Rising country star Aaron Watson isn't an overnight sensation. His road to success has been slow and steady.  The West Texas native honed his craft in honky tonks all over the south.  After 12 years of touring and 11 albums, he has earned a worldwide following and is among the most popular independent artists in country music today.

Before he played the Railyard Ale House in Billings on Saturday night, Aaron sat down with Cat Country 102.9’s Andy West.

Andy West:  For those people who haven’t discovered you yet, tell us about Aaron Watson.

Aaron Watson:  I'm a West Texas boy.  We started out playing at any little bar that would have us.  We toured relentlessly and, when we weren’t on the road, we were recording.  And we stuck with it.  We’re getting ready to release our 12th album, and we’ve continued to grow every record, every tour.

Andy West:  So what’s the next step from here?

Aaron Watson:  We’ve been lucky to build a loyal fan base that’s supported us.  Now, we’re ready to take it to the next level.  We’ve always pushed ourselves.  We could’ve made a living playing in Texas and through the South, but we wanted more.  So we started with the Midwest, then we hit the West Coast, now we want to fill in the gaps.  We’re in Billings tonight and we’ll be back.  We drove around town and looked at the Babcock and the arena (Metra Park) and our goal is to keep coming back and play to bigger audiences every time.

Andy West:  Tell us about your next album

Aaron Watson: This is the best album of our career.  We set out to make a modern country record that will stack up with the biggest bands out there.  Everything we’ve learned through the years is on this album.  The songwriting, the producing, even the engineering… it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. We’ve got 12 songs and they all stand on their own.  It’s a very balanced record and it really represents us well.  I can’t wait for people to hear it.

Andy West:  When will we hear it?

Aaron Watson:  We’re not sure yet.  We’ve had offers from a few different record companies. Being an independent artist, there’s not a whole lot that a record company can do for us that we’re not already doing ourselves, except for radio airplay.  That’s one of our goals this time, to really make a push at radio.  But at the same time, we’ve built a solid business brick by brick, town by town, show by show.  We’re kind of outsiders to the Nashville crowd, which is a blessing and a curse.  Whatever happens, we’re going to keep doing what got us here, which is staying true to the music and our fans.

Andy West:  Tell us about the success of the song “July in Cheyenne”, which is a tribute to the rodeo legend Lane Frost

Aaron Watson:  That one’s real personal to me, because my wife and I had just lost our daughter, Julia Grace.  When I was writing that song, I tried to put myself in his family’s shoes.  And it all just came out.  And, in a way, that process helped me deal with my own feelings.

I also wrote a song for my dad, called “Raise Your Bottle”.  He was disabled in Vietnam.  Family is the most important thing in my life and my music.  I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife and great kids.  That’s what I know. So that’s what I write about.

The reaction to “July in Cheyenne” has been amazing.  We actually played at Frontier Days in Cheyenne last night and that was a real special moment for us.

Andy West:  Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.  We look forward to hearing you on Cat Country

Aaron Watson:  We look forward to being on Cat Country.  We’re excited to be here in Billings and, I promise you, we will be back.