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Did you have any trouble selling the idea of country mixes to club promoters at the beginning?
“Oh, yeah. You still do. People are just like, ‘We don’t play country music all night.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t play anything all night, man.’ I call it 'country party rock.' I mix it all together and make it one huge party. We’ll play LMFAO. We’ll play Kid Rock. We’ll play Dr. Dre. We’ll play Li’l Wayne. We’ll play Jason Aldean. We’ll play Brad Paisley. We’ll also play Tiesto. It all goes together.”
You’ve said that nobody is truly a purist as a music listener. What did you mean by that?
“We kinda grew up in the Dr. Dre era. We all bought the album Chronic. We all bought Kid Rock’s American Bad Ass. You know what I mean?
“I was out with Aldean, and we had a little party backstage, the whole crew. A girl said, ‘Plug my iPod in.’ So Aldean comes on, Hicktown, and everybody’s singing. The next song was Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke, and the song after that was Buckcherry. That sums up country music fans right now. They came from rock ‘n’ roll. They came from hip-hop. They came from house music. They came from country roots. All they wanna do is have a good time. I always tell people I make country music not to change country music, but to [expose] people that wouldn’t give country a chance.”
You deal with digital music now, but did you start out spinning vinyl, lugging your records around?
“Oh, yeah. I paid my dues.”
How hard was it to get your hands on country vinyl?
“They didn’t really press a whole lot of country records. And if you had country, it was classic country, Hank Williams, stuff like that. Then you’d progress up to CDs. Or now I can just go out and buy it on iTunes. Or I can just call my manager or call people at Sony and say, ‘Hey, I need the [tracks] for the new Jerrod Niemann record.’ But those days sucked. Don’t get it twisted. There was no YouTube or DJ school. If you wanted to learn, you carried some cat’s records forever, hoping you’d get to play for two minutes a night.”