Jordan Strauss, WireImage
The singer, whose new album Leaving Nothin' Behind hit stores last week, lights up when he talks about Music City, the place to which he travels on his own dime as often as he can, trying to make his musical dreams come true. He relishes the smaller size and slower pace of Nashville, at least when comparing it to Los Angeles, as it reminds him of home. Not just home in his native West Virginia, but also his home now in rural California ... far away from Tinsel Town, where he has never really had the desire to fit in.
"I've been in the Hollywood industry 25 years but here in Nashville just seven years. And at the ASCAP Awards [in Nashville], I knew more people there than at any Hollywood event," John tells The Boot. "I feel more comfortable in this industry than I do in my first industry. Plus, I don't like sitting on the freeway going five miles an hour. In my town, the only time my car is stopped is at a light. Nobody's up my ass! [laughs]"
The "Sex and the City" actor and his girlfriend of 11 years, legendary actress Bo Derek, live on a ranch in southern California. You can catch a glimpse of the property (as well as a cameo by Bo) in the 2006 "Good to Go" video, from John's debut album. Bo was a big part of both that project and her beau's brand-new sophomore album, as she was the official photographer for both. Not only did the iconic beauty shoot the CD covers, but also all of the promotional photos for the projects. (See a few below.)
In addition to having his longtime love be such a big part of Leaving Nothin' Behind, John is one who believes in doing business with friends. His original band is still together, having played more than 600 shows with him. "We survived," the singer says, referring to the six year gap between albums. "I met my guitar player when he was 16. So he's like my son and my brother. My drummer, my bass player, all those years in all those close quarters, there have never been fights."
Jon Randall Stewart, who co-produced the new album, is also someone John counts as a good buddy ... and someone he practically gives more credit to than himself, when it comes to the new music. "I originally wanted to make a record of all Jon's songs, with him producing," John explains. Still, Stewart ended up with writing credits on seven of the ten tracks and contributes background vocals to the project. "He's not only my favorite songwriter, hands down, but also has this voice like you've never heard," John gushes of his producer. "His phrasing and the tonality of his voice, it always hits me. Most of his demos, he just sits a RadioShack tape recorder down and plays guitar, and that's his demo. You hear buses going by ... and he's singing this beautiful song that brings tears to your eyes."
John is currently on a hiatus from acting to concentrate on promoting the new music. Check out his tour dates here, and read our exclusive interview with him all about Leaving Nothin' Behind here.