Monday, May 27, 2013

DB Congress Exclusive Interview: Ross Copperman On A Journey With Dierks Bentley, Produces New "Riser" Album

Dierks Bentley says he threw away the playbook again for his upcoming album, "Riser."  

“I’m working with a different producer, different engineer. Just different songs, man, and it feels really fresh," Dierks tells KMLE“I’m always trying to search for some new angle,” he said of the writing and recording process. And so for Riser, “just because of where my life is right now, with my dad passing away, and getting a little older, there’s more depth I can dig into. So it kinda has that layer on top of the other stuff.”

That new producer is Ross Copperman (plaid shirt above, Dierks is to his right).  You'll remember him as a co-writer on Dierks' Top Five single, "Tip It On Back." 

Ross' own songs can be heard on television shows like "The Vampire Diaries" and the new ABC show, "Nashville."  We're very excited he agreed to yet another exclusive DB Congress interview with us, giving us a lot of great insight into the production of "Riser!"

DBC: Since our first interview with you about co-writing “Tip It On Back,” you’ve been a busy guy! Co-writing, producing, recording your own songs…which of the three is your favorite and why?

RC: I actually need all 3 to keep myself creative. It's nice to be able to spend a week writing, and then spend a week in the studio. I try my best to keep it balanced so I can give everything 100 percent.

DBC: Congratulations on your recent nomination for Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year from Music Row! The award honors a songwriter who for the first time wrote or co-wrote a Top 10 song (“Pirate Flag,” recorded by Kenny Chesney and “Tip It On Back,” recorded by Dierks Bentley). How do you feel about that?

RC: Being nominated for Breakthrough Songwriter is a huge honor for me. It's the kind of thing I've worked hard for over the past 8 years. It's humbling to be in the same category with some of my good friends and talented artists/writers.

DBC: Your own songs as a pop-rock artist, “Holding On and Letting Go" has been featured all over television the last few years: CSI: NY, The Vampire Diaries, The Biggest Loser, and in earlier years you and your songs were heard on ER, Ghost Whisperer and One Tree Hill. What did that exposure do for your career?

RC: I like to write for tv/film as often as I get the chance. Unfortunately I haven't had that much time to focus on it the past few months. I've actually been tied up working on the tv show, "Nashville." Looking forward to doing more work on season 2.

DBC: How did your “producer” role for “Riser” come about? Did Dierks call you? What did that conversation sound like?

RC: Arthur Buenehora (executive producer) and Dierks decided they wanted to try something different for this record. They stepped out on a limb with me and took a chance. This record was a collaboration at it's finest.  We all really had a strong vision for "Riser," and it's been an incredible journey.

DBC: What does a producer really DO?

RC: Find the songs. Book a studio/engineer/band. Mix. Master.

DBC: How different was it for you producing a country album?

RC: I try not to think about albums in that way. I don't like to be restricted by genres."Drunk On A Plane" actually has an 808 kick drum and a fiddle.

DBC: We love the fiddle, but what the heck is an 808 kick drum? 

RC: An 808 is a kick drum that's been mainly used in Hip-Hop and Pop, but lately it's been creeping into country music.

DBC: What project (as a producer) are you most proud of?

RC: Riser- Dierks Bentley

DBC: We’ve seen a list of possible songs for the album and eight of them you co-wrote with Dierks. How was working with Dierks different from a production standpoint vs. co-writing with him?

RC: Dierks is a dream to work with. Writing with Dierks is great b/c he really brings it. He's a phenomenal lyricist. It's cool b/c I get to work on the track while he's back there thinking of genius lines. In the studio he owns it as well. He likes to get out on the floor with the band and sing scratch vocals of every song going down live. Most artist's don't like to get their hands dirty. Dierks is just a good dude. Honor to work with him.

DBC: Which of those songs that you co-wrote with Dierks and others made the album or do you hope makes the album? (Boom, Damn These Dreams, Five, Here On Earth, Something Worth Saving (that also included Pirate Flag co-writer David Lee Murphy), ‘Til You, Walking a Wire, Wanna Know How You Feel).

RC: I'll let it be a surprise for when the album drops.

DBC: How "hands on" was Dierks in the production process as compared to other artists you have produced.

RC: Dierks gets right up in the process with me. He spent many days and nights at my studio adding parts, whether it be a guitar part that he came up with, or a BGV [Background Vocal]. He really took the songs to the next level. He's got great vision and clarity.

DBC: We are really interested in all the different venues you and Dierks recorded in, vs. the traditional studio. We understand some songs were recorded live with the band “as the musicians laid down the tracks.” Does that mean THE band --Cassady Feasby, Dan Hochhalter, Brian Layson Steve Misamore and Tim Sergent? If so, we could not be more excited! They are one talented bunch on stage!

RC: Most of the record was tracked at Oceanway A, which is a legendary studio. In my opinion it's the best drum room in Nashville. The band was actually Craig Wright on drums, Lee Hendricks on Bass [both from Eric Church's tour band], Jedd Hughes on Guitar, Dan Dugmore on Steel, and Bryan Sutton on Acoustic. There was a song called "Here on Earth," that we wrote and cut Dierks' final vocal on his bus Goldie.

DBC: Sounds heavenly! We hope it makes the album!

DBC: Tell us about the song(s) recorded on Dierks’ tour bus—as in “Old Goldie?” There’s not a lot of room on a bus, did you record those acoustically?

RC: I had a few guitars out there on the bus and I programmed the rest. We ended up recutting drums and bass in the studio, but I kept Dierks' vocal from the bus. I always believe that you never sing a song as good as you do when you just finish writing it. Dierks wanted to go eat lunch but I asked him to give me one scratch vocal first, and luckily we did it b/c that became the final vocal.

DBC: Still others were cut at your house with you “at Dierks side, pushing him to some of his most emotional, and seasoned, performances,” according to the press release. What songs did you record at your house? We’re guessing, “I Hold On” was one of them, given the personal meaning to him after his dad’s death.

RC: All the rest of the vocals were cut at my studio. Dierks felt really comfortable at my studio b/c we were cutting vocals in the same room. There was no glass separating us. Jake came to the studio most of the time and just sat at my feet while we cut the vocals. I've got my vocal chain dialed in to where it sounds very inspiring for the artist to sing.

DBC: What do you mean by "vocal chain dialed in?"

RC: I used a very specific vocal chain when recording vocals. Vocal Chain = microphone, preamp and compressor.

From the press release: 

“It’s not even really a studio,” Dierks says of Copperman’s set-up. “It’s just kind of a corner of the house he’s taken over, so there was a kind of intimacy to the vocal process. It was important to get out of the studio and sing in different places, and to do it with other people in the room. That way, you have an audience and you get a sense of what’s working, what’s not working, when it’s feeling good, not feeling good. It brings a little more emotion and energy out of your voice.”

DBC: The excitement is building for the new single, “Bourbon In Kentucky,” co-written by Hillary Lindsey, Gordie Sampson and Ryan Tyndell, hitting airwaves May 28 [the preview clip was released this morning from Rolling Stone]. How did you approach producing this song and what role did you play in selecting it for the first single from the album?

RC: The demo on this song was magic. It was a great road map to build on for the actual record. The decision for this to be the first single was unanimous at the label. Everyone chose it. Very excited for everyone to hear it.

DBC: Have you read our Travis Meadows interview (co-writer for the title track, “I’m A Riser?" What were your thoughts when you first heard the song and how did you help Dierks interpret that through his own vocals? Are you a riser?

RC: I knew that this could be a big song. I was moved when I heard the demo that Travis was singing. I believed every word he said and I wanted to capture that in Dierks. D really owned this lyric and made it his own. We are all Riser's.

Thanks for all your insightful, honest answers, and helping paint the picture of the recording and producing process, Ross! We are looking forward to an emotional body of work when Dierks releases "Riser" in the fall!

~Ronna Clark
DB Congress Chair (FL)

Dierks Bentley Previews First Single from 'Riser': Bourbon In Kentucky

Thanks to, we're able to watch a preview clip of Dierks Bentley's first single, Bourbon In Kentucky, from his new album, "Riser," with Kacey Musgraves on harmonies!

There ain't enough Bourbon in Kentucky for me to forget you
Naw there ain't enough matches I could strike 
To set afire the memory of you

"I don't want anyone going in to have any preconceived notions about what this album's gonna sound like, what the rest of the album's gonna sound like, I want the first song out there that just gonna kinda shatter any expectations..."

"What's great about that song is its totally different. I never heard anything else like it before. I love the motion of it you know, I've been there before where you can't drink your way over a heartache or over a broken heart."

Stack up every barrel since the day it was made
Satisfaction guaranteed to kill the pain
but there ain't enough kisses

"It was really cool, cos I sent Kacey a text and she wrote back and she just said I would love to but I gotta be honest, I'm just like so crazy busy right now my single coming out, traveling, touring...I probably can't do it but I love the idea of it just send it to me but I probably can't. I sent her the song, she wrote back right away.. I'm in, I love it, I wanna do it."

In my arms, in my bed, yeah the hell with the rest 
Once you've had the best nothing else will do
What's the use?

"I just love the angst of it, I love the aggressive lonesomeness of it...when everyone kinda jumped on to be the first single, I was excited."

We're excited, too!  Get ready to start requesting, congress!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

DB Congress Exclusive Interview: "Riser" Songwriters - Part One

The day Dierks Bentley announced his new album, Riser, scheduled for a fall release, Twitter was all a buzz with excitement.  We started seeing Travis Meadows and Steve Moakler pop up in tweets with Dierks' name and the title of the album, which comes from a cut they wrote called, "Riser." It's a song about going through tough times, getting knocked down and fighting to get back up again and rise above it all.

It's also the first title song of an album since Modern Day Drifter that Dierks has not been a co-writer. But its a perfect match for Dierks, following the year of his father's death.

A few tweets and emails later and both songwriters agreed to answer a few questions for DB Congress about "Riser!" 
"We are on a journey, the endless cycle of life, love, loss, faith, freedom and family...We learn from our past, to define our future. Everyone has a defining moment in their life, a breakthrough moment, the moment you choose to be...a riser."
- Dierks Bentley

Travis Meadows, Co-writer, "Riser,"
title cut from Dierks Bentley's upcoming album, Riser

First up is Travis Meadows, whose Twitter bio says, "Riding comfortably under the radar," but don't let that fool you.  He's been through cancer, chemo, alcohol, drugs and more, but his talent pushed him to rise above it all.  Landing cuts with Jake Owen, Ronnie Dunn and Lee Ann Womack, and singing with raw emotion on his own albums, Travis is a true talent. Oh, and happy early birthday to Travis, Thursday, May 23!

DBC: What was your reaction when you heard Dierks Bentley was recording your song?

: I was blown away. I've been a fan of Dierks since I heard Lot Of Leavin Left To Do.

DBC:  What was co-writing with Steve Moakler like? Have you written together previously? What songs?

:  Steve is a great guy. He is young and very optimistic. We write great songs together. The first song we wrote together is "Wide Open" on my Old Ghosts and Unfinished Business album. I think he may record it, too.

DBC: How did the song make its way to Dierks? Did he hear it? Did you pitch it?

TM: Steve and I both write at Kobalt Music Publishing. Jeff Skaggs is one of the song pluggers there. I'm pretty sure he played it for the Dierks' camp.

DBC: What do you think Dierks’ treatment/interpretation brought to the song? Is it the same as your original or were changes made?

TM: I only heard it once but it was magic. They kept a lot of the vibe from my original demo but Dierks masterfully made it feel like his own. That’s what a true artist does.

DBC: Have you heard Dierks' final cut of the song? If so, how do you feel about that? 

TM: Hearing him sing it made me very proud to do what I do for a living.

DBC:  How much more special is having the title track than just an album cut?

TM: After hearing about the passing of Dierks’ dad it makes it even more special. I had the title track on a Lynyrd Skynyrd record a while back. This is even more meaningful to me because I've had a lot of personal challenges that I have lived through that make this record such a gift to me.

DBC: Tell us about the backstory –was the song inspired by any specific events? You just released your own EP, “Old Ghosts and Unfinished Business,” on May 7. Did you consider including ‘Riser’ on that compilation? It seems to fit the mood of the other 7 songs.

:  I always write like I'm working on my next record, because I write better songs when I do. When I try to predict what Dierks or Tim McGraw or whoever, wants to hear, those songs suck. I did in fact consider this track for the Old Ghosts and Unfinished Business record but I decided against it along with Jeremy Spillman who produced it. I'm glad we didn't put it on there now because Dierks killed it!

DBC: You also released “Killin’ Uncle Buzzy” in 2011. One of the reviews said, “Do your soul a favor, buy this album and listen to the whole thing start to finish—if you’re not moved I’ll give you $10.” What do you think about that?

:  I have made a lot mistakes in my life. There are two things in it that I am positive I did right. My son Josiah and Killin Uncle Buzzy. That record documents me getting sober and essentially getting my life back. I bled that record and anybody that hears it hears the honesty and it cuts straight to the heart. It touches me that it touches so many others.

DBC: How interesting that you used to tour with Keith Thibodeaux (Little Ricky on 'I Love Lucy'). What was that like? 

TM: Keith is an amazing man. We used to play in a couple of bands together and he is the best drummer in the world period.

DBC: Where did you grow up? When/why did you move to Nashville?

: I grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. I moved here about ten years ago because I had two things on my list of thing to do before I die. One of which was to see if I could write with the best writers in the world and make a go of it.

DBC:   You’ve had many songs cut by well-known contemporary Christian artists, with a number one – Should’ve Been Lovin’ You-- cut by Jonathon Pierce, winning you an ASCAP Award in 2001—congratulations! How much of a chance do you feel ‘Riser’ has at getting to the number one country spot?

: I gave up on guessing what songs will do great and which ones won't. These days I leave it up to the people listening to the radio. I write every song as if it is the last one I will write and work very hard to make it great. Dierks is a star and a heck of a singer. I hope it is the biggest song either one of us has ever had.

DBC: Who else have you written for previously?

: Jake Owen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ronnie Dunn, Lee Ann Womack and High Valley to name a few. Also had a nice string of David and Giants back in the day on Christian radio.

DBC: Watching the video of you performing ‘Riser’ at the Red Clay Theater, I couldn’t click repeat fast enough! Your delivery of the line, “and honey I’m a fighter” was so powerful. Your voice sounds like a cross between Will Hoge and Bruce Springsteen (that’s a compliment!) Why haven’t we heard you on country radio?

: Maybe I started too late. I spent a lot of time in my 20's and 30's singing in churches and not pursuing country music. That was before the big fall. Several trips to rehab and jail later here I am making records playing shows for anybody that will listen.

DBC: A favorite part of the song is the bridge: “I’m a try-er// I’m a get down low so I can lift you higher//An army couldn’t keep back my desire.” How did that line come about?

: Me and Steve were in the middle of writing it and we knew we needed a few different words there. And they just kinda came out. Not sure where from.

DBC: Have you talked to Dierks recently? Tell us about that conversation.

: I got to write with him because of the song. It was a great day. We talked about love and our kids mostly. Sappy I know.

DBC: We can’t wait to hear the entire album! Do you have any other cuts on it?

: I wish I did because I have this gut feeling it’s gonna be his biggest one yet. He deserves it.

Travis also sent us the original lyrics:

Steve Moakler Travis Meadows
May 9 12

Lay your pretty head down on my shoulder
you don't have to worry any more
this old world is colder and getting colder
I know how to lock and bolt the door
Im strong enough to hold you through the winter
mean enough to stare your demons down
hard times put the shine into the diamond
I won't let it keep us in the ground

Im a riser
I'm a get up off ground
don't run and hider
push comes to shovin Im a fighter
when darkness comes to town Im a lighter
get out aliver of the fire

If we aint got money I can make it
I aint afraid of working to the bone
when i dont know what Im doing i can fake it
ill pray till jesus rolls away the stone

Im a tryer
Im a get Down low so i can lift you higher
an army couldn't Keep down my desire

*COMING SOON! Stay tuned for Part Two of the DB Congress exclusive interview with co-writer Steve Moakler.

~Ronna Clark
DB Congress Chair (FL)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Exciting New Album and Single News!

Today information was released about Dierks Bentley's 7th studio album, due this Fall. The album, titled Riser, promises to be his most personal yet, according to the press release. The title of the album comes from the song "I'm a Riser" that will be included on the set, and here's what Dierks has to say about the inspiration behind it:
“Life in general has a way of knocking you down,” Bentley says. “It’s different reasons for different folks – could be personal reasons, could be family reasons, your job, drugs, alcohol. That song really applies to anybody that’s lived. There have always been those moments when we have to get back up and get on our feet. They are defining moments…breakthrough moments.”
The album also finds Dierks going back to his roots, if you will, enlisting the help of executive producer Arturo Beunahora, Jr who produced his first two albums: the critically acclaimed self-titled debut, and equally acclaimed Modern Day Drifter.  Dierks also enlisted production assistance from Ross Copperman, who you'll remember was one of the songwriters for Dierks' most recent Top-5 hit "Tip it on Back."

You can read all about Riser here, and if you'd like to download the Riser logo (shown above) to be your Facebook or Twitter profile picture, you can go to And here's a video teaser for the album as well!

In addition to exciting album news, rumor has it the lead single from the album is a tune called "Bourbon in Kentucky," written by Hillary Lindsey, Gordie Sampson, and Ryan Tyndell. Many thanks to CA DBC Rep Kristin Toon for tweeting the info and for asking about the song title in her m&g with Dierks on Saturday night! I've looked all over the web to find a video or audio link to the demo of the song, but unfortunately I haven't been able to find it. What I have been able to find, however, are a lot of positive comments about the song, and it sounds like a line in the chorus is "there's not enough bourbon in Kentucky to make me forget about you." Sounds like we might have a good old-fashioned heartbroke country song on our hands! Look for "Bourbon in Kentucky" to hit radio in the next few weeks - we'll keep you posted as soon as we know the exact date it's going to radio.

As for the songwriters, they are no strangers to the #1 spot on the charts, having penned such songs as Lady A's "American Honey," Sara Evans' "A Little Bit Stronger," Gary Allen's "Every Storm (Runs Out of  Rain)," and Eric Church's MASSIVE hit "Springsteen." Hopefully they'll be able to score another chart-topper with this new song from Dierks!

We hope you're as excited for this album and single news as we are, Congress! The rest of 2013 is looking to be exciting times in the world of Dierks. Stay tuned right here for all the latest news!

Carrie ~ DBC Rep/Chart Reporter ~ NC

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dierks Bentley Guest Blogs for CNN, Remembers His Friend George Jones

Remembering George Jones. WSM's Eddie Stubbs is hosting a special tribute to George Jones tonight until midnight. Go to to listen live right now! 

Also, if you cannot be there in person, tune in at 10 AM/CT tomorrow,Thursday, May 2 to hear the George Jones service live on 650 AM and from The Grand Ole Opry.

In a special guest blog for CNN, Dierks reflects on the life and loss of his dear friend, George Jones. Read his heartfelt message below: 
"Damn it, I knew I needed to get in touch with George when I'd heard he was ill, that he had been admitted to the hospital for respiratory ailments. How did I let this happen?"
Those where my initial thoughts sitting on the tarmac at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport reading the texts and e-mails about George Jones's death Friday morning.
George was a friend, a country music legend, an influence to me and to countless other musicians.
If you aren't able to fully hear and appreciate George Jones' voice, you really can't fully appreciate country music. His voice opens up country music's depth and power. You feel it or you don't. It helps to have done some living and to have had your heart broken, like George did. And it really helps if you can hang around one of its greatest singers, which I was fortunate enough to do over the years.
During a show at the Ryman Auditorium in the mid-'90s, I heard the great bluegrass singer Peter Rowan say that if you have a musical hero, you should do anything you can to be near that person. For him that meant driving Bill Monroe's tour bus. For me, it meant hanging around Terry Eldredge, my hero when I moved to Nashville, and the lead singer of a band called "The Sidemen," which played Tuesdays at the Station Inn.
Terry idolized George Jones. It was through him that i began to "hear" George, not just listen to him. There is a big difference between listening and hearing. I had listened to George growing up with my dad, a big country fan. I had listened to him in high school again, when I discovered Hank Williams Jr. and found out Hank also loved George. But it wasn't until I was in Nashville and hanging out with Terry that I finally heard George Jones. I finally got it. The tone and the ache of his voice clicked. I heard how every word George sang was first filtered through a broken heart.
We became friends eventually. From time spent together backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, visits at the home of George and his wife, Nancy, dinner at his favorite O'Charley's or Logan's Roadhouse, I cherished every moment in his presence, getting to hear firsthand accounts of stories I had read, the jokes and the laughter, the love between him and Nancy.
Having the opportunity to sing to George from the Opry stage for his 75th birthday in 2006 and to record in the studio together are unforgettable highlights of this crazy honky tonk dream.
People will always say that "He Stopped Loving Her Today" was George's best song and perhaps the greatest country song of all time. I certainly wouldn't disagree. But do yourself a favor and dig a little deeper. One of those nights when you are feeling down or lonesome, instead of going to the usual modern day distractions, grab some whiskey and listen to "A Picture of Me (Without You)," "The Cold Hard Truth," "A Good Year For The Roses," or my favorite, "The Door." Put your heart in George's hands and trust that he will take care of it.
That is what great country music (at least my favorite kind) and great country singers do; that is what country is all about: consoling the lonely, letting you know someone else has been there and has felt the way you do. It's about walking you through the hard times.
My dad was a member of this country's greatest generation. He grew up in The Depression and fought in WWII. There aren't many left. George is a member of country music's greatest generation. And there are only a handful of those men and women left. Go to their shows, talk to them if you can. Let them know how much you appreciate their music and if you are lucky enough, their friendship. Let them know the impact their singing or songwriting has had on your life. But don't do it for their sake, do it for your own.

So that when they are no longer with us, you might feel just a little less sad."