Fourteen years ago, Joe Nichols first landed on the charts with his Top 5 single, "The Impossible," from his sophomore album, Man With a Memory. Since then, the singer has released hit songs such as "Brokenheartsville," "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" and "Gimmie That Girl," among others, and is currently looking for success with the song "Freaks Like Me." Throughout the years, Nichols has worked hard to stay true to his roots.

"I think my highs haven’t been nearly as high as some other artists that came out at the same time, or came out afterwards, but the lows haven’t been nearly as bad as some of the artists that came out after me," Nichols tells The Boot. "Consistency is something I’ve always wanted to have since I’ve been a music fan, listening to George Strait records. I thought his career was a great model of how you should go about it, having No. 1s for 30-something years plus, and still going strong, still touring, doing what he wants to do.

" ... I’ve always thought, if I could ever model my career after somebody, it would be him," Nichols adds. "I’m not on pace to match him, but I think the consistency part is what’s most important to me; to still be here in 15, 20 more years, having success, is kind of my goal. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to do that."

The last several years haven't been without their lessons, though. The 39-year-old acknowledges that he wishes he could go back and give his younger self a few pointers on humility.

"[I'd say], 'Shut up. Shut up and listen,'" Nichols says. "'There’s a lot of wisdom out there, and you don’t know it all. Take advantage of opportunity, because sometimes, it doesn’t come around twice.'

"I’m a little less hard-headed [now]," he adds. "I think I’m a little more open to hearing criticism about how the record sounds, or what I’m doing live, what works and what doesn’t work. Back then, I was just stubborn, and I thought my way was the only way. It worked a lot of times, and sometimes, I was unaware that it didn’t work. But I think, now, I can probably hear constructive criticism way more than I could before."

And Nichols doesn't plan to waste one minute of 2016, as he finishes up his new record.

"My goal is to have the album that I want to have. A great album that has all the songs that we hope for, great singles, great art, complete picture," says Nichols. "Hopefully, when this album’s turned in, we can put our hands up and say, ‘I’m proud as hell of this,’ and move on. I think that’s a goal."

He continues, "... I think the plan is just to capitalize on the success of [2013's] Crickets and make sure we have an album that’s at least that good, and better possibly. I think, with this album, there’s a little bit more of a sexy side to this album that wasn’t there with Crickets."

"Freaks Like Me" is available for download on iTunes. Nichols will be performing at Country Jam and Headwaters Country Jam, both scheduled for June.

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