything I wasn’t, good or bad.
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As an artist or entertainer or whatever it is that you do, that’s the thing. That’s what’s believable to fans. Fans are pretty smart. If it’s not believable and it’s not authentic, they can see through it.
For me, obviously a lot of stuff centers around music. Music drives everything else. I’ve always stayed true to what it is that I want to record. Things constantly change and you have artists or record companies that are chasing that fad that may be hot at the time. I’ve never done that. I’ve always tried to stay true to what I do well and what I like to do. By doing that, it’s allowed me opportunities in other businesses like this.
There have been a ton of opportunities that have come along. Different people want you to get involved in their brands, but it has to make sense. It’s not like I’m going to go out there and try to sell hairspray.
The Drum: Are there any other celebrity brands that you admire?
Jason Aldean: Wolf Moon is part of the Old Camp family which I think is really cool. Tyler and BK from Florida Georgia Line are partners of mine on Wolf Moon, but they also started Old Camp. They’ve got a peach pecan whiskey over there.
Before I got involved, I really liked the approach they were taking on everything. They did a good job with launching that. Then if you look at celebrities like Conor McGregor with Proper 12, they’ve done a great job with that. Obviously, Conor’s promoted that like crazy and it’s done really well for him. When George Clooney and Rande Gerber started Casamigos, that was another big one. They ended up selling it off, but they got that off the ground relatively quickly in a market that is pretty saturated with tequila.
To have that kind of breakthrough with a brand new product like that, it’s really tough man. Any time you see that you admire how they were able to crack that so quickly and rise to the top of the market. That makes it pretty special, especially when the product’s that good.
To me that’s the key to everything. You can slap your name on anything, and maybe get people to try it once. But if it’s not good, they’re not going to try it again. Taste is the key.
The Drum: What’s going to happen with live music? Are you ready to tour?
Jason Aldean: People are feeling better because the vaccine’s out and they've had a chance to get it. The people that choose not to get it, that’s fine too. At least the option is there if you’re worried about it.
For us, we have a few shows between now and August. Once August rolls around our plan is to go out and start our tour and probably go through October. Everybody’s excited just for things to get back to normal. This last year has just been pretty insane. Nobody expected it to last this long. I think people all over the country are just kind of over it.
For me, on one hand, it allowed me a chance to take a year off from touring, which I normally would have never done. It was a good thing to be at home with my kids, my wife and everybody. On the other hand, touring is all I’ve done since I was 14 years old. Not being able to do it for that long, not being able to go out and play our shows – it’s been a little crazy. We’re definitely ready to get back after it.