If you're a country fan, there's a good chance you've already fallen in love with Frankie Ballard's hit single, "Helluva Life." Well, I have good news for you because the rest of the album comes out tomorrow—and after listening to it on repeat in the week leading up to this interview, I can say it's everything you've hoped for and more. The gracious 31-year-old talked to me about his love life, the new album, and the TV show he can't get enough (bonus points when you hear what it is!).
Glamour: Congrats on the success of "Helluva Life." So, of course I'm gonna go there and ask what would constitute a helluva day for you?
Frankie Ballard: Ha! I'd wake up on a tour bus in a cool new city, have a great workout, eat a couple of great meals at places I haven't been to before, then play a show in an awesome honky-tonk place full of amazing fans, and party till the sun comes up. I think that sounds like one helluva day!
Glamour: What are your necessities on your tour bus?
Frankie: Lots of party liquor. Lots of water. Some DVDs to get fired up for the show. That's pretty important. And an auxiliary cable to plug in our phones after the show so we can party! It's all about the music. And liquid. Rock stars don't eat.
Glamour: Except you just said your helluva day would include some great meals! So because rock stars have to eat, what would your helluva meal be?
Frankie: [Laughs] Definitely some lean protein, maybe like a really high-grade piece of tuna. Kale salad would be my side dish. Then I’d have to get down and dirty with a root vegetable. Then I'll have a brownie. This is a helluva meal. It also might be what I’m in the mood for right now.
Glamour: And now I'm starving. Thanks! So continuing on this theme, what's your helluva TV show you love to binge-watch?
Frankie: It would probably be The Cosby Show and westerns. I love that episode of The Cosby Show where Claire goes on a diet and tries to fit into an old dress that she used to wear back in the day. She goes on this secret diet, and Cliff finds out about it. Claire's famished because she’s only eating like rice cakes, and Cliff has already figured her out, so he makes her this huge Mexican dinner to lure her in. That’s a pretty funny one.
Glamour: Did you ever see “Theo’s Holiday” where they all dress up to teach Theo a lesson about the real world? That's my fave.
Frankie: Harley Weewax! Welcome to Furniture City! Oh yeah, I’m a big Cosby Show fan. And then westerns. John Wayne movies.
Glamour: What song on the new album are you most proud of?
Frankie: Probably the one I wrote called "It Don’t Take Much." It’s hard not to say "Helluva Life," but I wrote "It Don’t Take Much" with a friend of mine, and I was sitting around, thinking about my career and decisions I made along the way, and wondered if I would have done this differently or that differently. That’s not just true of the music business but of life in general. Those little decisions can really change the course of your story and how maybe there is no such thing as little decisions. They can all have an effect.
Glamour: What song was the easiest one for you to relate to?
Frankie: There’s a song on there called "Don’t Tell Momma I Was Drinking." I don’t know if I can say I relate to it as much, as it was it just moved my spirit. That story just really stuck with me and made me emotional. It’s actually an old song that we redid and made it my own. It’s just really powerful.
Glamour: How many tattoos do you have?
Frankie: Oh, that’s a secret! I gotta have some secrets, don’t I? But I’m a spiritual guy, and I think the tattoos I have on my forearm are spiritual in nature. My favorite one is an eagle—all of my tattoos are American traditional in style, 1940s Navy-style tattoos. So there’s this eagle with a banner, and it says "I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord." That's probably my favorite one."
Glamour: You won Kenny Chesney’s Next Big Star Competition in Michigan in 2008. Was that the turning point for you?
Frankie: I tell you what it did for me—at the time, I was just playing bars and birthday parties and things like that locally. Winning that and getting to open for Kenny gave me the confidence I needed. It was like, "Frankie, maybe you got what it takes to take this to the next level." Before that, moving to Nashville was not even something I thought I could do. That really gave me the confidence to try, so that was a big turning point for me."
Glamour: What do you think is the one thing that no one tells you about the country music industry?
Frankie: It’s a lot tougher than people think that it is. Someone might look like an overnight success, but there’s a lot of hard work that goes into it, and rightfully so. That’s the way it should be. There are exceptions to that rule, but in country music, people really have to pay their dues. It takes a while to meet everybody in country radio and meet all those folks that play your music to get you to the next level. It takes you a while to break through. Sometimes in the public eye it probably feels like things happen so quickly, but it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of time.
Glamour: Is there a special someone in your life right now?
Frankie: It’s too hard to date right now. I’m married to my career and my guitar, and I’d be a horrible boyfriend at this point in my life because I’m gone all the time. I’m on my own just trying to make a career for myself.
Glamour: And when you’re ready for that special someone? What qualities do you look for?
Frankie: I don’t even know if I know! [Laughs] She’s gotta be a Cosby Show fan and let me watch westerns! More than anything, just understand the business that I’m in. That’s a tough thing, and having to deal with a lot of female fans. That would probably be hard. But I always have my eyes peeled!
Frankie's new album, Sunshine & Whiskey, drops tomorrow, February 11.