For the last four years, country music’s best butt shaker Luke Bryan — who’ll cohost next month’s ACM Awards with Blake Shelton where his four nominations include Entertainer, Male Vocalist, and Album of the Year — has released a Spring Break EP and played free shows in Panama City, Fla. (his own favorite Spring Break spot in college).
Today, in advance of next week’s parties in Panama City and Orange Beach, Ala., he drops a full-length album, Spring Break… Here to Party, gathering the best of those previous releases (like the self-explanatory “Suntan City” and “Take My Drunk Ass Home”) with two new songs for 2013 — the party-starting “Just a Sip” and the more somber “Buzzkill” (watch that video below). He stood still long enough to take a few of our questions.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: CMT recently aired a special on your Spring Break phenomenon. I assume that moment when you threw a beer to a bikini-clad girl standing high above the crowd, roughly 50 feet away, and she caught it and chugged it is the one you’re always trying to top?
LUKE BRYAN: Yeah, I think in the history of it all, it’s probably the best moment ever. Maybe ever performing for me. The overall energy of these Spring Break shows is electric. Any time you get a bunch of guys and girls in bathing suits and bikinis, there’s no tellin’ what can happen at any moment.
What can an audience member do to increase the odds of you throwing a beer his or her way?
You know, there’s no rhyme or reason, no equation. It just kinda happens naturally.
I’m impressed you’re still doing that in a world of lawsuits.
I do it in a way where everybody knows it’s coming. That’s an unfortunate thing about society today — you do have to be careful about that. But I don’t want to ever get to where I take fun, exciting stuff out of a show for fear’s sake. In my arena shows, somebody’s chair could break out from under them and they blame it on me. So you just have to have all your insurance in line and rock and roll.
I love the new song “Buzzkill,” but I’m wondering where you place that in the set list. Seems tricky.
We don’t know yet. We don’t get too methodical with our Spring Break sets. We just kind of ride ’em out and let it rock. I love that song, too. It doesn’t necessarily embody the spirit of Spring Break, but it’s a great song — a young spin on a sad song.
What songs take you back to your Spring Breaks?
Now I’m really gonna show my age. “Tipsy” was a big one. Do you remember that one? [sings] “Everybody in the club gettin’ tipsy.” I’m tryin’ to think. “Rump Shaker” was a big one, one year. [sings] “I put my hand up on your hip.” “Da’ Dip” was always a big one. [sings] “When I dip you dip we dip.” That was like high school Spring Break though.
What songs should people listen to this year, besides your album?
I think you can’t go wrong right now with [Bruno Mars’] “Locked Out of Heaven.” As far as country, you gotta do “Cruise”, Florida Georgia Line. You gotta do some Dierks [Bentley], “Tip It On Back.” And then you gotta do some [Jason] Aldean, “1994.” “My Kinda Party” is still a good one, too.
Looking past Spring Break, you’re working on a new album.
You can expect the new single to be out April 1, and then mid-summer for an album release. A lot of times on my first three albums, we were so busy and had short time windows to get vocals done. This album, we had a month and a half or two months to get everything like we wanted to, so if my voice wasn’t feeling good one day, then we’d come in and sing a day later. It was really a relaxed environment. Just from playing it for my band, a few people in radio, that’s the first thing that people say — my voice seems to go to a new level — and I’m excited about that. From now until the day I die, I will continue to try to get better — a better singer, a better guitar player, a better entertainer, and better at this business.
Speaking of being an entertainer, anything you can tease about what you and Blake are planning for the ACMs?
We’ve started throwing ideas around. I think CBS is probably gonna have to put a 15-second delay on Blake and I. But we’re gonna have fun.