Luke Bryan has crashed the country-music party in a big way during the past six years.
Since he went Top 5 with his first single, All My Friends Say (2007), the Georgia-born singer-songwriter has notched five Top 5 country albums — including the new Crash My Party, which debuted at No. 1 — as well as a series of successful Spring Break EPs. He has sent nine singles into the Top 5 as well, and made a guest appearance on another, Jason Aldean’s The Only Way I Know (2012). He even took home the Entertainer of the Year award at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards, which he co-hosted with Blake Shelton.
“I am completely humbled and amazed, really,” the 37-year-old Bryan says, speaking by telephone from his tour bus. “I’m so much farther down the path in this business than I ever could have dreamed of. I’m just trying to enjoy it and take it all in and make sure I truly enjoy where I’m at.”
He has been in love with music, Bryan says, since he was growing up in Leesburg, Ga., and especially since his parents bought him a guitar when he was 14.
“Music always affected me more than anybody around me, really,” he recalls. “When I heard a song, that really changed something for me and I went and sought that song out.”
He reels off a song list that ranges from George Strait’s You Look So Good In Love (1983) and Alan Jackson’s Chattahoochee (1992) to pop hits by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie as eureka moments in his musical development as both a performer and songwriter.
“The love of a song taking you to an amazing place is pretty special,” Bryan says.
He actually had planned to relocate to Nashville after graduating from high school, with his family’s full blessing, but when his older brother, Chris, died in an automobile accident the night before he was to move, Bryan decided to stay close to home and attend Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.
When he finally headed to Music City in 2001, he quickly signed a publishing deal that led to him penning the title cut for Travis Tritt’s My Honky Tonk History (2004). He also co-wrote Billy Currington’s chart-topping Good Directions (2006) before landing his own recording deal, co-writing all but one of the 11 songs on his debut album, I’ll Stay Me (2007).
Bryan’s success was instantaneous: I’ll Stay Me hit No. 2, while he won top new solo vocalist and top new artist at the 2010 Academy of Country Music Awards.
Since then, his main ambition has been to keep things on a forward trajectory.
“Man, I’m shooting for enjoyment, love and making each album better and better,” he says. “I just want the albums to progressively sound better and try to grow. I think I grew with [ Crash My Party]. I just love how this album came together and the way we put it together. Every aspect of it has been awesome.”
Crash My Party certainly had a high mark to follow. Tailgates & Tanlines (2011) was Bryan’s most successful release to date, giving him his first No. 1 country album, hitting No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and going double-platinum, with four Top 5 hits. Spring Break … Here to Party (2013), a compilation of his Spring Break EP tracks, followed in March by going No. 1 on the country and pop charts.
Even so, Bryan says, he didn’t feel any pressure while making Crash My Party with producer Jeff Stevens.
“After I record it and my record label falls in love with it and I truly feel like they love it and nobody’s blowing smoke, I just get confident,” he says. “I play it for my family, my buddies. Once they start loving it, the pressure’s off for me. I feel like I’ll be all right.”
A touch of hip-hop
Crash My Party got off to a strong start when the title track — with a video featuring Bryan’s wife, Caroline Boyer — became his first multiweek No. 1 country single. Its successor, That’s My Kind of Night, presents a greater challenge, however. Incorporating hip-hop-style loops, it’s unlike anything Bryan has released before, and he predicts with pride that it might polarize some of his audience.
“Oh, yeah, I imagine it will,” he says, “and I don’t mind that at all. I’m super-excited to have it out there, and it’s going to be interesting to watch what it does.
“You have to go out on a limb and try things, I think,” Bryan continues. “Once you homogenize yourself, there’s nothing really great in that either. I know some people are going to like it and some will hate it. Some people liked Country Girl  and some people hated it, and I liked where I ended up after that.
“The main thing is that I feel like my fans know who I am. They know I’m having fun, and it’s a fun song. I really don’t get caught up with people’s opinions of what I’m doing, and I let the reaction when I perform them live speak the loudest.”
Bryan already is planning his next album — “I think about it day in and day out,” he says — and expects to put together another Spring Break EP in December. Right now, though, he’s primarily focused on taking his songs, new and old, on the road, with headlining and festival dates booked into late October, and more to come. (He plays the House of Blues in Dallas on Sept. 11).
“I’m just about growing the live show and touring for years and trying to keep it at a high level for as many years as I can,” Bryan says. “I’m a realist in this whole thing. It’s my day in the sun in so many ways, but somebody else’ll come along and it’ll be their day in the sun. I’ve enjoyed the climb, I’m enjoying where I’m at now, and I’ll enjoy when things slow down, too.”