2014 has been a year of renewed energy for Big & Rich. As their current single, “Look At You,” sits at No. 20 on the Hot Country Songs chart, they’re not only gearing up for the release of their fifth studio album, Gravity — they’re looking back on 10 years of Big & Rich.
“A lot has opened up over the past year that has been really mind-blowing,” Big Kenny Alphin admits to Billboard. “We’re also in our tenth year of Big & Rich, which is pretty exciting in and of itself. In the new album, there’s an opening line to one of the songs that says, ‘Gravity keeps our feet on the ground. It’s something that you can’t get around.’ We’re at that place in our career where we feel that there is this amazing gravity that is taking us where we continue to go, no matter what. It’s been an amazing ride getting here, and we’ve been blessed. At the same time, it’s exciting to see where we’re going to go from here and what this conversation will be like 10 years from now. The future looks great.”
John Rich says it’s amazing to think that the duo is celebrating such a milestone in 2014. “I think that 10 years is significant for any artist to say that they are still making hit records. ‘Look At You’ is pacing with the fastest moving singles of our career. When we play it on the road, there’s 10,000 people singing the words back to us. I look at Kenny, he looks at me, and we say, ‘Damn, we’re still out there.’
“There’s a lot of acts like Tim McGraw, George Strait, and Rascal Flatts who have been around a lot longer than 10 years, but hitting that make makes you grateful that people have stuck with you that long and still want to hear what you’re doing. That’s a big deal, and we don’t take it lightly.”
What makes the success of “Look At You” all the more amazing is that it marks the first time the duo has released a project on their own Big & Rich label, ending a successful stint with Warner Bros. Rich says it’s a totally different world now, and they love the DIY approach.
“It’s terrifying and exciting all at the same time. You take on all the business and marketing side yourself, but there’s a big team of people that we have assembled that are helping us do this. But at the end of the day, our board meeting consists of two guys. If we agree, it will happen, and if we don’t, it doesn’t.”
Rich says the album came together quickly. “This record was written in a flow — rapidly over the course of three or four months. We wrote with some interesting people, like Frankie Ballard, Eric Paslay, and Shannon Lawson. Gerry House and I wrote a song called ‘That Kind Of Town,’ which is probably one of my favorite lyrics in a long time. So there was some interesting talent that came into play with the writing that we have never worked with before. The twist now is that people are saying, ‘These sound like radio smashes, but they still sound like Big & Rich.'”
One of those songs, “Lovin’ Lately,” features some all-star help from Tim McGraw. “That was his title,” says Rich. “He told it to us in a parking lot in Canada, where we were doing a show with him. He said he had a song title — ‘Who You Been Loving Lately?’ We thought it was brilliant. We wrote it, recorded it, and emailed it to him. His response was a video treatment — he wrote an entire video script for the song. I looked at Kenny and said, ‘I guess he likes it.’ Kenny said, ‘Apparently so, we should ask him if he wants to sing on it.’ He said, ‘Sure! What are you doing next Thursday at 3pm?’ We said, ‘Recording you, Brother Tim.’
“So he comes in and we recorded him. Then he graciously gives us the green light to release it as the follow-up single to ‘Look At You.'”
Gravity, Big & Rich’s first record on Big & Rich Records, drops Sept. 23.