For Gary Allan, headlining the Country Throwdown Tour -- a multi-stage traveling package organized by Vans Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman -- is not only an honor but also a statement about the value of music based on quality rather than sales quantity.
"It's just super-ecletic and not chart-driven at all," says Allan, 44, who has sold seven million albums and has scored 10 Top 10 country hits, including chart-toppers such as "Man to Man" and "Watching Airplanes." "Last year Willie Nelson headlined it. They're going for people who are really good to watch live; they told me, 'You'll probably be on this tour in 20 years because you're really good (on stage). There'll be a lot of repeats on this tour,' which is different from anybody else's.
"That to me is a real winning philosophy, so I'm really excited to be part of it."
Allan is also getting pumped up about his ninth album, the follow up to 2010's "Get Off on the Pain," which he's "deep into -- in fact, almost finished" with Jay Joyce, Mark Wright and Allan himself producing. He's currently working on mixes and plans top road test some of the new songs during the Country Throwdown tour.
"It's super-rock, super-up," reports Allan, who notes that he's garnered a reputation for writing "sad" songs -- including 2005's "Tough All Over," which dealt with the suicide of his wife the previous year. "I think I was able to step away from that (sad) stuff this time and it seems like a lot of the stuff I was writing this year was just up and hopeful stuff.
"Why? Life's just good right now. I think I'm in really a good place mentally, and the music just reflects that. Every album is just where I'm at at the time, and if things are good and positive, the music's going to sound like that."
The 2012 Country Throwdown Tour with Gary Allan, Justin Moore, Rodney Atkins, Josh Thompson, Sunny Sweeney and others plays at 3 p.m. Friday, June 1 at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $20.50-$50 pavilion and $15.50 lawn, with $45 lawn four-packs. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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