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To celebrate the success of his chart-topping album, Black, Dierks Bentley is offering fans a first of its kind look behind the scenes at the country star's life and career in the form of an elaborate video diary. Launched Aug. 1 in partnership with Billboard, "Behind Black: The Anatomy of the Album & Tour” features on-camera interviews with 125 people involved in the creation, marketing and promotion of the album and its supporting Somewhere On A Beach tour.
Interviews range from the top brass at Bentley’s label, Universal Music Group Nashville, through his management, publicity, band and touring teams, including Live Nation country division president Brian O’Connell. Also included are interviews with album producer Ross Copperman, numerous songwriters who contributed to Black, multiple members of the Nashville media who follow and promote his career, and even Bentley’s wife and three small children. (As a special treat for fans, all three kids are featured in one clip singing a snippet of the album’s first hit, “Somewhere On A Beach.”)
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Fellow musicians featured on the project include Elle King, who duets with Bentley on the album’s current hit, “Different For Girls,” as well as his tour support acts Randy Houser, Cam and Tucker Beathard. Fellow artists Maren Morris and Charlie Worsham also give testimonials. View the full video diary here.
Bentley tells Billboard he wanted to document the whole process, including the “laughter and tears” and the “moving parts” that went into making the album and tour. His additional goal was giving proper credit to the village of people supporting him on a daily basis. They include his guitar tech, set carpenter, truck driver and even the pilot who shares the cockpit with the singer as he flies himself to gigs in his own plane. All are documented in video interviews.
“I have such gratitude for the people I hold in such regard and I get to work with,” he explains.
Many of those interviewed shared stories about Bentley and life on the road with him. Others, including King, went for humor in their clips. UMGN chairman/CEO Mike Dungan jokes about signing Bentley more than 15 years ago when he had better hair, then notes, “The thing about Dierks is … there are fundamental rules about country music, and he continues to break them in everything that he does. What are you going to do?” Royce Risser, the label group’s senior vp/promotion, hilariously claims credit for not only getting all of Bentley’s radio airplay, but also for co-producing the album and writing most of the songs.
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Bentley himself jokes that the process of creating the album and tour “has been fascinating. It would make much better TV than any of the Kardashian shows.” In fact, that’s true of his life in general. “One minute I’m calling the vet to have him come over and euthanize [Bentley’s beloved dog] Jake at the house, and 10 hours later I’m onstage in front of 15,000 people shotgunning beers and stage diving. Then I’m back home with my kids at some silly Mommy & Me class," he explains. "I’m the only dad in there twirling around a baton. It would make for pretty good TV if we were up for that kind of thing. [But] it’s not my thing. I’d like to be less of a celebrity and have a little more privacy.”
That goes for wife Cassidy as well. Bentley says his favorite of the 125 interview clips in the video diary is hers, because he got an affectionate kick out of watching her “squirm.” He jokes that Cassidy is so camera-shy that she downs a Valium and a glass of white wine just to walk red carpets with him, “so putting her in front of the camera just for this 15-second clip was just hilarious.” He also loves 7-year-old daughter Evie’s moment, which he describes as “the longest run-on sentence in the English language.”
The country star also loved having lighting director Chris Reade and merchandise manager Josh Brown featured in the interviews; both have both been part of his team since the early days. Reade, who came onboard when, according to Bentley, their entire set consisted of “chain-link fence with Christmas lights wrapped through it,” now gets to “express his artistic abilities as big as he wants to” with elaborate lighting rigs and instruments. Brown has been handling merch from the time Bentley was playing in bars.
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Bentley hopes the project also will serve as a learning tool for brand-new artists, noting that watching something like it when he was first starting out in the business would have been helpful. “Not to toot our own horn here,” he says, “but if I was able to remove myself from the process and take a macro view, it’s pretty interesting to hear everyone from the president of the label all the way down to the front of the house monitor [person] talking about the live show and how it has evolved.”
Mostly though, Bentley is just thrilled to be able to shine a spotlight on his team via the video diary. “As this Nashville community gets so big and loses a little bit of its charm, what makes it enjoyable is the people you get to work with and celebrate with when success happens,” he says.
“Even onstage playing music I don’t want people behind me, I want people beside me, and [I want] to be a part of it, not the focus of it,” he says. With the video diary, he adds, “I just want people to realize all the different folks who collaborate and put their talents to use to make this whole thing happen, and to walk away with an appreciation for those people individually and a better understanding of all that goes into it. Hopefully it’s something enjoyable to check out."
Black will be released for the first time on vinyl Aug. 12. The Somewhere On A Beach tour continues through the end of October.
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