Dierks Bentley: Life Has Just Exploded

Dierks Bentley may feel he doesn’t deserve his blessed existence, but he’s “truly happy” with his wife, new baby and red hot career.

Shortly before the release of his new Feel That Fire CD, Dierks Bentley took time out to chat about his new music . . . and the new woman in his life, daughter Evie. Since then, both the title cut and the new CD have hit number one on the charts and “Sideways” has been announced as the project’s second single. Here’s some of what Dierks had to say.

For more from Dierks, check out the March 9 issue of Country Weekly.

CW
How have [your dogs] Jake and George taken to having a little sister in the house?
DB
Jake’s insane about her! Jake is so protective. We’ll have friends come over to the house, and they’ll take a step towards Evie, and he’ll just reach up and bite ‘em in the hand. If they try to step closer, he’ll kinda shadow box ‘em. There’s no getting close to Evie when a stranger’s around. Our dogs really do think . . . I would say the five of us now are kinda like a pack of wolves. Jake really believes that. He does not see any separation between . . . I’ll be havin’ a conversation with my wife about something and, “let’s go upstairs and check on Evie.” And here comes Jake, right along with us, you know? He’s right there. I look over and he’s sittin’ right next to [wife] Cassidy, like straight in a line with us. He really thinks it’s like, “Hey guys, I’m here too. It’s my job.”
George on the other hand couldn’t care less. “If you can’t pet me, if you can’t feed me, if you can’t take me for a walk, you don’t even exist.” That’s the way he rolls.
CW
Let’s talk about the record. It’s by far my favorite of yours, which is not meant to disparage your earlier work . . . but in terms of the subject matter, melodically, the grooves, the instrumentations . . . really good stuff.
DB
Mine, too. Cool man. I appreciate you saying that. It wasn’t by accident.
CW
When we talked last time, you said you’d written about 30 songs for the album. Did it wind up being about that many you had to choose from?
DB
It was actually more than that. But even beyond just the writing of the songs is all the pre-production. It’s one thing to have a bunch of songs and kinda pick the ones you want to record. But we started pre-production back in Sept. of 2007—me and the band going in straight from the road right into Dark Horse Studios. We didn’t really know what the plan was at the time. “Are we gonna try to cut a record? What are we gonna do?” We got in there, and after the first day the vibe was so good. We’d go upstairs every morning, talkin’ about the songs, goin’ back downstairs, workin’ the songs out, goin’ back up those stairs to a small little room where we could play with acoustic guitars, work up songs, go back down into the studio, put ‘em down on tape. We cut about 22 songs that way, just got great ideas.
Because the guys in my band . . . the studio guys and the road guys both bring great things to the table. My guys have such great ideas. We sit around and talk about music all the time. They know what I want, they know what I’m goin’ after.  They bring that energy into the studio. They bring those parts and different ideas, things that are untraditional . . . like “Life On The Run,” just breakdowns and band parts. The good thing about the guys who played on all my records in the past—J.T. Cornfloss, Brian Sutton, Jimmy Carter and Steve Brewster—these guys used to play on my demos before I even had a record deal. They know my sound. They watch the changes. The five of them were put together specifically to play on my records. They’ve told me that they’ll wind up on a session somewhere else in town, all together, and they know the reason why they’re there is someone read the liner notes on my record and goes, “Oh, that’s the band we want“ cause they love the sound. It’s important to include those guys, too. So it’s really a hybrid of mixing the two different groups of musicians. But it took two years to make, and as far as studios go, it’s the most expensive record I’ve made. But we didn’t settle for anything.
And putting that much time into the album really changed my way of thinking about the process after the album’s made. And I made some changes in my personal world as far as management and just bringing in a team to support the record on the way down. It’s like, you climb a mountain and it takes you two years to climb it, it should take two years to walk it down, too. Don’t throw this thing off the cliff, and after the street week it’s over. I want the best of the best figuring out what to do with this album. It’s not about sales numbers, it’s not about money or about chart position. It’s about just giving each song the respect it deserves.
They might not all be singles, but . . . “Life on the Run” . . . that could be a great song for the NHL, televised hockey games. Or “Sideways” for NASCAR. Let’s just think. Let’s just be smart. Me and my guys put blood, sweat and tears into this album. I lost sleep and years makin’ this thing, and sacrificed a lot of time with my family. I expect the same effort on the business side. And I’ve got a team now that’s just coming up with great ideas. Looking at the week ahead of street week, we’re gonna be on the Today show twice, we’re doing Regis and we’re doin’ the Tonight show. Letterman’s lined up later on . . . and CBS Morning News, NPR. They know I’m willin’ to work . . . I’ll do anything for my music. Just find good, coordinated ideas.
CW
One thing a like about your writing . . . and it’s in “You Hold Me Together” just like it was in “Long Trip Alone” . . . you can be talking about two different things . . . whether it’s romantic or something higher.
DB
A lot of people don’t pick that up, but that’s exactly what I was trying to do with that song. I wanted that to be the first single. [Label head Mike] Dungan wanted “Feel That Fire.” I’m cool with that, too. I think Dungan thought it felt like the other stuff on the other records. I wrote that song for that exact reason—it could mean so many different things to so many different people.
CW
And I could envision the meaning changing to one person, depending on what they were going through at the time.
DB
Exactly, totally. I have songs like that all the time. Foo Fighters have a song called “Come Alive,” I was always like, oh cool, come alive, that’s a killer song, it’s got a great groove. Then you have a baby and it’s like, wow, he’s talking about the baby coming alive, like the birth of his child. It blew my mind. Or some U2 songs that start one way and end another. It was a love song then turned into a spiritual song. That’s cool.
CW
I love the title cut. Is Cassidy the kind of person who really does push you to be more alive . . . walk out on the wire?
DB
Yeah she does, man. My wife is very passionate. And, as most women are, is a lot more in touch with that inner being than I am. I work really hard not to, but I can get caught up in external stuff. Yeah, this whole record, the whole vibe of it is . . . is about what that means . . . “feel the fire” . . . the fire of the moment . . .being present in the moment you’re in and getting the most out of it. So, if I’m onstage, I’m right there with our fans.
Even this morning tough, I had some time before my interviews and I thought, I’ve got this new skateboard out here, and a hockey stick and a puck. I’m trying to combine all my favorite hobbies together. It’s about 2 degrees outside, but I went skateboarding around the parking lot did a little stick-handling practice. Every moment, there’s something to dig out of it. Even if you’re having a bad time, it’s okay to accept that.
But “Feel That Fire.”  Be passionate. I wanted to call this record Living for What Is. That was the working title. Living for whatever moment you’re in, whether it’s Saturday night or Sunday, home with your girls, or on the road with the boys. Just being present in that moment, having fun with that moment. You can’t change it, so you might as well just dig into it and get the most out of it.
And the past only exists as a series of thoughts in your mind. So, just whatever you’re doin’, that’s where you’re supposed to be, and that’s what this record’s about.

For more from Dierks, check out the March 9 issue of Country Weekly.

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