We caught up with country superstar Garth Brooks to talk about his big comeback and why it's all starting in Chicago.
Garth Brooks during his show at the Allstate Arena
After more than a decade, Garth Brooks is back in Chicago—and he's not here just to try the barbecue at Bub City (though we suggest he do so). The 52-year-old country singer is in town to launch his comeback tour with seven (and counting) shows at Rosemont’s Allstate Arena. At a pre-show press conference on Thursday, Brooks praised Chicago for being the "obvious choice" to kick off the tour and took some time to chat with us about what's changed since the last time he played for our city.
Here, the highlights from our time with Brooks—including what it's like to tour with wife Trisha Yearwood and why he listens to pop music.
On coming out of retirement...
“The deal was once the kids got in college, then [Trisha and I] could do whatever it was. Once we had an empty nest we could live where we wanted to. Our youngest decided to go to school in Nashville, so it made sense. We started planning to come back to Nashville, started planning the world tour, started planning the new record, so that’s where we're at.”
“I love the fact that it's a guaranteed fun place. You’re just going to have a great time every time you come here, because every time we've come here, we've had a great time."
As for Brooks' Chicago fans, “We know these people come to party, and that was a major factor of why we got to come here."
On touring with wife Trisha Yearwood...
“I’m madly in love and can’t spend a day without her. That’s it—and the fact that she’s 10-times more talented than I am, so it brings everything up when she comes out on stage."
On his time away from the music scene...
“I think being a dad kind of brings things into perspective. I think gratitude is a bigger thing. I think—all these guys, the band, the crew—all of us are a lot more thankful than we’ve ever been because you realize as you go on that these things don’t last forever. And 11 shows in Chicago is giving us a prayer that maybe they can last a while for us.”
On today’s music...
“Does Bruno Mars influence me? You betcha. Lady Gaga, does she influence me? You betcha. These are talented, talented people."
But Brooks' sound won't change anytime soon: “The last thing I should do is chase. I don’t think you try and change yourself to fit. You just be yourself and as long as that works for you, thank you God. And the day that it’s over, thank you God for what I’ve been given. I think the king of that had to have been [George] Strait. Strait’s always played it his way, done his thing. And thank God we have guys like that to look up to.”
On going digital...
At his press conference, Brooks announced that he'll sell his albums digitally for the first time via GarthBrooks.com and a new platform called GhostTunes, an e-commerce alternative that offers him and his label full control over his music.
“In my 14 years on the sidelines, I didn’t find an e-commerce place that was selling—digitally—music the way they should. I wanted a place that just sold entertainment, that took care of the customer, the pricing was flexible so the customer could get a break, and you could sell it any way that the artist wanted it sold."
“Naturally I’m scared...You weather the storm and you just keep going, and hopefully this will become not just an alternative, but the place to get your entertainment.”