What exactly is Red Dirt Metal music? One listen to Texas Hippie Coalition and you’ll soon know the answer. Self described as “good old Texas boys trying to make a living”, THC vocalist Bid Dad Rich and members John Exall, Cord Pool and Timmy Braun make their own unique blend of music that is just as grand as their southern charm. As their biography puts it best, “take outlaw country, toss in a dash of Southern-fried classic rock and mix it with some potent Texas power grooves and you’ve got a combustible sonic cocktail on your hands.”
The band released their fifth studio album on April 22nd called ‘Dark Side of Black’ to positive reviews and is currently out on tour with Sons Of Texas. Big Dad Rich called into Examiner to talk in depth about making the record, which tracks are the most popular and most personal, why he likes The Walking Dead and what’s it’s like to play with rock stars.
Examiner: “You just put out a new record this week called ‘Dark Side of Black’. That’s an interesting title because black is the absence of color so it’s already the darkest you can get. What is the meaning behind it?”
Big Dad Rich: “If there’s an evil villain, there’s always someone that’s more evil. There’s Snidely Whiplash who’s maybe a little bit sinister but he’s not nearly as sinister as say Negan from The Walking Dead. Negan himself is not near as villainous as I am. So there’s always someone darker.
E: “That’s a good explanation. It’s pretty safe to say you are a Walking Dead fan?”
BDR: “Big time.”
E: “Who’s your favorite character on the show?
BDR: “You know I just kind of like the show. I kind of like the development of community and stuff. In terms of picking one character out that I like would be hard and it’d probably be even harder to find one that I identify with. In all my years of watching things I’ve hear people say ‘you know, I can relate to that guy – he’s a lot like me’. And I was always like ‘wow I wish I could have that happen to me’, you know? It had just never happened. Then one day I was watching King Kong and I was seeing him move around and how he acted and treated the girl. I was like ‘wow – am I relating to King Kong?!’ I had a date there with me and before I could even speak it out loud, she grabbed my hand and she goes ‘you’re just like King Kong!’ It’s always good to be a Silverback I guess.”
E: “So getting back to the album, it was recorded in Texas with producer Sterling Winfield (HELLYEAH, Pantera, Damageplan). What was it like working with him, had you ever worked together before?”
BDR: “No I hadn’t, but I drank with him before – he’s a hell of a drinker. I’d never worked with him until this album. When we got signed with the label they kind of took over how you do stuff in the studio. They set up the recording for ‘Rollin’ with Mr. Dave Prater, who is damn near like kin-folk to me. On the next album they sent me to Bob Marlette out and LA, and I absolutely love Bob. Then they sent me to Skid Mills in Nashville, TN, who we have a great working relationship with as well. As songs became more formatted and direction became more of a pin pointed thing on this album I basically just let them know that I pretty much worked with what they’d given me. I got to do it my way but I had to use their tools, so I just told them on this album I wanted to use my own tool. I picked Sterling because we wanted to do an album in Texas rather than going to Cali or Tennessee or anywhere else. Then we just contacted him, got to work and made an album about Texans in Texas. Of course my drummer will always say ‘well actually, I’m from Oklahoma’.”
E: “Do you have a favorite track?’
BDR: “Well that’s like asking me, you know, who’s your favorite kid?
E: “Or who’s your favorite Walking Dead character!”
BDR: “Yeah that’s an answer that’s not coming! That’s like asking which one of the presidential candidates I like.”
E: “My answer to that is none of them, but your album is great so that doesn’t apply very well for me personally. Let’s spin it this way – what song[s] do you thing people are going to gravitate towards the most?”
BDR: “I think the single right now ‘Angel Fall’ is one that a lot of people are talking about and listening to right now. It could be because of the video we put out for it. Live, when we play ‘Hit It Again’, the crowd goes crazy and they’re all singing back. The chorus at the end is three times long and the middle chorus we drop out musically and vocally and we let the audience sing it. The album just came out on the 22nd [of April] so we’ve been doing that for the past few shows and everybody is singing along. It’s seems to be a real fan friendly song for sure.”
E: “‘Knee Deep’ kind of stands out from the other songs, foremost because it’s much slower. More than that, it seems to have some really personal feelings in it. What is that song about?”
BDR: “Yeah, I fell in love with someone who belonged to someone else and she fell in love with me too; that’s just a story to tell. I hadn’t really done too much of that in the past, though I do tell stories of course. As I was listening to Johnny Cash I started realizing that he’s letting people into his dark side, you know, and there’s something beyond the black. That’s what this album was about so I though you know we could show something as ugly as a lover losing a lover and someone else gaining their hand. That hand did belong to someone else and now you’re taking it. It’s a love story none-the-less.
E: “Wow. That’s a true story you said, that really happened?”
BDR: “Yeah. Except the guy’s not a lawman; I put that in there because it sounded really cool. It doesn’t work out as well if you’ve got like a Coca-Cola truck driver in it.”
E: “Of course that makes it better. Besides, he’s from Texas right so he has to be a lawman or something cool.”
BDR: “Tulsa, Oklahoma actually but yeah, based in Texas so it’s got to be that way.
E: “To a Massachusetts girl, anything that’s lower down is basically the South!”
BDR: “I’m sure outlaws can carry all the way to the North.”
E: “Maybe they just aren’t as cool when they get up here. We just call them pains in the** mostly.”
BDR: “Down here we call them family!”
E: “Well speaking of geography, you are currently out on tour across this fair country. You’re playing some pretty iconic venues like The Machine Shop in Flint and The Music Factory. You’ve also got quite a few festivals like Welcome to Rockville, Rocklahoma, and Rock on the Range. Are you a band that enjoys playing a lot of festivals?”
BDR: “Oh yeah, and one thing I love about the festivals is just the lovers of music. It seems like every festival we play, there’s people out there having moments of discovery. They’re discovering THC in the moment and that’s a great thing to see, when you have a crowd and you’re winning them over. On Mayhem 2014 we were probably like you know the one band on that bill that was just a totally different style. Man that crowd was massive, and when we would take the stage, Korn would be there to watch us, and Ice T. You see all these other great bands and they’re all coming out to see you and you become the talk of the festival. It’s an incredible thing, how well we got accepted into that group of musicians and also how all their fans just took to us. It’s awesome when that happens.
Another thing, about the intimate setting, is that that’s your people. It may only be a thousand to two thousand people but that’s your people and it becomes very intimate. It’s just as fun because it’s all yours, like being with a lover that you’ve had for a long time. I always say ‘give me the biggest crowd out there’ you know? That’s what the Lord wants me to do. He wants me on a big stage in front of a large crowd.
E: “If you could pull your own festival together, or even a regular tour, what bands would you love to have on the road with you?”
BDR: “I’ve actually been approached for that. In Oklahoma City they build this big gigantic festival type place with three different venues. There’s an area for a crowd as big as a Rocklahoma crowd, one is about seventy five hundred and the other is about two thousand. They wanted me to do it this year, but I just didn’t have the time to put it together. I’ve got this thing that I used to do down here locally which was called the Red River Redneck Roundup. It’s always been a good thing, but we just stepped away from it for the past two or three years because we’ve been getting so busy.
Anyways, yeah I had a group out of OKC come to me and talk about doing a two day festival there. So probably next year in 2017 we’re gonna do that, around the beginning of October. We’re gonna do two stages and have Red Dirt Country bands and some metal bands, some good old Texas boys from down south on the bill. I was thinking to round out maybe trying to bring in someone like Mushroomhead. You never know, it’s whatever is working best at the time.
We’re easy for everyone to get along with as well. We’re not unprofessional or real professional either. We’re just good old Texas boys trying to make a living playing music. When you get out there you notice that you’re on the bill with a lot of rock stars, and it’s important for them to know that I aspire to be like them, I hope to one day grow up and be a rock star. Right now I’m just a working musician.
E: “There are probably quite a few people that would argue with you right there and say that you already are.”
BDR: “Maybe” [Laughing].
E: “Do you have any crazy tour stories from the road?”
BDR: “I know there are a lot of bands out there that have a lot of great stories like that. We’re a real family oriented band; so when we have a meet and greet there’s gonna be children, grandchildren, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, grandmas and grandpas. I mean it’s everybody together, you know? You know how it is when you’re at a family reunion and you wanna get a little crazy but you can’t get that crazy. It’s always good fun, but yeah there are no real super crazy stories. Once I did have a guy in Arkansas offer me his daughter! I mean I’ve had people offer me their wives and that’s no big deal. When somebody offers you their daughter, you’re like ‘dang man I must have some kind of stature over here’. I took it as a joke and smiled and laughed, so hopefully it was a joke.”
E: “Hopefully. I wonder what the daughter had to say about it.”
BDR: “She was good to go I’m pretty sure.”
‘Dark Side of Black’ is out in stores and online. Catch the band here in Mass at the Middle East [downstairs] on May 10th. For more info, log onto thcofficial.com