The only time I’ve ever let a tear go onstage was at that São Paulo show”
Wikimetal (Nando Machado): Hey, Ritch?
Big Dad Ritch: Yes, sir.
W (NM): Hey, this is Nando, I’m here with Daniel, we’re both the hosts of Wikimetal. How are you?
BDR: I’m doing great, bro, I’m doing great.
W (NM): Great, it’s a pleasure to speak with you, we’re very happy to know that Texas Hippie Coalition is coming to Brazil next week again, we’ll be there for sure. So I’d like to ask you a few questions before we meet you in São Paulo, on the 28th of April.
BDR: I’d be more than happy to, love to.
W (NM): So tell me a little bit about the music scene in Denison, Texas, when you first formed the band.
BDR: Well, in Denison, Texas, there’s a lot of talent, an extreme amount of talent, from the blues airs, blue sound, then you’ve got a lot of old school Rock n’ Roll around here, a lot of country boys coming out here, so a lot of Red Dirt Country music as well. So, you know, really, the music scene for us was the music scene in down in Dallas. And when you’ve seen Pantera almost 30 times in your life, and seen Clutch about 20 something times in your life, and Corrosion of Conformity in the double digits as well… Just loving that style of music, growing up on Johnny Cash, Waylon and Willie, The Outlaws in the early days, and then later on in life, you know, finding southern rock n’ roll, ZZ Top, very special… Lynyrd Skynyrd… And then being able to party with bands like Mötley Crüe, Van Halen, the greatest bands in party Rock n’ Roll… Splitting it all together, man, and making what we call Red Dirt Metal, which is Texas Hippie Coalition.
W (Daniel Dystyler): Excellent, Ritch, and since you’re mentioning those bands, those southern Rock bands, last week we had the opportunity to talk to Bobby Ingram, from Molly Hatchet. He was here in Brazil, and he did a great concert here in Brazil, for the first time ever. Did you guys have the opportunity to touch base with them as well, and how important were these bands for the history of Rock n’ Roll, and also the Texas Hippie Coalition history?
BDR: Oh, definitely. You know, as well as other southern bands, I didn’t… Molly Hatchet… I’ve just always loved the heaviness of the band, they weren’t with those southern Rock bands, they were a little but heavier than the other guys, and they just seemed to be more monstrous… A bigger animal, and of course, I love all that stuff. You know, we did get to tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd, we did about 8 days with those guys, and you know, Little Johnny, he came out there and talked to us, and told us he was very happy to have us on the bill with him, he thought that we really went over the Lynyrd Skynyrd nation, and he said that wasn’t an easy task, so I know we had them standing on their feet screaming and howling, so… I sure appreciate those guys letting us have a shot at playing some music for their crowd. Not only was it a joy, it was one of the best times of my life.
W (NM): Great, Ritch. And talking about the concert you played in Brazil, what do you remember from the show in São Paulo two years ago at the Virada Cultural festival? Do you remember how many people were there watching you? Because it’s a huge festival…
BDR: It was ridiculous. All I know is as far as I could see, I could see people. I never lost sight of people, even when the world started to curve, I could still see people, so I can imagine it was massive, I’ve never been able to put a number on it, I wish I did know. The things that I do remember about it the show is that we went on so early in the morning, and it was dark, by the time we got finished, it was daylight, so the sun came up on us and started the day with us. And it was kind of like we ended the night and we started the next day. I’m an emotional guy, even though I’m a big guy, but I can probably tell how many times I’ve cried in my life – not a whole lot. You know, I teared when my children were bourne, I teared when my father died, but the only time I’ve ever let a tear go onstage was at that São Paulo show… It sounded like thousands and thousands of people were singing my song back at me, and to hear that many people singing my song all at once, it just hit me, you know, in a way… I even said “São Paulo, I’m crying for you, I’m crying for you, Brazil, I love you.” I know everyone there speaks Portuguese, and it was just so wonderful that they were singing in English right back to me, and it just overwhelmed me, it hit me like getting hit on the spirit in church.
We are the only Red Dirt Metal band in the world.”
W (DD): And Ritch, I’m going to ask you now, the very same question that we ask all of our guests, it’s a classic question we have on our show: imagine you are listening to a lot of Heavy Metal songs, and all of a sudden, a song starts that makes you lose your mind, you can’t stop yourself, you can’t refrain yourself, you feel you need to start head banging immediately. Which song is that one, so we can listen to it on our show right now?
BDR: Oh, man… “Cowboys from Hell”, by Pantera just makes me want to get up and kick somebody right in the neck.
W (DD): How was the experience of working with David Prater on your second album “Rollin”?
BDR: David is like family to me, he’s like… Like an uncle, like a big brother, even, sometimes, you know. But it’s always great working with Dave. A lot of people see David as a juggler, and they think he’s just in there doing a juggling act, but in all reality, he’s actually a magician, and he’s working some magic in there. When I listen to the albums that he produced, I can definitely hear the magic.
W (NM): How about working with Bob Marlette, who also produced Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath, when you did your last album “Peacemaker”?
BDR: It was great, it was absolutely wonderful. Bob is a very easy guy to work with, constantly busy, always on task, and you know, any arguments that we had, you know, fighting back and forth over things, every time that one of us felt strongly enough about it, to take it to war, we just immediately conceded to the other one, because we knew that our hearts were in it, we were both fighting hard for this album to be as strong as it is. And I think that both of us are generals fighting side by side, we really brought this thing to the full front of the music world. And with the guys I have behind me, John Exall, Timmy Braun, and Wes Wallace on that album, it’s just an incredible feeling. Even Randy Cooper helped write a song called “Peacemaker”. So, you know, the whole process was wonderful, but I have to say that it was such a pleasure working with Bob, I hope that one day we get to work together again, I truly do.
W (NM): Do you have plans for a next album, or is it a bit too early?
BDR: You know, I’m already writing the next album. Me and John are starting to write some songs with the new guys, the new guitarist, Gunnar Molton… I mean, the new drummer, Gunnar Molton, and the new guitar player, Cord Pool, we’re already starting to write some songs, and throwing some stuff around. We got one song called “Making Bullets”, and we’re just having a lot of fun writing that, I’m sure that once we get through this year strong, probably in the beginning of next year, we’ll jump in the recording studio and get busy on that.
I named it ‘Coalition’ so everybody would know that it’s not just these guys onstage, we are one humongous army together,”
W (NM): Can you let our listeners know what exactly Red Dirt Metal means? And what are the other bands that play the same music style?
BDR: Red Dirt is what is described as Oklahoma and Texas Country music, there’s a lot of Red Dirt country boys up here, and they’re just like the new age outlaws, you know… Not really anti-Nashville, just not pro-Nashville. But it is probably some of the truest Country that you’ll hear. As a matter of fact, Texas Country has grown so popular, that now Texas Country has it’s own billboard chart, or it’s own charting system for Texas music. And I thinks that’s wonderful, I think that’s a great thing, and I think it needed to happen. And Cross Canadian Ragweed, Cody Canada, and another guy, Kevin Fowler, and another old boy by the name of Johnny Cooper, which are Red Dirt country boys, made up this Red Dirt Metal. And ever since they founded this Red Dirt Metal, we’ve just taken that batch, and worn it proudly. And Red Dirt is kind of like story telling music, and I think that in our songs, you know, there’s great music, and it takes you to a place, but also, each song tells a separate story on its own, and I think that’s why they baked up this Red Dirt Metal. And as far as other bands… We are the only Red Dirt Metal band in the world.
W (DD): That’s great. And Ritch, since you mentioned Texas and Oklahoma, how popular is Metal over there, nowadays?
BDR: You know, Texas doesn’t have the radio stations that we wished there, so the Metal scene in Texas is not as good as we’d like for it to be. Definitely in the Dallas/Houston area, it’s not what you would want it to be. But in Oklahoma City, and Tulsa, the Metal scene, or the Rock n’ Roll scene… It’s all very happening, and it’s all very big, and you can see a lot of bands that have come out of Oklahoma City in the last few years. Even going back even further, you know, you have Kings of Leon, American Rejects, that are just a lot of great bands that have come out of Oklahoma City, we know Oklahoma City is always a packed house, and we love playing those places. The thing about Texas is Texas is my home, and there’s no place I’d rather take the stage than Dallas, Texas, in front of all those coward and crazed and… I’d like to say good old boys, but we all know they are good old sons of bitches from Texas, you know what I mean? And beautiful girls from Texas, and all of them fighting for the front row, with a fist in the air, the finger flying, and singing the words to every song. I just love Dallas, Texas… You know, every time I get in front of people, it just feels great to have an audience like that in front of you, especially when they’re singing your music back at you.
W (DD): Can you choose now a song from Texas Hippie Coalition, that you are very proud, so we can listen to on our show now?
BDR: Right on, right on. This next song is called “Damn You to Hell”, and this song here is… I felt like, not only it’s the heaviest song on the new album, but it might as well be the heaviest song that we’ve ever written, and… We’re pushing it heavy, it was in the charts in number 46, it’s climbed to number 41, and we’re hoping it will break top-40 this week, and this song right here is a real kick in the neck, it’s called “Damn You to Hell”.
W (NM): Great Ritch. You already talked about the great, legendary bands from the south of the US… What about the greatest heroes you have, like Willie Nelson, or even Waylon Jennings, or even Johnny Cash, when they were alive? Did you ever have the chance to meet these guys, or even jam with them?
BDR: No, sir. No, sir, I never did. But I did… I have swum in the same river that Johnny Cash swan, you know? I’ve gotten left that way, and I’m sure that me and Waylon have both cracked the same seal on the same bottle of Jim Bean in the past. And I know me and Willie have smoked some of the same stuff, I guarantee that to you. But no, in life I never got to enjoy Waylon or Johnny’s company, and I’m hoping that before Willie passes, these two read-headed strangers can meet and smoke a big fatty together, you know what I’m saying? And just enjoy each other’s company, and enjoy each other’s butts.
I know some people think it’s a state, but I’m telling you: Texas is a country.”
W (NM): Talking about the name of the band, Ritch, what came first, THC, or Texas Hippie Coalition? Is it Texas Hippie Coalition because of the THC, or is it the opposite way around?
BDR: Well, the reason the band is called Texas Hippie Coalition is because I’m from Texas. And there’s no greater country in the world than Texas. I know some people think it’s a state, but I’m telling you: Texas is a country. And Texas is a… I’m just so proud to be from Texas, the same reason I named my first album “Pride of Texas”, and if you notice, “Pride of Texas”, the initials is POT, pot. And as I was growing up, you know, my parents were hippies. I have never not had long hair, I’ve had long hair my entire life, ever since I was borne, when I was five years old I had hair down to my butt, and people thought I was a cute red-headed girl, you know? And coalition is because I wanted all my fans to think that… To think and to feel that they are part of this band, I don’t want it to just be just another band out there, I want them to feel a part of this. The music’s real, my fans are real, and I want my relationship between me and my fans to be real, so I named it coalition so everybody would know that it’s not just these guys onstage, it is all the chapters worldwide, we are one humongous army together, and together we are Texas Hippie Coalition, and after that, then comes the initials.
W (NM): So it’s a bit like a coincidence, like Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, isn’t it?
BDR: It actually wasn’t meant to be that way, but as soon as we said it, we already knew, you know what I mean? We have no intentions of really… Our goal was to have something like… There was Pantera, and there was CFH. It just so happened that our… We became THC, the band of outlaws. Instead of our nickname being initials, our real name was initials, and vice versa.
W (DD): Excellent, Ritch, thanks so much for your time, for your patience, we’re very happy and excited about the concert that’s going to happen here on the 28th of April, so can you invite all the Brazilian head bangers, and tell them what they can expect from this concert in São Paulo?
BDR: Man, I’ll tell you. Come on, Brazil, it’s a rocking rodeo, baby. It’s going to be like a bull ride, and all you got to do is try real hard to hang on for the whole eight seconds.
W (NM): Thank you so much, Mr. Big Dad Ritch, on Wikimetal! See you next week.
BDR: Yes, sir. Thank you guys, thank you, I appreciate it, I’ll see you all soon.
W (DD): Thanks, bye, bye, Ritch.
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