Have you ever been to Europe at least on vacation?
Ronnie: "No, never."
Kix: "Well, we did the Frutigen festival in Switzerland just when we got started and that was the only time we actually played there. That was maybe our first or second year out and that was quite an opener for us. And my sister has a home in Italy, so I've been to Italy several times. You went to Italy!"
Ronnie: "Yes I have! I've been to Italy, spent a month over there. Listen to me! Start this interview over!" (laughs)
Kix: "He's trying to forget Italy, I think." (laughs)
Ronnie: "No, we had a great time. My wife, kids and some friends, they took all their kids, it was a big ordeal"
I know you collect Russian art, so are you planning on going to Russia?
Ronnie: "Yeah, I've been invited a hundred times and the guys that I work with at the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis, Ray Johnson is actually the Ambassador to Russia, and he invites me to go over all the time. And I'm usually busy doing this and if I'm not, we're resting stuff. I'm planning to, I'd like to. We're working on some stuff with Trechikov."
What are some of the most precious pieces in your collection?
Ronnie: "There's an artist Gely Korzhev, that's good, Tkachyov brothers, two twins, two brothers that paint together, gosh, Gerasimov, Arkady Plastov, there's more."
Kix, do you collect anything, wine bottles maybe?
Kix: "Wine bottles, yeah." (laughs) "I have a winery just outside of Nashville and that's kind of been in the last few years sort of been my most recent passion. But my wife collects horses, we have a horse farm outside of Nashville, and I would like to reduce that collection hopefully." (laughs) "We have too many! It's fun, she has something to do while we've been on road, so it's been great for her to have an interest like that when we've been touring so much."
Did you collect anything as a child like stamps or coins?
Kix: "Yes I did, actually. I collected stamps and coins and I still have my stamp collection and I got into first additions, gosh, I got hundreds of them!"
Ronnie: "You still have them? Oh, cool!"
Kix: "I do, and we just recently moved and you forget about all that stuff and then you move and I had boxes from my last move and I forgot about them. And once we started touring and making little money, there was some of the Zeppelin stamps, which were real collectible. I wanted to have bought them as a kid, there was always just something you look at in the book go you'll never be able to afford that, so there were few of the airmail stamps with the Zeppelin, I just bought that whole series and just to have them. It was fun. When we moved, I pulled those boxes out kinda thumbed back through them and put them back in the boxes"
Ronnie: "I'll tell you a funny thing, a Brooks & Dunn story. We collect belt buckles, rodeo buckles, 'cause we've played so many rodeos over the years. And we were just put in the Houston Rodeo Hall of Fame, I think Houston is the largest rodeo in America, they give you a buckle every year. And we were not interested in how much we get paid, we were more into the buckles!" (laughs) "They're everywhere, but it's fun, it's a fun ability to have"
Tell me about Bomshell Betty. Last weekend you attempted to break a world speed record on the salt lake in Boneville. How did you actually meet this guy, Jeff Brock?
Ronnie: "Ah, Bombshell Betty was a bit of a bust. This is a 1952 buick and it looks like something out of a Mad Max movie, just crazy. We went down and on my first run the fuel pump blew. It's a three-mile course, actually a four-mile course, you get three miles to get up the speed and at two miles I was at 115 and we were shooting for 130. I had to hit 130 to be able to move over to the fast track as a rookie. And the fuel pump blew, so they fixed it overnight, worked on it. The owner, Jeff Brock, asked if he could take a test run that morning. So I'm all suited up waiting for him to do the test run, he goes down, he breaks the record - 134, something like that, but he blows the engine. So I get my bus and go home."
Do you think you'll go to Boneville again next year?
Ronnie: "I don't know, I say no now, but next year I'll be over it and ready do to it again."
Speaking of racing and competing, a couple of years ago I was interviewing Lynn Anderson and she said she was giving you lessons in cutting horses.
Kix: "Yeah, she's into it for a long time. She may still have a horse or two. We've done a few celebrity cuttings together and yeah, she can ride, she's a cowgirl."
Ronnie: "Lynn's been in it forever. The head of our label, Tim DuBois, had the Arista Records years ago, bought a big home not far from us in Nashville. He bought Lynn's home, and it had horses all in the entrance, the walls were painted with horses and stuff. She's a big cowgirl."
She said she was also racing with you in cars.
Kix: "Yeah, Ronnie and I had, these little, they were called Legend Cars, which you might think of as a spring car. A 5/8 scale, weight of about a 1000 pounds and it got a 1200 ccm motorcycle engines in them. We went on a big track, Richard Petty's racing school in Charlotte Speedway and afterwards they showed us these little cars and they were just fast and fun and we bought a couple and before we knew it we had our own racing series in Nashville at the track there and for three years we were hot and heavy into it. We raced all the time.
Ronnie: "The other guys then started showing up and beating us so we got out." (laughs)
Kix: "Yeah, once we weren't the fastest on the track, we took our ball and went home as they in America. But it was a real fun, probably the funniest thing we ever did. We just bailed off into it."
When you were starting out and you were choosing a name for your duo, I heard you had about 50 names to choose from including Oklahoma Show Dogs.
Ronnie: "We had that and we had the Coyote Brothers, the Scorpions, there's no telling, we had just a page after page of names."
Can you recall any other?
Kix: "The Coyote Brothers is the only one I remember that we actually considered, just 'cause it was sort of the right attitude. But it's funny when you think about it as a band name. I think it's easier for a rock band and stuff just to come up with, you know, 'Blind Rockin' TV Sets' or something, a nonsense. In country music it either sounds like you're trying to be too cool or it's too goofy or whatever, so we said what the heck, let's just go with our names."
Ronnie: "It's like the lyrics in country music, everything's literall."
It's funny from this point, it's like Alan Jackson was supposed to be John Hubert.
Ronnie: "Was he really, is that right? Hubert? Ha! No kidding, Hubert! I haven't heard that! (laughs)
Kix: "That sounds like when DuBois was working on him." (laughs)
Did you get any feedback or reaction from Garth Brooks on recording 'Garth Must Be Busy' with Cledus T. Judd?
Kix: "Oh no, I think Garth's got bigger fish to fry." (laughs)
Ronnie: "That was Cledus's wild hare. He just set the track over the house and we did a part on that."
Kix: "And it really wasn't like a big step in Garth anyway."
Have you finished recording your solo album?
Ronnie: "No, I'll probably go and cut one more session and I think itI'll be finished."
Is it scheduled for next year?
Ronnie: "Maybe. I can't really talk about it in front of Kix just sitting here!" (laughs) "He won't talk about his either."
Kix: "I'll tell you everything I know! Well, I'm sorry, I'm not allowed to tell you what I know." (laughs) "I just keep writing songs."
Ronnie: "There's no rush."
Kix: "There's no sense to put out music unless everybody's excited about it from my side of the fans."
Do you think you'll focus more on playing club shows with guys like Bob DiPiero?
Kix: "Actually we're gonna do a show up in Chicago in October and after that I'll probably chill out on that a little bit and if I'm gonna focus on a career as a solo artist probably. And I'm gonna go back to Afghanistan. They won't tell me exactly where I'm going. You know you kinda get to that point where I love doing songwriter's nights and stuff, but they're going on all the time and sort of like you gotta get focused on if you're gonna try to do something else. Sometimes you get to do one or the other."
Are you going to put The American Way on the next album?
Ronnie: "Oh, you know about that, you are into it!" (laughs) "I don't know, what do you think?"
Well, it's awesome and I love the video, it was so funny, so fitting.
Ronnie: "Yeah, I got a cool guy that works with us, his name's Thien Phan. He's really good at putting stuff like that together. It's fun to watch how these really young guys come in and work and do stuff and how they can do it and how inexpensively you can do it comparatively to how we've done things in the past. I really enjoyed that, I kind of enjoyed that guerilla approach, the underground approach to doing things like that."
Well, recording this song was quite a strong political statement, so it kind of makes me ask how you felt when 'Only In America' was used by the Democrats.
Kix: "I think it was fun. To me that song is not a political song. As far it's not republican, it's not democratic. That song is about the freedom in our country, to be able to do what you wanna do and dream as big as you want to, that's what it's about. And the fact that people in our country whether they're Republicans or Democrats and especially after the Republicans used it and the Democrats were thinking of it that it wasn't political from one party or the other to me was very flattering. That it's just a song about hoping, about freedom and I was very humbled that they used our song."
Do you know anything about my country, about the Czech Republic?
Kix: "I don't know much about your country."
Ronnie: "I have talked about wanting to go to Prague forever. I think it's one of the coolest cities in the world."
And once you see Prague, you're gonna start collecting Czech art!
Ronnie: "I probably will!" (laughs) "No, but I have friends who have been over and they rave about it as it is one of the coolest cities in the world. What is it called, the City of Thousand Towers?"
Yeah, exactly. Alright, thank you so much.
Ronnie Dunn - "The American Way"
Ronnie Dunn - Bombshell Betty (Bonneville 2010)
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