Garth Brooks on Making a Concept Album, Taylor Swift's Success & Duetting With His Late Mom

Garth Brooks
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for ASCAP

Garth Brooks performs onstage at the ASCAP Centennial Awards at Waldorf Astoria Hotel on November 17, 2014 in New York City.  

Garth Brooks expects his next album to come out sooner rather than later -- and to be different than what fans might expect.

"I'm gonna stay an album guy," Brooks told Billboard prior to starting a six-show run Friday [Feb. 20] at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena. "In fact, concept albums are really blowing my mind right now, because if you want to promote an album, think about it -- a concept album might be the way to go. The great thing about albums is it gives you a lot of choices, and we can all say that the album business is dead, but watch Taylor Swift. I don't think it's dead. I just think we've got to hit on the energies that make people want to collect albums."

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So is Brooks' Quadrophenia or The Wall already in the works? "No idea. No idea what a concept record would be, but the fact that they tie into each other and the fact that you can have a single that you're really digging but there's [lyrics] in there where you're going, 'What the hell does that mean?,' and it ties into something on the cut before kind of thing, that's a fun idea."

Also potentially on Brooks' docket: a duet with his late mother, Colleen, which he spoke of doing while she was alive and doesn't rule out now thanks to the wonders of technology. "The greatest thing about technology is she made records," Brooks said, "so that's not out of the question."

Brooks released Man Against Machine, his first new studio album in 13 years, in November, and it debuted at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart, No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and is already certified platinum. And he promised that he won't make fans wait nearly as long for the next one. "We're planning on hearing something new from us hopefully around Christmas, or next spring," he said. "If you remember us, we do one about once a year, so it's coming up. It just seemed to work for us as far as the tour, being refreshed and new with new gas in it and stuff, the new music in it. It also lets you rework your tour a year in, which is great 'cause it fits the new album."

Brooks has, of course, been doing big business on the road, breaking his own sales records in most cities and reveling in the fact that Ticketmaster tells him "43 to 48 percent of people, half the arena, were either 10 years old or not born yet when we toured last...When we came out we said if we do 50 percent of what we did in the '90s, we would feel good. Well, the average on-sale right now has been 130 percent of what we did in the '90s, which is crazy, just wonderful. I feel good in the touring world, and they've made me feel welcome so far."

Brooks has other plans moving forward, including digitally remastering his 1989-2001 recordings and possibly releasing new vinyl versions of the titles. And he plans to continue growing his Ghost Tunes music retail service. "With Ghost Tunes, you just try to do what's right," Brooks explained, "and what's right is whatever the copyright owner wants to do with their music, they do it. If they want to give it away, then give it away. If they want to sell singles, sell singles. If they want to sell albums, sell albums, concept, whatever. It's their stuff. We're lucky to be a bridge between the people that make music and the people that consume it. We feel very lucky. There are other companies that make you feel lucky to be working with them."


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