Brantley Gilbert Talks Outnumber Hunger, His New Dog Junior + Why He Fears Tim McGraw
Brantley Gilbert is participating in the Outnumber Hunger program, alongside his label Big Machine, General Mills and Feeding America. He spoke to Taste of Country about his involvement in the initiative, as well as his new pup Junior and his upcoming tour with Tim McGraw, which he is already “afraid” of. But it’s not what you think.
The singer was incredibly chill during the chat, but his passion for promoting awareness about the hunger issue was easy to feel.
You seem so laid back.
I don’t get too excited, except for when I am going on stage.
Do you ever get overwhelmed by the adrenaline that goes with being a performer?
We were just in Kentucky and my blood pressure was through the roof. The crowd was so insane. I get that same feeling you get, right before [you] play football on Friday night, before I go on stage. I went running for the encore, and I jump high for a white boy. On my second jump, the minute I left the ground, I thought, ‘I just screwed up, I am going in the crowd.’ But I actually landed on the end of the stage. If I had landed between the stage and the crowd, that would so have hurt.
Outnumber Hunger is an effort you label, Big Machine, is heavily involved in. What made you want to get involved in the efforts?
The president of my label. Before we signed with them, we knew that he has the best work ethic in the business. We don’t sleep. I’m convinced Scott [Borchetta] sleeps upside down, like Batman, with his cell phone attached to him. Anything he does, he goes all in.
When I found out 1 in 6 Americans suffer from hunger, it blew me away. I can run down to Wendy’s, which kills my fiancée [Jana Kramer], anytime I want. I get fast food and don’t think twice. I wasn’t aware hunger was that prevalent. Once I was aware, Scott brought me in on it, explained it to me and it pulled my heart strings. I’ve got a soft side, but it’s hard to get it out. But once it did, I wanted to jump in and do anything I can. Our friends — some folks call ’em ‘fans’ — they support anything we do. They are right behind us.
What are some of the other ways you are involved in this initiative?
We stopped by a food bank this week. I put my blue collar back on. Not to say that I don’t have it on. If we’re bussin’, not flying in and out of a show, they send us info and we stop by the food banks and pack some meals and do some talking and raise awareness to the locals. We’re tied in. General Mills is also a partner. When you buy a General Mills product, you can donate five meals to local food banks. People don’t know that. When you say that out loud, you raise awareness and people do something. You can get downloads, too. It’s not all making donations.
Is Jana involved, too?
Jana Kramer is my best friend in the world, so she supports anything I do.
Hunger is a so-called “first world problem,” too!
I was unaware of it and it caught me off guard, to say the least. I am the type of person that likes to put myself in someone’s shoes to ‘get’ it. It was outside my comprehension that 1 in 6 people are hungry. It was like our USO tour in Kuwait. I can relate to being away from people you love for some time, since I tour, but [the troops] are gone for months and years. The same thing applies with the hunger problem. It was outside of my understanding, but now I put my foot in the door to help others.
So what else is cooking in Brantley Gilbert’s world?
One, I got a new puppy; his name is Junior. And two, we’re in the studio working on a new record. I was proud of ‘Halfway to Heaven’ and was worried what I’d do next, but now I’m not.
Tell us about Junior.
He is a Boxer and his name is Boss Junior. We have two girl dogs, so I needed a boy dog. I got a pit in Georgia, but she is weird around little dogs, so I needed a boy dog, and [Jana] wanted a Boxer. He was born on Valentine’s Day. I am boss, She’s Miss Boss and he’s Boss Junior. He has the heart on his nose, it’s a perfect heart (see a picture below).
How much are you looking forward to touring with Tim McGraw this summer?
We’re fired up about that. I am already having nightmares about him knocking on my bus door, telling me it’s time to work out! He can do three hours of CrossFit a day! I can do 45 minutes. I walked in on him working out! I had a CrossFit trainer for two weeks. I fired him. I like to lift and do cardio to stay in shape, so I can walk the dog on somebody, and I like to be strong, but running 10 miles or a decathlon? That don’t support my interests.