Country duo Big & Rich are preparing for their 2016 summer tour. In anticipation of the tour, they recently released their latest single and video for the song ‘Lovin’ Lately.’ The guys talk about going on the road, being a successful duo, songwriting, and working with Tim McGraw.
While they tour year round, the duo spends the summer months performing at the outdoor venues. With stops at festivals like the Taste of Country Festival in New York and the Faster Horses Festival in Michigan, Big Kenny says Big & Rich and outdoor festivals go together like “sunshine and blue skies.” John said when it comes to touring and they get a call for a show they are pumped because they’ve worked their whole career to build that audience and “when they give you the call and want you to show up, man it’s always an honor.”
When it comes to songwriting, John says, “We’ve written, between the two of us, several thousand songs and you can only put eleven or twelve songs on a record. So what do you do with all these other songs? Over the years artists have come and asked ‘hey you got any songs that would fit my sound?'” They’ve had songs recorded by artists like Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Gretchen Wilson, and Faith Hill.
A favorite songwriting memory for John was one night John and Kenny were out at a bar in Nashville and the bartender got up on stage and sang. “Can you believe this girl’s voice?” That bartender ended up being Gretchen Wilson and the two became good friends with her. John went on to co-write ‘Redneck Woman’ with Gretchen and later, the three of them co-wrote ‘Here For the Party.’
For Big Kenny, his favorite songwriting memory came when he was in Vegas for New Years. He was down to his last couple of hundred dollars before heading back to Nashville, and he went to play blackjack. After being up for ten rounds in a row, he ended up losing. He went back to his hotel room, sat down on the edge of the bed, and went to take his boots off when the heel came right off the bottom. Kenny said he lay down on the bed and asked, “What next Lord?”
Within thirty minutes he came up with, “I’m down to my last dollar. I’ve walked right through my shoes, a friendly small reminder of all the hell that I’ve been through, but look at me still smiling cause I’m wondering what I’ll do. But since I ain’t got nothin’ I’ve got nothing to lose, so one, two, three like a bird I sing, cause you’ve given me such a beautiful set of wings.” That was in 2002, but two years later Big & Rich were recording and McGraw happened to hear ‘Last Dollar’ and he asked “You gonna let me cut that?” In 2007 it was the lead single off Tim’s album and went to number one. Kenny said he loves that story and “I will never get tired of telling it. It’s an absolute blessing.”
Their current single, ‘Lovin’ Lately,’ features their friend McGraw. Big & Rich toured with him back in the early 2000’s and Big Kenny said “he really helped break us to his entire audience. He helped break Big & Rich to the world. It’s so awesome to have that come full circle.” John said they have a great friendship with Tim to be able to record a song like ‘Lovin’ Lately’ and get it on the radio. To see the fan reaction to the song is “a high five every time we get around Tim.”
“Duos are probably the toughest act combination you can have.” Unlike duos, bands can have a minority and a majority. “Duos on the other hand, especially when you are like Big & Rich and you have two really distinct personalities, if we don’t both agree on it, it generally doesn’t happen. Or if we both agree on it, it happens no matter what anyone says.” They heard a lot of people say they would never play ‘Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy’ because “that is not country music and we will not play it.” It is country music to them, and the fact that they are so like-minded about their music really helped them to be successful. Big Kenny said of being a duo, “It’s just more fun, it makes it even richer, it makes the music even deeper. It’s just fun to be on stage together. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked forward to hitting that stage and how many times we’ve come off of it both of us looking at each other just drenched, wet, worn out and just knowing we had the biggest time we could possibly have and everyone at the show did too.”
Big & Rich is going to be busy this summer touring. If you haven’t already be sure to check out their single ‘Lovin’ Lately’ feat. Tim McGraw.