Brooks & Dunn Talk About Getting Back on Stage for Their REBOOT Tour: 'It Doesn't Really Leave You'
It's a sunny Saturday afternoon in Chicago, and country duo Brooks & Dunn look fresh and rested and more than ready to kill it on stage for yet another night as part of their REBOOT tour.
"I don't feel any different than I did 10 years ago," Kix Brooks, 66, claims in a backstage interview with PEOPLE, as his baseball cap proudly takes the same position as his cowboy hat will later that night. "If you do this for 20 years in a row without stopping, it doesn't really leave you necessarily. It's just a routine at this point."
His longtime Brooks & Dunn partner Ronnie Dunn nods his head in agreement, and then makes a certainly understandable admission.
"The first day we went home after the first run, I slept till 10:30 that morning, which is pretty much unheard of for me," explains Dunn, 68, who is also wearing a baseball cap, albeit backwards. "And out here I'm doing the same thing, sleeping till 10:30 or 11 a.m. I mean, we don't walk offstage till 11 p.m."
It's a walk offstage that the country duo has taken together multiple times throughout their long and storied career, a walk that they jokingly refer to as "going from an F16 fire jet into an ice chamber." It's a shock to the system certainly, but nothing "three beers or a couple of shots can't fix,'" they say.
But it's also a walk they once took that seemed to signal that the days of Brook & Dunn were over a bunch of years ago, a walk that led them both to branch out both personally and professionally, if only to give them time to figure out just what was next. And then, the pandemic gave them more than enough time to think about it.
While their current tour was scrapped last year due to the ongoing pandemic, Brooks & Dunn is now back on the road, bringing their fans a show that resembles a religious revival of sorts.
"For a lot of our audience, you know, you do get to relive something with them that happened several semesters ago for all of us," Brooks says with a laugh. "We see a lot of fans out there that are our age. We built this career together, with them right beside us. And they're still supporting us like they did back then."
But what serves as even more intriguing to Brooks & Dunn these days are the new fans they see out in that crowd, the fans that know every word to songs like "Boot Scootin' Boogie" and "Play Something Country," the fans that can't quite recall the day the country duo ever went and waved goodbye. Instead, it's those fans that are not only coming out to the REBOOT tour, but the same ones that have gone and taken songs of theirs such as "Neon Moon" to viral status.
"I don't know if they got to know us from their parents or from the REBOOT album or maybe they actually did hear our songs on the radio," Brooks admits. "Whatever the reason is, we are glad they're here because it gives us this feeling that we are doing this for the first time. I mean, you really do get that feeling. It's a great vibe."
Brooks chuckles to himself about the cool vernacular that seems to drip from his mouth these days, as he and Dunn have been actively watching this new fan base take a might big liking to them on TikTok.
"Ronnie's turned me onto this whole social media thing," Brooks says. "I heard there was this viral thing going on and I just ended up stopping and checked it out. This thing's going crazy. And it's really fun to watch these people."
In fact, "Neon Moon" has gone and snagged 1 billion plays in just two weeks on TikTok, with the viral dance basically pulling from the duo's classic country hit but with a heartier electric remix.
"It's good to see these things pop up and people have fun with it," Brooks adds, mentioning that his daughter Molly even finds some good-natured humor in watching her dad try to keep up. "I love watching post after post of these people getting down to this 'Neon Moon' mix, or whatever it is. It doesn't mean I'm going to be any good at it or feel comfortable doing it myself! I'm just having a hard time with it. There is a little bit of a learning curve."
"This is going to be a hard, deep dive for Kix, this whole TikTok thing," Dunn explains.
No matter really, because it is certain that with this new attention comes an affirmation that the goals that Brooks & Dunn set out to accomplish all those years ago are still coming true.
"We have said from the very beginning that we wanted to maintain longevity, and I think the music is allowing us to do that," says Dunn. "I mean, we take time off and the music continues."
And heck, despite being off the road for over 10 years — Vegas residency notwithstanding — Brooks & Dunn even snagged a vocal duo of the year nomination at the CMA Awards this year. But don't expect them to get too excited over the recognition.
"I think they just needed seat fillers at this point," jokes Brooks, as Dunn nods in mild agreement. "I mean, that is a reality for us. We're not really competing at the CMAs with those other acts. I won't say it's embarrassing, but I don't feel like we're really running with the same agenda as those other acts are. They're building their career right now and that's not really what we are doing."
The conversation stalls slightly, and then the question is asked.
How long can we expect to see Brooks & Dunn out on the road touring?
"We have a team that's a lot more in tune to that than we are," Dunn says. "We don't roll all these trucks and buses out without knowing there's people going to be in those seats that want us to come."
Was there ever a doubt that they would come?
"Yeah," Brooks interjects. "That's part of the neurosis of it all."
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