NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After a five-year break, Big & Rich are putting the funny back in country music – with the help of Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora.
The unlikely quartet gathered to write two songs for the country duos new album, Hillbilly Jedi, after they struck up a friendship a few years back.
It was a great experience and we actually owe them a lot just in mentorship, John Rich said. We dont have a ton of mentors. I would say Bon Jovi qualifies.
Along with the songs Born Again and Cant Be Satisfied, Bon Jovi also assisted in saving the albums title and theme when the duo realized Star Wars creator George Lucas would probably object. It turned out to be no problem – after Bon Jovi stepped in.
So he pulls out his cellphone, calls him and says, George, my buddies want to call their new album Hillbilly Jedis. Is that OK? Rich said. And he goes, Yeah, thats cool, but theres no such thing as jedis. Jedi is like deer; its plural and singular. So if they do it, its got to be Hillbilly Jedi.
Lucas gift helped preserve the twisted little heart of the duos first album in five years. During their time apart, both released solo albums and had children. Big Kenny Alphin traveled the world and worked with childrens charities. Rich became a reality television star by winning Celebrity Apprentice and joining on as a mentor on The Next.
The time away allowed them to recharge their creativity and hone their songs, sometimes over the course of years.
Once your career takes off you dont have time to do that again, Alphin said. Well, we had the time to do that again and we took it. Youve got to live your life and thats where those great songs come from. It just takes time sometimes. With three records of hits, in our opinion, youve got to make sure that youre focused on keeping the greatness out there.
First single Thats Why I Pray was the duos fastest-rising song and their third-highest charting single. And they were nominated for best vocal duo at this years Country Music Association Awards before the album even came out. Plenty of proof they made the right decisions along the way.
The 18-month album cycle to me is unhealthy, and Nashville has gotten to that, Rich said. ... To me the cycle has taken albums as pieces of work down a notch. Its not very often you hear an album anymore thats a body of work, everything thats on there has a reason for being on there. Not saying it doesnt happen, but its few and far between because of the ravenous album schedule that the industry puts on us.