Smile Uncle Kracker
Smile Uncle Kracker – “It’s frustrating, but at the same time I’m a very quiet person,” said Cracker Uncle, also known as Macomb County resident Matt Schaefer. “Nothing really surprises me – ever. There were some delays, but all went well in the end. So I can look back and say, ‘Well, I finished the best album I could have finished at this point.’
“Part of me said, ‘Oh boy. I shouldn’t have said that. It’s like one of those answers,’ but I can legitimately say that I feel like I got the best album I could ever finish. The delay is part of the process.”
Smile Uncle Kracker
“Happy Hour,” hitting stores Sept. 15, is Uncle Kracker’s fourth full-length effort and the first outing from the 2004 “Seventy Two and Sunny” artist. The most “fun” release he sent to stores.
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“I was trying to do something different, funnier than what I usually do,” says Uncle Cracker, whose biggest success came with his 2002 remake of Dobie Gray’s hit “Drift Away.” “Before I was ‘fun’—is ‘fun’ a word?—it’s not like I’m making records that aren’t ‘fun.’ The goal is to make something exciting and positive, more fun.”
That sentiment is reflected in the first single, “Smile,” and the video, which was shot over the July 4 holiday weekend in Mount Clemens, Hale and Long Lake.
“I just wanted a Northern Michigan feel for people to enjoy,” said Cracker Uncle, who is on a fall tour with the train. “There’s a parade in the video and they have it every year, I think. I talked about this with the director of the video, how perfect the parade was. They didn’t know if we were going to come in and film the parade or not. None of them were staged. It can’t go down any easier than us. We are really lucky. They had a really great parade when you consider the size of the city. We got lucky with that movie. It is sweet.
“I remember eight years ago I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a video shoot. You have 40 people running around with cameras and lights and cruise services. Now it’s like three guys in an RV driving great video together with these little cameras with expensive lenses. That’s what most of them get. There are many small scenes. They caught so many accidents on camera that if we released it, you’d have to try 100 times to get it and you still might not have it. But really many such wonderful things happened.
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Carol Wilson of Long Lake Bar and Grill in Iosco County, where part of the video was filmed, said Uncle Cracker was a longtime friend.
“He always comes here when he goes up north,” Wilson said. “He played here last year for practice with his band. He gave us 24 hours notice. Cannot be moved in or out of the area. That was in June. We’ll do it again – just not on holiday weekends, because we’re already busy.
“He called two weeks before the Fourth of July that he wanted to do the video in Michigan. He said, ‘Can I do it at the bar?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ Shot with. Then we put them. Bed. After that we played in the bar for two and a half hours.”
Again on the album “Living the Dream” is another “happy” song. It includes the chilling lyrics, “Here I go alone again/Walking the only path I’ve ever known/I was born to walk alone like a drifter/And I’ll live my life, live it. From “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake, Dream to Myself.
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“This guy sent me an idea,” said Uncle Kracker, who wrote two of the album’s songs, “Good to Be Me” and “I Hate California.” “It was probably the last song recorded for the album. It’s only in June. This guy Josh in California sent me an idea through my A&R guy (at Atlantic Records) and said, ‘What do you think of this idea?’ The song had to end. … Whitesnake was an old 80s vocalist who loved the Auto-Tune idea. I’m happy with it because it’s fun for me.”
If you purchase a product or register for an account through one of the links on our site, we may receive compensation. Hot Country Songbook. It was his first time on the chart as a solo artist, but his second overall: In 2004, Uncle Cracker’s collaboration with Kenny Chesney, “When the Sun Goes Down,” spent five weeks at No. 1.
“Smile” was a multi-format hit: it peaked at No.1. 6 in the country chart, but the no. 2 on the Adult Top 40 chart, at no. 3 and no. in the adult contemporary chart. 30 of the Mainstream Top 40. Below, Uncle Cracker shares the story behind the song.
Two of my best friends are Blair Daily and JT Harding. We went to my cottage in Michigan to write songs.
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We keep writing the same type of songs and we want to do something different. I was like, “Man, we need a pianist here!”
Blair said, “I got this piano track from Jeremy Bose.” I’ve never met the guy in person, but I thought that was the sweetest thing I’d ever heard. It’s awesome! This is a great piano track.
The three of us decided to write something positive to go with the piano track because it was so different and refreshing.
We started talking about how the music was weird: everyone patted each other on the back and told the others they were doing a good job. We wanted to write this positive song that tells someone you know how much you appreciate them in your life — that they make you smile.
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Nothing is forced in this song. Writing is inherent to us. The song may have clocked in at an hour and 40 minutes, but his songwriting certainly helped secure the career he enjoyed for decades.
, ‘ Cracker went into a studio in Nashville and recorded a project, scrapped it a few months later, re-evaluated the process and, as a result, enjoys making music again. The resulting project, ‘Happy Hour’, recorded with renowned producer Rob Cavallo, had already generated the undeniably catchy hit ‘Smile’, which Cracker left after a while thinking he was finding joy in the music process again. Years of struggle.
Spying the poster years ago while he was stuck in a Nashville shelter, Cracker explained that he’s always been a fan of country music and continues to draw inspiration from the musical roots of his youth, including rap and his other influences.
It’s been about five years since your last album, so you’ve had a little time between records. Meanwhile, you wrote Kid Rock’s smash, ‘All Summer Long’… did the good vibes from that put you back in a position to write positive songs?
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Really did. It wasn’t until I wrote ‘All Summer Long’ and let my kids listen to it and my oldest son — he was 10 at the time — he really liked it. It was such a fun song and I was like, ‘Why don’t you have songs like that, Dad? We don’t listen to your records, Dad, because you can’t dance to them!’ A few days later I was on the phone with my mother and she mentioned the same thing. So it got me really thinking, and they were trying to tell me that I was missing a lot of fun from what I was doing. And I brushed it off and tried to be happy with whatever I was doing at the time. I just took a few months to reassess and decide to do something that makes me happy again.
Did you change anything in your life to inspire the music at this time?
I started working with different people that I had never worked with before,
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