John Rich has always been great at creating new and varied sounds -- starting with Lonestar back in the mid 1990s, he has found success as a solo artist (“Shuttin’ Detroit Down”), as a producer and songwriter (Gretchen Wilson, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill), and his decade-long partnership with Big Kenny as Big & Rich. Now, the singer-songwriter is flexing his creative muscles once again -- with something totally different.
Rich will unveil his new lifestyle line, Redneck Riviera, this week. The line will begin with 150 pieces of apparel, including shirts and caps.
Just where is the Redneck Riviera, you ask?
“It’s what we all call the gulf coast -- Destin and Gulf Shores,” Rich tells Billboard. “I was down there a few years ago hanging around on vacation. I began to wonder if anybody had ever taken the phrase ‘Redneck Riviera’ and done anything with it. I started doing my homework and found that nobody had ever picked that phrase up -- on any level, really.”
So with that, the creative wheels started to turn. “I started putting together a team of people from manufacturers to developers to people in the apparel world, and started developing out this line," he says. "It was a slow process -- and I wanted it to be. Redneck Riviera is not my phrase. That’s America’s phrase. Everybody calls it that. I wanted to make sure that the stuff I presented lived up to the iconic image that is Redneck Rivera in reality. So I took my time, and last year, I decided that we had it locked in how it needed to look and how it needed to be, so let’s put it out. So in 2014, it launches nationwide.”
The clothing line promises something for everyone -- even the children. “Pint-size rednecks. We’ve all got them,” Rich says with a smile. “They’re the most fun. I’ve got two in my house -- Cash and Colt, who are four and two.” He says he had an exact demographic in mind when creating the brand. “The thing about ‘Redneck Riviera’ is that it’s for people who work hard, and people who care about God, country and their family. When they want to have a great time with their family, that’s where they go. To me, it’s like asking, ‘Where’s Margaritaville?' It’s wherever you say it is. It’s just a rural routed version of that.”
Rich is glad that he took his time developing the line.
“It’s against my nature to go slow at anything,” he admits. “Anybody who knows me will go, ‘Yep, that’s an understatement.’ But, on this, I did go slow, and I continue to go slow. I brought in partners and searched people out who knew more about it than I did. For instance, there is this New York company called Earthbound. They stepped up and said, ‘If that’s developed right, it could be an awesome thing for people to get their hands on, and we’d like to work with you.’ So I’m working with them, and that’s part of what I don’t know. I know a great idea, a great hook, what quality is, and what quality is not. The other stuff, I don’t know, so part of this process was putting the team together so that whenever people spend a dollar bill on this, they are getting their money’s worth.”
Rich is very much hands-on with “Redneck Riviera,” having created each piece in the collection, but at the same time, Rich hasn’t forgotten his music. Big & Rich has just released a new single, “Look At You,” on its own Big & Rich Records label. He is very excited about it.
“So far, it’s off to the hottest start of any song we have ever put out," Rich says. "It’s just a really great spot we’ve landed on musically. We went in and wrote the best songs we could do, and I think we’re singing better than we have. We produced it, and stepped away from the big record label situation, and went on our own and did it. That’s a big hand of cards to play, a scary hand at the table, because people say, ‘You can’t really make it without the big label behind you.’ We say, ‘We think we might be able to.’ Time will tell, but it’s off to one hell of a start.”