‘Tis the season to reflect on some badassery to come down the line in 2012 and none be more badass than Texas Hippie Coalition’s Big Dad Ritch. Earlier in the year, THC’s frontman was nice enough to speak with Metal Monday and Popblerd about Peacemaker (One of THE standout metal records of 2012) and all things Texas Hippie Coalition. Happy Metal Monday:
Who is Texas Hippie Coalition and how’d you come up with the name?
Texas Hippie Coalition started a little over seven years ago. I had just really kind of gone out to the Red River Valley….you wouldn’t believe how many talented musicians are in that area, I mean some of the greatest guitar players I’ve ever heard in my life come from there. I went around to all the bands…there was one band that had a badass bass player and another one that had an awesome guitar player and in another band there was this wicked drummer…I just went and threatened ’em all with their lives and told them they had to quit their bands and join mine or else I’d beat ’em up. There you have it. Here we are (laughs).
You know, the name…we’re from Texas and the rest of the world knows Texas as God’s country but us people from Texas, we just call it home. Texas is something we’re very proud to be from. When we go around the world people always ask us where we’re from and we never say “America” and never say “United States” but we always say “We’re from Texas”. Hippie: My parents, both my Mom and Dad, had hair down to their ass and they just raised me in the hippie atmosphere. You know, very tribal, always reaching out to everyone, I even lived in the western States from the age of four to the age of eight. It was just great living up there in hippie world. Coalition was something I wanted everybody to feel apart of. I wanted my fans to feel like they belonged to this group and that’s why we put “coalition” so that everybody would feel a part of the team so to speak…and ain’t it funny how it just worked out to be “THC”? (laughs)
Why should fans buy Peacemaker?
Oh, because it’s badass. Bar none, it’s probably the best thing out there. (Laughs) No, when I was growing up my Dad would turn me onto music. My Dad could say “Here check out ZZ Top. Check out Lynyrd Skynyrd. Check out Bob Seger”. My kids were growing up and I noticed that the stuff I was handing down to them wasn’t current stuff. Y’know my Dad was turning me onto Van Halen when they came out. My Dad was turning me onto some great new stuff as well as some older stuff that he dug and there was really nothing current out there that I could give to my kids. Of course I was still letting them listen to Pantera and Drowning Pool but those albums were starting to get a little older and those bands weren’t around anymore so I just wanted them to have something current that was kick ass and I started thinking that maybe I should just play some music and see what happens…see if the world has the appetite for this kind of music like I do. I felt like the appetite was there and then we started jammin’ and people were like “Hey, you gotta come to Kansas, you gotta come to Colorado, you gotta come to Washington State…” and I was like wow, we’re not just playing garages and local bars anymore there’s actually a hunger for this out there so it went from an appetite to a hunger. Now that we’ve gone all around the world, got this album coming out worldwide, it just seems that now the world is starving for it and we’re just lucky to be in a position to be able to feed the masses.
What was the recording process like for Peacemaker?
We pretty much just take over wherever we go. We don’t have to be bossy, size is intimidating enough I guess. I don’t know. It was easy to get along with everybody. The music business you have a lot of people mumbling or complaining but we’ve worked with this producer, David Prater, before and a lot of people have awful things to say about him but I’ve never once had a bad experience with him. I thought it was a wonderful experience during those last two albums. This process, working with Bob Marlette, such a great producer, so easy to work with. His communication skills are great and he’s a great composer as well. He has a great thought pattern for arrangements. You might have just the guitars in your head but he already has the whole orchestra working in his head. He just made everything easy for us…The only thing that was really different was on the other albums we had a year or two to write and grow and everything and this album was more like you’re in the studio one week and two weeks later you’ve got fourteen songs, the next two weeks you’re laying down those fourteen songs making sure they’re perfect and you’re done within two months. The process was done much quicker. Like a gunslinger on the draw.
Do you have a favorite song on the new one?
Yeah, I really do. It’s changed from the beginning now that I’ve had the album and lived with it it’s “Don’t Come Lookin”. It has some of the heaviness of the Texas groove but it still takes you back to the southern fried, southern rock-era of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bad Company, ZZ Top, 38 Special, Molly Hatchet and I think it resonates all of that yet still feels today and modern and for some reason it’s just one of those ones that whenever I don’t have time to listen to the whole album, I just go hit that one track. Just give me a little shot of Red Bull there.
Is there a song off Peacemaker that you’re excited to play live?
There’s a bonus track called “Whiskey Burn” and even though it’s not on the album, we’ve been playing it and adding it to the set. It’s powerful from the the standpoint of where the words are coming from. Also, the music is powerful. Just picture your Clint Eastwood or John Wayne or somebody sittin’ at the bar after a long, hard ride and had to kill some banshees….and they’re just in there having a drink trying to get the dust out of their throat and some punk ass 16 year old kids in there got their guns strapped on and want to draw on you and you’re just like “Hey kid, I don’t feel like killing you today so why don’t you just sit down and have a shot of whiskey with me…”
Speaking of live shows, what can fans (like myself) expect to see at a THC concert who’ve never been before?
Man, our shows are areal kick in the teeth. Not just a kick in the teeth by a cowboy boot. It’s like gettin’ thrown off a bull and while you’re in the air you get a good ole rough ride in the mouth. A live show with us is a bull ride that’s why we often refer to them as a “Rock ‘N’ Rodeo”. It’s a great experience, I think.
When did you decide you wanted to become a singer?
When I was real young they had a show called The Johnny Cash Show and Johnny Cash just sucked me in big time. In those days they weren’t allowed to be perverse or get away with a lot of the stuff that they do today but he said something to June like “Gee, you sure do have pretty eyes” and she said “Johnny, my eyes are up here”. Just the way they could do their show and get away with stuff. I just loved it and the way that he talked to the audience between songs. The way he communicated with his fans, I just thought “Y’know that’s just an awesome thing” and I wanted to grow into something like that and always aspire to be that.
First I wanted to be a fireman and then I wanted to be a professional wrestler (laughs) and then when I got to be 11 or 12, I wanted to be like Johny Cash. That’s when I started listening to his songs with more depth and started to realize that with his words, he really opened himself up to his fans, lettin ’em see the darkness that dwells inside a real man. Not just any man but the struggles and the inner turmoil that a real man has to deal with on a day to day basis. I just thought that was something to aspire to be to be able to share that with everyone and still wear it as a badge of honor: I’ve been through this. I’ve suffered through this and I still stand here before you, a man. I just thought that was freakin’ awesome. As I got older I found Motley Crue and I thought: “Damn, that’s the way you gotta do it!”. Then Pantera and Corrosion Of Conformity and other bands showed us the way to just stay true to your roots and being southern. I just wanna make sure that everything that influenced me comes out and hopefully maybe one of these days somebody will use my name in an interview.
What do you hope fans take away from the music of Texas Hippie Coalition?
That’s a tough question. I think that most of all I just really want the fans to go away with the fact that they were starving for this kind of music and I hope they go away felling like Texas Hippie Coalition gave ’em a big ole belly full of some barbeque.
What is your proudest moment since starting Texas Hippie Coalition?
Man, that’s a tough question, too (laughs). There’s been a lot of proud moments actually. Bein’ a little ole band out of a podunk town in Texas, I never really thought that we’d get much farther than the local bar and to be able to be taken around the world and being able to open for bands like Black Label Society, Korn, comin’ up with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gary Allen and David Allen Coe in the country world. We’ve had the pleasure of touring with some classic rock bands like Nazareth and taking the stage with Bad Company, you know with the people that I looked up to. I have to say that was an honor. I would definitely have to say that just taking the stage with my heroes, people that I idolize, that’s my proudest moment.
Peacemaker is out now.