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Fifteen years on, Uncle Kracker has not drifted away
He's been a fixture long enough that it's hard to recall Uncle Kracker as a newbie.
But that's what happened 15 years ago this summer, when he stepped out of Kid Rock's Twisted Brown Trucker band to release "Double Wide," a double-platinum debut that launched his solo career in a big way.
"One second it feels like 15 minutes, another second it feels like 150 years," the singer and songwriter, who was born Matt Shafer in Mount Clemens and now resides in Chesterfield Township, says by phone from a tour stop in Alberta, Canada. "When you reflect about things that have happened over 15 years, it all went so fast, y'know?
"Back then I couldn't have ever said, 'I'm gonna be doing this forever.' I couldn't have imagined that I'd still be doing what I'm doing now. Back then it was all like, 'I'm gonna write this record. I'm gonna make a (lot) of money and then I'm gonna figure out what I'm gonna do.' But then it just took off, and there was barely time to think about it."
During the past decade and a half Kracker, 41, has released five albums and an EP and scored hits with "Follow Me," a cover of Dobie Gray's "Drift Away" and "Smile," and he dueted with good pal Kenny Chesney on the country singer's chart-topping 2004 hit "When the Sun Goes Down."
But after feeling "overly committed for a long time," Kracker says he's deliberately slowed things down and doesn't put as much stock in album sales or chart positions anymore. "Pressure doesn't exist anymore," he says. "For a long time I felt, like, over-pressured, but now you spend a couple years doing nothing and you're like, 'Oh, this feels so good.' And that's when you look back and reflect."
Kracker is certainly doing things, however. In addition to being part of this summer's Under The Sun Tour he's also working on new material for a follow-up to 2012's "Midnight Special." But he's not giving himself a definite timeline for that, either.
"I"ve got a bunch of songs," Kracker says. "I'm always writing something; to write something I'm happy with is a whole different thing. Right now it sounds like some old, classic country stuff mixed with pop; I'm still dancing around the pop stuff. It's just fun.
"It almost feels like I'm writing 'Double Wide' again, in a way. It's just a lot easier than anything I've ever down. I went in with no rules and wrote, and when we have enough that I'm happy with and (the record company) is happy with, it'll come out. That's the way I work now."
Under The Sun Tour with Uncle Kracker, Sugar Ray, Better Than Ezra and Eve 6
7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6.
DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.
Tickets are $35-$55 pavilion, $15 lawn with a $44 lawn four-pack.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.
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