Luke Combs recently chatted with The New York Times and talked about the controversy a few years back when he was called “racist” for having a confederate flag on his guitar in an old video that surfaced.

Back in February of 2021, Luke appeared in Ryan Upchurch’s “Can I Get A Outlaw” in 2015, and he was in front of a Confederate flag. Combs told CNN after the video surfaced, “As I’ve grown in my time as an artist, and as the world has changed drastically in the last five to seven years, I am now aware how painful that image can be. I would never want to be associated with something that brings so much hurt to someone else.”

Luke told The New York Times that his apology divided fans a bit: “There were fans that were upset that I apologized and fans that were glad I did. That was a tough time. Before it was all roses, then this thing happens, and it’s like, ‘Hey man, you’re a racist.’ I’ve never been that political of a dude, but someone telling me I’m racist was a big problem for me because I’m not racist.”

Although The New York Times didn’t seem to ask any follow-up questions on that point, Combs did expand on it last year at a panel at the Country Radio Seminar, saying, “There’s no excuse for those images. I’m not trying to say, ‘This is why they were there and it’s OK that they were there.’ It’s not OK. As a younger man, that was an image I associated to mean something else. As I’ve grown in my time as an artist, I am now aware how painful that image can be to someone else. No matter what I thought at the time, I would never want to be associated with something that brings so much hurt to someone else. I apologize for being associated with that. Hate is not part of my core values. It’s not something I consider a part of myself at all. I’m just looking to be here and not say ‘I’m so sorry, please forgive me.’ I’m trying to learn. I’m trying to get better.” (Maren Morris, who was also on the panel, added, “At these country music festivals, I see the Confederate flags in the parking lots. I don’t want to play those festivals anymore.” In recent months, the CMA Fest banned the Confederate flag, and NASCAR has done the same.)

As Combs waits for his firstborn baby to come any day now, Combs also discussed his two worlds right now, saying he’s in transition, “I could crush 100 beers tonight at a bar and play for five hours. Other nights, I don’t want to get off the couch. I want to hang with my wife and get ready to have this kid.”

Today (6/17), he released a new song to radio ahead of his new album out next Friday (6/24).

16 Luke Combs Songs That We Adore