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The country star, an Arizona native, has always had a special place in his heart for the mountains

By Madison Roberts
October 23, 2020 12:00 PM
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Dierks Bentley has moved to the mountains.

During an exclusive interview with PEOPLE ahead of his performance at the iHeart Country Festival, the country star, 44, revealed that he and his family went out to Colorado for spring break in March, and as details of the seriousness of the pandemic and worldwide restrictions unfolded, the Bentley family put down roots in Box Canyon.

"I went out there with my family for Spring Break in March and just never left," the "Drunk on a Plane" singer says. "I put my kids in school out there and we just kind of moved."

While he has returned to Nashville a few times for work, Bentley says he is soaking up every opportunity to bond with his wife, Cassidy and daughters Evelyn "Evie", 12, and Jordan, 9, and son Knox, 7.

"I'm making up for lost time with my family," he says. "It's been 18 years now of touring and being gone every weekend. Now I'm somewhere I can ride bikes with my kids to school. I put a camper on the back of my 1994 Chevy and we go camping almost every weekend."

An Arizona native, Bentley says a move out west is something he has "always wanted to do" and Colorado is a place he's always been drawn to. In 2018, he released his album The Mountain, which was written and recorded in the Centennial State. That same year, the "Burning Man" singer was so inspired by his time in the Rocky Mountains that he launched his Seven Peaks Music Festival in Buena Vista, Colorado.

At the time, he told PEOPLE: "Selfishly, I set it there just because it gives me another excuse to go back to one of my favorite states in the country."

Now, Bentley tells PEOPLE that he isn't sure he'll want to leave Colorado when the world returns to normal.

"I am sure I will move back to Nashville because it's the country music capital of the world and a great place to work out of, but someone is going to have to drag me out of Colorado because I do like being there," he says.

Dierks Bentley performs during the 95th anniversary celebration kick off at The Grand Ole Opry on October 03, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee
Dierks Bentley
| Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty

However, his time in the mountains hasn't been all play and no work. The country star revealed he has been writing and recording songs for his "next project" over the past few months, including his new single, "Gone." Bentley will debut the track, which he refers to as a "moody, vibey, breakup song" during his headlining performance at the iHeartCountry Festival, streaming on Friday, Oct. 23.

"It's definitely a jam," he says. "I've heard a lot of songs that talk about the times we are in and what a crazy year it's been. I kind of lean toward that but I think fans might want to hear something right now that doesn't make them think about that."

Bentley's favorite line of the track is: "I've been a million places but they're all in my head/Over drinking, overthinking, ever since you've left, I've been gone."

"The guy has just gone everywhere on his couch," the "Living" singer reveals. "In his head he's taken all of these trips while she actually physically went away and left him."

While he hopes fans will relate to the breakup song, the song struck a personal chord for Bentley, who was set to go on tour with his '90s cover band, Hot Country Knights, for the first time this summer. The tour was postponed due to COVID-19.

"For me, I look at ["Gone"] like the Hot Country Knights project," Bentley says. "It's gone and I am left alone without it. I am really sad and I miss it. That's just something my wife and I kind of laugh about."

While live shows have been canceled for the foreseeable future, Bentley is grateful for the opportunity to participate in this year’s iHeartCountry Festival because it gives him a unique way to reach fans without the ability to be on the road.

"I feel really lucky to be here, to have a mission again to congregate, to play music and to socialize," Bentley says. "I think all of us country singers have more gratitude than we've ever had for the chance to just do what we do. To have a chance to play music and be a part of this iHeartCountry festival and to see the fans on our screen and hear them in our ears, it's just so needed for all of us and we are all so appreciative."

The iHeartCountry Festival will stream on LiveXLive on Friday, Oct. 23 beginning at 8:00 PM ET. Bentley will be joined by artists such as Lady A, Sam Hunt, Kelsea Ballerini, Dustin Lynch, Jon Pardi, Kane Brown and more. Tune in here.