Like nearly every other country star, Dierks Bentley made the party rounds during CMA week in Nashville. A few days before performing part of “What Was I Thinkin'” on the CMA Awards, he visited with CMT News about George Strait, his last name and the family he never knew he had.
What do you think it will be like to open for George Strait next year?
I just don’t know where we would go after opening up for George Strait. How do you top that? You just keep going and keep playing music. But that’s going to be the highlight of my musical nine years I spent in Nashville. It’s going to be the coolest thing ever. It’s hard to even believe it’s true. Maybe I’ll believe it when I’m backstage having a cigar with him, hanging out; then I’ll believe that it’s actually really happened. Because right now, it doesn’t seem real.
Are you nervous about playing for crowds that size?
It’s funny because if you look at my itinerary right now, it’s like this-and-this club, this-and-this festival, this pub. Then you look at the George Strait tour, and it’s this-and-this arena, this-and-this center, this-and-this stadium. It’s all these stadiums, arenas and amphitheaters, whereas my schedule right now is all bars, clubs and dives. I have a little idea what it’s going to be like. I’ve been in front of some crowds, with maybe 6, 7 or 8,000, but I haven’t been in front of a crowd this big. It’ll be fun.
What can you tell us about your new single and video, “My Last Name”?
My first name Dierks is actually a last name that was given to me as a first name, and it’s kind of how the idea for the song got started. I take a lot of pride in my name, Dierks, because I take a lot of pride in my family. I just think about all the things your last name has to go through to finally get to you … all the people. Who knows how far back it goes? Just playing on the road — there are a lot of people out there that obviously take pride in their last name because it gets a big response. That’s why we decided to make it a next single. I was getting worn out by people on the road telling me how much they liked the song.
The video starts off with our bus pulling into my fictitious hometown, and there’s a billboard that says ‘Welcome home, Dirk Bently’ — both my names spelled wrong — as they often are when I pull into a new town. Even here in my hometown, they can’t get my name right! The band’s all laughing at me behind me. Then, throughout the course of the video, I run into people I’ve met and there’s some performance stuff, and at the end of the video, the bus pulls away. You see that I’ve fixed the marquee to get it right.
Now that you’ve got some degree of fame, are people from your past looking you up?
Oh, my gosh, man. I have more family across the country than I ever even knew about. Every gig I show up to, I find someone who is related to me someway, somehow, which is great. It’s kind of a good way to meet our extended family. There are friends and people coming out of the woodwork all over the place. I need to get a separate phone number just for the George Strait tour because I have more calls, like ‘Hey, man, you’re going to be in so-and-so South Dakota on Thursday night. I need two tickets.’ My voice mail’s full from people trying to get tickets to the George Strait thing. It’s been crazy, but it’s good man. It’s better than having no one call you.
How’s life on the road treating you?
I’ve adjusted to life on the road pretty well with the aid of sleeping pills. A couple of sleeping pills and a couple of beers before I go to bed seems to be pretty effective for sleeping on a bumpy road. It’s a little different. It’s weird. You spend so much time in one town, trying to work on something and then, when it really works out, you don’t see that town or those people you’ve made friends with for months at a time. But my band is some of my favorite friends and people. We have so much fun on the road. It’s an easy adjustment.