'Regular guy' Luke Combs is the hot ticket at CMC
CMC Rocks headliner Luke Combs can't wait to visit Australia on his first trip outside the United States.
The 27-year-old from North Carolina only learned to play a guitar just a few years ago, and his life has been a whirlwind since his debut album This One's For You came out in June which catapulted the self-confessed "regular guy" to the top of the charts.
Tipped as this year's "artist to watch" by the likes of Pandora, Rolling Stone and Billboard, Combs is loving every minute of his new life as a country star and excited to perform at CMC Rocks in March.
"It does surprise me how big my fan base is there. I've never even been out of the United States so I'm really excited to get there," Combs said from the road.
"Right now we're driving from Nashville to Florida. You gotta play lots of gigs, that's the way to the top as they say. It's all about bringing the music to the folks, that's why we're coming to Australia."
Combs will play 250 gigs this year and if you do the maths, that doesn't leave a lot of time to wind down, but it's a lifestyle that he is continually grateful for as he takes pride in the fact he's just a normal guy.
"Absolutely I'm still a regular guy. It's important to me to stay grounded, that's what brings the fans back," he says.
"I feel like I'm just an underdog guy who's not supposed to be here, yet here we are...and I want to keep that attitude. I don't want to go anywhere. I want this to last as long as possible."
Combs used to work what he calls "two crappy jobs" before he became the hottest property in country music, and it all began by people paying just a single dollar to hear him sing.
"It all began at the first show I played. I asked the owner of a bar if I could do a show. I would play guitar and sing, he said 'Sure, we'll charge a dollar a ticket'.
"That night 200 people turned up. That was $200 bucks in my pocket. I made more money from that one gig than I did that week doing my two jobs. I thought 'hell man this is pretty fun and I made money' so why not do this all the time?
"Then I was working as a bouncer in a bar, and spending all day folding t-shirts at an iZod store. At one point, I was living in an apartment above the bar I worked at."
His music has hit a chord (pardon the pun) with fans all over the world, and Combs believes that playing live is the best to way to learn and improve as an artist while still having fun.
"I don't know what it is about the music that people like. Soon I'm also off to Ireland, Scotland and England then Australia. Seriously, I'm just a regular dude at the end of the day, I'm no different to anyone else, and I think people can see that," he says.
"We have lots of fun doing what we do, and I think you guys will see that at CMC. For me, making that first album was fun, going on the road is fun, writing is fun. We try to convey that every night on stage, and that's the recipe...people can tell when you're genuinely having fun. We want that to bleed into the music. I think my music's fun, and relatable. That's what works for me."
Luke hopes to see some kangaroos when he gets to Australia, and is also looking to try some local cuisine.
"I always enjoy trying food when I go to places I've never been, maybe that's because I'm a chubby guy. I'm really excited about seeing the sights down under. I've seen roos before but only in a zoo," he says.
"We're so excited to come there. It's my first time overseas and I can't wait to see y'all at CMC and play some good music for you."
Luke Combs will play CMC Rocks in Ipswich next March. His debut album This One's For You is out now.