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Country Artist Preps For UT Debut

Take a look at the Daily Texan's interview with John Rich!  View the full article on TheDailyTexanOnline.com.

Country music artist John Rich, one-half of the multiplatinum group Big & Rich, will perform the national anthem at this weekendís UT football game. Rich took a few minutes away from his Country Music Association board meeting to speak with The Daily Texan about football, his solo album and what it means to be a Texan.

The Daily Texan: Youíre singing the national anthem at the UT versus Colorado game. How did that come about?

John Rich: Itís pretty cool. Iíve sung the national anthem at everything from the Daytona 500 to events in Washington, D.C. ó a lot of high-profile stuff, but Iíve never sung at a University of Texas Longhorns game. Not only have I never sung at a UT game, Iíve never been to a Longhorns game in Austin.

The way it came about was, I was having a little dialogue with coach Mack Brown, and he said, ďWould you ever consider doing the national anthem at a game?Ē I said, ďAbsolutely.Ē He suggested UT versus Colorado, and I said, ďThat sounds perfect.Ē We locked it down. Iím very excited to come in this weekend and sing our countryís anthem.

DT: You live in Nashville now. How did you become a Longhorn fan?

JR: I grew up in Amarillo, and up there, there are a lot of Red Raider fans. And I support the Raiders, but at heart Iím a Longhorn fan. If Iíd been responsible and Iíd gone to college, I would have gone to UT. Now Iím married to an Aggie.

DT: Oh, no.

JR: No, Iím kidding. That makes for interesting back-and-forth comments while watching football. I love the coaching at UT. I think coach Mack Brown is one of the greatest coaches of all time and will go down in history. Iím a card-carrying, flag-waving member of the Longhorn Nation.

DT: Can you tell me about your role with ESPN and how that has shaped your career?

JR: Big & Rich wrote the song that has been the theme song for College GameDay for five years, ďComing to Your City.Ē Mack came up to me earlier this season, and he said ďMan, every time I hear that song, I know itís time to play some football.Ē For me, having a song that I wrote become synonymous with college football, thatís a pretty awesome thing.

DT: Do you have a favorite football player?

JR: Iím looking forward to meeting our kickass quarterback, Colt McCoy. Of course, Iíve been watching him play since he was a freshman, and heís grown to be better and better. Man, Iíd really just like to high-five with the whole team. Theyíre doing such a good job.

DT: Whatís your best memory as a Longhorn fan?

JR: Back at the national championship game, ESPN flew Big & Rich out to California to watch the game. I sat there in the middle of the crowd and watched the whole thing just as a fan. Steve McNair was sitting right next to me. He was talking about Vince. It was a really great experience. I think I drank enough beer to float a bass boat.

DT: This year, Big & Rich took a break, and you came out with you own solo album, Son of a Preacher Man. How is the solo album different from typical Big & Rich stuff?

JR: Big & Rich is two guys put together [who] couldnít be more different. When you put what Big Kenny does and I do and you put it together, you get something that neither of us would produce alone. On my own, I have opinions and want to talk about the way I was raised. The songs on my new album would have never been on a Big & Rich album.

DT: How does your upbringing shape your writing?

JR: I grew up in a double-wide trailer in Amarillo. We were poor to lower-middle class. Thatís how of a lot of Americans live. To grow up and see others take your tax dollars, I donít care if youíre a Democrat, Republican or independent, nobody is happy to see that. Nobody is clapping their hands saying, ďIím so glad that CEO got a $9 million bonus check.Ē I sat down after watching the news and wrote ďShuttiní Detroit Down,Ē and coast to coast itís become an anthem for people.

I always tell people, ďI grew up in Texas, but I live in Nashville.Ē I love the independent spirit that Texans have, the pride and the music. You have everyone from Don Henley to Stevie Ray Vaughan. Itís flavor. Growing up in the Panhandle, there a lot of hardworking, proud people who live up there. I feel like those are the traditions that gave me identity, and thatís why Iíll always be a Longhorns fan.

DT: How can fans keep in touch?

R: Iíll be Tweeting from the game Saturday. Follow me: @johnrich.


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