COUNTRY HEROES BIG & RICH BRING THEIR SOUTHERN STYLE TO THE BIG INTERVIEW, IN AN ALL-NEW EPISODE ON TUES., FEB. 16, AT 8pE
Beloved country stars John Rich and Big Kenny—better known as the smash hit duo Big & Rich—rock THE BIG INTERVIEW, in an all-new episode premiering Tuesday, February 16, at 8pE. During the candid hour-long sit-down, the award-winning twosome opens up about the trials and tribulations of creating their own label, their musical influences, the creation of the MuzikMafia, and how to determine what qualifies as real country music.
Outlining how the production of their fifth album, 2014’s Gravity, led to the duo creating their own record label, John Rich says, “We recorded this record, Gravity, we were on Warner Brothers Records at the time… The label has no idea we’re even doing it, and we finish the thing and turn it in at Warner Brothers, and go, ‘Surprise! New Big & Rich record!’ And Warner Brothers goes, ‘That’s great! It’s gonna be at least a year before we can put something out, ‘cause we’ve already got our entire year planned out.’… I think Kenny put it best, he said, ‘Well, sometimes, creativity and commerce have to part ways’, and that’s exactly what happened.”
Rich continues, “We were able to get out of our deal at Warner Brothers, and now we’re sitting here with this record, Gravity, going, ‘Well, should we go to another record label with it, or maybe we should just do it ourselves’… The pros are we get to call all the shots, we get to determine the marketing, we get to determine what songs come out, when they come out, how they come out. And we own the content, ‘cause that’s the big one. You own the masters, you own those recordings. But, what are you giving up? Well, you’re giving up the political muscle that the record label has.”
Kenny expounds on this, saying, “And you’re taking on the risk. Everything, you know, if you don’t perform it, you don’t make it happen, then it’s gonna come out of your own pocket. You’re completely at risk, but you also know that your own decisions are what’s gonna get you there.”
On the music that has influenced and inspired their own trademark brand of country, Rich says, “Kenny and I draw from all the way back to Johnny Horton, and Roger Miller, and Hank Sr., and Johnny Cash, and all those kinda guys, all the way up to modern acts like AC/DC. I mean, if you listen to ‘Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy’, that’s an AC/DC track with a fiddle and a banjo on it.”
Kenny adds, “It’s based on all our influences, musically. And then, lyrically, always based on some story or something that happened in our lives. Most all of them have come from some sort of a real place. And I think that’s one of the key dynamics of it… John and I have never been afraid of talking about tough subjects… But, we’ve also tried to keep the balance of that, and never being afraid to just go out and have a good time and have songs that were about a good time. ‘Cause that’s the balance of life. Hank Sr. could definitely touch on the blues, but country music is also driven on the joy of life and having a good time.”
On the creation of their famed collective of artists, known as the MuzikMafia, Rich reveals, “There was a real segregation of genre at that point, here in Nashville. The big phrase was, ‘That ain’t country.’ If you’re an urban artist, you can’t write a country song. If you’re a country artist, you can’t write a rock n’ roll song… It’s like, you have to stay in your lane, stay in your box. And what they were forgetting is, if you go back to guys like Johnny Cash, he was a rock n’ roll act coming out of Memphis, singing about the most outrageous subjects… That was the beginning, the MuzikMafia disproving the myth that you had to segregate the creative sides.”
With the genre’s sound constantly evolving, many traditional fans and artists have begun questioning what can and cannot be called ‘country.’ Rich effectively puts an end to the debate, stating, “Some of the new country music out now is pushing it even further than we pushed it, and you’ll hear that come up again, ‘Well, that ain’t country.’ Well, you know who decides what’s country or not? The fans. And if the fans buy that record, and they heard it on the country station, and they go to that guy or girl’s show, guess what! That’s country. That’s where country music is right now.”
To see more of this entertaining episode, be sure to tune in to THE BIG INTERVIEW on Tuesday, February 16 at 8pE, only on AXS TV.
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