Randy Rogers Band Continues Its Ascent By Keeping It Simple
Born, bred, shaped and crafted on the red dirt roads of Texas, the Randy Rogers Band can now call itself a national country music flag bearer for the Lone Star state. Composed of Randy Rogers (lead vocals), Geoffrey Hill (guitar), Jon Richardson (bass guitar), Brady Black (fiddle), and Les Lawless (drums), the band grinded out shows and sold indie CDs in small dives and showrooms across the great state before singles from their Radney Foster co-produced 2004 album Rollercoaster finally crossed over into the Hot Country Songs charts. Two more Mercury Nashville major-label releases in 2006 and 2008 both peaked as Top 10 album releases and they gained additional national exposure with guest spots on The Late Show With David Letterman and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. All their hard work culminated in the band being nominated for ACM Vocal Group of the Year earlier this year.
Randy Rogers, now balancing a brand new album, Burning the Day, an active touring schedule and a three month old bouncing baby, was nice enough to carve out some time for The 9513 to talk about influences and details on the new release.
Congratulations on the new album. What can fans expect to hear from Burning the Day?
I think there’s a heartbreak song or two on there. There’s a getting over you song or two on there. There’s a please don’t leave me song. It’s just country themed stuff. Probably something that you’ve lived can be heard on this record. I tried to write in a very country conservative traditional kind of way. Of course our band is up and amped up and rocking. The themes are pretty common.
You wrote more of the songs on this album than on your previous works. Was that a decision you made ahead of time or something that just evolved?
I think it was a conscious decision. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays when I got home, I’d write. I’ve gotten a lot more disciplined about that. Where in the past, I might have gone out and played golf or taken some time out for myself. I wanted this album to be the best one we’ve done so far and I knew we needed more songs to choose from. But we just tried to make that happen and tried to be more dedicated to that.
Comparatively, it’s similar to how we did our first album, Rollercoaster. We road-tested all the new songs live. And then once we got into the studio, we were all comfortable with each song. So we did that again for this record. We’d work up seven or eight songs and then play them live for a few months and then came back and tossed out the ones that didn’t work, fixed the ones that were close and then did seven or eight more and went back out on the road again. And then we’d come back in and rehearse again before we went into the studio. So all the songs you hear on this record, we already knew well before we ever went into the studio. We’d been playing them and working them up. I think that goes a long way.
Did the themes of common country living–the conservative traditional way you talked about earlier–come natural or did you set out to pen songs specific to those themes?
I think it’s kind of been my thing since the beginning. I love country music and I try not to change what has already worked and such. That’s just who I am. It might not be something I’m living but it’s probably been something I’ve lived.
Your band is one of the harder working bands out on the road today. Your press release said you did well over 200 dates this last year. Does that road influence mold the end songs we hear on the album?
I think so. I think I’ve lived a lot of life. I’ve seen a lot of life out there on the road. I try to write that down. I try to write things people can relate to and apply to their own lives. I think that as a group, we try and stay pretty true to that and true to the type of music we’ve loved. So when we go into make a record, it sounds like us. And I think we did that.
You worked with Paul Worley on this album–how was that process?
He’s a pushover. Don’t let anybody tell you any different. (Laughs) He brought his expertise to the table and that brought us a lot of confidence. I can’t wait to work with him again.
Was the recording process with him different than with previous albums?
Every time you go into the studio, you learn a little bit more about (the process). We know a little bit more, we know our way around the studio a little more. His process isn’t all that different, but he made us rehearse and learn all the songs before we got in there. That was different from the last album.
Any favorite tracks for you on the record?
My favorite is “Just Don’t Tell Me The Truth.” I wrote it with Dean Dillon and Dale Dodson. Dean has been one of my writing heroes lately so it was great to do this with him.
Let’s look at the Texas music scene. Your band is extremely well known inside that state. For someone who doesn’t live in Texas and doesn’t get the whole Texas-specific music scene, how do you go about explaining that?
I think we book shows and we go play them. Bands like us just don’t ever expect to ever have a big break. You know? We book our shows and go play our shows and build our t-shirt sales and sell merchandise. That’s it. It’s not complicated. The way we do it is just night after night. The scene lends itself a little more to the blue-collar working class of bands that gets in a car, van or suburban–whatever you got–and gets out and plays shows. I don’t see that happening with a lot of brand new acts out of Nashville.
One last question for you–this one’s pretty open-ended. What is country music to the Randy Rogers Band?
It’s Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. It’s traditional. It’s for the common man. Most importantly, it always has something to say.
- Leeann Ward: Thanks, NM. I like a good pop hook, to be honest. So, maybe I need to try it again.
- Barry Mazor: OK, Jim Z. That changes everything. I surrender.
- Jim Z: to call the Dirty River Boys an "Austin area band" is still incorrect. They are based in El Paso.
- nm: Leeann, you and I often have similar tastes in more-traditional country. And, to my ears, Sam Hunt's voice and lyrics …
- Barry Mazor: Matter of fact, as always--I did. The notes say the album was recorded & mixed by and at "The …
- Roger: Looking forward to picking up the Jamey Johnson Christmas EP - love all of those songs and can't wait for …
- Jim Z: that record was recorded in El Paso. (you could look it up) and other than appearing in Austin once in …
- Leeann Ward: Yes, I can always use more dobro in my life! Thanks for the Phil Leadbetter tip! I haven't been able to …
- Barry Mazor: OK, Jim. The record's more or less out of Austin. But I'm sure they're also good in El Paso...
- Jim Z: Dirty River Boys are from El Paso, Texas.