WHAT'S ON BIG KENNY'S PLAYLIST?
"Success hasn't spoiled Big & Rich one bit, it just loosened the chain," explains John Rich. "Everything we've experienced so far has just given us even more room to do even more stuff."
And as Big & Rich's much-anticipated and mind-blowing second album Comin' To Your City proves loud and clear, sometimes more really is more.
"The first album told the world who we are, and we are most definitely A Horse of A Different Color," says Big Kenny. "Now the second album tells you what we're going to do next -- we're Comin' To Your City, every nook and cranny."
Produced once again by Big Kenny, John Rich and Paul Worley, Comin' To Your City -- released on November 15, 2005 -- is a brave and bold album that promises to put "a little bang in your yin yang" to borrow a memorable phrase from the album's title track. Comin' To Your City also shows exactly how far Big & Rich have come in the past two years since they first brought a much-needed blast of fresh air into a country music scene that was becoming too stale and safe for its own good. And so the massive success story of Big & Rich is an unusually heartening one and the result of a tremendous "Leap of Faith," to quote the title of one of the album's many standout tracks.
"When we were making the first album Big Kenny was in debt $140,000 in credit cards, living in a little farm house out in a field, driving a broke-down truck," John Rich recalls. "And I wasn't doing much better. We were two guys trying to make this outrageous album for country radio, and wondering, are we just completely pissing in the wind? I was what I'd call a two-time loser. I'd got fired from the band Lonestar. Then I made a solo album that didn't do anything. So Big & Rich was my third chance and if you get three chances in this business, you're pretty damn lucky. This time around, we didn't worry. We just went in and cut what felt good to us. The biggest thing we've learned so far is that if it's turning on me and Kenny musically, it will turn on our fans."
On Comin' To Your City, Big & Rich and company sound even more turned on to be making their own open-hearted, open-minded brand of "country music without prejudice."
For Big Kenny, "Our mission this time around was to step it up again and make Act 2 -- to make great songs into a great record, start to finish. Being Big & Rich, the only thing success has done is allow us to do more for more people and to make more music for ourselves. We're not resting on our laurels or kicking back for a moment. We have to have all extremes. See to John and me, records are more like mix tapes. We take it to all extremes and then make it all fit together – the idea is to never get bored. We just try to find great moments wherever we go – that's what keeps our yin and yang working, that's what keeps us Big & Rich. Hopefully what we're doing will just keep encouraging more and more people to be themselves and be real."
Comin' To Your City is a wide-ranging and widescreen tour de force -- all the way from the willfully weird opening of "The Freak Parade," one of the duo's characteristically funny but true statements of purpose to the concluding "8th of November," easily the most powerful and serious song they brought the world yet.
"We know what we do is freaky," John Rich says. "We know we're combining stuff in the chemistry set that in the instructions say 'Don't combine these things or they might explode.' We say fine, let's combine them anyway. We'll just wear a helmet. That's our whole attitude toward music."
That kind of thinking has helped make the duo and the Muzik Mafia – of which Big & Rich are proud, central members -- a force to be reckoned with, and a force for tremendous good in Music City. Already the Mafia has introduced the listening, watching world to an unforgettable cast of real characters like Gretchen Wilson, Cowboy Troy and now Jon Nicholson, James Otto and many more to come.
"The thing I'm most proud of is that the members of the Muzik Mafia have stuck together even after going multi-platinum," says Big Kenny. "It's easy sticking together when you're all broke. It's been like being on a football team and winning the Super Bowl a couple of times. It's fun to win, but it's a lot more fun to win with your friends. I know we've given the artistic community in Nashville a bigger set of balls, and we've watched our old friends getting signed. It was a big door to knock down. We have this philosophy that there should be no bureaucracy in creativity. Let the artists be the artists and do what they do. All the little boxes they put people in were beginning to suffocate creativity. The thing I'm most proud of is that John and I have made a big enough crack in the door that other artists are sticking their foot through now."
In this way, Big & Rich are now part of a story even bigger than their own impressive success. "I know we've given people hope and give labels some more courage," says Rich. "That's bigger than just our career – that's impacting the business in general. Kenny and I love country music and the way we see it, it's the most inclusive music in the world. We've had black guys like Charley Pride, real hippies like Willie. To us country is the greatest music and if what we do expands what country means -- that's the greatest success of all. All the people we consider the pillars of country music -- let's name some: Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Alabama, Garth -- all these people shook things up in a big way."
Now with Big & Rich's Comin' To Your City, you can hear the sound of a whole lot of shakin' going on coming your way.
To learn more about Big & Rich, visit their official website at www.bigandrich.com. And to meet the rest of the Muzik Mafia, visit www.muzikmafia.com.