From "Red Dirt Road" to Rockin' For The Troops: The Ronnie Dunn Interview
Dr. Music: How did you get involved with Operation Support Our Troops and Rockin’ For The Troops?
Ronnie Dunn: You know over the years with Brooks And Dunn, Kix and I did countless events and tributes like this. And, of course with “Only in America,” that kind of led the way and opened a lot of doors for us too, to get involved in things like this.
Dr. Music: And, “Only In America” is the theme for this year’s Rockin’ For The Troops?
Ronnie Dunn: Yeah, I wonder if that’s like, coincidental. You think? (laughs) I got a call from my agent, he said “You want to go play this thing?” I said, “Sure I do, sounds great!” My guitar player’s son, was a four time special ops guy over there. So that’s more than I should probably say or I’ll be shot. I’ll disappear. But, we’re very much into it.
Dr. Music: What can we expect from you’re setlist?
Ronnie Dunn: Oh, I’m gonna mix it up a little bit. I’ll do maybe a couple songs from the last solo record, and I’m just finishing up the second solo thing right now and worked up a couple of tunes from that, and I’ll throw in some of the old B&D stuff. We’re coming full production. You know, it hasn't downsized at all.
Dr. Music: What’s the major difference performing as yourself, without Brooks? It’s gotta be quite different going out on your own with that same big production.
Ronnie Dunn: Yeah, it is different. It’s like starting over in a lot of ways. I learned that I can’t expect people to know who Ronnie Dunn is, just by saying that name. A lot of times I have to preempt that by saying “Hey it’s Ronnie Dunn of Brooks and Dunn,” and I think that’s a little campaign that I’ll have to carry on for quite a while. It’s not a rude awakening, but it was certainly an awakening, to step out last year and try to do some solo stuff and realize that people just don't associate that name. But I think I was the guy that stood in the background and didn’t say a lot, just by design, with Brooks And Dunn. So this is an opportunity, it’s more like a campaign than anything else, to just go out and hit the road and introduce people to who you are and what you do.
Dr. Music: For me it sounds like a great rebirth. You get to do it all over again! How cool is that?!
Ronnie Dunn: Yeah, it’s pretty fun! It is fun, and it kinda adds a new dimension to it, and it just kinda makes it feel a little more fresh to me.
Dr. Music: You had a background in the ministry, yeah?
Ronnie Dunn: A short background. I went to religious college down in Abilene, Texas. I lasted probably a semester, then I kinda wandered into psychology and then realized I really had no business being in school, I needed to be playing in a band. So I took off and starved to death for about twenty years after that. I finally got a job that paid okay, which is the Brooks & Dunn thing. I tried not to look back. It probably wasn’t the most popular or safest way to go about it, but if you’re playing it safe you’re not getting anywhere.
Dr. Music: As Brooks & Dunn, you guys had over 45-50 major awards and sold millions and millions of records. Is there any one award that you remember the most or that means the most to you?
Ronnie Dunn: You know, Entertainer Of The Year four times is good, but to me writing is a big deal. And, nailing that, I think getting Song Of The Year for songs like “Believe” and a couple others were really good. That’s really a personal perk and reinforcement. Nah, they’ve all been good man, you kidding me? To get anything is good.
Dr. Music: Let’s say I've never heard Brooks and Dunn, or any Ronnie Dunn music. If you could play one song for me, what would you play that represents what you do and what you write?
Ronnie Dunn: Oh, I don’t know. Probably a little more on the contemporary plain would be “Red Dirt Road,” and then we go all the way back to “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” in the early days.
Dr. Music: You were one of the first country acts to really cross over and have a rock edge. Where did that rock edge come from?
Ronnie Dunn: I think it just comes from growing up. My dad was a hard core country fan, so I had to sneak off as I started hearing rock records, and listen by myself and hide somewhere. But I got way into ZZ Top when I lived in Texas and in college down there. I always listened to Skynyrd, loved that stuff. You know, when you sit and talk to them, they’re as country, if not more country than us in a lot of ways. We toured for a year and a half with ZZ Top, co-headlined with them, went all over the US and Canada and had one of the most fun times, I think, in our entire touring career.
Dr. Music: Can we expect to see any more Brooks And Dunn music? I know it hasn’t been that long and your doing you’re thing, but do you see yourself working with Kix again?
Ronnie Dunn: You just had to ask, didn’t you? (laughs)
Dr. Music: (laughing) Well, more importantly, are we going to see another Slim & Howdy book?!! (laughs)
Ronnie Dunn: Oh, that’s even worse! (laughs) Those crazy guys. I didn’t have a lot to do with that. That was somebody at the record label’s idea and we just kind of fell in line. I remember them wanting to do like a movie series or some kind of TV thing on it. And the lawyers called me from L.A. going “What do you think about this?” I went, ”Man, there’s no way!” (laughs)
Dr. Music: Seriously, though. Do you see yourself working with Kix again?
Ronnie Dunn: I don’t think so. I say that, and I know you can’t say never, but I don’t see it happening. I really don’t. I think we did as much as we could, and I want to say I hope we were smart enough to shut it down while we were, in theory, on top. That allowed us to go on and do other things. Lucky us, to use Brooks and Dunn as a springboard, and what a spring board it was to go off and try other things.
Dr. Music: That’s great, and I look forward to Ronnie Dunn music. Your promoting a new single, “Kiss You There.” Is the new album done?
Ronnie Dunn: It’s finished, yeah.
Dr. Music: Do you have a release date?
Ronnie Dunn: No, we’re looking for probably a September/October (2013) release date on it. We’re getting ready to move full throttle into radio with the new single. They’ve been playing it on Sirius XM The Highway. We use that now almost as a test template for songs that come out, and so far it’s the highest rated song on there for the last three weeks. It’s a good sign.
Dr. Music: You are obviously a great writer, and I’m sure you’ll have major success like you had with Brooks and Dunn. And like I said, I look forward to the new stuff!
Ronnie Dunn: Well good, I hope you like it. It’s different. Always pushing it. Always pushing it. You gotta do it to grow.
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