Saturday, May 7, 2011
Ringleaders of the Party: Team Dierks
Country star Dierks Bentley's Jagermeister Country Tour is the perfect place to preview songs from his as-yet unnamed forthcoming album.
"I play two to three songs off the new record," Bentley told SoundSpike. "[It's a] loud, rowdy tour. It's just fun. It's a great time. We're having a blast out here. We're doing a couple new songs, but for the most part it's the hits and up-tempo stuff. It's a big party and we want to do our job as the ringleaders of the party and do it right. We always feel like we do. We try to have more fun than anybody else in the room that seems to be the key to the success of the whole deal."
Included in that set list is the upbeat "Am I the Only One" from Bentley's new collection, which is due out before the end of the year. He said the song is going over very well live. Since his self-titled major-label debut in 2003, Bentley has scored plenty of raucous hits including "What Was I Thinkin'," "Settle for a Slowdown," "Feel That Fire" and "Sideways."
An Arizona native, Bentley spoke to SoundSpike about the tour, the upcoming record and the photo shoot he did with Esquire for its May music issue.
SoundSpike: How's the tour going so far?
Dierks Bentley: Tour's going great. It's just a fun tour. It's the Jagermeister Country Tour and it's a fun, amps cranked up, loud rowdy crowd kind of tour. We're having a good time.
How are the openers, Josh Thompson and Miss Willie Brown?
Josh Thompson is a great guy, a lot of energy and a lot of fun to be around. Puts on a good show. Miss Willie Brown is the other act, and they're also just a brand new band, a lot of great energy and they were rocking out every night. The girls are funny. They're exactly what you want to have as an opening act.
How is "Am I the Only One" going over live?
It's great. I've been off the radio for a little bit because I made more of a bluegrass-flavored album that didn't work as well for country radio. I had no expectations for it. I knew what I was doing. I really wanted to make that record. Now I'm on to this one. I wanted to get one out there that would be fun for our fans to have for the summer and something new that country music would love and something that would go over great in the live shows -- especially this Jagermeister tour. I play it early in the set list. It really gets the party rocking and people seem to be digging on it. It's been a lot of fun.
Do you have a name for the album?
I don't have a name for it yet. I'm still working on it. It probably won't come out until late summer, early fall. I'm still trying to figure it all out. I did most of the recording back [in], I guess it would have been February. Now that we're on the road, I'm going back and forth here and there trying to do the overdubs and fix it up a little bit.
I read that you recorded it in five days.
Yeah, I did the majority it of it in five days. There are still lots [of things] to do. We did the majority of the tracking. We just need to add a fiddle here and there, change some things up here and there. There are a lot of little tweaks that need to be done to make it just right. I did a lot of work going into that -- months of songwriting, months of listening to other people's material. Getting it all together. We kind of had the game plan. I hope for some magic and try to rock it out. It turned out pretty good.
Describe the songwriting process for your new album.
Just a lot of it. [Laughs] Just writing 50 to 60 songs and with some of the best songwriters in town. I tried to narrow those down and also listened to about 2,000 songs personally, and tried to whittle it all down to the top 20, 25 and take those in there and put out the top 11 or 12.
Wow, you wrote and listened to that many songs?
A lot. About a hundred days' worth of writing.
Do you write when you have to, or when you're inspired?
I get inspired when I have to. You come off tour and you come off the road and your brain changes into that mode. Then you're always thinking of a song title or an idea. I go into that mode.
You mentioned your last record, "Up on the Ridge." Did you always want to do a bluegrass record?
It's something I've always wanted to do. The time was right about two years ago to really think about doing it. I was able to make that record. Go out there and tour behind it last year. Have it be nominated for a CMA, ACM, Grammy Country Album of the Year. I'm really, really proud of that record.
Are nominations and awards important to you?
Yeah. They've very important. TV time. They're huge. All that stuff is important, a big deal as far as making people aware of your music. As far as personally how important they are to me, nothing's more important than just getting the chance to play music and walk out on stage every night and have that audience there waiting for you. That's why we do what we do. They're extremely important. I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel great to have that album nominated for those three award shows. It's a great feeling to have that respect from your peers, especially as a songwriter. Yeah, they're important to me. It feels good.
What's your favorite song to play live?
I kind of love all of them for different reasons. The up-tempo ones like "What Was I Thinking," the new one, "Am I the Only One," see some fists and beers in the air. There are also songs that slow it down and I get to sing on. I love those, too. I think I've always picked songs that I know if, forever down the road, I always enjoy singing.
You did a photo shoot in Detroit for Esquire and wrote a song about the city. Tell me a bit about that.
I did. I did it about two months ago. It's just coming out. [The deal] is, you get a song title about a week in advance. You go up there, record a song and they do a photo shoot with four other artists, all different genres of music. It's a great hang. I wrote a song called "Line No. 7," inspired by a story I'd heard about a steel stamping assembly line plant that was completely disassembled and reassembled in different parts of the world. One line went to Mexico and one in Brazil. They make these same parts and send them back to Detroit. It's crazy, I guess, how much cheaper it is to make parts elsewhere. It's a sad story about Detroit. I wrote this song as part of that Esquire
Source: SoundSpikeStory by Christina Fuoco-Karasinski