PEOPLE Country sits down with summer’s hottest touring duo, Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney, who open up about their 21-year friendship. A decade after they last toured together, the forty-something singers (Tim’s 45, Kenny, 44) are combining their star power for this summer’s 22-city Brothers of the Sun stadium tour after scoring a hit with their duet “Feel Like a Rock Star” off Kenny’s new CD Welcome to the Fishbowl. As they gear up for rehearsals, the longtime pals took time with PEOPLE Country to discuss their friendship and touring together.
What will it be like to go on the road together again?
KC: As good of friends as we are, we’ve been on different paths for several years. To be able to spend the whole summer together and reconnect is awesome. One of the reasons there’s so much chemistry onstage is that Tim and I both grew up the same way; we both have a lot of the same heroes – George Strait, Bruce Springsteen, Keith Whitley – and we’re both competitive.
TM: That’s a good thing. It makes us elevate our game.
How did you two meet?
TM: Tracy Lawrence and Kenny and I were running around town, playing clubs, when we crossed paths.
KC: Tim and I met at Mack’s Café, a meat-and-three. I ate there every day.
Where you competitive back then?
KC: Not really. Tim already had a record deal, and I was just trying to survive.
TM: I had a record deal that wasn’t doing anything. Tracy [Lawrence] had success before either of us, and we both watched him take off.
KC: To me, Tim had made it. I remember him telling me when “Indian Outlaw” hit, “If this song doesn’t hit, I might be in trouble. I might be going back to Louisiana!” Watching Tim’s success gave me something to shoot for as an artist.
What do you most admire about one another?
TM: Kenny’s focus. He’s very smart and has a grasp of the details of the things he wants to accomplish.
KC: In being that focused and driven, you struggle with balance. Tim has put out great songs, put on great shows, branched out into the movies, but he has a family, and he balances both worlds. I can’t imagine how tough that is. I mean, I just got a dog and I thought I was going to have an anxiety fit. That’s just a dog!
TM: Well, I appreciate that, but I have to step in and say my wife [Faith Hill] is the reason it’s balanced, not me.
Has Faith ever tried to fix Kenny up?
KC: I don’t think Faith wants to be involved in that – she wouldn’t want to disappoint anyone! There was one time she said, “Kenny, don’t you want a couple of these?” meaning kids. And it was like, “Yeah…maybe…one day…”
TM: Don’t wait too long, man! You’ll be like Larry King! (Cover Story, Page 52)
Much more on Tim and Kenny, including an exclusive photo of Kenny’s new dog, Pancho, is featured in the July 2012 issue of PEOPLE Country, which hits newsstands nationwide on Friday, June 8th.