Big & Rich’s John Rich is an early riser. The father of two rambunctious boys, the country music fireball finds that waking up before the sun rises is the best way to get in front of all the tasks ahead of him on any given day, whether that’s working on his flourishing Redneck Riviera lifestyle brand or prepping new episodes of his Fox Business television series The Pursuit With John Rich.
“Everything I’m doing now are things I want to be doing,” Rich tells Cincinnati Magazine. “When you first come up, you get to do what you want to do but you also have to do what you don’t want to do if you want to win.”
And he’s most certainly winning these days. Since Rich and partner “Big” Kenny Alphin got together in 2004, the rowdy country music duo has recorded six studio albums and charted 19 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, including “Save a Horse,” “Run Away With You,” and “Lost in This Moment.”
Those songs have a good chance to find themselves on the Big & Rich setlist as the their Peace, Love and Happy Hour tour rolls into Hard Rock Casino May 27. “I think the world is always looking for an escape from reality,” says Rich, who says his sister lived for many years “right across the bridge from Cincinnati.” “With everything going on today in our country and around the world, we want to go into a town and help you forget about your problems for about 90 minutes and sing a bunch of songs that you’ve known a long time.”
And with every note they sing, Big & Rich evolve into much more than just another country music act. “I think the one reason why we’ve been around so long is people love coming to our live shows,” says Rich. “We talk to the audience as if we’re in their backyard. There’s no real separation between us and the audience. We always tell people to take their vitamins and drink plenty of water before our show, because it’s going to be a 90-minute musical assault when we take that stage.”
Granted, he says that every time he walks off the stage at the end of a show he’s hit once again by a reality he wishes was different. “Everything is not always good,” says Rich, whose 2020 solo release of his breathtaking song “Earth to God” went straight to the top of the single sales charts. “Everything is not OK in this world. But a lot of those things, you just have no control over. So it’s always good to try to focus on the good in your own life and triple down on that. Push the bad stuff out to the periphery. You can deal with it from time to time, but most of your time should be spent thinking about the things in your life that are good.”
And one of those good things in Rich’s life is the love Big & Rich has always felt from Cincinnati’s notoriously pro-country music crowd. “One of our biggest songs (“Comin’ to Your City”) talks about Cincinnati,” says Rich, laughing about the lyrics “Well we flew through Cincinnati / And we all got really happy / Grabbed a bowl of that Skyline chili along the way.” “So yeah, we sing about Cincinnati every single night.”