Since making his country debut just one year ago, Darius Rucker has achieved many career milestones that newcomers only can dream of reaching. His first three singles off "Learn to Live" " "Don't Think I Don't Think About It," "It Won't Be Like This for Long" and "Alright" " all hit No. 1 on Billboard's country tracks chart, and his album reached platinum certification just months after its release.
In January, he hit the road once again with Rascal Flatts on the last leg of their "American Living Unstoppable" tour. Now, Rucker performs Sunday at Riverwind Casino.
"I love those guys," he said of Rascal Flatts. "We get along like crazy. I get along with each guy on a different level. That is just something that I can't explain. I really feel like I'm good friends with all of them. Whether I'm with all of them or one of them individually, we always have something to talk about. Joe Don (Rooney) and I play golf almost every day when we're together."
Rucker, of course, is best known as the lead vocalist of Hootie & the Blowfish.
"I think that's been the best part of this past year for me: going everywhere, then people seeing me do this for the first time as a solo artist," he said. "That's just a great feeling. You come into this town, and I've seen a few people out there who have started with me with Hootie, and they're out there going, 'What is he doing now?' I love to see their faces at the end of the show."
Rucker is back in the studio working on his follow-up album to "Learn to Live," which he promises to be more of the same, but with a few surprises, including a cover of a Radney Foster tune.
"I'm very excited with the songs. I think the last record ended up being about where I am today. This next record may be a lot more about what it took to get here," he said. "I told Capitol Records on the first album, 'You give me 12 hits, and I will cut all of them.' We're writing some songs of my own, and we'll have some surprises for this record. I'm just really excited again. As the artist, you get excited, but your producer gets paid to keep a leveled head."
While there is no release date in mind, the singer said it will happen when the time is right.
"We're going to play it by ear. I think we're at the point where we don't even know if we're going to put out another single off this other record or not. We're going to go in, and if something comes up that makes everybody go 'ooh,' then that will be the next single," Rucker said. "When I leave the studio, and when I put it on in my car and can listen to it over and over, then I'm happy. ... I never want to say that I make records for the radio, but I want to make records that people want to listen to."