Texas Hippie Coalition will play the Welcome to Rockville Festival, as well as the Carolina Rebellion, Rock on the Range, Rocklahoma, and River City Rock Fest, amongst other dates around the country. Their latest release Dark Side of Black out April 22nd, the heavy quartet is comprised of Cord Pool rocking guitar, John Exall on bass, Timmy Braun keeping the beats on drum and Big Daddy Ritch fronting the group. Big Daddy Ritch shares details of the band and his latest country project as well.
Author Marisa Williams: The last time we got together was a couple of summers ago, chatting on the top floor veranda, overlooking the Ambassador Hotel where Jeffery Dahmer had his second kill in Milwaukee. That’s when you were on the 2014 Mayhem Festival.
Big Daddy Ritch of Texas Hippie Coalition: Yeah, I remember that.
MW: What have you been up to since then?
BDR: Just a lot of killing, taking up where Dahmer left off. (Laughing) Nah, you know, we’ve just been putting miles on tires, bringing music to the people, or as I like to call it, saving the planet.
MW: On your new album, what is different from previous albums? Did you try any different musical techniques?
BDR: What’s different is we didn’t go to California, Nashville, or Detroit. We stayed in Texas. We wanted an album made in Texas by Texas. One of the different things musically is that we concentrated more on our dark side, so it’s a little dirtier, a little uglier, and a little meaner.
MW: On the album, you worked with producer Sterling Winfield, who has worked with Pantera, Hellyeah and Damage Plan. How did you get hooked up with him, and what was that experience like?
BDR: I had hung out with Sterling a few times in the past, a few years ago. We put back a lot of whiskey together. A lot of those guys like Grady Champion and Sterling, they’re a lot like us. They like to have a lot of fun, and they have thick skin. I crack a lot of jokes, and if I can take a fat joke, everyone else should be able to take a joke. I just dug the dude. When we went to do the album, they sent us a list of available producers who were interested in working with the band. There were a few names on there that I was glad were interested in working with us, but I asked the label if I could hand pick a producer that was not on this list. They said I had made a lot of decisions in the past, and it worked out for us, so I hand-picked Sterling Winfield. It’s almost exactly what I wanted. There were a few time restraints that kept us from being able to do everything, but I’m very happy with this album. If I was guna play dodgeball, I’d pick Sterling to be on my dodgeball team.
MW: For you, what’s the biggest difference between playing festivals versus your own headlining shows?
BDR: Your own headlining, you’re in charge of everything, like when you eat and when you go on stage. At festivals, it’s totally different. There’s timelines and guidelines. There always seems to be a little more rigamoral. When playing your show, they’re all your fans, your people. It feels great, and that’s the nice thing about it, knowing these are my people. In the same retrospect, with festivals, of all these people out there, some are in a moment of discovery. Some never heard of THC, never seen us, don’t know who Texas Hippie Coalition is, and you see yourself winning over fans. There’s cat calls, whistles, people turning your way, and we’re pulling them in. We leave with more fans than when we arrive. That’s the great thing: the masses, the people, the lovers of the music.
MW: What are your plans for after the summer tour?
BDR: This summer tour comes to an end on June 1st, then we come back after 4th of July, running ‘til Labor Day. We take off the month of September, then tour October and November, hitting Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas and all through there. January and February next year, I’m taking off to work on my country project. We’ve got the year planned out for us, but I know in June, I’m going fishing. There’s going to be a lot of fishing.
MW: Tell me a little more about your country project.
BDR: I’m writing with a lot of great song writers right now. I’m heavily influenced by Johnny Cash and Weiland Jennings. A lot of fans run THC from country genre, that red dirt music. Toby Canada and Johnny Cooper always told me I should try my hand at country stuff, so I started fiddlefarting around with it. People came at me with heavy interest. There’s some big labels interested in the project, but I want to try to keep it as independent as possible. We’ll see what happens in the end. The country project is called BDR and the Rockin’ Rodeo. I want to come into town and have people feel like the circus, rodeo, and all that good stuff is coming to town.
MW: Have you decided on the band members of the band yet? Will any of the Texas Hippie Coalition guys be in the country band?
BDR: It’s going to be completely different band members. I love all three of those guys. John’s been with me forever, from the beginning, and for somebody to be with me that long… I’ve seen him go through three wives during that time. Timmy, this will be his third album with us. Cord, he’s the young whippersnapper. When I brought him in, I told people he will grow up to be a guitar hero. Everyone was against me. When it all panned out, on this new album, Cord is a big part of the writing process. With the leads, he’s really shining through, letting people know that the Texas Hippie Coalition guitarist is a bad ass. All three will have to sit in on one song on the country album, but I’m using a lot of different musicians. There’s going to be a lot of good old boys on the touring package. Texas music, of course, is so awesome that it has its own billboard. We want to be on Texas charts. A lot of Texas guys shy away from Nashville, but we want to embrace all country music. If Nashville puts up a fence, it’s only guna trap them in. Give some love to this Texas Boy.
MW: Do you have any producers picked out yet?
BDR: I’m narrowing list of producers down. I’m not in a big hurry. Half the writing is done. The other half will be done over the summer, and we’ll get the whole thing knocked out in January and February.
MW: Will you be playing Sturgis at all this year?
BDR: We have a bid in for Sturgis right now. We played Buffalo Chip last year. This year, there’s a bid in for up there. We just want to make sure we’re not stepping on any toes, but I’m sure it will be lined up pretty quick. We love Sturgis. Last year, some of the most fun on tour was in Sturgis. Them people at Buffalo chip, they’re some stand up guys.
MW: Any closing comments?
BDR: Anybody out there who doesn’t know Texas Hippie Coalition, Google it. Check it out, and see if this is something for you. People either love it or hate it. We don’t let negative energy get to us. We embrace it as well. Love one another right now. In other words, get naked. Get out there and get new album, Dark Side of Black. Let everybody see your dark side.
Marisa Williams is the author of more than 100 books. She earned her Master’s in Writing from Johns Hopkins University. She is an English professor and the publisher of Thorisaz Views.