Sex and drugs used to share a triple billing with rock 'n' roll, but the balls-to-the-wall seventies are little more than a distant memory in the East Village and Venice. The few guys left standing have either recovered, taken TV gigs, or become Buddhist poets. Still, that doesn't mean that no one is living the dream that Mick, Iggy, Gene, and millions of men shared (the girls, the benders). Country stars are in every kind of demand and Josh Abbott, the 34-year-old Texan whose entire act seems designed to attract women, is loving it.*
"When we go to play, it’s not at a sit-down theatre where people want to just and listen to life- changing songs,” Abbott says, with a twang in his voice where the swagger should be. “I think the partying is part of it and it sure doesn’t hurt when a lot of pretty girls go to your shows.”
On the eve of his probably exhausting new tour, Maxim talked to the rising star about his life of country-fried excess.
So you’re a good ole Southern boy.
I’m a good ole Texas boy, yes ma’am
So country music has always been part of your life?
Willie Nelson has a famous quote that says, “Three cords and the truth.” That’s all you need.
Is your life on the road how I imagine it?
For the first few years it was kind of a free-for-all and we were down to party every night. It’s a roller coaster, but I love it.
Does it take time to learn how to be that guy, the party guy?
It’s a learning curve for people to figure out the balance act in terms of partaking in the partying and constant drinking and drugs and everything else goes on because all that stuff goes on in country music. I think you just have to be grounded to figure out who you are and not get lost in all that. But I think the partying is just a part of it. When we go to play, it’s not at a sit-down theatre where people just want to listen to these life- changing songs. We’re there to promote a party atmosphere. We’re there to make sure everyone has a great time, drinks, dances, meets somebody and maybe get laid that night.
What did you learn?
There are times bands will invite you to after parties and maybe there’s some sort of get together afterwards or maybe just a big bus party after the show. We used to do a lot of that stuff while touring early on. We still hang out with friends and stuff after shows, but we’re not doing the house parties anymore. That stuff just gets you in trouble.
Can you talk about having a largely female audience?
I think part of trying to identify and market your music isn’t to pander it. It’s to figure out who your demographic is. And it just so happened that the music I enjoyed writing and perhaps the vocal delivery I have was more attractive too younger college females. So that’s the direction we marketed. I think it helps when we write these songs for girls about not letting their spirits get down or overcoming obstacles. On our last album, we had a song called “She Will Be Free” and on this new EP we have one called “She Don’t Break.” It’s all about this girl who gets down, maybe her and her most recent love interest are on the rocks but at the end of the day her and her friends aren’t gonna let her break.
We’re very grateful for the female audience because they’re great fans. They support you and buy your music and go to your shows and it sure doesn’t hurt when a lot of pretty girls go to your show. It makes life a lot more easy and fun when you’re on that stage and you’re not looking at 40- or 50-year-old dudes.
Is there ever a giant mass of beautiful women waiting for you?
Every now and then, depending on where your exit is on stage, you can run into those situations where there’s fans and beautiful girls that are there to say, "Hello." But it’s not like the movie where I’d go “Okay you, you and you, we’re about to rock.” I mean you can definitely have your fun. And now that I’m single I do.
I will say I’m recently single and have worked pretty hard on getting in better shape and being a more well rounded, well balanced individual. I feel I’m gonna explore what this new dating scene looks like for me and I’ll just have some fun on the road at the same time.
Just think a week ago we were in Spokane, Seattle, Portland, San Jose, and Little Rock. Next week we’ll be in Orlando and Tampa and I think we go to Pittsburgh, San Antonio and Houston after that. We’ve gone to Detroit, Minneapolis, and I could continue to name drop, but basically you can tell from listening to all that that it’s constant chaos right now.
*A few minutes after Josh (politely) hung up, he called back to admonish me for not telling him I was a “pretty blonde girl.” He then invited me on tour. Talk about rockstar.