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”First Comes the Night” isn’t a country record but since it was recorded in Nashville, Chris Isaak did like many artists in the city and collaborated with professional songwriters on several songs. This was a different approach for Isaak, who performs at Rose Music Center in Huber Heights on Tuesday, July 12.
“I love writing and still do most of it on my own because I write all of the time but I thought it was a challenge to try something different,” he said recently, speaking over the telephone from San Francisco. “When you start out, everything is new and if you’ve been doing it for 30 years or something you develop a method. You go, ‘If I’m going to write I do this, this, this and this. OK, now mix it up and try something else.’ You want to see what you can do to make it a little different.”
Isaak admits he was initially worried about working with other writers but that was short-lived.
“I really got nervous,” he said. “You think, ‘Well, I’m a songwriter. I’ve written songs, I’ve had hits, I make a living at it but these people are professional songwriters. I’m just a guy who writes songs and these are professional gunslingers. I’m going to embarrass myself.’ I’m happy to say I’m pretty good at what I do. I’m fast at getting lyrics and ideas together. I’m faster than they are.
“I’m faster than most people but it was a lot of fun,” Isaak continued. “You work with different people and can see their different strengths and what they can do. The people I worked with are good songwriters so it was fun to go in a room and write.”
With the album behind him and a summer full of dates ahead of him, Isaak is currently less concerned about songwriting than his summer tour.
“I try to mix it up the live set so there’s something from different records,” he said. “I’ll play the hits, some of the new album and the ones over the years that people want to hear but I also like throwing in stuff people don’t expect. I’ve had the same band for more than 30 years so that makes it possible for us to make those sharp left turns and make it fun.
“I’m really proud of my live band,” he added. “They don’t just stand up there and look at their shoes and play. My guys love being on stage and it shows. They really put on a show for people.”