‘You’re a result of the people that listen to you’

Garth Brooks speaks to media ahead of his back-to-back shows at Mosaic Stadium in Regina on August 9, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Garth Brooks talks vinyl, favourite songs and connecting with crowds

Country artist Garth Brooks ironically opened a press conference before his show in Regina on Friday with “Whoever ordered the weather, thank you.” The concert was delayed because of a downpour.

But that didn’t stop thousands of fans from singing along later in their wet cowboy boots and jeans.

Brooks played back-to-back shows at Mosaic Stadium on Friday and Saturday night, drawing over 80,000 people. He was the first country music event in the new stadium.

A Praxis Consulting Ltd. study released last week said his concerts were expected to add between $13 million and $14.9 million to the local economy.

On Friday afternoon, he spoke with media about a variety of topics, including his new vinyl album and his favourites of his songs. However, Brooks mostly spoke about how he relies on his fans.

He’s wowed Saskatchewan several times, including in six Saskatoon concerts a few years ago.

“We’re not here because we’ve never been here. We’re here because we have been here. We’re coming back for more,” said Brooks.

He remembered the Saskatoon crowd being “stupid crazy”—which he loved.

“I have the greatest seat in the house, so I get to see everybody. That’s why I came back here, is to find those nuts that were in Saskatoon and turn them outdoor because outdoor, it gets louder, it gets wilder.”

Brooks said he tries to treat every show as it’s own, giving the crowd a unique experience.

“Look at those people’s faces, see what they want. They’re going to tell you what they don’t want and that’s the crazy thing. They have their opinions. They’re going to tell you what works and they’re sure as hell going to tell you what doesn’t,” he said.

He bases this connection to the audience on when he’s the one in the crowd. This started with his first concert ever: George Strait in Oklahoma City.

“You don’t do this unless you sit in the seats first. I’ve been a concert-goer, I couldn’t afford to go to concerts when I was a kid so my girlfriend bought tickets to a concert, my brother bought tickets to a concert, so it was a long time before I got to buy my own ticket.”

Brooks is coming out with a vinyl album—called Legacy—not available in Canada. He said each is packaged by hand, taking eight months to prepare.

In the age of streaming music, he said he didn’t believe in coming out with a vinyl record at first.

“You’re a result of the people that listen to you. That’s what you are as an artist and our people kept going ‘Vinyl, vinyl,’ and I’m like ‘Are you crazy? Vinyl?'” he questioned.

But, as he explained, the vinyl is meant to be a keepsake and you don’t just dispose of it, and “That’s a sweet thing to an artist that doesn’t want to be disposable.” He let out a laugh.

“You have to tend to (vinyl). You have to be careful with it. You have to place the needle in, there is no ‘Alexa, next,’” he said.

When asked about his favourite song to perform, Brooks undoubtedly answered with Callin’ Baton Rouge. He said he loves how it jumps out to his fans with the fiddle.

People may love singing along to his songs at concerts with a drink in hand, but his music has also gotten people through some tough times.

“They can give you Grammys. All that stuff’s cool, but the best thing in the world is to hear somebody say ‘They played Tomorrow Never Comes at my grandmother’s funeral.’”

Brooks said he planned on sleeping and eating when asked about what he’s doing in Regina aside from his two shows.

That’s probably because he doesn’t necessarily follow the guidelines: “If you’re going to break any rules, the two most important ones to break are you play way too loud and you stay way too long.”