John Rich and Big Kenny Alphin have always been the life of the party. So it seems fitting that Big & Rich’s latest album, released September 15, 2017, bears a title that captures the country music duo’s enthusiasm for life with a heavy dose of fun. Did It For The Party, including its chart-climbing single “California,” is classic Big & Rich—which, as Rich reminds me, is traditionally non-traditional.
Five minutes into our conversation, I’m pretty sure Big & Rich could be named Big & Rich & Fun. And the guys aren’t arguing with me over the suggestion. “I would say that that descriptive would definitely fit right in there,” says Alphin, explaining that while they recognize the ups and downs that life tosses our way, it’s leading audiences to a little fun that can also make a positive difference in the day. “We can always fall back to just having ourselves a good time. The fun definitely puts the smiles on people’s faces, and it puts a lot of smiles on our faces.”
Listen to the conversation with Big & Rich.
But life as Big & Rich has never been 24/7 parties. The guys have clocked their hours when it comes to diving into the music business and doing all of the homework.
“Hard work has never been a problem for Big & Rich. Now, we do have a lot of fun—we probably have more fun than anybody out there—any two guys out there anywhere, is what I think. But at the same time, as hard as we play, we work that hard too, if not even harder. And that’s kind of been the secret I think to our success,” explains Rich.
Alphin and Rich recognize the role teamwork has played in their careers and they aren’t taking it for granted.
“I think a team by its very nature has strengths that play off of each other. I mean any team out there. Let’s talk about a football team or a basketball team or a team of lawyers. You want to have people that are really strong at what they are, but maybe not redundant with the other team members because not everybody can cover every base at the same time. And I think you look at me and Kenny and that’s exactly what we are. Kenny has got his 180 degrees covered and I’ve got my 180 degrees covered. And then sometimes we overlap, but at any given time between the two of us we pretty much have a 360 perspective of what we’re doing and what we’re trying to accomplish,” notes Rich.
Alphin believes that their individual strengths are multiplied by the other’s abilities. “We open each other’s minds up to things that can be greater than what we would have thought by ourselves. And you know, to have a relationship like that, you are constantly learning from it.”
Did It For The Party, like every Big & Rich album, is a labor of love with a whole lot of labor. That’s not unexpected when you’re writing all of your own songs and intent on making each one a winner.
Says Rich, “We try to put 11 or 12 songs on there that we feel like every single one of them is our best work. And this record is another one of those ‘bodies of work’ as we like to call them. People work hard for their money, you know. If they’re gonna go spend money on a Big & Rich record, we want to make sure it’s something that they go, ‘You know what? That was some good money spent. I’m glad I bought that record. Man this record is bad to the bone, and man I’ve listened to it 100 times already.’ That’s what we’re going for. And I think that’s one reason why our fans have stuck with us this whole time, continue to buy our records, continue to pack our shows out, because Big Kenny and I give them 100 percent of everything we’ve got. Every single time.”
What keeps the fans engaged? Both musicians believe it is their ability to tap genuine life experiences.
“Life is the ultimate lyric, right?” asks Rich rhetorically. “I think that one of the big keys to songwriting is paying attention to what’s going on around you, who you just met, what you just said, what he just said, and in there in the basic conversation of life lies all the songs.”
Big Kenny backs this up, “Amen. Just always keep your antennas up and a heart and a mind that’s open to receiving.”
Listen to Did It For The Party on iTunes.
Nancy Berk, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, comic and entertainment analyst. The host of the showbiz podcast Whine At 9, Nancy digs a little deeper as she chats with fascinating celebrities and industry insiders. Her book College Bound and Gagged: How to Help Your Kid Get into a Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind can be seen in the feature film Admission starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.
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