The country star said in a new interview that he doesn't "sit around and bathe in the ego of it"
Luke Combs is living out his dreams — but he’s still trying to stay grounded.
The country star, 29, released his debut album This One's for You in 2017, becoming the first artist to simultaneously top all five Billboard country charts. Next week, he will also be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, an honor that he said was “something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
In a new interview with Holly Gleason for HITS Daily Double, Combs opened up about his newfound fame and how he keeps himself humble.
“[The acclaim]’s pretty weird,” he said. “I do try to separate myself from it. I’m very aware of all that stuff, because people keep me aware. And I’m very proud of it. But I don’t sit around and bathe in the ego of it.”
“I might be on a plane home after a show and be there an hour later,” Combs continued. “But then I’m still scooping the cat litter.”
The first five singles from Combs’ first album — “Hurricane,” “When It Rains It Pours,” “One Number Away,” “She Got the Best of Me” and “Beautiful Crazy” — all went at least platinum and all reached No. 1, making Combs the first artist ever to score five consecutive career-opening No. 1s on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.
Though he’s tearing up the country charts today with his new EP The Prequel, the musician revealed that his success was far from instant.
“I couldn’t get a publishing meeting to play or pitch my songs,” Combs said of trying to get his start in Nashville. “I was getting pretty discouraged. It was defeating.”
“I finally got a meeting with a big publisher in town,” he continued. “I had ‘Hurricane,’ ‘When It Rains,’ ‘She Got the Best of Me’ and a work tape of ‘One Number Away’ on my phone. I played this guy all of it, and he says, ‘I’ve got two things to tell you.’ And I got ready. He says, ‘First, you need to write better songs. And you’re never gonna be an artist. No one is going to pay money to see you.'”
“I thought, ‘Well, okay, I’ve got to write some better songs.’ But I also wondered how much better,” the country star added. “The thing was, everybody had passed. They could’ve had me for $300,000 and a 360 deal.”
All of Combs’ chart success has also led to a string of awards. At the 52nd Annual CMA Awards, he was named new artist of the year. He got the same title at the 2019 ACM Awards, and was named the top country artist at both the 2019 Billboard Music Awards and the iHeartRadio Music Awards. He was also nominated for best new artist at the Grammy Awards.
Despite it all, Combs said he still doesn’t think of himself as a celebrity.
“When you go home, you can’t think of yourself as a rock star, or a country star,” he said. “The powers that be can push you in that direction, and it’s a dangerous thing. You can get caught up in that real quick, and that’s trouble. In L.A., those all-genre events like the Grammys, I’d hear people on the red carpet going, ‘Do you know who I am?’ And no, they don’t!”
“In the end, do you treat people good? Or not? In the end, that’s what matters,” Combs, who’s engaged to Nicole Hocking, continued. “I wanna be remembered for good songs, as a good husband, as a good dad eventually. Everything else? I don’t know.”