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Interview with Aaron Tippin

By David Mills

Access.FM: Well... welcome back from the uh... the desert.

Aaron Tippin: HAHAH... Iím mighty glad to be home.

Access.FM: Did you get stuck over there somewhere?

Aaron Tippin: Yeah, well when we tried to leave Quatar. That was our last stop. We went to Kurdistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, then Quatar.

Access.FM: You say Quatar, but I hear it differently on the TV.

Aaron Tippin: Well... thatís because the uppity media guys are trying to say it like the Arabs say it. And maybe it is pronounced differently, but the Americans that I heard were saying Quatar, and the guys that I heard it from differently first, were the media guys. Youíre a media guy... am I making you mad?

Access.FM: NO, NO, NO... Iím not the liberal media... Iím more of the Ďfair and balanced, you decideí reporter.

Aaron Tippin: The Fox Guy...

Access.FM: There ya go... you know... we report, you decide. Well... weíve got a few things in common... you said your dad was in the Air Force?

Aaron Tippin: Yeah... he sure was.

Access.FM: When did you first learn growing up in the military about the USO?

Aaron Tippin: Bob Hope. Vietnam... watching on TV. When I was born, my dad was getting out of military service. He was a flight instructor at Bainbridge, GA, and he trained T-28ís and T-6ís and T-37ís that was his jet time, and right when I was born, he started getting out. So my first recollection of the USO was Bob Hope. I was watching him onstage and I was a child, and thought... well maybe one of these days Iíll get to play a show with him... and TA DAH...

Access.FM: When you got to Nashville, and your career started out... I think in 1990, you got to go on tour with him, right? How did all of that come about... that you got involved in 1990 on the USO Tour?

Aaron Tippin: ďYou Got To Stand For SomethingĒ had been chosen to be the first single. Then all that stuff happened over in the Gulf, and Bob Hope was going over to entertain the troops. Well, this single seemed to be a pretty good song, and a good message to take to the troops, so they said... Whoís the guy that sings it... you think heíd want to go on a USO show? I said are you kiddiní... So the next thing I know, Iím on a 141 on my way to Rhiad.

Access.FM: Oh my goodness... Saudi Arabia.

Aaron Tippin: Yeah... and it was really cool. Met Bob Hope. All in about a three day span, my world completely turned upside down. I went from being a little, laid-back Ďbaccker-chewingí songwriter, to ďHoly Mackerel... what am I doing here?Ē

Access.FM: Well, you probably were with the only Ďhonorary veteraní that there is in the United States. Bob Hope got that title from Congress, I think... heís an honorary veteran.

Aaron Tippin: Really? Wow!

Access.FM: Who was on this tour with you, other than Bob Hope?

Aaron Tippin: Ann Jillian... she rode over with us, but you know the Saudiís or Arabs are pretty funky about girl entertainers. So all of the girls had to end up going to the Gulf, to entertain the Navy. And boy, I know that hurt the Navyís feelings. They had to take all the girls... crap... no guys!

Aaron Tippin: So Dolores Hope, me, Bob and Johnny Bench were the entertainers allowed onshore.

Access.FM: Were you a little star-struck meeting Bob Hope?

Aaron Tippin: Of Course! I was stunned... I canít remember the name of the Air Force base in California where we launched from...

Access.FM: Travis... ??

Aaron Tippin: Norton... it is just outside of Los Angeles. Golly, that came to me... it was 12 years ago. Unbelievable. Anyway... we met that morning. They picked me up on a bus in the middle of the night, and started driving up there, and you know, Bob is up there, and I walk in this room where heís at. Everyone is clamoring to him and hanging around him, and I just kinda stood back at the doughnut table and stayed out of the way to keep from being trampled. He shook a few hands and started moving through the crowd, and he looked up and saw me, and he walked straight to me and stuck out his hand and said ďYou gotta stand for something, or youíll fall for anythingĒ. I was just so floored that he had taken enough time to listen to that song, because it was something that he wanted on his show. I was just knocked out with it. So you know, thatís where it started.

Access.FM: Not a bad way to start your career, either...

Aaron Tippin: Right... thatís a pretty good way. And after that, I think I saw one of the marvels of the show-biz industry. I watched him and one writer write that entire show. There was no show when we left the United States, there was no show... just people to do a show. Before we got to Rhiad, him and one writer had written the whole show. Pretty Cool...

Access.FM: You know... you can have a number one song. Look at all of the people whoíve had number one songs, but can never say that theyíve toured with Bob Hope.

Aaron Tippin: Well Iím very proud of that, and of all the stuff that I have personally hung up in my house... Iíve got gold records, platinum records, songwriting awards, blah, blah, blah... my wife puts all that stuff up, bless her heart, and Iím really proud of it, but the stuff that I hung up personally, is stuff I got from Saudi Arabia. And the stuff that I personally put up this time, is the stuff I collected from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kurdistan, and Quatar. Thatís whatís important to me... itís my personal if someone comes to my house, I say... Hey... let me show you this.

Access.FM: I saw the other day and I did not know this, apparently you said that your first tour, was Bob Hopeís last... out of all the many that heís done.

Aaron Tippin: Thatís right. He retired, and I got on.

Access.FM: What is it about the USO... did it make your feelings for the USO and the military stronger, going overseas saying... I need to stay involved with this?

Aaron Tippin: Yeah, I think really. Of course the USO is definitely the liaison between entertainment and the military, but just my support of the military. You know... weíve done shows here in the States that arenít just USO shows. They are just our chance to go see the troops. Iíll have to say that Iím very pleased that it has probably transitioned past the USO with me because I went to Saudi... and those Saudi vets remember me. They passed the word, they said... hey that guyís alright. that Tippin guy, he came to see us. Itís worth something. They befriend ya... and the military doesnít forget you. I think for me, it has turned into something even bigger than the USO.

Access.FM: Now tell me about this tour. Tell me how this came about and the preparation for it.

Aaron Tippin: Well it was great to start with. How it came about, was... I donít know... I just started thinking about it. I hadnít been on a overseas trip in a long time... you know, to go see our troops deployed overseas, and itís funny that I talked to my booking agent and said... hey man... when is some entertainment going over to Afghanistan to entertain the troops over there? He said... I donít know, Iíll check on it. So he called the USO and they said... Funny you should call... weíre getting ready to line something up for the holidays, and Aaronís name is on the list. Do you think heíd like to go to Afghanistan? And,... uh

I was thrilled. It was kind of a mutual thing... I think the stars were aligned.

Access.FM: Did you take your band with you?

Aaron Tippin: Yeah, I got to take the band. We got to set up a stage, and do a real show at the big bases where we could draw a crowd. When those guys and gals find out youíre coming, man they go nuts. Theyíll build you a stage, and they want everything to be just right for ya... whatever you need. You get treated like a king. And yes, it may not be the Ďpalaceí, but you sure get treated good in their tent.

Access.FM: Do you have a specific memory from that trip, or maybe a particular soldier that you met...

Aaron Tippin: Well I remember one... I actually met a father and a son over there together in Afghanistan. It was happening so fast in the autograph line that I didnít get time to stop and say... how is the world are you both here? You know, but somewhere over there in the 82nd, or some division has got a father and son. I donít know if theyíre in the same outfit or what, but that was pretty interesting. Another thing was that I got to have turkey dinner with General Tommy Franks.

Access.FM: Heís from Central Command, down here my way... in the Tampa area. I think heís over there in Quatar now doing his field exercises or simulated war maneuvers.

Aaron Tippin: Yeah... heís the Boss.

Access.FM: That was good. Now who else was there... were you the main entertainment?

Aaron Tippin: We got to be it... be Ďbig dogí. We planned an entire show. We rehearsed it here in the States before we went. I really went to extremes to make sure we had a great show for the guys and gals.

Access.FM: Does this make you want to go back?

Aaron Tippin: Firmly... I definitely want to go back. I really cherish the time I got to spend with them. Itís so rewarding to get to hang out with them. And I know that itís good that everybodyís thinking about them. Seems like since we went over, a lot of folks are taking off to go see them. I think itís really great... and guess what? Country Music is leading the way.

Access.FM: I know that... I go to USO.org a lot to see whatís up with them. Since you first went in the early 90ís, how many trips have you done?

Aaron Tippin: This is only my second one in foreign deployment. Like I said, we do shows all over the United States at bases, but they arenít USO shows. The USO kinda gets you established. Once that happens, if you stay in contact with them, theyíll find you something to do. This is only the second time Iíve been, but I just wanted to be sure with this war effort going on, that I was behind what theyíre doing. I thought it was real important.

Access.FM: This is a special time, because I havenít heard of more country artists at one time doing it, with Craig Morgan over there now, and I think Neal McCoy has done a visit. Lee Greenwood is going to the Far East in January. Even Jamie OíNeal and Trace Adkins have gone recently. And then of course, Mr. Aaron Tippin...

Aaron Tippin: Iím glad all of them want to show their appreciation. Thatís what weíre doing as pilgrims, as I say.

Access.FM: Have you talked to any country artists, have you discussed with them the USO and touring? Have you encouraged any of them to get involved?

Aaron Tippin: Oh yeah... I always tell them about the experiences Iíve had over there, and all of us say the same thing... youíll never meet an audience more appreciative. Thatís what you tell your comrades, and some of them get inspired, and you can see the list. Itís just wonderful that they do feel like that.

Aaron Tippin:... And how about olí Jamie OíNeal... why, sheís from Australia isnít she?

Access.FM: Yes

Aaron Tippin: Well bless her!

Access.FM: I got a press release a couple of weeks ago... maybe before Thanksgiving... and Iím thinking, thatís the only Ďgirlí that Iíve heard of going.

Aaron Tippin: I donít know of any girls that have gone recently... surely someone else will step up to the plate. We had a lot of fun, and the guys really enjoyed us, but just behind us were five or six Romanian girls that did a little dance show for them... and we could hear them holleriní a half a mile a way the next night.

Access.FM: How about that... guys in the desert cheering for women.

Aaron Tippin: Imagine that...

Access.FM: Now letís talk about your music... uh... I think you gypped out of the CMT Flameworthy Award. I know youíre probably not an award kind of person, but I think you got gypped out of Most Patriotic Song.

Aaron Tippin: Well, bless you. I appreciate that. Youíre right... Iím not much of an award guy. I was thrilled that I got in the running... thatís pretty political...

Access.FM: There were a lot of good songs, but yours to me, was the Ďpatrioticí song. But letís talk about your next single coming out... is that ďLove Like Thereís No TomorrowĒ? And thatís another collaboration with your wife.

Aaron Tippin: Yep... me and Thea again... just like ďKiss ThisĒ. This is a big super thrill for me, man. Iím watching one of my best friends get some overdue justice. Sheís a great singer, and a great songwriter... a real pal of mine, and I get to watch her step up to the plate and share the light. Iíd just as soon step out and let her completely get it, because sheís well deserving of it.

Access.FM: Now, is this song out on radio yet?

Aaron Tippin: Yeah... they have it, and hopefully theyíll play it.

Access.FM: What kind of early reception have you got on it?

Aaron Tippin: So far, good. And thatís... because I should say Iím a Ďseasoned vetí, but Iíll say Ďbeaten vetí, I usually know what it sounds like when theyíre not hip on one, and so far itís very, very positive. Iím trying to keep Thea from getting too excited... I say, Honey this could go south at any time,... but we are really getting good response. The label seems excited about it. Most important, sheís already got some kind of recognition. She did a syndicated radio... we did 98 stations the other day when I got back. Since the next single was coming up, and we were gonna talk about that too, so she was with me. And boy... she got a little taste of this glory. She was having fun, so itís really great. Iím glad she can have the fun without the headaches.

Access.FM: After this single, do you see another potential single off this CD?

Aaron Tippin: Oh man... I donít know... the label kinda determines what they want to do next. I think right now, probably not. If this single turns out to be extra special, and starts selling a ton of records, then they might say there is something else here that we really ought to look at.

Access.FM: Were you pleasantly surprised with ďKiss ThisĒ?

Aaron Tippin: Uh... yeah. Yes I was. Iíll have to say the biggest thanks goes to Doug Howard at Lyric Street. I really wondered about sending ďKiss ThisĒ to radio. I didnít know if theyíd play it or not. The producers said... I donít know if we should cut that or not, and the A&R guy at Lyric Street said... Oh yeah, youíre gonna cut it... so we did. As soon as we turned the album in, the promo staff jumped up and said... Yeehaw... the first single. I went... gaaah... good luck! Actually, it turned out to be super, extra special. It went crazy on radio.

Access.FM: I liked it... it had a kind of attitude.

Aaron Tippin: You know... in the real life of getting a record played, you never know what somebodyís gonna say thatís gonna turn it sour. It doesnít really necessarily have to be a great song or a bad song, but somebody that doesnít like it or doesnít want to play it, says something, then everybody else goes... yeah, maybe youíre right. The next thing you know a great record is a dead record. So... you never know. So now rather than say this is a great song, you start walking through the mine field saying... donít step there... whoops donít step there...

Access.FM: I donít know who decides what gets played on radio because it just amazes me at a lot of the good material that gets missed.

Aaron Tippin: I canít put down radio... they are just getting too many records to play. If they didnít have enough records, theyíd play everything they could get their hands on. But itís a funny world out there. Rascal Flatts and ďIím Movin' OnĒ... my label mates. I donít think Lyric Street really thought that was gonna be a major smash, and look at that song!!!

Access.FM: I forgot for a few seconds that you are label mates.

Aaron Tippin: Yeah... we are. They get so enthralled in trying to get this song played that theyíre working on, that they donít have time to sit back and listen to what they think is great. They are so shell-shocked from gettin shot up that theyíre scared to say whatís great you know.

Access.FM: Iím sitting here holding your Christmas album from... is it last year ďA December To RememberĒ?

Aaron Tippin: Right...

Access.FM: Itís one that I play, and Iíve got a whole bunch of them. Let me ask you... with country music touring, Iím surprised that Lyric Street hasnít necessarily gone the way of RCA, and put together a label tour as it were. I mean... when Kenny Chesney went on tour, he took with him Phil Vassar, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, and Sara Evans. Iím just wondering that Lyric Street hasnít put together Aaron Tippin, She-Daisy, and Rascal Flatts... Iíd go to that show.

Aaron Tippin: I think thatís something that needs consideration. Thatís something that I might just suggest to them... that might be something fun.

Access.FM: They can take Sonya Isaacs too... sheís not too hard on the eyes.

Aaron Tippin: Oh buddy... is she a doll? She is a beautiful woman. Sheís a great singer, and beautiful too.

Access.FM: Just a couple more here... what about a video?

Aaron Tippin: Nowadays, they wait to see what the recordís gonna do. Used to be, you got a video to help the record get going, now they wait to see what the recordís gonna do, then they do a video. Thea and I have talked about it, but nothing from the label yet.

Access.FM: What do you do... do you send out word to a video director?

Aaron Tippin: Yeah... and they write what they call a Ďtreatmentí. They send it to the record label and management and we all sit around and look at it... you know, itís just a story. Maybe weíll get one... I donít know.

Access.FM: Last Question... do you think that CMT shows enough country music videos, or do you think it looks too much like MTV now? This may be a question you donít want to answer...

Aaron Tippin: I know everybodyís always trying to make something better, make your ship faster and stronger, but Iíll just say this... I remember a long time ago, TNN played videos all the time... people loved it. Well... they started doing individual shows and stuff, and the next thing you know the complaint was... they donít play enough videos. Thereís a new thing called CMT... man theyíre playing videos 24hrs a day. Guess who took over?

Now it seems like history repeats itself... or at least thatís what I hear. I donít know.

Access.FM: Well thatís what Iíve seen. There are so many country artists out there that I donít get to see. It might make a debut somewhere, then thatís it.

Aaron Tippin: You know... after a while it becomes political. After a while, they say... we canít add your record or your video because... blah blah blah. After a while it becomes an Ďinstrumentí of the powers that be.

Access.FM: How about Fan Fair?

Aaron Tippin: You know... I was working during Fan Fair. Iím about half-ashamed to say that, but over the years, when Iím not having a great record, itís tough on my guys, and so when I miss an opportunity to work. People make offers, and funny itís always on that particular week. And you know the industry demands that I be here on the week of Radio Seminar, award shows... you gotta be here for that. Itís sad, but itís true. I just donít want my guys to starve.

Access.FM: Well maybe weíll get to see you next year at Fan Fair.

Aaron Tippin: You know, this year, I hope we can. Weíve had a pretty good year, so maybe we can.

Access.FM: Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

Aaron Tippin: Hey my pleasure guy... thanks for talking to me.

Access.FM: Itís nice to meet you, and I look forward to seeing you again in Florida soon.

More on Aaron Tippin

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Jan 03, 2003

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