Country singer Dierks Bentley on Tuesday is releasing a four-song EP titled "Country & Cold Cans" on iTunes to celebrate the end of summer.
And to kick off the promotion, Bentley will perform concerts on three Southeastern Conference campuses next week: University of Georgia (Monday), University of South Carolina (Tuesday) and University of Mississippi (Wednesday). You can buy tickets on his website here.
The four songs in the EP are "Country & Cold Cans," "Grab A Beer," "Back Porch" and "Summer on Fire." Playbook is exclusively streaming "Summer on Fire," which is also playing on ESPN programming this month.
Playbook had a chance to talk with Bentley before he hit the road.
Are you crazy? You just released your seventh album, "Home," in February. Now you have this one. Isn't it going to be competing against the other?
"It's definitely not normal. People are asking me, 'What's the angle?' There is no angle. We had this collection of songs. We wanted to record some new songs and see how it turns out. What did they want me to do, sit on it for the next year? By the time we're working on the next record, the songs would be old to me. So why not give it to the fans? It's all about having a good time and having fun going into the fall, especially when it comes to college football. It's going to be a fun album for that."
Why did you pick the three SEC schools as the places to perform this coming week?
The SEC lives and dies football. I've played those schools over and over again and I know what the kids are like. My brother also went to the University of Georgia. So I picked three schools that will party really hard and I know they will dig the record. It's going to make it fun for them and make it fun for us. You might as well park my tour bus at the Cumberland Heights Recovery Center in Nashville, I'm telling you right now. It's going be 72 hours of non-stop craziness and fun."
You were hitting those college campuses before you hit it big. Is that also a reason to return?
"Here's a chance to go back to the days before everything got so big. I love the vibe down there. I love the schools. Fans will get a chance to see us in a way they normally don't. Remember BYOB, which I love? Imagine being 17-18 -- oops -- I mean 21-22, sneaking -- oops -- I mean bringing in a beer or a flask to watch the show! For me, it's a chance to relive 2003-2004. I'm going to feed off their energy. Those were great days. Those were the glory days."
All this talk is about football, but I know you're a pretty good hockey player and fan, right?
"One thing I love about hockey is you can be in your 30s or 40s and still play. People think tennis as you get older, but you can play hockey and skate your butt off. You go out there and work hard and then pound beers with your friends afterward. I love it. I tried playing football a few years ago, a charity flag football game. I see football on TV and the surface is nice and even. Then I get on someone's backyard and there are gopher holes everywhere. My knees and ankles were killing me. I love watching football, but I prefer playing hockey."
Sounds like a country song to me.
"That's how I should gauge pain: how bad is the hangover? When you're 25, you can take it. When you hit 35, well ... [Bentley is 36.] Maybe Hank Williams Jr. knew what he was talking about in his song 'All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)':
And the hangovers hurt more than they used to.
And cornbread and ice tea took the place of pills and ninety proof."