If you’re not having fun during Colt Ford’s show at Country Thunder this April, you need to check yourself – and that’s a message from the man himself.

In a phone interview with Ford on Thursday, the Georgia native said while this is his first trip to Florence for Country Thunder, he plans to bring down the house.

“I promise I’ll give you all a fat guy’s got,” Ford said. “I play hard. I play loud. I have fun. I want the fans to see I’m having a good time out there, and if they see I’m having fun, chances are they’ll have fun. It’s just the way I do it. I couldn’t be more excited to play out there.”

While a newbie to Country Thunder, Ford is no stranger to big shows, having played all over the country in music festivals alongside some of country’s most recognizable names.

In fact, Ford will soon be touring with one of those big names – Toby Keith – this summer in the “Shut Up and Hold On Tour.”

Ford, who says he is a big fan of Keith’s, has been increasing his own fan base exponentially over the years with such hits as “Dirt Road Anthem,” originally composed by Ford and fellow artist Brantley Gilbert, and later covered by Jason Aldean in his 2010 album. Ford also co-wrote Gilbert’s “Country Must be Country Wide,” and Aldean’s “My Kinda Party.”

And by the looks of it, Ford, who himself has charted six times on the Hot Country Songs rankings, doesn’t plan on slowing down when it comes to collaborating with other country artists.

That’s evident by his most recent single “The High Life,” featuring Chase Rice, which has become an instant fan favorite.

“What makes country music really special is that comradery and willingness to help out other artists,” said Ford. “For the most part in this business, everybody is friends, and it’s not like that in a lot of other genres.”

So, when it comes to the squabbling debate over new country music versus old country music, Ford has a clear point of view.

“It’s dumb, if you want my honest opinion,” he said. “Music always changes. The people arguing about it need to find something else to do. Music has always evolved. Carrie Underwood don’t sound like Dolly Parton. Nobody wanted to listen to Hank Jr. when he came out. Now he’s the benchmark for country music. If you don’t like this sound or that sound, go find one that you like – it’s okay, it’s not a big deal.”

Though Ford says he enjoys collaborating with other artists, that’s not to say he can’t do it on his own.

Ford’s last album, “Declaration of Independence,” debuted at #1 on Billboard and has remained on the Billboard Country Album Charts for more than 58 weeks.

His latest album, “Thanks for Listening,” looks to accomplish a similar feat, and is scheduled to come out this summer.

Long before Ford officially broke into the music industry, he had another career many people may not know about.

He was a professional golfer.

Ford played professionally all over the world for about seven years before hanging up his clubs in 1998, though every now and then, he finds himself hitting the greens still.

“It’s a great game that allows people of multiple talent levels to enjoy it,” Ford said. “That’s barely happens in sports. I can’t go enjoy playing a game of basketball with LeBron James, unless I enjoy getting dunked on.”

While Ford probably won’t be challenging LeBron to any one-on-one basketball games anytime soon, there’s one thing he will be doing for certain in the coming weeks: rocking out on stage in Florence for Country Thunder 2014.

Ford goes on stage on Sunday, April 13 at 7 p.m., right before his friend and superstar Jason Aldean closes the concert out. It may have been from Aldean himself that Ford heard just what Country Thunder is like.

“I heard it’s one big party,” said Ford.

For continuing Country Thunder coverage, and for more artist interviews, visit expnow.com/ct2014

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