With Big & Rich back in active duty since May and with a new song, "Fake I.D.," on the soundtrack of the forthcoming "Footloose" remake, John Rich feels that a new album from the country duo is "inevitable."
"First of all, we've got to get through this tour," Rich tells Billboard.com. "People always say, 'Don't you write songs on the road?' You really don't; it's all you can do to keep your voice going. But Kenny (Alphin, aka Big) and I are swapping songs, swapping ideas, so I would say it's inevitable it's coming. And It's not like people can pitch you songs for a Big & Rich record; our music is not like anybody else's stuff. It really is a meeting of the minds between me and Kenny, so it's just a process. But we're pumped about it, I can tell you that."
Rich predicts that he and Big Kenny will likely hit the studio "around the end of this year." The duo has dates -- including several Xtreme Muzik shows with Gretchen Wilson -- booked into the third week of October, as well as a December stop at the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa, Okla. "After all that we'll let everything calm down and cool off for a minute, then we'll go in to record," he says.
As to what a Big & Rich record will sound like at this juncture, Rich -- who released a solo album and a pair of EPs and won "Celebrity Apprentice" during the interim -- says "it's hard to say. Since the last record we've both had kids, which changes your perspective on a lot of things. Year to year you become a little bit different, so there might be different subject matter on there. The one thing you can count on is when you put it on your stereo, it won't sound like anything else you put on your stereo -- and I still have a stereo!"
Until Big & Rich get to work fans have "Fake I.D.," the first new Big & Rich release in nearly three years. Rich says he and Big Kenny were working on the song, which also features Wilson and is climbing the country charts, "about the same time" as the "Footloose" team began assembling their soundtrack. "We had recorded this song but hadn't decided to put it out yet," he recalls. "The 'Footloose' people heard it and said, 'We want this song in the movie. We want to play the whole song in the movie," and it really is used that way, in this really cool bar scene. So we said, 'What the hell. Let's put it out,' and now we kick off our shows with 'Fake I.D.' "
The song, Rich adds, is also helping the duo let fans know that its break was never a break-up. "It was a break from Big & Rich, not an ending of Big & Rich," he explains. "I think a lot of people spun it into, 'Oh no, Big & Rich is over.' We didn't say that. There wasn't, like, a Brooks & Dunn farewell tour. There never was a concern about whether we would want to come back and do it; our concern was whether the fans would still be there. And sure enough they are."
Rich, meanwhile, still has some projects going outside the group. He's producing new albums by the Jane Dear Girls and new singer Bradley Gaskin, who released his first single, "Mr. Bartender," this year. Rich is also in discussions about a TV variety show that he says will bring "a middle America presence" to the airwaves.