IF there is one act on the CMC Rocks card that is causing massive excitement amongst country fans, it's Luke Combs who can't wait to visit Australia on his first ever trip outside of the United States.
The 27-year-old from North Carolina only learned to play a guitar just a few years ago, and his life has been a whirlwind since his debut album This One's For You came out in June which catapulted the self-confessed "regular guy” to the top of the charts.
Luke is loving every minute of his new life as a country star and excited to perform at CMC Rocks in March.
"It does surprise me how big my fan base is there, because I've never even been out of the United States so I'm really excited to get there,” he said.
"You gotta play lots of gigs, that's the way to the top as they say. It's all about bringing the music to the folks, that's why we're coming to Australia!”
Luke played 250 gigs last year and if you do the maths, that doesn't leave a lot of time to wind down, but it's a lifestyle that Luke is continually grateful for as he takes pride in the fact he's just a normal guy.
"Absolutely I'm still a regular guy. It's important to me to stay grounded, that's what brings the fans back,” he said.
"I feel like I'm just an underdog guy who's not supposed to be here, yet here we are...and I want to keep that attitude. I don't want to go anywhere, I want this to last as long as possible.”
Luke used to work what he calls 'two crappy jobs' before he became the hottest property in country music, and it all began by people paying just a single buck to hear him sing.
"It all began at the first show I played. I asked the owner of a bar if I could do a show. I would play guitar and sing. He said 'sure, we'll charge a dollar a ticket!',” he said.
"That night two hundred people turned up. That was two hundred bucks in my pocket. I made more money from that one gig that I did that week dong my two jobs. I thought 'hell man this is pretty fun and I made money' so I thought why not do this all the time?
"Then I was working as a bouncer in a bar, and spending all day folding t-shirts at an iZod store. At one point, I was living in an apartment above the bar I worked at.”
His music has hit a chord with fans all over the world, and Luke believes that playing live is the best to way to learn and improve as an artist, while still having fun.
"I don't know what it is about the music that people like. Seriously, I'm just a regular dude at the end of the day. I'm no different to anyone else, and I think people can see that,” he said.
"We have lots of fun doing what we do, and I think you guys will see that at CMC.
"For me, making that first album was fun, going on the road is fun, writing is fun. We try to convey that every night on stage, and that's the recipe...people can tell when you're doing genuinely having fun. We want that to bleed into the music. I think my music's fun, and relatable. That's what works for me.”
Luke is hoping to see some kangaroos when he gets to Australia for the first time, and is also looking to try some local cuisine.
"In my downtime, I'm a lazy cat. I like to play video games, watch Netflix, shooting guns occasionally...depends how much time I have off.
"I take it all day to day, and I just got my hands on a new game today and dying to get into it,” he said.
"I always enjoy trying food when I go to places I've never been, maybe that's because I'm a chubby guy. I'm really excited about seeing the sights down under.
"We're so excited to come there.
"It's my first time overseas and I can't wait to see y'all at CMC and play some good music for you.”
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