Russell Dickerson on How Tim McGraw 'Spews Wisdom' and Stays 'Jacked AF' on Tour (Exclusive)
By Paige Gawley
Thomas Heney / Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
Russell Dickerson is ready to soak up all of Tim McGraw's wisdom -- of both the musical and fitness variety. ET spoke with the 34-year-old singer ahead of his time on the road with the country superstar, and Dickerson admitted that he "can't stop thinking about" touring with McGraw this summer.
"He's one of those guys that just spews wisdom. He's done it all, and he's done it all 10 times," Dickerson told ET. "I am the new guy. I'm just starting out. I just had my first headlining tour. I am just getting to the point of being responsible for 20 people on the road [and figuring out how to] handle that. He's had the same guitar player for 30 years, so there's something that he's doing that creates this family-like environment. That's what I love."
While Dickerson jumped at the chance to serve as a special guest on the singer's McGraw Tour 2022, he may have underestimated the off-stage expectations that doing so entails.
"He's jacked AF. He is like, 'All right, every day, buddy, I want to see you there. We got cardio and stretching in the morning. Then we do the stairs, then we're eating lunch, then we got a two-hour CrossFit session,'" Dickerson said of McGraw, 54. "I'm like, 'Holy lord, what did I just commit to?' I thought I was just playing for 50 minutes."
Even with the grueling workouts, Dickerson is sure that the tour will be "the best summer of my life."
"The fans are going to be together. We're going to be in so many cool cities. It's going to be early summer. The weather's going to be beautiful. I'm freaking out," he said, before teasing what fans can expect from his time onstage.
"I want to do something fresh and different because Tim McGraw's such a classic act. And so I'm like, 'How do we show them that in 25 years I'll be right here still doing that same thing?' That's kind of what we're going for," Dickerson said. "My show has so many facets... If we're playing a big festival, we lean into the more kind of dance party, party vibe. With this, I feel like I can kind of slow down a little bit, tell some stories, and really just take my time with these fans."
McGraw Tour 2022 doesn't kick off until April, but Dickerson has plenty to keep him busy until then, namely closing out the U.S. leg of his All Yours, All Night Tour with a sold-out show at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium on March 25.
"This is like the best welcome home," he said of the massive gig. "... We get to sell out the Ryman, end the tour there, it's a big celebratory night for sure... There are a couple little surprises up my sleeve."
Looking back on the 11-stop tour elicits happy memories for Dickerson, including getting to go through it all with his opening act, Breland.
"I feel like we got in on the early end with this kid. I was listening to his EP all during quarantine, and that whole EP is just bomb," Dickerson said of the 26-year-old singer. "... It's been so fun. He's the most down to earth, sweet, humble [guy]. The kid is an incredible, senior writer, musician, performer. It's just been an absolute pleasure getting to know him and his band and crew. It honestly has been. He's blown me away with his talent and his humility."
As for Dickerson's time onstage during his first headlining tour, one moment stands out among the rest.
"There's a moment in Pittsburgh where I just remember the crowd singing every word to my song, 'Southern Symphony,' which isn't a single. It hasn't been on the radio or XM or anything. People are here because they love this music and this album," he recalled of the January show. "After I played that song, I just sat there and started getting teary. I started tearing up because they were just there for these songs. I opened for a bunch of huge stars and have played big festivals for 30,000 people, but nothing hits me the way that that did. I'll just never forget that."
In addition to those unforgettable moments onstage, Dickerson said that bringing his wife, Kailey, and their 1-year-old son, Remington, on tour was a dream fulfilled.
"That's always been the dream. That's how I convinced my wife to marry me. She was like, 'I know who you're going to be, I know what you're going to do.' And I'm like, 'Yeah, but I want my family to be with me,'" Dickerson said. "Having him on the road has been amazing. Just him, running around sound check with his headphones on. He's got drumsticks, and he is just playing everything with the drumstick. That's the dream. We get to stay together. I don't have to miss my family. It's a sacrifice -- it's a financial sacrifice, it's a time sacrifice -- on the road, but I wouldn't change it."
Even will all of his touring, Dickerson hasn't forgotten about fans' readiness for his next album.
"The next month of my life is completely dedicated to album three," he assured them. "[I'll have] a few more songwriting sessions, and then we sit down in the studio and figure out which songs to record, and then we go in the next week and record them. It's getting real."
"I'm really excited about album three. I feel like I've stepped into a new realm of storytelling," Dickerson added. "I'm known as the love song guy, but also the crazy, for the all over the place, dance party, live show thing. We still have that for sure, but I'm a dad now, so I've got stories to tell about that. I've grown in my marriage, and I've got stories to tell about that. There's that element of depth to this album on the way, but there's also just the straight bangers. It's going to be a nice mixture."
While fans eagerly await Dickerson's new music, he encourages them to come to a show and experience his tracks live.
"That's where I love connecting. Come to a meet and greet. I want to meet you. I want to hang out. I want to get to know you, because that's who I do it for," he tells them. "I do it for you guys."