Before he even started, Morgan Evans suspected it was crazy to do 10 shows in 10 days, from one end of the country to the other.
But he was absolutely certain it was crazy by Day 3 – a day that started at 4 a.m. in Kansas City, ended at midnight back in Kansas City, and somewhere in between included several hours in a car, a radio visit, soundcheck, meet-and-greet and a performance in 90-degree heat at a music festival in Manhattan, Kansas.
That was the day, the “Kiss Somebody” singer tells PEOPLE, when he and his road crew looked at one another “and were like, whoa, do we have seven more of these?”
Somehow Evans managed to power through, completing his first headlining tour in the United States in unique style.
“Playing live is my favorite thing to do,” says the 33-year-old Aussie. “It’s the reason why I got into music. That was the whole point behind the tour … Let’s go out and play. And so every night when I got to play, that was the moment that made the day worthwhile.”
Evans’ breakneck journey began with a sell-out at the legendary Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles. The tour included two more sell-outs, in New York and Atlanta, as well as appearances at three large festivals, counting the one in Kansas. Southwest Airlines underwrote the trek, so he was able to cover ground quickly – more than 6,000 miles, including the flight that took him from his home in Nashville to L.A.
Evans traveled light: This was a solo tour — no band — so he brought along a loop pedal for musical backup. He and his crew of three (tour manager, audio technician and photographer-videographer) packed everything into 13 pieces of luggage, including Evans’ three guitars and keyboard. Evans says he got by with a half-dozen T-shirts, four pairs of pants — and one laundry pit stop.
The grueling schedule also forced him to be a minimalist with sleeping (five or six hours instead of seven or eight a night) and eating. “They were kind of the last priority,” he says. “Sometimes it would be getting back to the hotel after the show and eating one of those protein bars from the hotel bar … I’ve been eating fairly nonstop since I got home.”
The hardest part of the tour, he says, was “being away from the wife,” who is, of course, Kelsea Ballerini. During the 10-day stretch, he missed out on her picking up the Radio Disney award for favorite country artist, though he did offer her a shout-out on Instagram — and no doubt Ballerini also received a more personal congratulation.
The couple, who wed last December, regularly text when they’re going in different directions, Evans says, but “I think the main thing we’ve discovered is just to make sure that we at least hear each other’s voices every day.”
“FaceTime,” he adds, “is a really good invention.”
Evans, whose song is currently sitting at No. 8 on the country charts, says he had “no time do any partying” on the tour, but he did manage to sneak in a little off-stage fun during a stop in Austin, Texas: a visit to a landlocked surfing park.
Almost like being back in Australia?
Evans chuckles. “It’s not quite the same feeling,” the avid surfer allows, “but it’s definitely a good bunch of steps toward it.”
Somewhere in the mix he also debuted a music video for his latest release “Day Drunk.” The video is a montage of clips that Evans and Ballerini took turns shooting on a GoPro camera during a recent three-day getaway to the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
The video, Evans reveals, “was actually Kelsea’s idea. … I took the camera to Hawaii thinking I might get some surfing footage. We ended up just taking it everywhere we went. We just took all this footage and still had the best time, and when we got back, I gave it all to the guy who does my video stuff, and he cut this whole thing together.”
The finished product, says Evans, “feels authentic. I like the way it represents that song, too, because the song is as much about that kind of experience of being drunk on life and each other as it is about drinking champagne and whiskey.”
For the remainder of the summer, Evans will be back out on the road, mostly at festivals, at a much less whirlwind pace. And he’ll be rejoining Chris Young on the fall leg of his “Losing Sleep” tour after a successful run on the spring leg.
Also this fall, Evans’ debut album is set for release. He says he’s already feeling “excited and nervous” about it.
“Obviously excited to share all this stuff that you poured your entire life into, and also nervous, hoping that people like it,” he says. “There’re definitely some songs on this record that haven’t been played live that are really special to me. I’m excited to share it.”