Dierks Bentley stopped by to talk to Today’s Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen in celebration of his album ‘Gravel & Gold.’ He and Kelleigh discuss self-imposed pressure to make a great album, his love for Colorado, and how a change in perspective made his return to Nashville feel like ‘Gold.’
Tune in and listen to the episode in-full this anytime on-demand at apple.co/_TodaysCountry.
Dierks Bentley Tells Apple Music About Moving to Colorado During the Pandemic.
That’s part of what Gravel & Gold is about, is coming back to Nashville and seeing the positive after, I lived here for 30 years and I’ve been trying to get out of it for 30 years. I mean it’s a great time… I love Nashville, but I think there’s a point after 10, 15 years it was like, I kind of want to go back home to Arizona. That’s where I’m from. I love the west… It’s just such a different topography. And when the pandemic happened, I was already out there and we ended up just staying in a small town in Colorado for a year and [the] kids went to school there and it was kind of catching up with a lot of stuff that I felt like I’d missed out on… But I will say it was just what the album was about is coming back to Nashville and just seeing it through a fresh lens.
Dierks Bentley Talks About Falling Back in Love with Nashville After Moving Away for a Year
I needed to get away from it to see it again. And so it’s falling back in love with Nashville again. Super appreciation for just how great the city’s been to me and all the friends that I have here and just experiences. So it just needed to really get away. So in that way there’s a lot of really positive things for me about having a whole year off just to really be able to come back at it and really appreciate it again.
Dierks Bentley Tells Apple Music About the Theme of Gravel & Gold
When I did come back [to Nashville], it was like, wow, just the appreciation for getting to make records, getting to work in these world-class studios with the best musicians of all time… I mean just like these are the best of the best and you get a chance to work together and then you have a great record label and the great team and we function so well together. It makes you really see it through a fresh lens and I had to go completely away from it to fully appreciate it again, I think. Yeah, what I feel like the whole Gravel & Gold theme is about… Just what one time looked to me like gravel, this city, I come back and I’m like, wow, it’s definitely… it’s gold.
Why He Made Bluegrass Album ‘Up On The Ridge’ in 2010
‘Up On The Ridge’ was me being so frustrated with touring. Nothing was working out. Usually if, Kenny Chesney has.. There’s the middle slot and there’s the opening slot. I’d done the opening slot with Kenny, opening for Keith [Urban] and a couple of years later I got that middle slot. And usually once you’re the middle slot, you launch off into super stardom, right?
Rascal Flatts had it. Keith Urban, obviously so many bands had that slot for him. So we went out and toured in 2007 or eight thinking, this is it, here we go. And I spent a year, two years on the road playing arenas for 2,000 people. I mean it just didn’t happen. I didn’t have the songs is what it came down to. I didn’t realize at the time.
So then I had to go back in 2009 and open for somebody and man, it was just a kind of hard tour for us and I just got so frustrated with everything. I was like, “I’m going to make a bluegrass record.” So people thought I was crazy. People thought I was throwing my career away. A lot of talk behind my back that I didn’t hear about till later, but just thought, I’ll never be in country music again.
Dierks Bentley Tells Apple Music About Touring After Releasing ‘Up On The Ridge’
Then summer of 2011 rolled around and I’m back out playing festivals. But now I have guys, Luke Bryan opening for me, Florida Georgia Line’s opening for me. And these guys are so hot. I mean they’re fans are rabid, right? This is crazy. And I’m out there. I have no hits at all. I have a bunch of bluegrass songs I wrote in the last two years and the songs before that obviously weren’t very good because I’m not, here I am, it didn’t work.
So it was like, that was a tough summer of just like… And that’s where you get character… And it’s like, all right, drink a little extra whiskey that night. That’s going to be the first thing I’m going to do before I walk on stage. Maybe I have a little more than that and then I’m going to go out there and just hide the fact that I don’t have all the songs I need to have right now. Just by acting crazy on stage and stage diving and running around and just being a madman. But you learn a lot in those times about how to get through some harder shows.