Chris Janson talks Ryman, new album, and how far he's come

Posted at 5:57 PM, Sep 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-25 19:33:13-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Grand Ole Opry member Chris Janson was set to play the Ryman on Wednesday, making a triumph return to one of Nashville's most famous stages.

The last time Janson headlined the Ryman, he not only sold it out, but his friend Keith Urban surprised him on stage and invited him to join the Grand Ole Opry.

Now officially a Grand Ole Opry member, Janson is returning to the stage with more confidence, and more music, and he spoke to NewsChannel 5's Jesse Knutson about being back at the Mother Church of Country Music.

“I’m a proud songwriter, I’m a proud Opry member, I’m a proud guy who cut his teeth in Nashville who came up the really hard way in Nashville, and to be here tonight, it pays a major homage but a huge testimony to where we are as a team, and I’m really grateful for that," Janson said.

Janson is known for being high-energy during his shows and putting on captivating performances.

“I’m super calm before a show, especially on show day, but when I get up there I go into, this is going to sound crazy, but I go into some kind of alternate universe really. It’s really the best way to put it," Janson explained. "It’s really a spiritual experience, I really give it all over to God and I let him take it and I’m really just the vessel to get to people man, no matter what the subject matter is.”

Janson said all concert experiences are different, but he prefers to play shows like the artists he watched growing up.

“Sometimes I go so far off the path that people don’t even know where I’m going, but that’s kind of the nice eccentric side of me and what keeps my shows fresh. I always tell people if you’re coming to one of my concerts, if you wanted to compare it to anything at all – it’s virtually incomparable, but if there was anything I could see that was close enough to it, it would be like when I was a young kid going to a concert, like to see a Hank Jr. or a Skynyrd or something like that. They just played songs, and they just played with their heart, and they just played what they wanted to, and that’s what I do.”

Janson is unique in the fact that he doesn't have a pre-determined set list at his shows.

“A lot of the reasoning behind no set list is my concerts is, I have a list of a songs, but they’re in no particular order, I just read off of what the crowd says basically, and I just feel their energy and then I just play them what I want to hear.”

Janson is scheduled to release a new album called "Real Friends" on October 18th, and while he said he planned to play some of the new songs at his Ryman show, he's certainly planning on playing the hits that got him to where he is today.

“I am funny about playing new songs and I am funny about breaking them in and when you want to break them in, because I’m a fan also, and I know what it’s like to go to a concert and be inundated with all new music and maybe a couple hits, and I don’t like that, so I don’t want to be that guy as an artist," Janson said. "I want to play my hits most importantly, I want to play songs people are familiar with off of previous albums, and then I want to infiltrate a couple of the new ones in when I feel appropriate.”

Special guests could show up at the Ryman on Wednesday, but at the end of the day, Janson says just plans to play the show the best he can and feed off the audience, knowing that method got him from the Honky Tonks to the Ryman and beyond.