Uncle Kracker has reason to smile again.
The Top 10 hitmaker ("Follow Me," "Drift Away," "Smile," "When the Sun Goes Down" with Kenny Chesney) and Chesterfield Township resident has returned to the major label ranks, with Republic Records, and is getting ready to release a new single, a version of Green River Ordinance's "Endlessly" on July 15. His sixth album is slated to follow later this year.
"It's a little twist," says Kracker (real name Matt Shafer). "the same guy who signed me 15 years ago (Jason Flom, to Lava/Atlantic) signed me again. It's a little weird, but it feels good. It feels good to talk with somebody who knows what they're talking about and knows what they want and knows what you're about, too.
"It feels like everybody's on the same page; 'Let's not worry about what works (commercially). Let's worry about what feels good, what sounds good.' I haven't had that for a long time."
Kracker has been working on new material at Rustbelt Studios in Royal Oak and is also considering some material he wrote but didn't use for 2012's "Midnight Special" album. He's juggling the recording with a run on Sugar Ray's Under The Sun tour, which reunites him with some old friends who were also making hits during his tenure as Kid Rock's hype man and around the time of his 2000 solo debut "Double Wide."
"I remember when my first record came out, (Mark) McGrath and Sugar Ray were on the same label, and McGrath did a cameo on the 'Follow Me' video, which helped me get the video on VH1," remembers the 40-yea-old father of three. "He's always been a good guy and we've stayed friends for 15 years now.
"And I remember doing all the radio festivals years ago wtih Smash Mouth and Sugar Ray, so it's nostalgic for me. It feels like a high school reunion almost. I don't get excited about touring, ever, but I'm excited about this one."
Under The Sun 2014 with Sugar Ray, Uncle Kracker, Smash Mouth and Blues Traveler
7 p.m. Friday, July 11
DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township
Tickets are $35-$55 pavilion, $15 lawn.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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