Jon Pardi Talks 'Heartache Medication,' Recording at his Mom's House & More


Jon Pardi has some Heartache Medication for everyone: his new album. The country star has officially released this latest full-length record, which follows his 2016 album California Sunrise, and features 14 new songs, including previously released tracks like "Ain't Always the Cowboy," "Me and Jack," "Tequila Little Time" and the title track "Heartache Medication."

Pardi began work on Heartache Medication immediately after releasing California Sunrise. He explains to iHeartRadio, "I was always writing after California Sunrise was done. I think I turned the record in, and we wrote the next day for Heartache Medication, and that song was 'Call Me Country.' So that was written in 2016. So there's a lot of stuff that you would never know that these songs are that old. Even 'Heartache Medication,' the song, is almost three years old now. And California Sunrise, we had a three year life out of that, and that's amazing. But I was always working on a new record. And I wanted to work on this record in three sessions to break up the time, instead of being like, 'We need a new record. We need it now.' I didn't want that to be a thing, so it was like, boom, here's the record. And three sessions, a lot of fun, and it was a very thought out record."

A California native, Pardi actually recorded some of his new album at his mother's house in a room she had that was previously unfinished and called "Shelly's Honky-tonk." He recalls, "Where I'm from is beautiful, it's peaceful, it's California. Like really, nobody really knows, unless you know where I'm at or what it's like there, you really don't think that's California and it's gorgeous. I have great friends out there and it's just a lot of fun. And my mom had this unfinished room above a big garage. I just came up with an idea that they had this unfinished room and I have a NorCal Writers Retreat, and then you can record vocals on a computer if you've got a good microphone and interface and all that. The ceiling was unfinished, it was all insulation showing. And it was actually better than putting what we did. It wouldn't have that big bounce back. So we kind of messed up and put a ceiling on there. But I think we recorded there and then it turned into a place where you can do vocals and a place we can go write. And so that's how it came about. It's like a thing now at my mom's house; everybody wants to go. They don't really care about the house anymore, they want to go hang out in the studio. We call it Shelly's Honky-tonk."

The album's title track, "Heartache Medication," also became its lead single and introduction to the new body of work that would come later on. Pardi tells us of the song's meaning, "I love this song. This title, this was kind of different. Kind of about drinking, getting to feel better, kind of lost somebody, it's time to move on, but you're not sad, you're happy. It's feel good, kind of medication that you need. So 'Heartache Medication,' that was kind of the way we wrote it. Wrote with Natalie Hemby and Barry Dean, great writers. It's very upbeat and traditional, but it's also just, I think, relevant in a way that it picks you up when you're feeling down, or if you're feeling good, it makes you feel extra good. Who doesn't like good old fiddle intro?"

"Old Hat" was included in the few songs Pardi shared from Heartache Medication before its official release, and is one of his favorite songs on the record. It's also his girlfriend Summer Duncan's favorites, and as he tells us, she wanted the track to be the first single. The country star explains of the song:

"'Old Hat' is one of my favorite songs on the record, and it's an older one. It's been around for a couple of years, but Jeff Hyde put a little CD out and I loved it. He's got a different perspective as an artist because he's a songwriter, and he's on the road with Church, and he's just a great writer. And he's gotten multiple George Strait cuts and Eric Church. I mean, [Bruce] Springsteen, I think he wrote. So he's got a really different style and I love it. Somebody said that he had me in mind for 'Old Hat,' and then he put on a record and like that was the one I gravitated to. And then there was always talk when we started recording that we would record 'Old Hat,' but it turned into this thing. And I always loved the old school tradition of like, opening the door for a girl or just this whole thing that it's just kind of pushed away from social media, and just kind of the basics of what women really want to hear or what they want a guy to be like. And my girlfriend Summer, this was her song. She's like, 'I want 'Old Hat' as the first single.' She was so about that because just from dating and kind of dealing with other men — not me of course, because I'm the best — she just really, really felt that song. And for me, I'm like, girls really like this song. Because you wouldn't think it when you think 'Old Hat.' You would think like, guys are going to like this. No, girls really like the song. And I thought that was a cool perspective that was her favorite and it had to be on this record. But it's a traditional song. It's cool, soulful sounding. It's not really a honky-tonk song. It's just got a lot of soul. It's got a lot of old school. You're going to think of your grandad, you're going to think of people that tried to teach you good things. And I feel like everybody's going to love it."

"Don't Blame It On The Whiskey" is the only song on the album with a feature from another artist, which is Lauren Alaina. But, the track actually has a lot of star power attached to it, as it was co-written by Eric Church and Miranda Lambert. Pardi tells us of how the song came ended up on Heartache Medication, "Eric is one of my favorite songwriters in town, and so is Miranda. They're both very different, but I think was on the 'Over When It's Over,' batch when they were writing it then. I heard it a long time ago. I heard it when 'Miss You Crazy' was on the radio, so I've heard it for a while. And Brian Wright played it for me in a song meeting, I was like, 'Done. You want to record that? Yeah. Get Eric and Miranda to give me the okay.' And then he texted them, and they were both excited. And I think it was just the right time at their career, so they would be like, 'Yeah, record it. It's awesome.' So it's cool. Eric and Miranda are great people and great artists, and you kind of see their songwriting side, too, sung by somebody else. Of course, they're great artists, but it's just cool. It's a fun fact."

He adds of working with Lauren Alaina, "She came in studio and blew us away. She had all the harmonies that we want. And she's so rowdy, like, you're not going to back her down. But she really got it. She got into this really soulful atmosphere for this song and it was almost ... You don't really know it's Lauren, and I think it's a different side for her. Even other duets she's had, she's throwing it out there. Whereas this one is more of a subtle kind of got to sing to the song and put the emotion in it. She did a great job and we had a lot of fun. And we hosted ACM Honors one year and we sang together for the first time. We sounded really good. But she's such a good singer. I think she could sound good with everybody."

There's another song on Heartache Medication called "Me and Jack," and it's inspired about Pardi and his band's breakup with Jack Daniels. He explains, "'Me and Jack' [is a] title I had for a long time, and I had the 'We don't get along anymore' [lyric] kind of based on my experience with Jack Daniels and the band. We used to have it on our rider back in the day, and that's where we'd show up and that would be in the dressing room. A big old bottle of Jack Daniels. And things would go bad. I don't know what it was, but always, if Jack Daniels was around, someone was arguing with somebody at the end of the night. And so we just took it off. And I always remember that story, and I always loved Johnny Cash. His songs were, you know, he had 'A Boy Named Sue,' 'Folsom Prison Blues,' even 'One Piece at a Time,' they were all these story songs, and they were fun, and they were fast, and you rocked out to them. So I really wanted to have a song that sounds like a Johnny Cash song, with this whole story about how he had to part ways with Jack Daniels."