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Parker McCollum Talks New Album, Country Music And Raising Cane's

The country music superstar held a press conference in Plano, Texas

Iam surprised. At 10:30 a.m., as promised, Parker McCollum enters the cafeteria at Raising Cane's Plano office. I'm not surprised to see McCollum — that's why we are here — but rather, I am pleasantly surprised by his punctuality. 

Especially because some (not all!) musicians run on different timetables from mere mortals and especially because he was still on stage last night at 11 p.m. for ACM Lifting Lives LIVE presented by Choctaw Casinos & Resorts. His set was fantastic, but even after the show ended and as we piled into a parking lot shuttle, McCollum was posing for photos and handing out food in a Raising Cane's food truck late into the night. And yet, as promised, here he is, bright, early and exactly on time. 

"We've got Raising Cane's on all our 18-wheelers on the Burn It Down Tour this year," McCollum, known for hits like "To Be Loved By You" and the aforementioned "Burn It Down", tells the press. "I've got enough Cane's on my bus after a show to feed a small village."

Founded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1996, Raising Cane's now has an impressive Plano office, with hundreds of employees and a test kitchen set on perfecting chicken fingers. 

"They [Raising Cane's] have such a crazy, well-known, recognizable brand that has so much integrity," says McCollum. “When people say, ‘Oh, Raising Cane’s sponsors them, they must be genuine people, Todd [Graves] isn't going to put his brand on anything that's not a reflection of himself and his brand.” 

"I didn't just want to phone it in. I didn't want to put out a record that sounded like the last two."

According to McCollum, the relationship between him and Raising Cane's founder Todd Graves grew "very organically," sharing interests in hunting and their families, they quickly became friends. "Whether it's fried chicken or it's being a country music star, it's about doing things for the right reasons," adds Graves, who's standing amid the reporters. "And what I like about Parker is he's always trying to get better — songwriter, singer and what he does to get back just he did last night at ACN Lifting Lives." The charity concert, held at Top Golf in The Colony and presented by Choctaw Casinos & Resorts, raised $700,000.

McCollum is in town for the Academy of Country Music Awards — reaching a height that only a few achieve and many, including himself, dream about. More importantly, perhaps, his songs are modern country music classics. "I think there's a pretty good difference between pop country and country," says McCollum. "And I like to think of myself in the latter of that category."

In March, McCollum announced that he began work on his fifth studio album. "I've cut some of this record," he says. "I think it's mostly written I'll still write until the very last minute." But, for the time being, work on that album is paused, because, according to McCollum, the record started feeling rushed. "I just kind of put the brakes on it recently," he says. "And I just said, 'Man, I need to step back and take a breath.' So right in the middle of recording this record, I just kind of put the stop sign up and said, 'You know, it's too fast. It's not right.'" 

"I need to go back in the woodshed and put some more time in and make sure I get this right," he says. "And I didn't just want to phone it in. I didn't want to put out a record that sounded like the last two."

Before putting the breaks on the album, McCollum says that six tracks were recorded. 

"I just want to get it right," he says. "So it'll probably be — you know, the new album — sometime early next year."

The press conference winds down, question time wraps up and McCollum meets a gaggle of influencers, shaking hands and greeting them, one by one. I notice that each time he shakes their hand, he removes his hat. He thanks us, and on cue, departs. 

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