RC: We're on the line with Aaron Tippin. Aaron, thanks for calling in.
AT: Hey, thanks a lot. We appreciate it.
RC: It may be August, but let's go ahead and start talking about Christmas. You're working on a Christmas album right now, aren't you?
AT: Oh, yeah, we've been in the studio, got it all finished up. I tell ya, we're real proud of it. I think it's extra special to me because nobody's ever asked me to do a Christmas album before, so that really was neat. We really locked in there and wrote some songs that we really thought were great, and low and behold, we took 'em to the label, and it looks like we got seven original tunes on this album. So, that's really extra special.
RC: Can we expect any traditional Christmas music on there, too?
AT: Oh, yeah! Shoot, yeah! We got "Jingle Bell Rock", "Run, Run Rudolph", "Away In A Manger", "Silent Night". They'll get to hear me and my wife, Thea, sing a duet on one of the standards and on one of the originals.
RC: Do you have a release date for that yet?
AT: I think it's the middle of September. I don't know exactly, but it's the middle of September, I think.
RC: Was it hard to get in the Christmas mindset when it was like 80 degrees out and you're recording a Christmas album?
AT: Well, the folks over at the label started sending Christmas postcards to us, Christmas letters, and then a couple of girls came over and dressed up the studio — dressed it all up like Christmas, so that helped quite a bit.
RC: Do you and Thea and the kids have any Christmas traditions at your house?
AT: We all try to be together. (laughs) You know, in the past, the Tippin Christmas tradition was to share your Christmas with someone else. My first year in the music business as an entertainer was spending my Christmas in Saudi Arabia with the troops in the Persian Gulf. Since then, it's become a little more home-fashioned I guess. I think one of the traditions for me at Christmas time is rice puddin'. I love rice puddin'.
RC: Oooh, that sounds good!
AT: My grandmother has a great recipe for it, and she passed it on to my wife. Thea knows I love that, so we have it every year.
RC: Through the 80's and early 90's before you first got your record deal, you were doing a lot of writing. Is that correct?
AT: Oh, yeah.
RC: What were those years like for you?
AT: Actually, very wonderful. Even though you're broke as a church mouse, squeakin' to make ends meet, the work of being a songwriter and just being able to bathe in that imagination everyday is a wonderful thing to me. I mean, I really miss it when all you do is get up in the mornin' and say, 'Hmmm, I wonder what I can write a song about today?' or 'I got an idea yesterday, it'd be pretty cool, let's blah blah' or one comes together. It's just a wonderful, wonderful feelin'. I really did love those days.
RC: Did you have a publishing deal also?
AT: Well, to start with, I worked for a company called Charlie Monk Music. Charlie's an old friend of mine. He was the first guy that ever thought that I might be able to write a hit song someday, and so he took me on kind of a "first refusal" basis, where if I wrote something he really liked, then he would pay for the demo, and we would catalogue it. And, if it didn't, then I could go see if I could get somebody else to. Then he moved on to Acuff Rose, as the director over there for publishing, and called for me to come over and be a part of that organization, which led to me being a staff writer, which actually led to my record deal some three to five years later.
RC: Are there any cuts you got recorded by another artist that are more dear to your heart than others?
AT: Without a doubt. The first one that comes to mind is "She Wants Something With A Ring To It", which was Mark Collie's first single. Mark's a big friend of mine. And probably David Ball. "Boy With A Broken Heart". David cut one of my songs before I got a record deal. David Ball, to me, is the greatest country singer that has ever lived.
RC: You've been writing for several years with your wife, Thea, and have had a couple really big cuts, "Best Love We Ever Made" and "Kiss This". What's a writing session like with you and Thea?
AT: Well, it's very uncomplicated. I just do whatever she tells me to do.
RC: You've learned well! A married man here!
AT: (chuckles) That's right! I just do what she tells me. No, I'm very proud to say that Thea started writing with me. I kinda taught her the craft of songwriting, so, to see one of your students excel, that's wonderful! And to see 'em turn into real songwriters and watch 'em around a song is wonderful. It really is wonderful. She's a very accomplished songwriter, and, like I said, I'm so proud to say that I'm the one that introduced her to it.
RC: And you're also big into airplanes. I had a couple of questions from the Internet here, too, about the airplanes, including one from a lady who seems to know you pretty well. Her name is Judi. She said that, when she saw you last Saturday in Indiana, you told her that you were waiting for a plane to be delivered. She says the last count she has is that you have 6 — 3 Cessnas, 2 Piper Cubs and 1 Chipmunk. She wants to know if you got your plane.
AT: I believe that's correct. I know exactly who you're talking about. Ole' Judi, and she's usually pretty current on what ole' Aaron's doin. She's been to many, many of my shows, and she's a great friend of ours and a great fan of the music. We're liable to see her just anywhere across America. Um, yeah, the Chipmunk's correct. One, two, three Cesnas, that's correct. One Piper — well, make that three Pipers — one Piper Cherokee 140 and then two J3 Cubs. No, four Cessnas. I forgot about my 195. So, we've added a new one to the family.
RC: Your plan was to become an airline pilot, right?
AT: That's correct.
RC: Do you ever regret not actually going through with that?
AT: Oh, yeah. Whenever I sit back there in the back, I think, 'Well, man, I oughta be up there drivin'; that'd be a lot more fun than sittin' back here.' So, every time I get on an airplane, I'm the world's worst passenger. I'm always tryin' to pre-judge the guy that's up there tryin' to do his job. I'm an armchair coach for the guy that's got probably 50,000 hours, and I'm still a 3,000-hour-pilot, so I've got no room to be tellin' this guy what to do or even think about it, but I can't help but sit back there and wish I was up front.
RC: How's road life treating you? Are you still jumping out of toolboxes?
AT: (laughs) Well, we've got a new intro this year, which you know we change the show every year. As a matter of fact, if anybody saw the show last year, it's different. We still do the hits, but we do 'em different. You know, I get bored. It bugs me when I think that somebody out there has seen the show, so I only run the show for a year at a time. Then we start figuring out something new to do.
RC: Well, I've seen you twice live, but it was different. You had the toolbox both times, but the second time you didn't jump out of it. We just really enjoyed you both times.
AT: Well, thanks so much. I tell ya, this year I think is extra special. If you get a chance to come to the show, I don't want to tell you what the intro is like. Judi probably already did. (laughs)
RC: She kept the secret.
AT: Well, it's very, very exciting for me personally, so I think anybody who comes to the show gets a real taste of Aaron and how he feels and what he thinks and what he's like.
RC: So when you're standing there at that backstage door, and you know that in three seconds you're going to be out there on stage, what's going through your mind?
AT: Make sure I remember the first words of the song! (laughs)
RC: Do you still get nervous?
AT: I'm more nervous now than when I began.
RC: I had another question from a lady named Jen from Oklahoma. She wants to know your bass player's name and who he played with before he played with you.
AT: His name is Mark Johnson. He's played with all kinds of players, but probably the one that they most remember him from was Bill Anderson. He played for Kitty Wells. He also played for Mel Street. He's been around quite a bit. He's a very accomplished player, he's my band leader. He's a great friend, and he's without a doubt a piece of this outfit that just fit the mold.
RC: What's your entourage like. How many buses and things do you travel with? How many people?
AT: Entourage? Is that a fruit?
RC: (laughs) Sounds like a French word!
AT: (laughs) Um, you know, we were figuring it up the other day, and I think there's 13 of us on the bus. We travel with one bus and one truck.
RC: That's pretty light.
AT: We're a budget outfit.
RC: Do Thea and the kids come on the road with you a lot?
AT: No, there wouldn't be any room for everybody's family. That's kinda how I feel. If they can't take theirs, then I shouldn't take mine. So, if the show's close, then usually we'll fall in behind the bus in the truck and just ride down and enjoy the show together.
RC: I also saw on your website that your daughter, Charla, recently got married. I bet you were proud.
AT: You bet. She got a great guy. He's a real great addition to our family, and, boy, we're glad to have him.
RC: I'm not sure what the current status of the new album is, but the last count was five gold and one platinum albums. Is that right?
AT: Aw, shoot, I think that sounds pretty close. Thea keeps us with all that. As a matter of fact, she's the one that hangs up all the gold records and all that stuff. I'm not much one to keep up with all that. I just try to see if I can write another decent one.
RC: Is there anything in your career that you haven't accomplished yet that you'd like to?
AT: I guess one of the things I'd like to accomplish is maybe do a duet album with all my favorites, somethin' like that. I don't know. I think the Christmas album is pretty unique. It was something I always wanted to do, so that took one off the list.
RC: Is there something looking back that you wish you hadn't done?
AT: Gee, I don't know. I think thing's gotta happen like they're supposed to. All that lookin' back, that's just a lot of lookin' back! (laughs) I don't know. I guess there's plenty of things that I'd do different if I had it to do over. You know, I wrote a few songs about that. There's one called "If I Had It To Do Over". So, I think sure, anybody would say that there's things that they could've done different. But, most of all, just if I hurt anybody's feelings along the way, I'd like the chance to make that up.
RC: Are you an Internet guy? Do you get online much?
AT: Not alot. I do get on there to check aircraft pricing and weather and stuff like that. But that's about it. I don't know a lot about computers.
RC: Do you think the Internet has helped your career?
AT: Oh, sure. I think, if you talk to folks like Judi, it keeps you very current with who Aaron Tippin is and what this is about. So, without a doubt. It's the coming of communication. From a fan base to us, the entertainers. I think it's a very valuable link.
RC: A lady named Candace Martin has a question for you. She wants to know if you still have "Dazee" and if you're going to completely restore her. She would love to see photos.
AT: I still have Dazee. I loaned her out to a buddy of mine. She had a little accident. She's back up on blocks for a little bit, but still the promise stands. So, Dazee will be repaired and put back together, and, hopefully, someday I'll have some pictures. Maybe we could get 'em on the Internet.
RC: That'd be great. Well, here's a few odds and ends questions — your favorites. What's your favorite color?
AT: Let's see — shoot, I don't know!
RC: All the hard questions! (laughs)
AT: I'm color blind, so I don't have a favorite color. Just kiddin', just kiddin'! (laughs) I guess blue.
RC: Do you watch TV much?
AT: Not a lot. I watch the Weather Channel. Yeah, I guess I do when I'm home, I watch the Weather Channel.
RC: Favorite movie?
AT: The African Queen.
RC: Favorite food?
AT: Oh, shoot, white rice.
RC: Favorite actor or actress?
AT: I guess, [in a German accent] Arnold Schwarzeneggar.
RC: How about your favorite vacation that you've ever taken?
AT: I guess, back when my dad was buildin' this log house and I took a week off and went and helped him.
RC: Thanks for calling us, Aaron.
AT: Well, thank you very much. I really appreciate it.