Uncle Kracker Talks About His New Label and Songwriting with Kid Rock

Uncle Kracker, whose breezy pop approach has bred hits such as Drift Away and Smile, is in his hometown of Detroit in support of his November album Midnight Special ­­— his first for the Nashville indie label Sugar Hill Records after a 12-year run with Atlantic.

The 38-year-old father of three is hoping to get a boost from his high-profile summer tour with old pal Kid Rock, which will kick off June 28 in Virginia.

On parting ways with Atlantic: “Things just weren’t going the way both of us wanted it. It was time to do something different. I’d been with Atlantic my whole career, and I’d gone through different sets of people with every album. It was just time for somebody that understood. ...

“Where I’m at in my career, it was the best musical fit for me at Sugar Hill. They’ve got a pretty eclectic roster, and nobody there is trying to write your songs for you.’’

On being patient awaiting a single to hit: “The good news is that I’ve been through that enough to know that happens. Some days you’re scraping the bottom, sometimes you’re on top. I know what it’s like to be skunked, and I know what it’s like to yank a few out of the water. I’ve been very lucky — and blessed — in that department. It keeps everything fun.”

On progressing as a songwriter since he started: “Writing songs is a craft, and it’s a technique that’s more from the heart, not a studied thing. You can look at something and say, ‘That’s a perfectly written song,’ and then there are others where it’s like, ‘Wow, that’s horrible, how’d they do that?’ but it still hit you where it counts, and you felt it. Music’s always been a soundtrack in the background of my life, for everything I’ve done. I can think back and remember a song for a certain time, even as far back as walking into Disneyland when I was a kid, songs that were played here and there.”

On rekindling his partnership with Kid Rock: “We were on different paths for the last seven years. I helped him write a couple of songs on the last record. Lately, we’ve connected more than we had in a long time. We’re gearing up for this next tour with ZZ Top, and I’m sure we’ll be writing.

“In the past it always worked out that my record would come out and I had to tour, and when I was done his record would come out. The cycles never worked out. But (last autumn) his record and my record finally came out pretty close to each other.”