Scotty McCreery was a just another face in the crowd when he climbed onto a roller coaster for the first time at age 11, during a visit to Carowinds.
On Saturday night, the amusement park will be the site of another first for the Raleigh-based country singer: His outdoor concert will mark his first time headlining a show in his home state at a venue this big (Carowinds Paladium holds 13,000).
And just like he was when he climbed onto that Top Gun coaster, McCreery is a bit nervous.
If Im out in Iowa doing a show, I play for them and I wont see them for another year or something, says the Garner native, 20. But anytime I play in Carolina, Ive got all kinds of friends and family that are coming out to the shows that Im gonna see or talk to the day after. So I better put on a good show for them, or Ill hear about it.
(He also will headline Packapalooza N.C. States back-to-school party on Hillsborough Street on Aug. 23.)
The 2011 American Idol winner spoke with the Observer about his love-hate relationship with being on the road, his allegiance to North Carolina, and why hes fine singing other peoples songs.
Q. What have you enjoyed most about touring?
A: The coolest thing about it all is you get to see fans. ... (With) Twitter, we can talk to them anytime, but seeing them face-to-face is awesome. And another thing is just seeing the country. I think Ive been to every state now except Alaska, so Ill have to get a show up there one day. But Ive got a bike on the road with me now, so Ill bike around the cities we go to check them out, and get a little exercise too. We need it on the road, eating all that crap.
Q. What have you enjoyed least?
A: Being on the road can be tough, too. I love it in the sense that I get to see the fans, I get to see the country in ways I wouldnt have before, but on runs where Im gone a long time, its tough. Id been gone I think 22 days in a row, then I got home yesterday to Raleigh for 17 hours, then I had to pack it up and head to West Virginia. ... Some artists get out there and they hit it hard for six months at a time and they live on a bus, but thatll never be me. Ive never been shy about the fact that I like where Im from, so Im gonna try to get home a little bit whenever I can.
Q. Would you consider moving to Nashville at some point?
A: I definitely see myself getting a place in Nashville eventually. Im really happy staying in Carolina, so I dont see my (permanent) home moving, but as far as getting a place in Nashville and maybe going out there and staying for a couple months when Im making a record, I could see that. But I think my main residence will always be Carolina.
Q. Now that youve put out three albums (2011s Clear as Day, 2012s Christmas with Scotty McCreery and 2013s See You Tonight), do you feel like youve reached the point where people dont always think first about Idol when your name comes up?
A: I think that comes with time. ... Some folks get off the show and theyre just like, Ill never talk about it again. Thats not me. I understand where I came from. ... I just had my biggest single yet, See You Tonight, on the radio, and my newest single right now is climbing on up the charts. Once you get some success behind you, thats when I think you really establish yourself outside of the TV show, as more of a music star instead of a TV star. So I think that the process of that is happening as we speak.
Q. You co-wrote the title track on See You Tonight. Are you interested in doing more songwriting?
A: I just want to write the best songs I can ... but the artists live in Nashville because the songwriters live in Nashville. Theyre sending songs left and right that theyre writing, and theyre pitching them to you and you hear some great songs. A lot of times, the subject and the theme have been written about a thousand times over, but its just a new way of saying it or a better way of saying it or the best way of saying it that youve heard. I could write about a heartbreak song, but then if somebody else writes it and I think it sounds better, Im gonna go with that song.
Q. Think youll you spend any time hanging out at Carowinds before or after the show?
A: Me and the band, well probably sneak out and go on a bunch of rides. Depends on how tired I am. I dont know. Some of those things can make you feel kind of funky before a show...
Janes: 704-358-5897; Twitter: @theodenjanes
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