This is one jam-packed week and weekend for country singer-songwriter Dierks Bentley. The Arizona native, who lives with his family in Nashville, released his new single, “Beers on Me,” with Breland and Hardy, on Thursday. “Beers on Me” is also the name of Bentley’s new tour that officially kicks off Aug. 13.
His latest single, “Gone,” is his 20th song to hit No. 1 on the country music charts, and Bentley, 45, is headlining at Northern Quest Resort & Casino on Friday night, then makes the two-hour drive to the Gorge Amphitheatre to headline night 2 of the Watershed Country Music Festival on Saturday evening.
Bentley, down to Earth and one of the nicest guys in country music (and probably any music genre), answered questions over the phone Wednesday morning ahead of his headliner concerts at Northern Quest and the Gorge:
Let’s please start with the obvious question: How excited are you to be touring and performing live and in person again?
It’s awesome – it’s so great. I knew it would be fun, but I didn’t know that it would be this much fun. We’ve played a couple shows already. I’m a little biased, but I think our shows are really fun. We put a lot of time into it. You mix that with the crowds celebrating. It feels like everyone is out there taking a victory lap. It’s euphoria. People are just really excited.
I don’t have to do anything. I just have to walk out there, press play on a boombox and put a microphone up there, and people would be happy. It makes it even easier for me to take the crowd to that place I want to take them – over-the-top fun. It’s been great.
You have double-duty with Northern Quest Resort & Casino on Friday night in Spokane, then the Gorge Amphitheatre on Saturday night about two hours away. Do you enjoy performing more indoors or outdoors?
This time of year, they’re both great. But this time of year, the outdoors fits the vibe of being summertime. I love the outdoors in general, so it’s like having your cake and eating it, too. You get a chance to be outside and play music. It’s pretty awesome for me.
I looked up Northern Quest online and checked out the venue. It looks awesome. I’ll play in Spokane and have some good friends coming out, then head out to the Gorge, which is one of those iconic landscapes in the country.
It’s a good weekend. They all are for me when I spend time out West, the Pacific Northwest or back where I’m from, Arizona, the Southwest. I just love that part of the country, and the guys in the band do, too. It’s exciting, so it’s going to be a fun weekend.
What memories do you have from the Gorge?
It’s one of the coolest venues in the country. You look out at that backdrop, and it’s hard not to be inspired. For a lot of fans, they’re spending two to three days there, so it’s the trip of a lifetime or at least the trip of the year. It’s just fun, but honestly all the venues are fun. They’re something great about all of them. The variety is what makes the road fun.
You’re about to officially launch your new tour, “Beers on Me,” on Aug. 13. What is behind the name of your new tour?
I wrote this song with two friends of mine, Hardy and this new kid named Breland. They’re actually on this record with me. It was just a song we wrote where we thought, “Man, I wish I could just buy everyone in the crowd a beer. It’s been a hard year. We’re going to buy you a beer.”
That’s what we used to do in the bars and clubs, buy a round for everyone. It would be pretty cheap because it would only be three people watching me back then (laughs). It is money well spent, buying our fans a beer because they’ve bought so many tickets of mine over the years. I’m having some legal issues trying to make that happen now. But that is the idea behind the song.
It’s just a fun song, a no-brainer song. We’ve all had some problems, and we’re not going to talk about them tonight. We’re going to have a beer and have fun. And I’m so excited to have these two guys on there.
Hardy is on a rocket ship right now with his career, and Breland is brand new, but he is a much-needed face and voice in country music. I’m excited to introduce him to people who might not know him yet.
Do you have a favorite beer?
You know, I started off drinking a lot of Busch Light. When I got into country music, that was my beer and life brand. I was the Busch Light guy, the cheap stuff (laughs). As I’ve gotten older, there’s the sponsorship beer, Anheuser-Busch. And lately now, it’s more quality over quantity.
I like a good Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Sweetwater, too, and Telluride Brewing Co. makes great beer back in my hometown. I’ve gotten into the craft thing, which makes me hate myself (laughs). I guess it’s my age, but I like a great-tasting beer especially after a hike or a bike, a tasty IPA.
You just scored your 20th No. 1 hit with “Gone.” How does that feel?
It’s kind of surreal, I can’t believe I’ve had 20 No. 1s. That doesn’t include all the other songs that were No. 2, 3, 4 and 5. It’s really crazy. It reminds me how long I’ve been doing this because it doesn’t feel that long. I’m still loving it, I love touring, it still feels new.
I have the new song coming out with Breland and Hardy, so I feel like I’m still part of the newer part of the game. But looking at the number of songs I’ve had out there, I can’t believe it. I embrace that, too, being an elder statesman at this point, me and Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, my class of country singers. It’s a fun place to be, too, and I just enjoy it all.
“Settle for a Slowdown” and “Black” are two of my favorite Dierks Bentley songs among many favorites and hits. Are there any songs that you especially enjoy performing?
I create a setlist that’s fun for me first and foremost. It’s kind of selfish (laughs). I want to take the fans for a ride, but I want to take myself on a ride, as well, and it flows so easily. I’m creating a roller-coaster ride that I get to go on, too.
They’re all fun. Every song has a purpose. It would be hard to choose a favorite moment. We’re kicking the show off now with the song “Gone” to get into the show and of course ending it with “Drunk on a Plane.” Hot Country Nights, my alter-ego 1990s country band, has been known to possibly hijack the stage when the show is over.
Every moment is a favorite moment for me, and I mean that sincerely.
What are you working on now besides performing and touring? What’s your next single?
Our new single “Beers on Me” comes out tomorrow (Thursday). The name of the new tour is “Beers on Me.” It’s not rocket science. It’s a song about a hard time, so let me buy you a beer. I thought it was a good idea metaphorically with what we’ve been dealing with the last one and a half years.
I wish I could buy every fan a beer for all the support that they’ve given me over the years. That song is coming out next, and I’m working on an album this fall and will probably have something new out next year.
I covered the press conference years ago at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas when you and Luke Bryan hosted the ACM Awards. Do you like hosting award shows, and any plans to return?
Oh, man, that was so fun. I look back at that really fondly. We hosted two awards shows together. Luke is one of my favorite people in country music, so to spend all that time with him, it was really fun and exciting and cool. The hosts they’ve moved on to are doing a great job, and they know what they’re doing.
I loved it, but I usually try to just stick to the singing. I really like my life the way it is. I live in a very regular neighborhood in Nashville with no fences or gates. I like being a regular person. But I did really have fun doing it and appreciated the opportunity.
What do you still especially enjoy about your career after all this time?
That’s a great question because it’s not always the same thing. Every year there is something new and exciting. Right now, to be totally honest, my kids love it. I’ve thought about slowing down or taking time off to spend more time with my kids. That’s why I’m a pilot, so that I can fly myself to shows and fly myself home afterward so that I can spend more time with my kids.
They love the bus and the stage, and they’re coming out singing with me. Knox, my boy, is rocking a sweet mullet right and will sing and dance to “Somewhere on a Beach” and crack people up. Just seeing it through their eyes is fun.
Please tell me something a Dierks Bentley fan would be surprised to learn about you.
I’ve never owned a new car. I have my pickup truck, my 1994 Chevy, that I’ve had forever, my dad’s car. All my cars are kind of nondescript and kind of crappy. I’d like to get a new car at one point. That’s the plan down the road, but I kind of have this problem of holding on to things that I like. I like old things that have a story to tell.
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