“We went in, just the three of us, no producer, no record label guy telling us what to do and we just did it all on our own,” explains Johnston, 36, of making the album. “It was very old school. We’re extremely proud of what we’ve done and where we’ve gotten just the three of us. It’s pretty unheard of in Nashville for three best friends that went to school together, all born and raised in Nashville, to get as far as we have doing what we do and not chasing anything.
“I went to high school a block away from the Ryman and walked by it every day for four years to get to my car and now we’re headlining there,” he says. “I think this record was a great example of growth, of where we’re going and where we’ve been. So naming it Legacy was a very bold statement that felt right for us.”
The album, whose lead single is “Dang If We Didn’t,” isn’t the only big thing going on in Johnston’s life right now. He is also a new father: wife Evyn gave birth to their first child, son Jude, on March 30. The singer admits being a dad might be cramping his rockstar style just a bit, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It doesn’t help that everything I post on Instagram is a picture of Jude. People I don’t even know will come up and be like, ‘Hey, how’s Jude the Dude?’ I’m like, ‘Check this out, he’s rolling over.’ I’m not showing pictures of a truck or a guitar as much.”
He jokingly adds, “I’m also walking into a songwriting session and having poop and throw up on my shirt and not realizing it until I look down and smell it.”
Johnston is also somewhat of an unofficial mayor of Nashville — at least amongst the artist community. He’s got Kip Moore dying to stop by and see the baby, Dierks Bentley giving him dad advice — “He told me to think of it like a football and just jump right in and let your instincts kick in” — and Keith Urban popping over for a little high-speed adventure.
“A few months ago Keith texted me and said, ‘Hey, man, are you at your house?’” says Johnston. “I was like, ‘Yeah.’ So he goes, ‘Cool. I want to stop by and show off an extremely embarrassing new ride.’ I was like, ‘Okay, cool man…’ Then I hear what sounded like a helicopter landing outside. I walk out and he’s in this black — the best way I can explain it is like the Batmobile or like a DeLorean or whatever with the doors that open up — a car from the future.” (It was a McLaren P1.)
“I got in and we went to lunch. We did 150 mph down Westwood in Nashville. I was scared to death! Halfway through it, I was like, ‘Man this is so cool that Keith just picks me up and wants to go ride in his new car and get some lunch.’ Only in Nashville.”