Christopher Polk/Getty
August 05, 2014 03:00 PM

John Rich and Big Kenny Alphin are getting used to the comments.

“A fellow came up to me in the airport recently and said, ‘You used to be Big & Rich, right? I’m so glad you guys are back together!’ ” Alphin says with a laugh.

“I hear that all the time,” adds Rich. “We never felt we were broken up, but if that was the perception, we’re glad we were missed and that people are glad we’re back together.”

The duo, who galloped to fame in the 2000s with such hits as “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” and “Lost in This Moment,” took a break in 2009 to release solo albums and work on other projects.

And although they teamed again for a cut on the Footloose soundtrack in 2011, and the album Hillbilly Jedi in 2012, their work together has been mainly under the radar since then.

“In a partnership you have to listen to and hear each other,” says Rich, who won TV’s Celebrity Apprentice in 2011. “If he wants to go do something on his own, I don’t take that as a threat. I take that as a bonus for us, for Big & Rich. It makes us stronger. Same for me. If I have a dream, he says, ‘Go do it.'”

Now the two are refocused on their partnership, with their fifth studio album, Gravity, due Sept. 23, and the first single off the CD, “Look at You,” already climbing the country charts.

As for any rumors about the two not getting along, forget about them.

“Look at Kenny and me like Bo and Luke Duke,” says Rich. “You see Uncle Jesse out in the front yard breaking up Bo and Luke because they’re fighting again, scuffling with each other. But don’t mess with Bo because Luke will shoot a flaming arrow at your car and blow it up.”

He adds: “We’re like brothers.”

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